After the Costa Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) Series Northern Division bass tournament held here this week, competing bass anglers could be calling Buffalo the windy city. For the second day in a row, tournament officials cancelled fishing on Lake Erie out of Safe Harbor Marina due to high winds and potentially dangerous waves. As a result, only one day of fishing constituted this contest.
Neil Farlow of St. Catharines, Ontario was declared the winner of the 1-day tournament when he totaled 24 pounds, 4 ounces by catching a limit of 5 smallmouth bass on Thursday. Included in his catch was the big fish of the Pro side of the competition, a lunker 6-pound, 6-ounce smallmouth. Farlow used a mixture of drop shot rigs and tubes to catch his fish. He won a check for $42,500 and a new Ranger Z518C boat with a 200-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard engine.
Runner-up for the Pros was Ben Wright of Peru, NY just one ounce behind with 24 pounds, 3 ounces. Third place was Charles Sim of Nepean, Ontario with 23 pounds, 3 ounces. Fourth place was JT Kenney of Palm Bay, Fla. with 23 pounds, 2 ounces and fifth place was J. Todd Tucker of Moultrie, Ga. with 22 pounds, 15 ounces of bass. The tournament paid out the top 43 anglers in each division.
For the co-anglers, Sakae Ushio of Tonawanda reeled in a 5-fish catch that weighed in at 23 pounds, 7 ounces to win that division of the tournament. Ushio won a new $28,250 Ranger Z175 boat with a 90-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard and $250 in cash. The pro angler he was fishing with was Cory Johnston of Peterborough, Ontario.
It was a tight race for co-anglers, too, who fish off of the back of the Pro boats and have no control over where they fish. Christopher Benninger of Grand Island was just one ounce behind the winner with 23 pounds, 6 ounces. Third place was Colton Sowers of Venetia, Pa. with 23 pounds, 4 ounces and fourth place was Will Rogers of Grand Island with 22 pounds, 2 ounces. Fifth place was John Stoughtenger of Waterloo with 21 pounds, 7 ounces. Big bass for the co-anglers was Colton Sowers with a 6-pound, 6-ounce smallmouth bass.
On the Pro side, there were 142 limits of bass caught during the 1 day of fishing. A total of 783 bass were weighed in and 659 fish were kept alive and released back into the lake for an 84.1 percent survival rate.
Co-angler totals were 110 limits caught on Thursday, bringing 704 bass to the scales at Safe Harbor Marina. A total of 584 bass were kept alive and returned back into the lake, a survival percentage of 82.9 percent. Over 5,000 pounds of bass were weighed in for the 1 day of fishing between both divisions.
Emcee Ron Lappin, Director of Tournament Operations for FLW, was impressed with the quality of the fishing in the area, as well as the cooperation that he received from the Erie County Fisheries Advisory Board. “It’s unfortunate we didn’t get more fishing in,” said Lappin, “but there are many things that we need to take into account – from wind velocity and wave height to forecast to experience of the anglers that are competing.”
Check out www.flwfishing.com for a complete rundown of the tournament and the final standings. The next Costa FLW Series Northern Division contest will be in the 1000 Islands out of Clayton Sept. 6-8.