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Resized_20180720_152653_6889.jpgThe value of a “kicker” bass cannot be overestimated in any bass tournament. Some of the better fishermen actually plan their day around a kicker. Some catch a limit of bass and then go for a kicker. Some believe that a bigger bass can be caught in the morning and start their day with a bait they hope will bring the big strike. My attitude is the later. Therefore, “spots’ are before patterns.

On Lake Lashaway, the final MassB.A.S.S. Classic Team Trail qualifier, on July 20th, a kicker meant the difference between winning and going home without 1st Place money. Matt Szczoczarz and Josh Wunschel caught a 4.19 largemouth. What difference did it make? They had 10.93 total weight. Eli Delaney and I had 10.40. Everyone limited, and after the four of us the remaining teams averaged 7.92 pounds for 5 fish. Was the bite off? No. Most of us caught 20 plus keepers. The big fish were not hitting and we were culling ounces.

The Top 5 Teams going to the TOC on the Agawam River on September 21st:

  • 1st …. Chip Servant & Josh Cotier…………. 794 points
  • 2nd … Matt Szczoczarz & Josh Wunschel…. 790
  • 3rd…. Jim Moorey & Jack Moorey………… 785
  • 4th…. Ray Lentine & Eli Delaney………….. 783
  • 5th…. Matt Klinker & Dusty Chaulk………. 778

The winning team at the TOC is going to Florida for the Classic Team Championship. The winner there goes on to The World Series of Bass Fishing: The BassMaster Classic.

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The Concord River is stained and lined with milfoil. You could not fish all of the laydowns if you gave yourself a week. Overhanging live trees gather all of the spring debris and they demand “punching” with 50 lb braid. Add to this formula the water moving at 6 mph and is home to trophy Northern Pike, you know that everyone is using braid – or at least 20 lb copolymer. Several weeks ago I said to my partner, Eli Delaney, that these light line guys will not stand a chance in this ‘power fishing” mecca……… I am getting tired of being wrong. 

This river, that connects with the Sudbury and Assabet Rivers, is the largest fishery in Massachusetts and the fishing is absolutely topnotch. From Billerica to Framingham, there isn’t a bad spot on it. Once again Jim Gildea and his partner Warren Burrell, throwing line that should be outlawed, won again. Throwing 5 lb test line they brought 14.7 pounds to the scale and put $650 in their pockets. In second place, winning $330, probably also throwing line that should be used for catching trout, was the team of Chip Servant and Josh Cotier.

Going into the final tournament before the TOC on the Agawam River is Lake Lashaway on July 20th. The teams of Gildea/Burrell and Servant/Cotier are tied at 598 points each. It is still a tight race for places 3rdthrough 5th. (Top 5 go to the TOC. (TOC Champs go to Harris Chain of Lakes in Florida for the Classic Team Championship.) Szczoczarz/Wunschel 590 points, Moorey/Moorey 588 and Lentine/Delaney 584.

If you want to fish this fine underfished Lake Lashaway, just e-mail me: raylentine@charter.net

There are not many of us that don’t look forward to fishing Wequaket Lake in April. The largemouth and smallmouth readily smash jerkbaits. Both species are sitting where they are supposed to be getting ready to spawn. BUT not this April. This April from hell, left most of us scratching our heads. When the tournament started the air temp was 34 degrees. The water temp was 44. It was partly cloudy with a slight breeze. By 11 A.M. there were white caps and the clouds had taken over. Tough conditions lead to a tough bite, but someone usually catches fish no matter what is thrown at them. Such was the case this April Friday at the Massachusetts B.A.S.S. Nation’s Classic Team Trail event on Wequaket Lake in Barnstable.

There is a fisherman among us that is just in his mid twenties, but is already turning heads in the Massachusetts fishing scene. I would place him as one of the top three fishermen in this state – without any argument from any of us. His name is Josh Cotier. He doesn’t own a boat. This tournament his team partner, Chip Servant, had the good sense, as would I, to let Josh run the front of the boat. They won the tournament and $925. (It is still April and Josh has won 4 tournaments.) Chip and Josh came in with 2 smallies and 3 largemouth that weighed 11.88 pounds.

