By Bill Hilts, Jr.
In the first leg of the 30th Annual Lake Ontario Pro-Am Salmon Team Tournament, it was the Vision Quest team led by Capt. Pete Alex of Erie, Pennsylvania who swept both the Trophy and Classic Divisions to take the top prizes in the contest held May 24-25 out of the ports of Olcott and Wilson.
The team’s two day total of 507.89 points (based on 10 points per fish and a point per pound) was enough to beat out runner-up Maverick (led by Capt. Chris LoPresti of Spencerport) by just 10 points in the Classic Division. In the Trophy Division, Vision Quest nipped Maverick by .4 points with a score of 258.42 to 258.02, one of the closest finishes in the history of the tournament. Vision Quest won $6,000 in the Classic; $3,000 in the Trophy. The big money, however, is the combined two-tournament scoring for the Niagara USA Cup – which Vision Quest is NOT fishing due to a prior commitment the weekend of May 31-June. The stage is set and it’s anyone’s game.
“We were fishing close to our port of Wilson because we were experiencing some motor problems,” said Alex at the awards ceremony in Krull Park, Olcott. “Most of our fish came on a Dreamweaver spin doctor and a green-glow fly in 140 to 190 feet of water off the red barn between Wilson and Olcott, fishing deeper to try and target bigger fish.” His strategy worked. The team had a limit catch of 12 fish for the tournament each day.
Catching a limit did not ensure being in the prize money as fishing turned on in the lake for the tournament. The first day, there were 22 classic limits; the second day there were 18 limits. Catching bigger fish was key and team strategies had to adapt their program to try and focus on bigger salmon. Only 12 fish are allowed in the Classic Division and no culling is allowed so if a smaller tournament fish was caught and reeled in, it must be kept as part of the tournament limit.
Rounding out the Top 7 in the Classic Division were: Screamer-Atommik, Dave Antenori of Pennsylvania with 486.93 points; Yankee Troller, Capt. Richard Hajecki of Rochester with 482.84 points (and defending champ of the Niagara tournament and the cup); Runnin’ Rebel, Capt. Jerry Felluca of Hilton with a score of 477.94 points; White Mule, Capt. Bob Cinelli of Newfane with 474.85 points; and Good Time Charlie, Capt. Dan Kelly of Pennsylvania with 468.56 points.
In the Trophy Division, which represents the best five fish in the box for the day, third place went to White Mule with 255.64 points, followed by Yankee Troller with 251.86 points; Runnin’ Rebel with 249.11 points; Screamer with 244.98 points and Top Gun led by Capt. Greg Gehrig of Oswego with 237.70 points.
In the Recreation Open Division, it was Great Escape led by Tom Pearce to win first place and big fish in the single day event based on a three-fish catch. His score was 84.10 and his big fish was a 21.54 pound king salmon. Second place was Renegade and Anthony LaRock of Burt with 83.68 points – less than a point off the pace. Third place was Balls Deep 3 led by Brandon Poole of Newfane with a score of 81.90 points (and winner of the Saturday open division contest). Fourth place was Leviathan and Marlowe Beis of Grand Island with 77.52 points. This also sets the stage for another close contest as the Recreation Open Cup is based on the best two scores of the four possible single day contests. For a complete rundown of the scores, check out www.lakeontarioproam.net.