Tag: Tournaments

Experience Pays Off

Saturday, the Western Division held it’s fourth event of the year, on the stretch of the Chicopee River in Chicopee that I grew up fishing. Access is extremely limited nowadays, but we were able to secure safe parking (thanks, Paul Bunyan’s Tree Farm) to risk our gear and health getting the boats down the banks of Cooley Brook to access the river.

The first three hours of the day were a complete drenching. The rain stopped between 9 and 10 AM and some clouds lingered, which kept the bite going.
Fortunately, everyone caught fish. Unfortunately, size was at a premium.

At the end of the day, Jeremey Andrews had secured third place by making a couple late culls to total 62.50 and get by Michael Williams.

Ronel Mullen caught 66.75 inches worth of bass to claim second place. He and I went back and forth for most of the morning until…I hit the lunker, a meager 18.25, and followed with a 16-incher to snag the W with 74.25!

There was only one pickerel caught, which I thought was out of character for the Chicopee, by Russ Hatch. A 14-inch fish, but more than enough to give him that lunker pool.

We all know there’s going to be some days when smaller fish matter a lot more than they should, and it keeps the competition exciting, which Saturday was. Thanks to everyone that made it out, helped each other in and out of the brook, and to grab a bite afterward!

Head over to Fishing Chaos for the official results.

Our next event is slated for late July at the Connecticut River. Hope to see everyone there!

A Record-Shattering Day!

Earlier this morning, at 8:18 AM, I got a phone call. The person on the other end, voice shaking, said, “What’s the club record?”

That record—95.25, caught by me at Snipatuit Pond in 2016—has fallen.

(That was the official regular-season record. Chris Catucci put up 96.50 in a post-season event in 2020.)

I didn’t fish the Nashua River event today. I was fishing the Kayak Fishing League event and my Kayak Bass Bracket Tour match at Snipatuit Pond, of all places. I had a good day. But it doesn’t compare.

Seventeen anglers made the trek up to the Nashua River today. With 17 anglers, we’re paying out just four spots and lunker.

This is how it broke down…

Lunker Snapper – Steve O’Brien (26 lb)
Lunker Pickerel – Ray Figueroa (19.75)
Lunker- Bruce Levy (21.50)

5th Place – Christopher Nardi (72.00)
4th Place – Nate Chagnon (77.00)
3rd Place – Donald Davis (79.75)
2nd Place – Kevin P Amaral (81.50)
1st Place – Bruce Levy

Remember that phone call from 8:18 AM? That was Bruce calling. He had the tournament won at that point, and will likely hold the club record for biggest limit for as long as this group exists.

Bruce’s biggest five bass totaled a MONSTROUS…102.50!

Unreal. Holy crap. What a day! LEGEND!

For a day.

Congrats to everyone, but bow down to the GOAT!

But not for too long.

Watch Bruce discuss his epic day on The Breakdown with John Ferreira.

Check out the full standings here.

Newcomer Slays the Giants

The Online Challenge for May has come to a conclusion!

Bruce Levy took lead in Week 1, but only by default since he was the only one with a ticket. Matthew Conant had the lead after Week 2, but Joseph D’Addeo overtook him by an inch the night before he headed down to Candlewood Lake for the KBF Trail Event.

We know those three anglers, and many others who fished the first three weeks, but Week 4 consisted of the “unknowns,” anglers who are new to MAKB.

Ray Figueroa made a statement with a tank 20.25, which took over the lunker leaderboard, but Steve Hedges kept chipping away, inching his way closer to the top. On the final day of the tournament, fishing two different lakes, he put up a 19.75 and a monster 20.50 to not only take over the lunker leaderboard but the overall lead as well, giving him the win for the month.

As I mentioned in my Lake Nippenicket write-up, Steve has had a good week. He placed fourth at the Nip, had pickerel lunker, won his round two Knockout Series match, plus took lunker and the victory in the Monthly Online Challenge Series for May. Great job, man!

For the full standings, click here.

