UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Mooney the Maine event at TBF Eastern Divisional

Mooney the Maine event at TBF Eastern Divisional
Bryan Mooney weighed in 37 pounds, 15 ounces of bass over three days to win the Maine title as well as the overall Eastern Divisional victory.

JOHNSTOWN, N.Y. - In the end, the falling water on Lake Great Sacandaga wasn't enough to hold down competitors at The Bass Federation Eastern Divisional, a three-day tournament that served up some of the closest competition in recent memory. When the dust settled, Bryan Mooney of Auburn, Maine, led the overall leaderboard with a three-day catch of 15 bass that weighed 37 pounds, 15 ounces.

The 12-member Vermont team claimed the overall victory, as tournament cash awards at TBF divisionals are given to the state teams that catch the most weight over the course of the event. Competitors from Vermont weighed in 363 pounds of bass over three days to edge past the Massachusetts team, whose 12 representatives weighed in 359-15 to land in second.

The Vermont state team took first place in the competition among the states, thus earning the tournamentBehind Massachusetts in third is Maine with 354-15 over three days, followed by the New Hampshire team in fourth with a combined three-day catch of 334-7. The Connecticut team landed in fifth with 312-11, and Rhode Island rounded out the states represented at the Eastern Divisional with 301 pounds, good for sixth.

This week's tournament featured 12 competitors from each of the six states, and competition among the team members in each state was intense, as the top finisher from each state team earned a ticket to the 2008 TBF National Championship as a boater. Each state's runner-up advances to the championship as a co-angler.

Mooney comes from behind to win overall

With his 37-pound, 15-ounce combined catch, Mooney ended the final day first on the Maine team and on top of the overall leaderboard as well, which earned him a $500 Wal-Mart gift card as the Castrol Maximum Performer. He will be making his first-ever trip to the nationals on the boater side, while No. 2 Maine angler Victor Bacon of Sebago Lake, Maine, advances as a co-angler. Bacon, who led the Maine team the first two days, ended up with an overall catch of 35-15 to trail Mooney by 2 pounds.

For Mooney, success came when it counted most by simply sticking to what worked the first two days, when he stayed in contention despite not leading his state team until today.

"I did the same thing I've done the past two days," Mooney said. "I just made sure the first two days that I left the fish alone after the morning. I stuck with it today and got some bigger fish."

Mooney said he caught his tournament-winning bass on topwaters and Senkos on the far south end of the lake.

"I caught my smallmouths in the morning on a top-water with a Zara Spook Junior," he said. "Once the sun came out, I pitched into the trees and up really tight in the docks. I was up in a creek channel - the creek came out into about 10 feet of water, and everything else was 2 feet or less."

Mooney's championship-caliber performance came as quite a surprise to him, as he says he basically came to the divisional to have a good time.

"It hasn't sunk in," he said. "I didn't even think about making it this far. This is my first divisional; I came here just fishing and having a good time. Everything fell together and panned out just right."

Derocher claims decisive Rhode Island win

Thomas Derocher led the Rhode Island team all three days, ultimately earning a boater slot in the 2008 TBF National Championship with a three-day catch of 35-13.In a tournament as tight as this week's, Thomas Derocher's 4-pound win in Rhode Island felt more like a 20-pound margin of victory. His three-day catch of 35 pounds, 15 ounces defeated Johnny Nee of Middleboro, Mass., to earn him a boater slot in the 2008 TBF National Championship. As the No. 2 Rhode Island angler, Nee qualified as a co-angler.

Derocher led his state team all three days and led the overall field yesterday, but to close the deal, he first had to overcome a bit of an obstacle.

"I started off on the same spot I fished yesterday, where there were fish all over, but today I couldn't get bit," he said. "I didn't have a fish until 11 o'clock. I moved out of my primary spot around 10:30 and ran to some other stuff that I had been saving. Fortunately, I was able to squeak out enough bites."

Derocher, who competed this week as a boater, said he caught most of his bass on spinnerbaits and Senkos.

"I did some dock-fishing today," he said. "I had a largemouth that came unbuttoned that probably would have put me really close to being the overall champion, but that's how it goes."

This is Derocher's second consecutive trip to the nationals via the Eastern Divisional. Last year he advanced as a co-angler.

Gildea hangs on to Massachusetts lead

Leading the Massachusetts team wire to wire was Jim Gildea, who caught 35 pounds, 10 ounces over three days to win in his state.Jim Gildea of Weston, Mass., led his state team all three days to earn a boater slot in the 2008 TBF National Championship representing Massachusetts. Gildea's three-day catch of 35 pounds, 10 ounces edged him past Stephen Tepper of Shrewsbury, Mass., who as the No. 2 Massachusetts angler advanced to the nationals as a co-angler.

Gildea dominated his team despite having never before visited Sacandaga and despite having only a couple days of practice.

"Basically, I was running out of fish," Gildea said of his day-three performance. "I only had two days of practice, and my weights went down each day because I was running out of them. But I was able to scrape together a few bites and sneak in there."

Sneak in there he did, largely by adapting some tricks he knew from home to Sacandaga's low water levels.

"I was keying on really shallow grass with baitfish," he said. "Up where I'm from, we fish really deep in the grass - 30 feet - but here, the grass is in inches because the lake is down 15 feet. I just found grass and bait and fished the edges of it slowly and methodically, and caught fish here and there."

Gildea will be making his first trip to the national championship.

"I'm looking forward to it," he said. "It's been a great experience."

Bender squeaks out Connecticut win

Claiming the No. 1 spot on the Connecticut state team is Steve Bender with a three-day catch of 32-2.Claiming the No. 1 Connecticut spot by only 3 ounces is Steve Bender of Meriden, Conn., with a three-day catch of 32 pounds, 2 ounces. That beat the 31 pounds, 15 ounces weighed in by No. 2 Connecticut angler Fred Perry of Killingworth, Conn. Bender will represent Connecticut at the 2008 national championship as a boater while Perry advanced as a co-angler.

"We started hitting the usual spots that I've been hitting all week, and it didn't pan out," Bender said of his day-three experience. "We went to a third spot, waiting for the wind to pick up, and started drilling them. We worked this one area all day long."

Bender entered this week's competition as a boater and estimates he caught 10 to 12 keepers today while his nonboater had seven or eight.

"I'd like to thank the TBF for giving me the opportunity to be here," he said.

Anthony, Crino round out state winners

These anglers advanced to the 2008 TBF National Championship via this weekWinning New Hampshire with a three-day, 34-pound, 14-ounce weight is Mark Anthony of Wolfeboro Falls, N.H. Anthony will represent New Hampshire at the nationals as a boater ahead of No. 2 Alan Denise of Haverhill, Mass., who will represent New Hampshire as a co-angler after bringing in 33-5 over three days.

Taking victory on the Vermont team is Robert Crino of South Royalton, Vt., with 33 pounds, 1 ounce of bass over three days. That bested Tim Austin of Williston, Vt., who brought in 32-11 over the course of the tournament. Crino landed the Vermont boater championship slot, while Austin earned a ticket to the 2008 nationals as a co-angler.

Coming up

2007 TBF divisional competition will come to a close with next week's Mid-Atlantic Divisional championship, scheduled for Sept. 26-28 on the Nanticoke River near Seaford, Del.

Tags: jennifer-simmons  headline-story  2007-09-19-divisional-lake-great-sacandaga 

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