The first day of the 16th annual Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club Walleye Derby was, in a word, HOT!
Even the walleye bite was good, providing some hot action throughout the day. Most of us who live in Western New York realize that warm, sunny days with gentle breezes are few and far between, so there were few complaints, but out in the middle of the lake there is little shade. All part of the game.
This year the Con Club changed up the rules a bit and shortened the weigh-in hours to two, from 4-6 p.m., to the delight of everyone. One of the early coolers to come to the scales was owned by boat No. 28, operated by Captain Paul Port. Paul has fished all 16 of these events as well as other derbies and Friday was his day to shine. The big walleye identified with a plastic zip tie in the jaw, pulled down the scales to 8.56 pounds. Two more walleye were added to the mix for a total weight of 21.80 pounds. That big fish and three walleye total weight, held up all day to win the biggest fish award and heaviest box total for the first day. There was a little irony, though. The last box of walleye to be weighed produced the second-heaviest walleye of the day from team 86, led by Rob Oram. The big eye weighed 8.30 pounds with two more smaller fish for a total wight of 17.62 pounds. That total has them currently in sixth place.
The next six heaviest walleye were all in the seven-pound range. Joe Jemiolo, the son of one of the former tournament chairmen, produced a 7.93 walleye followed by Russel Tenemore with a 7.53 eye. David Beyers had a 7.50 fish as well as Christopher Logan. Scott Spier weighed in at 7.32 and former contest winner Dan Sobczak produced a 7.14 beauty. Just missing the seven-pound mark was Dennis Pillard of Pillard’s Lure’s with a 6.99 walleye, followed by Jim Plinzke at 6.94, and tournament chairman Zen Olow’s team producing a 6.86 walleye.
Other familiar names from events past included Jim Steel, Bill Begier, Roy Tesch, Jeffrey Phillips, Garry Olsen Jr., Dennis Gaul, Dennis Pillard, Mike Munson, Jim Skoczylas, Paul Soper Jr., Thomas Miranda (remember the cooler with three Swedish fish candies, he brought in on a windy Saturday?), Dennis Alguire and Tim Schrantz (producing the last walleye in the 6-pound range. The heaviest walleye in the 5-pound range weighed 5.96 pounds brought in by Pete Smith Jr. followed by Jared Meyer, Cody Allen, Jim Opeil, Barry Ball, Gregg “G- Man” Marzec, Henry Smith, Steve Ball, Thomas Kramer, Carlos Troche and Robert Spoon. Tom Breckon, and Andrew Davis had identical weights at 5.29 pounds, followed by Arnold Moore II, Don Ruppert, and John Ferdinand , Curtis Loveless, Darryll Macneil, Mike Ponosny, Thomas Slawtycki, James Klein, Gerald Bielicki, Aaron Teijeria and Larry Militello all weighing in 5 pound walleye.
There were 37 4-pound walleye that were entered as the big fish of the day. Even Captain Bob Rustowicz of “Forever Fishin’,” the team that has been winning numerous walleye tournaments on Lake Erie, proved they are mortal with a 4-pound big fish as well as two-time tournament champion Herby Schultz, Larry Willson, Jim “Looney Tunes” Tunney, Ron Duliba and Bud Marsh to name a few.
The were three 3-pound walleye entered as big fish. Eighty-eight teams out of 100 weighed in walleye the first day. The total fish weight weighed in was 1,222,95 pounds. The total amount of walleye weighed in on Friday was 257 and Frank Solares, handled every single one, and for numeous years, I might add. Great job, Frank!
The average fish weight was 4.79 pounds. This is a three-day tournament and a lot can change in a day, let alone two. The weather forecast is supposed to be nice and fishable.
Paul Port and his crew have almost a 4-pound lead over everyone, but there are four more places for Big Box and some big walleye cruising around out there. It’s always the big ones that get away, and a few stories reported that happening. Look for the final results Monday in the OBSERVER.
On a side note, the Westfield Bait & Tackle Shop donated on Friday a check for $100 that will be awarded to the heaviest walleye in the 44th place after their team
number 44. How cool is that? Port’s crew reported that they caught their fish west, using stick baits (black & silver) presented on Jets and dipseys.
Calendar: After the Con Club derby there is one last chance to get in on walleye tournament action. The 2021 Innovative Outdoors Walleye Challenge will take place on Saturday, Aug. 21. with Big Fish Friday on the Aug. 20. The deadline to sign up for these events is Tuesday Aug. 10 at 11:59 p.m. Entry fee for the main event (Saturday ) is $500 and Big Fish Friday is $100. There are also optional Calcuttas. For more information, call 481-5348 or go to [email protected] (726) 481-5348 .