Mount Airy restaurateur puts pro bass tour on menu


November 19, 1998|By Peter Baker | Peter Baker,SUN STAFF

Frank Ippoliti has fished the year round and across the country for bass. He fished for bass so much, he said yesterday, it eventually cost him his marriage -- even after he tried to give up the sport.

But after placing second in the $227,500 EverStart Challenge on Kerr Reservoir last weekend, winning $20,000, Ippoliti said he is thinking of making a new start on the pro tour.

"I used to fish a lot of the B.A.S.S. tournaments, the top 100s," said Ippoliti, who owns the Four Seasons restaurant in Mount Airy. "And after a while it became obvious that fishing had come between us in our marriage."

For a while, Ippoliti said, he gave up bass fishing, thinking he and his wife could resolve their differences, but the 35-year-old restaurateur is back on the tournament trail with hopes of making it big.

"The EverStart is a satellite tour, really, a Triple-A league, I guess," Ippoliti said. "But it also is probably the hottest ticket in bass fishing right now for someone like me; the first time anyone has been able to fish for prize money from $150,000 to more than $200,000."

The EverStart circuit, which is new this year, is a series of regional tournaments for pro bassers with an eye toward making the national Wal-Mart FLW Tour, where first-place prizes run from $100,000 up.

The Bass Anglers Sportsman's Society (B.A.S.S.) has a similar set-up of tournaments, ranging from the BASS Masters Classic to state federation competitions. Ippoliti got his start 20 years ago with the Fredericktown Bassmasters of the Maryland Bass Federation.

"I have fished most of the lakes and rivers in Maryland, from Deep Creek to the tidal Potomac to the Upper Bay," said Ippoliti, adding that the variety of tidal and non-tidal structure and habitat he has fished allows him to perform well in other areas across the country.

"That's the only way you are going to make it in the professional ranks," said Ippoliti. "But bass are bass wherever you go. They have seasonal patterns and haunts, and you'll find them in pretty much the same places everywhere across the country. Understanding seasonal patterns is the key to success."

On Kerr Reservoir, along the Virginia-North Carolina border, Ippoliti advanced through the pro side of the tournament and qualified as the fifth of five anglers to make Saturday's final round with 8 pounds, 9 ounces.

On Saturday he caught 13 pounds, 5 ounces of bass, more than five pounds behind winner Greg Beck of Lexington, N.C. Yet Ippoliti's second-place finish placed him in the top 10 for the season on the EverStart circuit and, he said, qualifies him for a spot on the FLW Tour starting in January.

Ippoliti said that if can arrange his business affairs to allow it, he plans to give the big time his best shot.

Chessie third at worlds

Chessie Racing, Maryland's representative in the recent Whitbread Round the World Race, has gone on to compete on the international match racing circuit and this week finished third in the world championships.

Chessie Racing and skipper Gavin Brady of Annapolis entered the championship Nippon Cup in Hayama, Japan, ranked No. 4 in the world. With Brady at the helm, the team finished behind only Peter Gilmour (No. 1) of Japan and Bertrand Pace (No. 8) of France.

"We are really happy with this result," Brady said in an e-mail sent Monday. "Today was the perfect way for the team to go out for the year -- in winning form."

The racing format for the top-ranked 10 teams in the world championships is two round-robins, a semifinal and final. Chessie Racing finished the round-robin in third place, and race officials canceled the semifinals because of light winds.

"What this means is that it was decided to have the final between the first and second teams from the double round-robin," Brady wrote last Saturday. " Tough to take, but we cannot change the decision or the breeze, so we will go out fighting to clinch the third spot."

Gilmour defeated Pace in the final to win the worlds, and Chessie Racing matched up against Marcus Wieser of Germany, who earlier in the regatta had defeated both Chessie and the top-ranked Gilmour.

Brady and crew beat Wieser two straight in the best-of-three petite finals, coming from behind on the first downwind legs in both races.

Fishing updates

Upper Chesapeake Bay: According to the Department of Natural Resources, rockfish action remains spread out, with keepers taken by anglers working the shallows in low light hours, and trollers and chummers working the channel edges in the main stem of the bay as well as the Patapsco and Chester rivers.

Middle Chesapeake Bay: Chummers at the Gooses and Diamonds continue to catch 18- to 22-inch rockfish, while trollers near the Airplane Wreck in the Choptank River and along the western shore from Silver Ball to Parker's Creek have been catching fewer but larger stripers. Sea trout to be had beneath schools of breaking rockfish. White perch action continues to be good from Thomas Point Light to Hackett's.

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