A Plate of Nachos Goes 1 and 2

Well, that was fun, right?

Twenty-one of us fished Lake Nippenicket today for the third Eastern Division event of the season. Two backed out beforehand, and two just went home, never even launching, and many left early.

Cold, wind, and rain are bad enough alone, but add them all together and it can be pretty miserable, especially if you’re not catching fish. And that was me.

I had my kayak nearly fully rigged in my garage, and still managed not to get on the water in time to launch early with most everyone else. Because of that, every spot I went to had an angler or multiple anglers on it. Then I got stuck in the weeds and had to paddle against the wind, which was awful. I bailed at 9:30 AM, only to leave my kayak at the ramp, Power Pole down, group of people standing there gawping at it as I walked away. When I came back, the kayak was floating away and they were all just staring at it.

Pretty nice of them.

Anyway, Joe Fournier gave me a hand with that, then Nate Chagnon rolled up, and we rolled out and went to Smokey Bones, where we took the lead for a bit.

Bruce’s angry text message accusing us of sandbagging was worth it!

Anyway, a good amount of fish were caught, though. More than I expected, to be honest, but only four limits. Two of the 16 anglers that caught fish today figured something out and they led the field from the start, each holding the lead at times throughout the day.

Since I left early, I don’t know many details of how things went down, but here’s what the standings show:

Steve Hedges was already having a good week, but it just got better with his 24.25-inch pickerel taking the pickerel lunker pool.

Event lunker went to Valber Santos, who nabbed a tank 21.50-inch, 6-pounder, right after he launched.

In fifth place is Bob Pierce, who only caught four fish, but they were enough. He had 62.25.

Steve Hedges took the fourth spot, landing five bass for 64 inches. Maybe he’s not having a good week but a great one?

Ari Stonehill was contemplating leaving, not even launching. And in fact he didn’t launch with everyone; he was waiting/hoping for the weather to improve. I’m not sure it did, but he chose to get on the water despite this, and it paid off. With 71.50, he took third place.

For a while, it looked like Bruce Levy was going to come out on top. Valber Santos was in the lead, his limit anchored by not one tank but two (a 21.50 and a 20.00), but Bruce smashed a late-day 18.25, giving him the lead by more than three inches.

Valber had a 12.50. He also hadn’t uploaded a fish since 9:10 AM. It wouldn’t take much, though, to take the lead.

Unfortunately for Bruce, at 1:18 PM, Valber did just that, adding a solid 18.75 to his already impressive limit. With two 20s already on the board (not done since Peter Arruda’s win at Whitehall a few years ago), Bruce would need an epic rally to retake the lead. Lucky for Valber, it didn’t happen, and his 93.25 was plenty to beat Bruce’s 87.75. Any five-fish limit with two giants is always going to be hard to beat!

Great job, guys! Congrats! And to everyone that caught fish—hell yea! I’m glad it wasn’t awful for everyone, though I’m sure even those were catching fish suffered.

Full results can be found here.

Down to the Wire at Watuppa

The second Eastern Division event of the year went down yesterday on South Watuppa, the state’s fifth biggest body of water, and the biggest we’ve fished as a group.

Mike Morcone and others at launch

Notoriously stingy, Watuppa gave up some pretty decent bags yesterday, and easily the most smallmouth I’ve seen in a tournament—nine overall.

The wind also played nice until the end of the day, when a front came in, shifting direction, and pushing strong westerly gusts and some big waves toward all the anglers—which seemed to be most of the field—fishing the northeastern end of the lake. It laid down some after that, but overall it was a rare calm day out there.

Ryan Pierce drew first blood with a 16-incher just a few minutes after lines in, then Mike Morcone overtook him with a 16.75. But it would be a bit before fish started really hitting the leaderboard. An hour or so in, I believe only five or six fish had been uploaded.

As the day progressed and warmed, though, the fish got hungrier, especially the bigger fish. Every fish 18 inches and bigger was caught after noontime.