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This is a sport where the winners are determined by ounces - not pounds. Coming in second were two seasoned fishermen that have won many tournaments over the years: Mark Donovan and Fred St Louis. They won $475 and had a 5 fish limit that weighed 11.77 pounds. The difference between 1stand 2nd and $925 to $475 was a mere .11 ounces or just a speck above 10% of a pound. Still, with just three limits caught, they came that close to winning it all.

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The Lunker was a 4.80 largie caught by the team of Jim Gildea and Warren Burrell.

Next Classic Team Trail event is May 18th on Great Herring Pond. They should be on beds and it should be a great tournament. If you want to fish it, you need to contact Ray Lentine (raylentine@charter.net), because there is a 15 boat max. 

The Classic Team Trail for 2017 is now history. When I was asked to run this trail I was, to say the least, skeptical. I just didn’t think that people, especially two people that knew each other and one having a boat, could/would take a weekday off. We had 16 teams, in total, compete. The winnings were huge, paying first place an average of $800 and second averaging $400. Our average attendance was 10 boats, with our highest tied at Wequaket and Webster and the lowest was the Merrimack River. (Note: The Merrimack was a great fishery. The winning weight was the second best of the year and both a largemouth and smallmouth came in over 4 pounds.) The surprise water was Wickaboag Pond, with the winning weight being just under 15 pounds and 5 teams had over 13 pounds. Everyone agreed that fishing small unpressured water is not only more fun, but produces some great catches. Weekday tournaments may not be for everyone, but the weekends are jammed with tournaments. Having these events on Friday will mean taking a long weekend from work. Speaking for the entire MassBASS Nation, “I hope you can make it. The waters below are tops and chosen by the quality of the fish and the perfect times to fish them.”

The disappointment was the TOC on Knopps. This is a great largemouth fishery. The problem was Jose. He blew through on Wednesday pushing the TOC to Friday. The barometer had and was going up and down like a horse on a merry-go-round. The wind that Friday still howled. The winning weight was just under 15 pounds, but the other qualifiers didn’t break the 9 pound mark. Of note was that Aaron Douyard was in a car accident several days before the TOC. He and his partner, George Barnes, tried driving to Knopps that morning, but detoured to the hospital. (He is OK now.) Plus, Randy Phillips fished the trail with his son Trevor, but this day Trevor had tests he had to take. We qualify the top 5 teams for the TOC, but through an accident and the schedule changing because of Jose – we ended up with three.

Congratulations Matty Klinker and Dusty Chaulk.

They are your 2017 Tournament of Champions winners. They caught 12.31 pounds at Knopps and had a 4.51 lunker as a kicker. Dusty and Matty are off to Norfolk Lake in Mountain Home, Arkansas on December 6-9. If they win there, they will go to The B.A.S.S. Masters Classic in 2018.

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Specific For: “The MassB.A.S.S. Nation Classic Team Trail”

Download PDF RULES - ENTRY FORM

Participation Requirements: The MassB.A.S.S. Nation Classic Team Trail, hereby known in these rules as

“2018 Classic Team Trail,” has no restrictions as to the participants with the exception of:

  1. All Boaters must be a minimum of 21 years of age as of date of tournament.
  2. All Non Boaters must be 18 years of age as of the date of the tournament OR
    1. They have a signed note from their parent/guardian giving them permission to fish as a non-boater.
    2. The person is fishing with a parent or guardian.
  3. All local and state regulations must be followed – including both anglers having a valid fishing license for the state in which the tournament is held. If the tournament is on water that is in two states and a license is not reciprocal for both states, both anglers must have valid licenses for both states.
  4. A minimum boat length of 15 feet is required to compete. No pontoon boats allowed. A functioning livewell that will hold and keep alive eight (8) bass is required. If there are no operating livewells in the boat, the team will not be allowed to fish that tournament.
  5. Only artificial lures will be allowed, with the exception of retail pork used as a trailer. Nets are allowed. There is no limit to the amount of rods being allowed in the boat. Only one rod will be allowed to be used at a time, which means no form of trolling. Keeping a pork trailer wet by allowing it to be just under the surface is allowed. Alabama Rigs are not allowed on Massachusetts waters.

