Lake Simcoe Ontario Canada, Sunday November 5, 2006... In what can only be described as one of the most impressive sights in the history of Canadian Competitive Bass Fishing, monster smallmouth after monster smallmouth was brought in to the weigh scales at the 6th Annual Crackle Cup Bass Tournament at Monto Reno Marina in Lefroy Ontario.
The hype and hoopla around the 2006 Crackle Cup seemed to culminate a full week ago when on Oct 28th the tournament had to be postponed due to gale force winds. The following week however saw conditions mellow and by early morning on Nov 5, 18 two person teams were anxious to head out to try and break the Canadian Record.
The hosts of this final bass tournament of the year - the Aurora Bassmasters, were pleased to have the support of Bass Pro Shops who supplied two Signature Series Johnny Morris rods and reels. And, if the winners topped the magic 30 pound mark, an extra prize of two Bass Pro Shops 100 MPH parkas would be awarded. The big question on everyone's mind however was whether any team could actually bring in five bass that would average 30 pounds or better - a benchmark that has never before been surpassed in Canadian tournament history.
As anglers began to weigh in their impressive catches at the end of the day, it was clear there were a fair number of bass over the six pound mark. Soon these did not even warrant weighing separately however for the Big Fish Pot, as a 7.16 pound HAWG was weighed by anglers Mike and Howard Gifford. Marc Coratti, official weigh master joked to those who wanted to weigh their single big fish that "Oh … that's just another 6 pound dink - you need to have one that at least looks like a 7 before it's worth weighing separately." Although conditions were not as flat and calm as at last year's event, there were places where the waves weren't too bad. The majority of anglers reported that plastic tube jigs were most productive but some also remarked that jigging spoons accounted for a few fish.
When the team of John MacDonald and Steve Hawkins came up to weigh-in their fish the site was almost too much to behold as all five bass looked to be at least 6 pounds each. The scales began to flicker close to the elusive 30 pound benchmark. Would they settle on or above that magic number? The crowd hushed in excitement as the fish settled and Marc read out the official weight … 29.90 pounds! "Ah … so close!" … the crowd lamented in unison and even fellow competitors who where anticipating that they would become part of the Canadian bass tournament that would break the elusive 30 pound mark, sighed in disbelief. Almost as an afterthought, their biggest fish was weighed separately, a 'nice' 7.14 pounder that fell just short of the 7.16 pounder weighed earlier. The winners remarked, that like the other anglers they too caught their bass on plastics, but they did not elaborate further.
For their winnings, John and Steve each received the Bass Pro Shops rods and reels as well as $1,000 cash prize. They will however likely covet the 2006 Crackle Cup trophy even more and know that in 2006 they beat the old Crackle Cup record and set a new Canadian record. Their 29.90 pounds for five bass now becomes the weight to beat for a one day bass tournament on Canadian waters.
Bass tagging project:
All bass caught at this event were part of an MNR Community Fisheries and Wildlife Improvement Project and one of the Conservation commitments by the Aurora Bassmasters Club. Here, bass were weighed and measured, scales and dorsal spines were collected, and each fish was fitted with two uniquely numbered white tags. These tags bare the phone number of the MNR Aurora District office - and any angler catching one of these tagged fish is asked to call that phone number and report the tag numbers, when it was caught, length of fish, where in Lake Simcoe it was caught and if the fish was released or not. (Anglers are strongly encouraged to live release these tagged bass.)
All bass caught were live released back into Lake Simcoe - except for four big bass that were brought to Bass Pro Shops for their popular public aquarium inside the shop.
Mike Gifford with the big fish of the tournament - a huge 7.16 pound Lake Simcoe smallmouth bass
Top Ten Team Names
|John Macdonald & Steve Hawkins|
|Dave Johnson & Barry Graves|
|Mike Gifford & Howard Gifford|
|Dave Chong & Steve Spagnolo|
|Ryan Johnson & Bill Walke|
|Doug Brownridge & Dave Scarr|
|Pete Savoia & Gaspare Costable|
|Mark Morran & Joe Musynski|
|Des Barnes & George Saliba|
|Kyle Heels & Ryan Rogers|
Total payouts, including prizes valued at over $3,500
The Aurora Bassmasters would like to thank Monto Reno Marina for being such tremendous hosts and offering refreshments and hot coffee for all the anglers. Special thanks also goes out to Bass Pro Shops for their support, Crackle for supplying all anglers with some of their fish attractant product and especially Melanie Frost for helping out with fish care after her husband and tournament partner Simon Frost had to be taken to hospital. Simon slipped in the boat while setting the hook on a big bass and suffered a couple of hairline fractures to his fibula and pulled tendons and ligaments in his right leg. Angler Dave Chong deserves a pat on the back for bringing the four bass to Bass Pro Shops, MNR biologist Jason Borwick and his team of biologists for their sampling expertise and all the Aurora Bassmaster volunteers who chose to help out at this event instead of competing.
Winners John MacDonald (left) and Steve Hawkins show off four of their five bass weighing 29.90 pounds; a new Canadian one day tournament record