Unlike the bass, the bigger pickerel didn’t show up. With thirteen anglers in the pickerel lunker pool, I expected the winning fish to be one of the many giants that live in the lake, but Ari Stonehill’s 22.75 took home the prize.

We had a tie between John Ferreira and Patrick Brown for smallmouth lunker, with both of them hauling in a 16-incher, a pretty good-size smallie for that lake (from my experience, anyway). They will split the pot.

Tournament lunker went to Christopher Alves. He pulled up from the depths a hefty 19.50 on a dropshot.

We had 24 anglers, so we’re paying out five spots…

Derek Brundle, no stranger to making money at tournament, made a little more by nabbing fifth place with 79.25.

Fourth place went to Joshua Jackson, who submitted seven fish, all but one of which was caught after noon, and that one just before it. I believe this marks the first time Josh has “cashed a check” at an MAKB event. Right on!

Bruce Levy tossed his trusty white spinnerbait around for an early limit, even holding the lead a few times. With no kicker, though, his 81 inches was only enough for third place.

With 83 inches, Valber Santos was lined up for the win…until Mike Morcone snatched an 18-incher out of bed at 2:43 PM, giving him a 2.5-inch upgrade and the win with 84.25!

Congrats to all! Great day out there.

Click here for the full results.

A Battle Between East and West

Yesterday, an “angler’s choice” two-pond event went down at East and West Waushacum Ponds in Sterling. The water temps were about ten degrees apart, placing the fish in different stages of spawning, with the West Pond being more or less done and the East just beginning.

Thirteen anglers took to the water for this one, and with a couple exceptions, the field stayed packed together, with nearly everyone filling out limits.

Nelson da Costa was one of the exceptions: he was the only one of us to break the 90-inch barrier, and did so on the back of the 20-inch lunker of the day. He fished steep drops of the East pond to do so. Congrats to him on his first MAKB win!

Fresh on the heels of his Elite Kayak Fishing win at Cayuga Lake, Joseph D’Addeo returned to the West Pond. He has some history there, and was the only angler to break 80 inches for second place. Hammer, as always.

Also in the West Pond, Ronel Mullen stayed shallow to take third with 76.75, barely edging out Kelvin Nova (76.00). Nice job!

Third through eighth were separated by only 3.5 inches, showing how close the pack was, and that the bite was on at both ponds. John Liriano took the pickerel lunker with a 23.25-inch baseball bat of a fish. He fished the West Pond, and from talking with the East anglers, I don’t think anyone from that Pond landed any slime darts.

Great event, and thanks to all who came out to make it such!

Full results can be found here.

I’d also like to thank the town of Sterling’s Parks & Rec Department and their town officials that welcomed us to use the ponds. They went out of their way to make it a smooth experience, especially with the parking permits!

Our next event is at the Chicopee River in Chicopee—the stretch that I grew up fishing—and I’m excited to share the experience with the MAKB crew! Hope to see you there in June!

Big Win Up da Shires

Yesterday was the second MAKB Western Division Trail stop, a two-lake random-draw event at Buckley Dunton Reservoir and nearby Yokum Pond in Becket.

Two very different water bodies. Buckley Dunton is timber filled, and the closest the west has in similarity with A-1 out east. Yokum is closer to a shallow kettle pond, but does harbor a population of smallmouth.

After pre-fishing both, my prediction was that numbers would come from Yokum, and lunker would come from Buckley Dunton. I was half right, as Yokum anglers struggled for limits, and a couple anglers found size and numbers at Buckley.

Twelve anglers participated (seven at Buckley, five at Yokum). Nelson da Costa was the highest finisher at Yokum, with four fish totaling 57.75 that he fought for with the light bite there.

I found a jig bite early, then found a flat with baitfish and bulldozed my way through a dozen and a half post-spawn perch (including a pin-sized one) for a couple decent largemouth and a good pickerel. I upgraded and finished in 2nd with 88 inches even.