Membership Requirements: There are no membership requirements, but if the team that wins the points title and has qualified for the Classic Team Fishoff, where the winner of that tournament goes on to The Classic, then both members of that team must be a member of B.A.S.S. before the first tournament. Joining B.A.S.S. is easy, just go to www.bassmaster.com – it cost just $25. If you have no desire to fish in the World Series of Bass Fishing: The BassMasters Classic, then you don’t need to join. Remember, once the day of the first tournament arrives and you are not a member of B.A.S.S., you can still fish for the purses, but not be able to go on to the Classic Team Fishoff – even if you win the TOC.

To Enter:

Option # 1: Pre-Registration - This option is preferred so we don’t have teams showing up and not being able to fish. The cutoff will be 15 teams, unless otherwise stated on the tournament schedule.Teams have two ways to pre-register:

  • Send a Check, along with a separate application for each tournament and a $300,000 insurance binder that is dated to cover the tournament in which the team will be fishing. (Each application mailed will need a binder. If a team enters more than one tournament and they enter multiple tournaments per mailing, then only one insurance binder is necessary per mailing.) Send check, binder and application and made payable to:

Ray Lentine
193 Sutton Ave
Oxford, MA 01540

OR

  • Pay with a credit/debit card. Either txt/call (508-826-7471) Ray with your Credit Card #, Exp date, 3 digit code on the back, exact name on the card and billing address. Note: The card will be run through Ray’s business account. The bank charges 3 ¾% to use the service. Amount charged for the first tournament entered: $166 Each additional: $155.6. If you enter all four by card: $632.88.
  • ALL PRE-REGISTRATIONS MUST BE RECEIVED BY NO LATER THAN THE TUESDAY BEFORE THE TOURNAMENT. No Exceptions. CREDIT CARDS MUST BE PROCESSED BEFORE RAY’S OFFICE CLOSES AT 5 P.M. DAILY. REFUNDS MUST BE REQUESTED BY NO LATER THAN 5 p.m. THE TUESDAY BEFORE THE EVENT. THE APPLICATION WILL BE FILLED OUT BY RAY’S STAFF AND THE TEAM WILL SIGN THE MORNING OF THE TOURNAMENT.

Option # 2: Pay at the Ramp - Teams can enter the morning of each tournament. You will fill out an application that morning and LEAVE A COPY of your insurance for $300,000 Liability. The entry Fee is $160 for first tournament your team fishes. $150 per tournament for each additional – cash only.

NOTE: IT IS STRONGLY RECOMMENDED THAT IF YOU DIDN’T PREREGISTER THAT YOU CALL RAY ON THE WEDNESDAY BEFORE THE TOURNAMENT. RAY WILL KNOW WHO HAS PREPAID BY THAT WEDNESDAY. 508-826-7471 IF THERE IS AN OPENING RAY WILL ENTER YOUR NAME. A NO SHOW, WHICH WILL CHANGE THE PAYOUT AND STOP SOME OTHER TEAM FROM FISHING, YOU WILL NOT BE ALLOWED TO FISH THIS TRAILTHE BALANCE OF THE YEAR.

(The application can be seen by going to the MassB.A.S.S. Nation website www.massbassnation.org . )

B.A.S.S. Fee: Every team member must pay a 1 time fee of $10. This money will go to BASS National as part of the payout for the Finals down south and will be collected the morning of the team’s first tournament. (This fee is not part of the $150 entry fee.)

Payouts: $10 per team will be subtracted from the entry fee. This money will be kept and given to the winner of the TOC to offset the expense to attend The Classic Team Championship. This will leave $140 per team.

  • 1st Place: 2/3 of total entries Full Field = $1400
  • 2nd Place: 1/3 of total entries Full Field = $700

Only two places will be paid out. There will be an optional LUNKER POOL @ $20 PER TEAM

Ties: If two (or more) teams weigh-in the same exact weight, the tie will be broken by which team has the bigger fish. If there is a tie after this then these two teams will go back out fishing: The first team back to the weigh-in site with a legal fish wins that place in that tournament.

Ties out-of-the-money: If two teams finish “out of the money” it may still be important to find the proper place- ment because the top 5 teams go to the TOC – with the winner of the TOC going to the Classic Team elimination round on a Southern lake. If one of the teams does not want to return to the water to fish for placement, then that team will accept the lower placement. Both teams would also have the option to decide placement by a coin toss.

Substitute: At one tournament only a team may substitute a co-angler. This substitute Co-Angler will not fish the TOC. The original team will be the team members that qualify for the TOC. Nobody will be allowed to fish alone.

