Big fish and light breezes welcomed anglers competing in the 12th Annual Greater Niagara BassEye Celebrity Challenge, held June 28 on Lake Erie and Niagara River waters.
From the blessing of boats at 7 a.m. to the 2 p.m. finish of fishing, boaters saw pond-calm waters everywhere the fish were biting on the lake and upper Niagara River. Throughout the competition, overcast skies afforded fishing teams warm air, an occasional puff of light winds and, in general, ideal conditions for bass and walleye fishing on waters surrounding the Buffalo Small Boat Harbor.
An hour after competition ended and all gathered under a tent at Buffalo Harbor, a heavy rain began, which did not affect awards presentations. Minutes before the last winners were introduced and photographed, skies cleared and participants left the harbor in bright sunlight.
Good fortune also smiled on the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, for which this event is a major fundraiser each year. Jon Dandes, president of Rich Baseball Operations, announced that this year’s event raised $180,000, which puts the 12-year total at about $1.5 million provided to CFF efforts.
Winning teams and individuals did well during the BassEye. For walleye catchers, a 31-incher showed up in two categories. Don Damrath, fishing with Capt. Herb Schultz, won the Largest Walleye with a 31-incher; Shelley Rohauer, fishing with Capt. Jim Plinzke, won Grand Champion Female Angler with a 31-inch entry. The winning team posted the most points and came close to an all-time record with a 4,500 score.
Capt. Jim Rores of Big Greek Niagara River Charters was big on bass numbers, measuring 54 bass that met or passed the 14-inch mark. The team of Ronald George, James Zaepfel and Greg Zaepfel logged nine walleye to complete their BassEye total. Greg Zaepfel’s catch numbers topped all and he also took the Grand Champion Angler award.
Rores and other charter captains are looking forward to next year’s BassEye fun and fundraising activities. Other 2013 award winners and runners-up will soon be posted on the CFF website listing BassEye winners.