Jeremey Andrews took first with a bladed jig/jerkbait/finesse plastics combination, finishing with 91.75 and lunker with a 19-inch fatty on the raw, cloudy day “up da ‘Shires.” Congrats and nice job, Jer!

Only two pickerel were caught on the day. Nate Chagnon hit an 18-incher over at Yokum, but the 19.75 I caught around the baitfish was the winner.

Congrats to all who placed in the money, and congrats to any KBF members that qualified for the National Championship through the MAY-hem event!

Check out the result here.

The Biggest Challenge Was the Bad Weather

Our first monthly online challenge is in the books!

We had 25 anglers enter this one, but with the less than favorable weather that plagued us in April, only eight submitted fish to the event. With 25 anglers, we paid out three spots and lunker, and it looks like Week 3 was the most productive week of the month.

For me, it was just a day. An hour, in fact, at our A-1 event. Right place, right time. I was only able to fish one other day for my week, and it was cold, rainy, windy, and I only caught two fish.

When all was said and done, Matthew Conant took first place and lunker, while Derek Brundle and I placed second and third, respectively.

Great job, fellas!

Final results can be found here on Fishing Chaos.

And KBF just announced that we can award National Championship for online events, so with this being the month of May, KBFs Mayhem promo means 50% of the field qualifies. Since only eight anglers caught fish, all eight qualified!


(Anglers must have been at least an AmBASSador-level KBF member prior to the start of the event to qualify.)

Tough Conditions and Stingy Bites

The guarantee of cold, wind, rain, and a tough bite didn’t stop twenty-five of MAKB’s most dedicated anglers from hitting A-1 yesterday morning for the Eastern Division opener.

Before launch, the wind was relatively light, and it seemed like maybe the day wouldn’t be as bad as expected. The moment we launched, however, Mother Nature said, “Psyche!” The wind kicked up, the cold cut through, and not long after the rain rolled in. The sun broke through briefly, but for much of the day it was pretty miserable.

From what I saw, it seemed that most anglers started out shallow, including me. Ari Stonehill started near me, so I stuck to the shoreline, while he fished some wood a bit offshore. I quickly moved away from that area, tossing a green pumpkin Project Z chatterbait through the sparse pads. I was still on the inside, close to shore, but then moved to the outside of the pads, a little deeper, and got a good whack that came off. Whatever it was felt like it shook its head a bit, a good sign it was a bass.

In the meantime, Nate Chagnon had already put a 17.75 on the board just after the 7 AM start.

In the morning, Nate told me he had that gut feeling, like he had down in Alabama for the KBF Trail Event, where he placed third. I told him it was probably diarrhea, but before I knew it, he had three over 17 inches on the board.

Mike Morcone, Gerard Elias, and Sean Dwyer all put up 18-inchers in about the first hour. Bruce Levy put up a solid 19.25 shortly after, but that early flurry of activity died not long after that.

For my day, after that first whack on the green pumpkin chatterbait, I caught a 17, and decided to stick to the chatterbait for the rest of the day. I alternated to a white chatterbait, then moved farther offshore, and ran into four good ones in quick succession—7:57, 8:15, 8:21, and 8:37. Then, besides on 13-incher, my bite died until 1:36 PM, when I caught a two-inch upgrade.

At the end of the day, only two anglers out of twenty-five caught a limit, and only seventeen caught a fish. A brutally tough day for all involved.

We ran a lunker pickerel pool, as always, and Ari Stonehill took it with a 21.50. Knowing the giants in there, I’m still surprised that one held up. I guess even the pickerel were tight-lipped due to the snow and near-freezing temps the night before.

My 20-incher took overall event lunker, which was a legit shock to me because I entered the length incorrectly, thought I had a 19, so when Donald Davis, who judged the event, corrected it to 20 inches, I was genuinely confused. Haha. A pleasant surprise, though.

Taking fifth place, with just three fish and 52 inches, was Gerard Elias. To tell you how tough the bite was, Gerard didn’t catch a keeper after 8:53 AM.