Points/Standings:

    1. Points will be determined by finish: 1st Place = 200 points - 2nd place = 199 - 3rd = 198, etc.
    2. If a team fishes an event, but does not weigh-in a fish, they will receive 100 points.
    3. There will not be a drop tournament.
    4. Cumulative Standings will be posted on the MassB.A.S.S. Nation website.

Limit:

This is a five (5) fish limit trail. Only five fish will be allowed in your livewells and five fish brought to the scale. Largemouth and Smallmouth that are a minimum of 12” will be considered legal. Any fish, as determined by the officials, that is determined questionable as to mutilation or how long fish had been dead – will not be allowed.

 Road to The BassMasters Classic:

  1. Using the Points method above, the top 5 teams from the trail will qualify to fish a 5th tournament. This tournament will be called: “The MassB.A.S.S. Classic Team Championship.” That team will have won that title and will be the “MassB.A.S.S. Classic Team Champions.” The 2018 Team Champions will qualify to represent MassB.A.S.S. Nation at the Classic Team Fishoff. They will compete for 2 days and the top 3 teams (6 individuals) after those two days will fish that third day alone. The non-boaters will be

given bassboats to use on this third day. The person, on that third day, that wins will have an automatic entry in the most prestigious tournament in the world: The BassMasters Classic

EPO –Launch FEES:

  1. EPO Fee: With 15 boats there should not be any EPO Officer needed. .
  2. Launch Fees: These fees are known when lakes are chosen. At this writing there are no known fees.

Hours:

Check-in between 5:30 and 6:30. Because the people running this trail also fish the trail, they must also have time to put away check-in materials/tables, etc. and prepare for the tournament. Therefore, any team that tries to check in after 6:30 will be turned away.

Tournament Hours: Unless weather or other situations cause a delay, all tournaments will start at 7:00 A.M. and end at 3 P.M. 

Boat Examination and Launching at a site other than Check-in Ramp:

  1. Every boat will be checked by a MassB.A.S.S. Nation official. If you intend to enter the tournament you are giving permission for a MassB.A.S.S. Nation official to inspect your boat. Inspection may include the entire boat and not just livewells.
  2. If a team launches their boat at a ramp that is not at the check-in site, they must beach their boat and alert a MassB.A.S.S. Nation official so the boat can be inspected.
  3. All inspected boats will have their trolling motors “ribboned.”

Leaving the Boat: Once the tournament starts no contestant will be allowed to leave the boat with the following exceptions:

  1. If there is a bathroom or port-o-john and a member must relieve themselves, the other member

must stay in the boat.

  1. Medical Emergency.
  2. Leaving a hook on a dock/boat must be avoided. ONE member will be allowed to retrieve a hook that is stuck on a dock or a boat tied to a dock. No one will be allowed to retrieve a hook/lure that is stuck on land and cannot be reached by staying in the boat.

Take-Off and Weigh-in Procedure:

  1. One member from each team, when they sign-up the morning of the tournament, will draw their take-off number.
  2. To not stress out the bass, the weigh-in will be by called number ONLY. Do not bring fish to scales until called. Starting at #1 and depending on the number of boats in the tournament, teams will be called to the scales 5 Teams at a time. To save time: If numbers 6 thru 10 are called (for example) teams 11 thru 15 should bag their bass. At the Pre-tournament meeting it will announced who the Tournament Officials are AND if the weigh-in will be a “beached boats” or a “pull boats” weigh-in. To have a speedy weigh-in, the officials need to weigh-in first and their takeoff numbers will not be a factor for the weigh-in.

Penalties:

Late for Weigh-in: There will be a deduction of one pound for every minute a team is late. This means that a team must either check-in with a check-in boat, or with a check-in official standing on shore, or the boat beached by the official end of the tournament.

Dead Fish: There will be NO culling of dead fish. There is a fine line here. If you think a fish is dying and you want to cull it before it dies, this is allowed, but if the fish is dead – you must bring it to the scales. Any fish that is brought to the scales dead will be assessed a ¼ pound penalty (.25 lb.) per dead fish.

