MARYLAND 1996 BASSMASTER JR. CHAPTER INVITATIONAL
With conditions on the Potomac River that could have stopped the nation's best bass anglers, the participants of the Maryland 1996
Bassmaster Jr. Chapter Invitational had some great 5 fish limits on Sept. 14, 1996. Hurricane Fran had ravaged the entire length of the Potomac River just a short time before and flooding was still occurring up and down its banks. In places it looked like a logjam with mud oozing around those logs.
Every parent at Smallwood State Park, in Charles County, Maryland, just hoped that their young angler would at least have a bite so they would not come home too disappointed, but the fact is, the Maryland Bass Federation (M.B.F.) volunteer captains came out to make champions of these young people and that's just what they did!
The Federation's finest showed up in full force, many of them guides and all of them great tournament anglers, ready to give these youth a first time national tournament that they would never forget.
The tournament was originally a challenge between the Maryland and Ohio Youth Chapters top ten members, but as the months rolled by other states became very interested. New York and West Virginia both decided to send a 5 man team and several other states are now working to get their Federation Youth Chapters in gear for next year's event. As the Ohio and Md. teams had ten members - they were divided into two 5 man teams per state prior to the tournament making it a 6 team event with 30 anglers.
The youth all arrived in Waldorf, Maryland a day in advance of the event. They met at 7:00 P.M. on Friday night and went on a bus tour of the nation's capitol. Many of the folks from Ohio, West Virginia, New York and even some of the Western Maryland youth had never seen the monuments at night and camera's were clicking at every stop.
On Saturday morning the anglers and captains were at the ramps at Smallwood State Park by 6:00 a.m. A picnic style breakfast was served. Each captain and angler picked up a bag lunch for their day, and then the pairing began. A number match system was used, a short captain's meeting was held going over the tournament rules, as well as some safety precautions with the unusual water conditions. The teams were then led out on to the Potomac with the pontoon boat that the M.B.F. donated to Smallwood for use by handicapped and youth groups. It was a thrilling sight to see the 30 boats peel away one at a time when they reached the main channel and the looks on the youth angler's faces as the 150 horsepower bass boats came up to speed will not be forgotten by anyone.
The champion with a 5 fish limit weighing in at 12 pounds 8 ounces was Kyle Crew of Maryland, with Captain Jamie Coyle. In second place with a 5 fish limit weighing in at 10 pounds 12 ounces, Mike McGraw Jr. also of Maryland, with Captain Dave Lacey. Third place with another 5 fish limit of 8 pounds 12 ounces went to Tiffany Matthews of Ohio and her captain was Jett Thacker. Fourth place with 6 pounds 10 ounces went to Travis Sain from Ohio with Captain Jamie Coyle. Fifth place with 5 pounds 14 ounces was Pat Litten of Maryland with Captain James Spencer.
The Lunker Award went to Michael McGraw with a 4 pound 3 ounce largemouth, out of the boat of Captain Dave Lacey.
The first place team with 16 pounds 10 ounces was The Maryland Blue Team with members Michael McGraw of Big Mouth Jr. Bassmasters, Captain Dave Lacey; Patrick Litten of Catoctin Mt. Jr. Bass Anglers, Captain James Spencer; Rusty Shoemaker of Jr. Potomac River Bassmasters, Captain Greg Hansen; Heather Muth of 4-H Cast-a-ways Jr. Bass Club, Captain Tom Barlow; David Gosper of Quick Release Jr. Bassmasters, Captain Allen Bridges.
The second place team with 15 pounds 13 ounces was The Maryland Red Team with members Kyle Crew of Quick Release Jr. Bassmasters, Captain Jamie Coyle; James Schuchart of Jr. Potomac River Bassmasters, Captain Bobbie Olsen; Jason Varner of Jr. Potomac River Bassbusters, Captain Ralph Capasso; Christian Crew of Quick Release Jr. Bassmasters, Captain Alan Mullis; Matt Peters of Jr. Potomac River Bassmasters, Captain Rich Marshall.
The third place team was Ohio Team One with 12 pounds 14 ounces. Members included Tiffany Matthews of Basswater Kids with Captain Jett Thacker; Derrick Schrieber Of South Western Ohio Bassbusters with Captain Bob Lauder; Mike Williams of Walnut Springs Fishing Club with Captain Dave Colvin; J.D. Winfield of Buck Creek Fishing Club with Captain Steve Bosley; Jason Lewis of North Western Ohio Jr. Bassmasters with Captain Jeff Rock.
