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The name of the place is Agawam River. The name should tell you how to fish it: “river.” Most of the people who fish this great body of water forget that it is a river. We forget because of all the weed. Then some lame brain person that lives on the river complains about the weed and it almost disappears. Then, with the weed gone, some fishermen remember it’s a river.

I have a feeling that either Chip Servant or Josh Cotier figured it out on September 21st at the MassB.A.S.S. Nation’s Classic Team Trail Tournament of Champions. This team kicked our butts and won the right to represent MassB.A.S.S. at the Harris Chain of Lakes, with a very good chance that they will go on to The BassMaster Classic.

Eli Delaney and I were fishing this one bay that wasn’t affected by the weed kill. Several times throughout the day we saw Chip and Josh in front of the bay fishing open water. I couldn’t figure out what they were doing out there. Obviously they had done very well throughout this year’s trail, but what was out there that they were fishing? Then the weigh in. They had 13.10 pounds. Eli and I came in second with 8.88 pounds. 3rd was Matt Szczoczarz/Josh Wunschel with 8.28; 4th was Matty Klinker/Dusty Chaulk with 7.08 and 5th was Jim and Jack Moorey with 6.81.

What were Chip and Josh doing????

Hurricane Florence dumped record breaking amounts of water from South Carolina to Massachusetts. The outflow over the Agawam shad dam roared from all that rain. This meant that the river we had been treating like a pond all of these years was raging. I think the bass moved out of the coves and into ambush areas along the current. If you know the Connecticut River, for example, you know the bass turn on and move to the edge of the current when they open the dams. Now it makes sense what Chip and Josh were doing “out there.” I wonder if they had figured that out or it was just luck. Knowing the caliber ‘stick’ Josh has become – I don’t think luck had anything to do with it.

 

Resized_20180720_152653_6889.jpgThe value of a “kicker” bass cannot be overestimated in any bass tournament. Some of the better fishermen actually plan their day around a kicker. Some catch a limit of bass and then go for a kicker. Some believe that a bigger bass can be caught in the morning and start their day with a bait they hope will bring the big strike. My attitude is the later. Therefore, “spots’ are before patterns.

On Lake Lashaway, the final MassB.A.S.S. Classic Team Trail qualifier, on July 20th, a kicker meant the difference between winning and going home without 1st Place money. Matt Szczoczarz and Josh Wunschel caught a 4.19 largemouth. What difference did it make? They had 10.93 total weight. Eli Delaney and I had 10.40. Everyone limited, and after the four of us the remaining teams averaged 7.92 pounds for 5 fish. Was the bite off? No. Most of us caught 20 plus keepers. The big fish were not hitting and we were culling ounces.

The Top 5 Teams going to the TOC on the Agawam River on September 21st:

  • 1st …. Chip Servant & Josh Cotier…………. 794 points
  • 2nd … Matt Szczoczarz & Josh Wunschel…. 790
  • 3rd…. Jim Moorey & Jack Moorey………… 785
  • 4th…. Ray Lentine & Eli Delaney………….. 783
  • 5th…. Matt Klinker & Dusty Chaulk………. 778

The winning team at the TOC is going to Florida for the Classic Team Championship. The winner there goes on to The World Series of Bass Fishing: The BassMaster Classic.

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The Concord River is stained and lined with milfoil. You could not fish all of the laydowns if you gave yourself a week. Overhanging live trees gather all of the spring debris and they demand “punching” with 50 lb braid. Add to this formula the water moving at 6 mph and is home to trophy Northern Pike, you know that everyone is using braid – or at least 20 lb copolymer. Several weeks ago I said to my partner, Eli Delaney, that these light line guys will not stand a chance in this ‘power fishing” mecca……… I am getting tired of being wrong. 

This river, that connects with the Sudbury and Assabet Rivers, is the largest fishery in Massachusetts and the fishing is absolutely topnotch. From Billerica to Framingham, there isn’t a bad spot on it. Once again Jim Gildea and his partner Warren Burrell, throwing line that should be outlawed, won again. Throwing 5 lb test line they brought 14.7 pounds to the scale and put $650 in their pockets. In second place, winning $330, probably also throwing line that should be used for catching trout, was the team of Chip Servant and Josh Cotier.

