By Bill Hilts, Jr.

Niagara Week 2 and Cup Final Results

What a difference a week can make, especially as it relates to fishing. In the first weekend of the Niagara USA version of the 30th Annual Lake Ontario Pro-Am Salmon Team Tournament out of the ports of Olcott and Wilson, tournament limit catches were the norm. In the final weekend of the two-tournament contest held May 31-June 1, only one team had a 12-fish limit both days – and they won the tournament, held in memory of Walter “Skip” Hartman.

In the Classic Division of the two-day tournament, Reel Excitement led by Capt. Bob Songin of Rochester was the top dog by putting together two consistent days of fishing for a total score of 360.2 points (based on 10 points per fish and a point per pound for the contest). They were in fifth place after the first day, more than 37 points behind the leader Ace Charters and Capt. Jimmy Samia of Massachusetts. They won a check for $6,000.

“We started at the Niagara Bar and picked up some salmon and trout there the first day, then picked up to look for some bigger fish off Wilson,” said Songin at the awards ceremony in Krull Park, Olcott. “The second day we focused most of our day on the Bar, thinking it would give us our best chance for numbers. It did.” After three days of east wind, fishing went south for most of the trollers, including Ace. After a limit catch the first day, they could only muster seven fish for day two to score 103 for the day and a two day total of 328.08 points and fall short of Songin’s efforts. They earned a check for $3,100.

Rounding out the Top 7 in the money were Oh Baby led by Matt LeClair of Plattsburgh with 302.48 points; Capt. Chris LoPresti and his Maverick team from Spencerport with 295.02; Capt. Bob Stevens of Medina and his Sunrise II team with 282.76 points; Screamer led by Dave Antenori of Pennsylvania with 278.70; and Todd Pavlik’s Pacific Time team with 248.21 points. Capt. Rob Taddeo and his Hideout team caught the big fish, a 23.73 pound king salmon for this tournament.

This took us to the Niagara USA Classic Cup, awarded for consistency over the two weekends. Using a unique scoring system, top dog over the two weekends was LoPresti with a final score of 533 – earning a check for $20,000. Second place was Screamer with a score of 518, good for $10,000. Third place was White Mule led by Capt. Bob Cinelli of Newfane with a score of 488. The team won $5,000.

In the Trophy Division of the tournament, which represents the best five fish each day, Screamer moved in from eighth place after the first day to nip Day One leader Ace by less than three points – 198.05 to 195.10. They earned a check for $3,000. Third place was Maverick with 177.62 points, followed by Top Gun/Free Spirit led by Capt. Greg Gehrig of Oswego with 176.39; Reel Excitement with 176.11; Pacific Time with 172.25; and Tomahawk and Jonathan Ross with 172.18 points – five places separated by five points.

In the Niagara USA Trophy Cup, Antenori scored 538 overall to win the $5,000 check based on the two Niagara tournaments. Second place was LoPresti with 518, good for $3,000. Third place honors went to Top Gun/Free Spirit with a score of 294. They received a $2,000 check.

In the Recreational Open Division, a more relaxed category with fewer rules based on a three fish catch, Renegade led by Anthony LaRock of Burt won top honors with a score of 85.55 points which included a big fish of 22.27 points. They won $725 for first place, $200 for big fish and a $500 gift Certificate for Fish Hawk. Second place was Balls Deep and Bob Woods of Pennsylvania with 67.01; third was Mean Machine and Kyle Hovak of North Tonawanda with 63.86; and Balls Deep 3 was fourth with a score of 62.02 points, led by Brandon Poole of Newfane.

For the Sunday Recreational Open contest, Tri-Lakes, led by Matthew Briggs of Arkport was the leading scorer with a total of 75.84 points. They also weighed in big fish for the day, a 22.79 pound king salmon. Second place was Renegade with 73.90 points. Third place went to Just One More and Bryan Lukehart of Pennsylvania with a score of 66.20. Fourth place was Ray Pacuilli and his Double R team from North Tonawanda with a score of 40.00 points.

There was a cup for the Recreational Open anglers, too. Participants could take their best two scores over the two weekends to vie for the Niagara USA Recreational Open Cup and a check for $500. In the battle for supremacy, Renegade came out on top over Balls Deep 3 by a score of 169.23 points to 164.47 points – another close battle of consistent performers.

All told for the two weekends, a total of $105,675 was paid out in cash, plus another $10,000 in merchandise and trophies for one of the biggest tournament payouts ever! Big sponsors for the tournament included the Town of Newfane, Niagara Tourism and Convention Corp., Niagara County, Dreamweaver, Moor Electronics, Fish Hawk, Robert M. Cinelli, Inc., Buffalo Sabres Alumni, Bayside Guest House, Lighthouse Grill and Spirits, Twin Village Recycling, Lake Ontario United, Newfane Family Chiropractic, Newfane Business Assn., Wilson Fire Hall, and Niagara County Parks.

Top 10 Money winners – Niagara USA 30th Annual tournaments May 24-25 & May 31-June 1, 2014

  1. Maverick – $30,600
  2. Screamer – $22,650
  3. Vision Quest – $9,000
  4. White Mule – $7,600
  5. Reel Excitement – $6,850
  6. Ace Charters – $4,450
  7. Top Gun/Free Spirit – $3,500
  8. Yankee Troller – $3,150
  9. Runnin’ rebel – $2,450
  10. Oh Baby – $2,400