The West Virginia team weighed in 8 pounds 13 ounces, the Ohio Team Two had 6 pounds 10 ounces and New York weighed in 3 pounds 9 ounces. If some of the names of the winners sound familiar, they should. Derrick Schreiber and Kyle Crew were first and second place winners of the Bassmaster CastingKids Contest National Competition held at the Bassmasters Classic in 1995. This again indicates that effort should be made to recruit CastingKids participants into Jr. Clubs.
Other state team qualifiers fishing this tournament from West Virginia were: Jason Martin with Capt. Tim Surguy; Jamie Cupp with Capt. Rob Hennlein; Mike Cronin with Capt. Billy Stack; Seth Bailey, with Capt. Matt Hickman; and Nathan Luzader with, Capt. Greg Dillon.
From Ohio: Travis Sain, with Capt. Jamie Coyle; Natalie Matthews with Capt. Bob Cherry; Angel Johnson with Capt. Sam Schenk; Derik Johnson with Capt. Dave Gosper and Justin Bienyk with Capt. Tom Rollins.
From New York: Walter Morgan with Capt. Richard Gardner; Jason Wood with Capt. Clyde Rennemen: James Morgan with Capt. Mark Kinnelly; John Elston with Capt. Dan Lipscomb and A.J. Thompson with Capt. Jackie Harris.
A Bassmasters CastingKids Contest was held after the tournament and the winners of the contest were as follows. In the 7-11 age division, Benjamin Morgan of Highland, New York and in the 11-14 age division, James Morgan, also of Highland, New York.
Very special thanks goes to Daniel Confer of Flippin and Pitchin Jr. Bassmasters for organizing and running this contest. He along with Chris Simmonds from the same club assisted their senior advisor, Cindy Smelgus with the tournament. They also arrived before dawn to do the pretournament livewell and killswitch checks, proving once again that the Federation Jr. Chapter members are the future of our sport.
When this tournament idea was formed, Cabin Fever Tackle from Chambersburg, Pa. was the first to say - we are behind you. Their support gave us the encouragement to go forward with our plans and make this event happen. Owners Brook and Kevin Hoover have earned the highest respect for their continued support of our youth program. They and their crew showing up at the tournament, ready to help make it happen, was just another example of their genuine caring for our kids.
When the plans started to formulate and the interest grew, Ray and Ronnie Kerchal, Bryan Kerchal's parents, offered the support of the Bryan V. Kerchal Memorial Fund. This fund was developed after Bryan's death for the support of youth fishing activities and it was so rewarding to have the Kerchals believe in this idea. The planning of the event became a joint effort and Ray and Ronnie both put hours into designing the t-shirts and hats that they provided to each youth competitor, as well as deciding what else the Fund could do to make this specia1. We are so very grateful to them for recognizing this tournament as worthy of the Fund's support. We thank them so much for their investment in this tournament and in the future of our youth.
With the strong support of these people the activity fell into place, and developed into a super day for some very talented young ladies and gentlemen. We have so many people to thank for their assistance as volunteers, as well as their contributions of products. Along with our M.B.F. volunteer captains, sincere appreciation goes out to Butch Ward for serving as tournament director. When it comes to organizing captains and making a youth tournament run smoothly - nobody does it better. Debbie Muth, Karen Hickman, and John Uppole did a great job with the cookout that followed the weigh in. Rocky Beaver and Bruce Jones handled the weigh-in, while Cindy Smelgus and Debbie Muth handled the awards presentation. A big thank you to all the adult Federation Chapter presidents who ran fish for our youth, as well as handled check in.
Our deepest gratitude goes out to our counterparts in the participating states that made this tournament a reality by bringing their youth to Maryland. Pete Matthews of Ohio, Bill Bunner of West Virginia, and Wayne Tomassi of New York brought wonderful groups of young people to fish the tournament and we are grateful for their assistance with making this happen.
Thanks to our product sponsors, each youth that participated in the tournament went home with a great "goodie bag", and the winners will be grinning for a week. Special thanks go out to the Kerchals, Cabin Fever Tackle, Wrangler, Rubbermaid, Wright & McGill (Eagle Claw), Soft Bait Express, Bay Graphics, Bobbo Lures, Eidolon, Dave Moss Lures, Mann's Lures, the Charles County Dept. of Tourism, the Ohio Division of Wildlife, Cleveland Elks Club, and special thanks to Eagle Marine for donating gifts for our winning captains.
This historical tournament may be over but it is just the beginning. Now is the time to start planning next year's event, because it will increase support for the Federation Youth programs across the nation. The event will assure a new generation of ethical bass anglers that will be prepared to take the sport to heights we can't imagine, and most importantly, it will expose the sport of bass angling to more youth and give them a right choice in their lives.
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