On September 11-13th The Bass Federation (TBF) held the Eastern Divisional Championship on the Connecticut River, Middletown CT. At this bass tournament eight states send a 12 angler team to compete for top honors with the top two anglers on each team qualifying for the 2014 TBF National Championship.
Going into the event estimates were 11-12 lbs. per day to win the event, but the changing weather conditions and tidal water had other ideas. The overall individual winner in the field of 96 anglers was Dino Moutogiannis, Newington CT with a three day total weight of 30 lbs. 8 oz.
The NY TBF 12 man team consisted of Tom Luciano, Dale Brown, Chris Benninger, Nicki Eddy, Carmon Rust, Richard Marquis, Jesse Bezio, Jason Barnes, Rob Lamoy, Mike Cusano, Burnie Haney and Vice President Bobby Williams.
Capturing the designated boater position advancing to the 2014 TBF National Championship was Burnie Haney, Calcium NY finishing in 11th place with a weight of 22 lbs. 6 oz. Haney said to prepare for this event he drew on his previous tidal water experience learned on the Hudson River. On that water system the bass relate well to the main river grass flats and that’s exactly where he found his fish. Haney felt the back water areas and feeder creeks would receive intense fishing pressure over the course of the three day event and a main river pattern would likely hold up better over the long haul.
Haney reports locating his fish on eel grass flats along the western shoreline with a Bass Pro Shops Laser Eye spinnerbait (1/2 oz. Chart/White with Tandem blades), and he found the best flats were the ones extending 75-150 yards off shore with at least 2-4 ft. of water at low tide. Day one of the event Haney’s spinnerbait pattern slowed and his co-angler (Ken Bugden) caught several quality fish using a Zoom Horny Toad and a Strike King Rage Tail Shad.
On day two after landing a spinnerbait fish and missing another one Haney used that topwater information to adjust his presentation and he ended his day with four fish, just two ounces behind the leader, putting him in position to challenge for the number one spot on the NY team. Day three began with yet another change in the tide tables and after 20 minutes with no strikes on the spinnerbait Haney switched to a Strike King Pro Model Swim Jig (baby bass), dressed with a 3.8” Keitech Swing Impact Fat (Silver Flash) and boated four quick fish then closed his limit with a Texas Rigged 5” Senko (Black w/ Red Fleck).
Haney contributes his success to recognizing when to change presentations and being able to quickly locate his fish as they moved along the grass flat in the changing tide conditions. Haney says using a Temple Fork Outfitter (TFO) rod, GTS 735-1 (medium heavy) action in both casting and spinning models paired with Bass Pro Shops Extreme Reels enabled him to make quality long distance casts to catch his fish. He also recognizes his sponsors, Bass Pro Shops (Nitro Boats), Lucky Craft, Temple Fork Outfitter (TFO) Rods and The Rod Glove.
Earning the Co-Angler position advancing to the 2014 TBF National Championship is Mike Cusano, Clay NY finishing in 14th place with a weight of 21 lbs. 3 oz. During practice Cusano located fish along the outside edges of grass flat and he reports using a series of Rapsody Rods to make four specific presentations to catch his fish, 1) the Hot Rod Worminator for a swim jig dressed with 3.8“ Keitech Swing Impact Fat, 2) the Hot Shot for drop shotting a 3” Berkley Gulp Leech, 3) the 701 Heavy for the Alabama Rig and Zoom Horny Toad and 4) the Grim Ripper for presenting a Lucky Craft Gunfish.
At the 2014 TBF National Championship the boater competes for a Living the Dream prize package that includes paid entry fees to the FLW Pro tour for a year and use of a wrapper Ranger Boat and Chevy truck as well as thousands in cash and prizes. The Co-angler competes for paid entry fees into the FLW Everstart series and thousands in cash and prizes.
Image courtesy The Bass Federation