New fishing tourney opens with $20K up for grabs
Oak Orchard Open includes 36 teams in debut
POINT BREEZE – A new fishing tournament – The Oak Orchard Open – will cast off before sun up on Saturday when 36 teams leave the Oak Orchard Harbor at 5 a.m.
The new tournament fills a void left after the Orleans County Pro Am was discontinued after last season. The new tourney has a different format and guarantees $20,000 in prizes, including an $8,000 grand prize.
About 150 anglers will be out early Saturday and Sunday for the 2-day tournament. Each team has four members. They earn points based on 10 fish each day – their five heaviest salmon and trout. The teams get a point for each fish and additional points for each pound of their collective catch.
“We all love fishing and the competition,” said charter boat captain Richard Hajecki.
He was one of the main organizers of the tournament with charter captains Bob Songin and Paul Czarnecki, as well as fisherman Mark Lewis.
The teams each paid a $400 entry fee. Sponsors also helped to push up the overall prize winnings. Hajecki said the tournament is good for the area, drawing outsiders to the Oak Orchard.
“It brings a lot of people to the community and they spend money at the businesses,” he said after a captains’ meeting this evening at the Black North Inn. “It showcases the fishery out here.”
The Oak Orchard Open differs from the Pro Am. Instead of a maximum of 12 fish per day at the Pro Am, there are 10. There also aren’t class distinctions between professionals and amateurs in the Oak Orchard Open. They are all vying for the same prizes.
The fishing stops at 2 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday and the fish must be weighed by 3:30 at the Black North to qualify.
“It’s a new format and a new idea,” said Mike Waterhouse, the county’s sportfishing coordinator. “It’s new and exciting.”