of the Bergen Bassmasters
By Gregg Trass
The Bergen Bassmasters started out simply because there were no other BASS chapters in the local area at the time. It was the work of several interested parties who were looking for a forum to learn more about the sport of bass fishing. In October of 1985, Greg Trass was asked to take a ride to Catskill, NY to watch the weigh-in for the New York Invitational, being held on the Hudson River. His nephew, Steve McHale, who would become one of Bergen's original members, had read about the tournament in Bassmasters Magazine. The two decided to go for the day and eventually, they were asked to be dock officials for the tournament. These volunteer duties really kicked Greg's interest into high gear. When he returned home, Greg immediately called BASS National Headquarters to locate a chapter close to home. While there were a few clubs in Northern New Jersey, none were very close to Oradell, where Greg lived. So, after a suggestion by the woman at BASS headquarters, Greg was sent the paperwork to officially begin the Bergen Bassmasters.
After filing for chapter status and becoming official, the original members had a few philosophy disagreements. Part of the group were only interested in fishing for fun while others were into fishing tournaments. This caused the first rift in the club which had to be settled by some resignations. Soon after, the club would settle down.
The club began to hold regular monthly club meetings. Some of the first meetings took place at a member's home but the club quickly outgrew that concept. The club had used places like Haglers Pub and the New Milford Athletic Club for a few meeting before finally moving the meeting to the Oradell Town Hall.
In 1986, the club held it's first ever tournament. The chosen location was the popular Lake Hopatcong, one of the best bass lakes in New Jersey. While the size of the field for that first event was a small one, the Bergen events would very quickly grow to hold as many as 40 participants as was the case at an event in 1992.
In only a few short years, the club grew to it's maximum size. By 1991, the club was stocked with 36 anglers and Bergen initiated it's club observer program for future club members. Club observers were invited to fish club events for lunker only on an invitation basis, pending available boats. Since participation was high, our tournament sizes often exceeded 15 boats and the club opened up it's range by now fishing tournaments in New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut.
In 1989, the club expanded it's list of activities to include some events to benefit the youth and community in Bergen County. That year, the club held it's first annual Outing For the Disabled. It became an event that would grow to now have more than 300 participants and would win state acclaim for the top event of it's kind in New Jersey. In 2003, we were honored to win the prestigious National BASS Chapter of the Year - Special Events for our Outing for the Disabled. The club also began holding fishing seminars for a local cub scout troop which were followed up by fishing derby the next day. Over the year, we have conducted numerous "how-to" seminars at local tackle shops, conducting CastingKids events, and held youth derbies at Woodale Park pond.
In over 20 years since it was started, the club has grown and matured into one of the best clubs in New Jersey. There are many long-standing members that have remained with the club for fifteen years or more, many of whom have held club office. This wealth of experience, stability of membership, and commitment to our principles and club philosophy all contribute to the success that has become the Bergen Bassmasters. In the future, the club plans to continue it's excellent service to the community while providing it's members a stable and enjoyable club that strives to make each member a better bass fisherman.