Katherine Owczarzak of South Buffalo became the first female to win a division at a New York BASS Chapter Federation event last weekend during competition at Frontenac Park on Cayuga Lake. It was quite a breakthrough considering competitions have been held for 41 years.
Owczarzak’s total of 17.75 pounds set two records for New York Bass Chapter statewide competitions — largest five-fish limit for all female anglers and first female to win the Non-Boater Division in the history of BASS chapter competitions. She received a plaque and $1,500.
Owczarzak, 28, joined the Niagara Frontier Chapter of Bassmasters in 2013 and signed on with the statewide circuit this year as a non-boater .
She was paired with boater/angler TJ Valle from Rochester, who had located fish at 15 to 20 feet and steadily worked these mid-depths.
“I did best with weighted (plastic) worms and jigs in natural colors,” Owczarzak said.
Conditions began with overcast skies early that Sunday morning and then bright sun through the day.
“We did better during the late morning and afternoon,” Owczarzak said of the 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. competition in which Valle posted a five-fish limit of 21.5 pounds. Valle’s total led until the end when Jeremy Douglas weighed in a record catch (23.49) and pushed Valle to second place.
While new to contest fishing, Owczarzak said, “I began fishing with mom and dad early in life. There is lots of smallmouth fishing around here, like Lake Erie.”
She and her boyfriend, Kyle Phakkhonkham, became more interested recently in bass fishing when mutual friend and mentor John Carey introduced them to the tourney/contest aspect.
Two other females competed at Cayuga Lake, one in the Non-Boater and one in the Boater Division.
Frontenac Park will be the site of a Bassmaster Elite event Aug. 21-24.