John Ferreira nabbed fourth place with 66.75, catching most of his four bass offshore; which is exactly where Mike Morcone spent his day, netting 72 inches of bass and third place.

Nate Chagnon’s gut feeling proved true (much better than the alternative), and he worked one spot and one bait all day, hauling in 86.75 inches worth of A-1 greens. That was one of only two limits caught all day, good enough for second place. Nate is on fire this year!

I have fished A-1 a half dozen or so times in the past, only doing well once. Despite it having everything I love to fish—shallow water, weeds, wood, etc.—I have struggled there. So going in my expectations were low. And despite that productive early-morning hour, I struggled as usual.

Thankfully for me, that one lucky hour was enough for the win. The late-afternoon upgrade was just icing on the cake. My best five went 94.25, a record I will likely never top at A-1.

I gotta say one thing about the Jackson Kayak Flex Drive. I never once had to concern myself with all that submerged wood as long as I was moving forward. I hit so many stumps at full speed, and that drive kicked up and never slowed me down. Pretty killer design.

Anyway, congrats to all who caught fish on a very tough day, and thanks to everyone for braving those conditions.

You can check the full results here.

Our next Eastern Division event goes down on May 15 at South Watuppa Pond in Fall River.

Dogfight at Quaboag Pond

Before I get going on how the first MAKB Western Division tourney played out, I’d just like to thank Ken Wood for letting Nelson da Costa and myself roll out a division on this side of the state. I’ve said it before, but if we manage to run things even half as smoothly as he does, then I’ll consider it a success. Also a huge thanks to Nelson for stepping up to help me out. Much appreciated!

We had nearly a full house at the launch Saturday at Quaboag Pond. Twenty-four of the 25 slots were filled! With 24 anglers, we paid out five spots, plus lunker bass and lunker pickerel.

I’ve fished the pond less than a handful of times over the past 10 years, and know that it can be a “feast or famine” type of water body. I even predicted to Nate Chagnon at some point in the previous week that I believed there would be one or two anglers with big bags, and the rest of the standings would be a dogfight.

When Saturday launch rolled around, my initial plan of heading into the incoming Brookfield River was shot in the foot, as no less than seven kayaks took off in that direction. I opted instead to fish into the outgoing Quaboag River.

I pedaled up alongside Ken, who had the same idea, but then watched him pull a U-turn and return to the launch for his Ketch Board.

The water was glass for the first couple hours, and my first two keepers were promptly thrown back without pictures—because I had forgotten about the eight-inch minimum, naturally. Luckily I rebounded and filled out a limit using topwater in the shallows for smaller bass.

A couple hours in, Ken moved into first on the backs of a couple 16-inch fish. The standings were filled with fish under 15 inches. I had moved downriver to a section I fished last year, and hooked two of my three biggest fish on a jig, which brought me to second place, a few inches behind Ken.

Right as the standings went offline at 1 PM, I downsized to a Ned-rigged creature bait and continued working the areas that earlier produced the 17-incher and an 18.75, and dug up a 15.5 and 19.5, which sealed the deal.

I placed first with 84 inches even, while Ken held second with 77.25. Charging into 3rd was Nick Rinngard with a solid 71.25. Nelson also made a late run behind a 19.25-inch pig, to end at 68.25. Sean Dwyer rounded out the paying slots with 65.75.

The largemouth lunker pool went to me, and Ray Figueroa for nabbed the pickerel pool with a 23.25!

Great job to everyone for grinding it out in the wind! What an awesome way to start this division, and I sincerely thank all who attended.

Finally, thanks to Joe Brown and his wife Meg for hosting the after-event food and drinks at Old Glory Outdoors!

For the full standings, click here.

Our next event is taking place WAY out west in the mountain town of Becket on May 8th. Buckley-Dunton Reservoir and nearby Yokum Pond will host the tourney, and there will be limited to the first 20 anglers to register! Registration goes live at 7 PM on May 2nd through Fishing Chaos.