Under 12”: All bass caught must be 12” minimum length. A 1 pound penalty will be assessed for bringing a short fish to the scale and that fish will not be allowed. BEFORE a team brings fish to the scale, they will be allowed to compare their measuring device to the measuring ruler being used at the scale. (Golden Rule)

Unsportsmanlike Conduct: These tournaments are a COMPETITION and sanctioned by B.A.S.S. Fair play is demanded, but aggressiveness is part of any sport. There will be occasions that two teams will come to the same spot on the water. Talk to each other as to what path you take. “Cutting Off” another angler is not something that is punishable, but doing so will not be looked upon favorably by the competitors or the organizers. If a team is, for example, fishing a row of docks, a substantial amount of those docks would be on a first come- first to fish basis. The bottom line: If it doesn’t feel right to do it – don’t do it.

Staying competitive as you use common sense is what should be practiced. Coming upon a canoe, kayak or any small boat, no matter where you are on a river, you must slow down to no wake.

Safety:

Safe boating is required at all times. Most New England waters have a 45 mph speed limit. Some have “no wake” until a certain time and others have different speed limits for different parts of the lake. It is each boat driver’s responsibility to know the speed limit on the water they fish. 

  1. Each team member must wear a Coast Guard approved chest-type Personal Flotation Device (PFD) whenever the gasoline engine is on. The boat does not need to be moving. If the engine is on and a vest is not worn by both team members – the team WILL BE disqualified.
  2. Kill switch cords must be attached to the PFD if the engine is on. 
  3. 150’ must be the distance between all boats on plane, no matter if the other boat is in the tournament.
  4. No external fuel tanks will be allowed. Only the fuel in the boat’s installed gas tank will be used. The only refueling allowed will be at a regulated fuel depot, such as in a marina.

Disqualification:

  1. Protest: If you want to file a protest against another team, you must do so in writing, before the end of the weigh-in and before the scales are closed. The person filing a protest must be available when the protest is reviewed and when, if needed, a penalty is given. The MassB.A.S.S. Nation Officials at the tournament will determine the severity of the offense and the penalty.
  2. Citation: If any team is given a Citation for any on the water offense, they must inform a MassB.A.S.S. Nation Official. Not informing an official that a Citation was given will disqualify that team for the balance of that year’s Classic Team Trail. If a team is given a Citation, then that team’s weight will not be allowed.
  3. Off-Limits and Cutoff:
    1. If a Cutoff Period is announced/posted and if a team or a member of a team is found fishing during the period, then that team will be disqualified from the tournament held on that lake. (If there is a cutoff it will be posted on the MassB.A.S.S. Nations website. It will be important, before you prefish, to check the website and the info for that tournament. )
    2. There are some bodies of water where there will be “Off-Limits.” So anglers don’t waste time prefishing off limit areas, MassB.A.S.S. Nation, when possible, will post those off-limits on the MassB.A.S.S. Nation website. If there are off limits they will be announced at the pre-tournament meeting. Off-limits only pertain to the actual tournament hours. Any team caught in a designated off limit area during the tournament will be disqualified from that tournament.
  4. Drugs and/or Alcohol: None are allowed 6 hours before an event, during the event or at the weigh-in site. Never will illegal drugs or alcohol be allowed in a boat that is being used in the tournament. If illegal drugs or alcohol are found in the boat, the team will be disqualified from that tournament.
  5. The use of cell phones or walkie talkies to communicate with teams in the event is not allowed.

Pre-tournament Meeting: Required for all participants (both team members) to attend the Pre-tournament Meeting. These meeting will take place on or about 6:45 A.M., so plan accordingly.

MassB.A.S.S. Nation Tournament Officials: At each tournament the top three teams drawn for take off will be the Tournament Officials for that tournament. Each team will have 1 (one) vote. The scoreboard will show their names. Disqualifications or assessed penalties and any interpretations of these rules will only be made by these tournament officials.

Tournament Committee: All past participants in these tournaments will be the Tournament Committee. (TC) Suggested waters will be e-mailed out August of the year before the trail. Any changes will be made by the TC.

Any rule changes will be sent to the TC for examination and put to a vote. There will be a deadline for the vote and anyone on the TC that votes will have their votes tallied.

Note: It is the desire of MassBASS Nation to keep each tournament semi-small. This will allow us to fish smaller less pressured waters. The popularity of this trail will, hopefully, catalyst a 2nd 15 fish Classic Team Trail in Massachusetts the following year. We hope you support this trail and spread the word if you find the trail being run professionally and fairly. Thank you in advance for your support.

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