A good gauge for the quality of a fishing derby leaderboard is the impressive weight it takes to cash.

On Saturday the Northern New York Bassmasters Club opened its 2019 Team Tournament Trail with what is regarded as the best leaderboard in club history. Thirty-seven boats departed out in the St. Lawrence River from the Ogdensburg Paterson Street Boat Launch and 15 returned with bags of bass surpassing the 20 mark and an five tipped the scales past the 27-pound mark.

Only the top four receive prize money.

Thirty one teams weighed in a bass over five pounds and six surpassed the six-pound mark.

“We were culling four-pounders today. That’s unheard of” said Tim O’Grady who combined with Steve Garrabrant for a 19.02-pound bag.

Garrabrant’s appearance on the water and at the weigh-in was another of the day’s highlight. The longtime club member recently completed treatments for cancer in Boston, Mass.

“I am feeling better every day. I still get a little tired but it really felt good today to be fishing,” said Garrabrant.

Emerging from the big bag bonanza with the team title were Oliver and Ray Planty from Central Square with a 27.87-pound bag and a .624-pound big fish. Jesse Spellicy of Gouverneur and Tyler Capella of Canton took second at 27.81, Chad Sharpe and Gary McIntyre placed third at 27.66 and Lawson Robilla and his five-year old son Jonathan took fourth at 27.24 pounds with the massive Lunker of the Day at 6.63 pounds.

“There is just no place like this. The St. Lawrence River is the best,” said Oliver Planty.

James and Dick Gibson placed fifth with their biggest tournament bag ever at 27.01 with a 6.09-pound big fish. Other six-pound bass entered were: Eric Tessmer and Edward Moore at 6.31 pounds, Chris and Angela Roach at 6.22 pounds and Gary Rayner and Gyle Dominy at 6.02.

“The catches today were just amazing. We have never had a tournament where someone caught 27 pounds and didn’t get paid,” said Tournament Director Chris Roach.

“We had 20 pounds plus which used to win tournaments. Now the bags are getting close to 30 pounds.”

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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