Berkeley Lake Bass Tournament Results - 1997
In 1997, a early Spring and a beautiful sunny forecast for April 5 brought a record number of boats to the annual event. The Wednesday before only six boats were registered but by the eight o’clock Friday night deadline twenty-two boats had paid their fee. The fisher people came out of the woodwork since the rain and thunderstorms were expected to be delayed until Saturday night. One boat registered on Saturday morning bringing the total to twenty-three boats, with forty-five people participating. Fisherman Tom Dyer was overheard saying “there’s not enough fish in this lake, to support this many boats”. The boats ranged from Canoes and Peddle Boats to Bass Boats. There were veteran fishermen competing with college students, couples, and father/son teams. The lake’s water was extremely clear, since there had not been a good rain in over a week. The clarity of the lake and the clear blue sky above did not help the fishing.
Only two-thirds of the boat teams came to the 1:00 weigh-in. It was exciting seeing the fish that were caught and brought to the weigh-in, but even some of the veterans were empty-handed. Some teams had not caught a fish all day, while others caught only fish under the twelve inch minimum. One crew was spotted having lunch at the “Ugly Mug” pub down Peachtree Industrial.
Cash prizes were awarded for the Biggest Bass and the four heaviest stringers of three Bass, excluding the one biggest Bass. Tom Peters was first to produce a “Big Fish”. Tom’s fish tipped the scales at 4 pounds, 11 ounces and looked to be a tournament record. Shawn McNew and Doug Zappt brought their Big Fish to the scales and it weighed 4 pounds, 12 ounces. It was very close and the fish were weighed several times. The Davis boat, manned by Shawn and Doug took home $70 by one ounce.
Tom Peters and Rich Davies had the heaviest stringer of up to three Bass at 5 pounds 10 ounces. They took home $60 with just two fish. Tom Dyer and Greg Palmer were next at 5 pounds 7 ounces and split $40. Cory Hoyt and Rick Bonniwell cashed in their 4 pounds 12 ounces for $30. They started a hour late, due to Cory’s boat, full of tackle, drifting away from his dock overnight. Cory appeared refreshed after his early morning swim. Daron Strub’s boat finished fifth at 4 pounds, 2 ounces for $20.
Others with significant weights were brought in by Marvin Springston and Doug Shelton at 3 lb. 14oz., The Zielazienski boat at 3 lb. 11 oz., Britt and Jesse Collins at 3 lb. 6 oz., Chris Doughtie and Bob Smith at 3 lb. 4 oz. The Davis boat’s other three fish weighed 3 lb. 9 oz. Marcie Zielazienski’s nephew Michael Henry brought in a monster crappie which raised the scale at one and half pounds. It looked larger than many of the Bass caught.
Other participants were: Chris Holben and Gordon Gearhart, Mark Holben and Doris Cook, Bill Laber and Shirley Bruno, Richard Dugg, Chris Richards, Stan, his brother and Michael Litton, Rick and Weston Waxweiler, Jim Alexander and Paul Woschula, Richard Thompson and his brother Tom , Ron Phelps and Pat Domqieux, Tommy Greene and Uke, Bruce Sleeper plus Vincent Henry and Michael Zielazienski.
It was reported that around two-hundred fish were caught, all on artifical lures. Many of these fish were under the twelve inch minimum. One person was said to be using the infamous “Banjo Minnow”. All fish were released to swim another day. There were no apparent casualties and no fish were invited home for dinner. It was the best day ever for the annual tournament, but the water clarity and sunny conditions did not increase the odds of catching fish. Thanks to the B.L.H.A. the fishing gets better every year. We’ll do it again next year in the Spring.