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New fishing tourney hooks anglers

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 June 2014 at 12:00 am

Organizers see big potential in Oak Orchard Open

Photos by Tom Rivers – The winning team – Yankee Troller – poses with their trophies and $10,000 in prize money. The group includes, from left: Craig Hajecki, Justin Botting, Walter Piecuch, Joshua Ranaletta, Jeff Curcio (kneeling) and Rich Hajecki, the charter boater captain.

POINT BREEZE – The inaugural Oak Orchard Open completed a two-day fishing tournament this afternoon with more than $20,000 in prizes distributed to top teams.

The event whet the appetites of fishermen for competition, generating lots of talk on-line and in the fishing community.

“I think this will really take off,” said charter boat captain Paul Czarnecki, one of the organizers of the new tournament. “This will only grow. The Internet will be blowing up in the coming days about it.”

The new tournament attracted 36 teams that each paid a $400 entry fee. The tournament was put together after the Orleans County Pro Am ceased after last year.

The new tournament challenged the teams to catch 10 fish each day – five salmon and five trout. Teams would earn points for each fish they caught of the 10, with additional points for each pound of fish.

Only two of the 36 teams were able to meet the maximum of 10 fish each day.

“It was a skill tournament,” said Justin Botting of Lockport, who was a member of the first-place team, Yankee Troller.

Botting and his teammates focused on salmon from 5:30 to 9:30 in the morning before then going after trout. Fishing had to be done by 2 p.m. and the Yankee Trollers tried to catch bigger salmon after noon before the time was up.

Many other tournaments don’t require two species of fish. The Oak Orchard Open forced teams to strategize because salmon and trout generally don’t hang around together.

First-place trophies have a fishing theme.

The Yankee Trollers earned 432.27 points over the two days – 20 points for catching 20 fish and another 417.27 for the weight of the 20. That was 55.50 more than the second-place team.

Czarnecki said he only heard positive feedback from the participants. He expects to see even more people entered in the competition next year.

“We set a new gold standard for tournaments on Lake Ontario,” he said while fishermen gathered for the weigh-in outside the Black North Inn. “We brought back the fun. This will generate excitement in the tournament format.”

Eliot Zielinkski, 30, of Rochester liked the new format. His team finished in seventh place. He has been competing in fishing tournaments for seven years. He said they are intense, with the competitors focused for more than eights hours while on the water.

“You stand on the edge of the boat for the whole thing,” he said. “You’re adrenaline is just skyrocketing.”