Going into the final tournament before the TOC on the Agawam River is Lake Lashaway on July 20th. The teams of Gildea/Burrell and Servant/Cotier are tied at 598 points each. It is still a tight race for places 3rdthrough 5th. (Top 5 go to the TOC. (TOC Champs go to Harris Chain of Lakes in Florida for the Classic Team Championship.) Szczoczarz/Wunschel 590 points, Moorey/Moorey 588 and Lentine/Delaney 584.

If you want to fish this fine underfished Lake Lashaway, just e-mail me: raylentine@charter.net

There are not many of us that don’t look forward to fishing Wequaket Lake in April. The largemouth and smallmouth readily smash jerkbaits. Both species are sitting where they are supposed to be getting ready to spawn. BUT not this April. This April from hell, left most of us scratching our heads. When the tournament started the air temp was 34 degrees. The water temp was 44. It was partly cloudy with a slight breeze. By 11 A.M. there were white caps and the clouds had taken over. Tough conditions lead to a tough bite, but someone usually catches fish no matter what is thrown at them. Such was the case this April Friday at the Massachusetts B.A.S.S. Nation’s Classic Team Trail event on Wequaket Lake in Barnstable.

There is a fisherman among us that is just in his mid twenties, but is already turning heads in the Massachusetts fishing scene. I would place him as one of the top three fishermen in this state – without any argument from any of us. His name is Josh Cotier. He doesn’t own a boat. This tournament his team partner, Chip Servant, had the good sense, as would I, to let Josh run the front of the boat. They won the tournament and $925. (It is still April and Josh has won 4 tournaments.) Chip and Josh came in with 2 smallies and 3 largemouth that weighed 11.88 pounds.

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This is a sport where the winners are determined by ounces - not pounds. Coming in second were two seasoned fishermen that have won many tournaments over the years: Mark Donovan and Fred St Louis. They won $475 and had a 5 fish limit that weighed 11.77 pounds. The difference between 1stand 2nd and $925 to $475 was a mere .11 ounces or just a speck above 10% of a pound. Still, with just three limits caught, they came that close to winning it all.

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The Lunker was a 4.80 largie caught by the team of Jim Gildea and Warren Burrell.

Next Classic Team Trail event is May 18th on Great Herring Pond. They should be on beds and it should be a great tournament. If you want to fish it, you need to contact Ray Lentine (raylentine@charter.net), because there is a 15 boat max. 

The Classic Team Trail for 2017 is now history. When I was asked to run this trail I was, to say the least, skeptical. I just didn’t think that people, especially two people that knew each other and one having a boat, could/would take a weekday off. We had 16 teams, in total, compete. The winnings were huge, paying first place an average of $800 and second averaging $400. Our average attendance was 10 boats, with our highest tied at Wequaket and Webster and the lowest was the Merrimack River. (Note: The Merrimack was a great fishery. The winning weight was the second best of the year and both a largemouth and smallmouth came in over 4 pounds.) The surprise water was Wickaboag Pond, with the winning weight being just under 15 pounds and 5 teams had over 13 pounds. Everyone agreed that fishing small unpressured water is not only more fun, but produces some great catches. Weekday tournaments may not be for everyone, but the weekends are jammed with tournaments. Having these events on Friday will mean taking a long weekend from work. Speaking for the entire MassBASS Nation, “I hope you can make it. The waters below are tops and chosen by the quality of the fish and the perfect times to fish them.”

The disappointment was the TOC on Knopps. This is a great largemouth fishery. The problem was Jose. He blew through on Wednesday pushing the TOC to Friday. The barometer had and was going up and down like a horse on a merry-go-round. The wind that Friday still howled. The winning weight was just under 15 pounds, but the other qualifiers didn’t break the 9 pound mark. Of note was that Aaron Douyard was in a car accident several days before the TOC. He and his partner, George Barnes, tried driving to Knopps that morning, but detoured to the hospital. (He is OK now.) Plus, Randy Phillips fished the trail with his son Trevor, but this day Trevor had tests he had to take. We qualify the top 5 teams for the TOC, but through an accident and the schedule changing because of Jose – we ended up with three.

Congratulations Matty Klinker and Dusty Chaulk.

They are your 2017 Tournament of Champions winners. They caught 12.31 pounds at Knopps and had a 4.51 lunker as a kicker. Dusty and Matty are off to Norfolk Lake in Mountain Home, Arkansas on December 6-9. If they win there, they will go to The B.A.S.S. Masters Classic in 2018.

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