40 of best will make for classic week of fishing
Considering it's midsummer, bass fishing should be fairly good during BASS Master Classic week that starts Sunday, with actual competition running Thursday through Saturday.
Many rooster tails will splash skyward from bassboats during the week as 40 of the world's best bass fishermen speed around the upper Chesapeake complex in an attempt to win the $50,000 first prize in the $200,000 payoff in the 21st annual event.
Fishing will be allowed in Magothy, Patapsco, Back, Gunpowder, Bush, Susquehanna, Northeast, Elk, Bohemia, Sassafras and Chester rivers and their tributaries in addition to the Susquehanna Flats, and possibly the upper bay itself. Some anglers will run 70 miles in the course of a day in their search for fish.
If you are a bass chaser in those areas, don't offer advice to any of the contenders. Tournament rules prohibit competitors from getting any information from sources other than other contenders after July 1. The penalty: disqualification. More on the classic tomorrow as local pro Bob Dobart rates the fishing waters; also covers recommended baits for the upper bay area.
* Saturday: BASS Master Classic contenders Larry Nixon, Rick Clunn, Woo Daves and defending champion Rick Clunn will appear from 1 to 4 p.m. at Bowers Marine Sales, 8510 Philadelphia Road. Call 780-0111.
* Sunday: Contenders arrive at the Marriot Inner Harbor starting at 10 a.m. for the BASS Masters Classic.
* Monday/Tuesday: Practice fishing for the classic.
* Wednesday: No practice for classic contenders. Public autograph sessions with classic contenders, 8 to 10 a.m., Centennial Park, Columbia. 10 a.m. is the launching of the BASS Master BP Kids Klassic casting program, with Gov. William Donald Schaefer kicking it off, at Centennial Park, closes at 2 p.m.
* Thursday/Friday: First and second days of classic competition out of Dundee Creek Marina, also the noon opener of the free BASS Masters Classic Outdoor Show at the Convention Center, but the show will be closed during the weigh-in, which starts at 2:45 at nearby Baltimore Arena, also free.
* Saturday: Final day of the classic; outdoor show runs from 10 to 8, with no close during the weigh-in at the Arena. Pre-weigh-in extravaganza (including laser show) starts at 2 p.m., again it is free, and get there early to ensure a seat. At Richmond last year, the jammed coliseum was turning people away two hours before the program started.
Names and places ...
* Headboating for marlin? It was almost like that as the 90-foot OC Princess made another of its 24-hour overnighter headboat tuna chunking trips off Ocean City. Yellowfins stopped biting after 18 anglers aboard took 20 large tuna so the boat turned to trolling and landed two white marlin -- one taken by Jack Schuster of Pasadena and the other by John Leader of Laurel, Del.
The best tuna was caught by Dart Way of Ocean Pines, a 65-pounder, the others went 40 pounds or better. A couple dolphin also were taken. Not bad for one day on the ocean. The next tuna overnighter is Sept. 22-23, call 1-301-289-8121. Denny Schraf landed a 5-pound grouper, a rare catch indeed, aboard the Princess on one of her regular daily trips -- and another angler got a 5 1/2 -pound sea bass.
* First place is nice, but not always the best. Kevin Cooney of Catonsville won $70,660 for a 23-pound white marlin, biggest in the 18th annual White Marlin Open at Ocean City, but the runner-up 72 1/2 -pounder taken by Joe Sanchez aboard the Osprey was worth $130,000. Think that's the best? Think again.
No qualifying white marlin were taken in another Calcutta pool level, so the blue marlin of 387 pounds landed by Terry Layton of Ocean City aboard the Insanity won him $218,400! There are many entry levels in the annual event, and Layton was in them all to the tune of $7,600 in fees.
Capt. Ray Parker, 69, of the Sea Bird out of Wachapreague is the toast of Catonsville. Cooney, Harry Chambers, Hank Schrott, Bob Kreis, Frank Scittino and Dave Leszczynski booked him Ocean City accommodations so he could fish them out of there -- and it paid off handsomely for everyone as the anglers split the pot; Parker won an extra $1,500 as skipper of the winning vessel and his grandson Robbie got the same for mating.
But, that's not all. Robbie won enough money in a side pool to pay tuition and other expenses for his last year coming up at Salisbury State. Incidentally, the winning marlin was whipped in 25 minutes after taking a trolled strip of Spanish mackerel.
Among other winners in the tournament: Jim Strain, 61 1/4 pounds, $4,000; Rich Roegiest, 55 1/2 -pound wahoo, $6,500; Bob Belcher, 39-pound dolphin, $4,000; Dennis Killoran, 640-pound shark, $4,500 -- and was taken aboard the Fish Finder skippered by Capt. Mark Sampson, president of Ocean City Sharkers. Though men won most of the money, Kitty Falls of Virginia Beach scored the most points for the second year in a row by releasing four white marlin and a blue marlin.