Once each season, the Bergen Bassmasters conduct a night tournament during the summer. Nighttime temperatures are much cooler thus reducing the stress on the fish caught and also maximizing the number of fish that are released alive when the tournament is over. This year's event was held at Candlewood Lake in Connecticut on August 7-8th. To further reduce fish mortality, the tournament committee reduced the creel limit once again to 5 bass. Many five bass limits would come to the scales this night.
The winner of last year's night tournament on Lake Hopatcong, Joe Willemsen, repeated as the champ of nighttime tournaments. Joe amassed a big stringer of bass weighing a total of 15 pounds 3 ounces. To top it all off, Joe not only captured the lunker for the event but also broke the six pound lunker pool with his 6 pound 2 ounce largemouth. That fish is also the present lunker of the year. Joe's win here has moved him into the top six year-to-date. He and his partner, Charlie Spindelman who placed second with 14 pounds 9 ounces, were fishing a rocky shoreline in Danbury Bay that Joe had located in practice. Their pattern involved fishing worms and spinnerbaits in a steep bank area with patchy weeds that dropped off into 18-25 feet of water. Joe had caught his limit by 1am and his lunker was caught around 1:30. He had a total of 9 keepers. Charlie managed his back of the boat limit by 4:00am. His big fish, which was over 5 and a half pounds, was caught around 3:30am on a 7" worm. The area that they fished was so good to the two anglers that they remained there for the entire 10 hour tournament. Good is an understatement as the area produced over 30 pounds of fish throughout the night.
Placing third and continuing his hot streak in 1999 was the leading Angler of the year, Frank Freguletti. Frank captured his fourth straight top 5 finish with a limit of bass weighing 13 pounds even. Amazingly, Frank is pulling away from the other 35 anglers in the standings, all from the back of the boat. He had his first two bass by 8pm fishing in the Sherman arm and managed a total of 6 bass for the evening. Frank used an assortment of baits including a buzzbait, spinnerbait, and a 7" worm.
Placing fourth and challenging for the top boater spot is Tournament Director Nick Albano. A few weeks before the Bergen event, Nick won the Watershed Bassmasters tournament held at Candlewood at night. He used the same pattern to place third here. He started with small crankbaits in the New Milford arm around a rocky area and caught 4 bass by 9pm. He then fished flats for the remainder of the night and managed to catch 5 more bass on black spinnerbaits culling his way up to an 11 pound 15 ounce limit.
Another consistent top finisher at the club's night tournaments, Brian Mahoney placed fifth with 11 pounds 8 ounces. Brian also started off quickly by catching two bass in Danbury on Luhr Jensen brush baby crankbaits in the summer craw pattern. He then switched and fish an area near Latins Cove where ha caught his better fish. There, he used a large black Picasso spinnerbait with the huge turtle blade for massive vibration. His managed his limit fish ending up the night in Squantz Cove on a worm with only 15 minutes left in the tournament. Once again, Brian showed that fish could be caught right up to the last minute and never quit. That last bass allowed him to edge out 6 other anglers that were within a pound of his final weight.
In total, the 31 club anglers amassed 233 pounds 4 pounds for 109 fish weighed in. All but 4 fish were released alive. A total of 13 limits were brought to the scale.