ricky ritter DROPS THE HAMMER AT HARVEY’S LAKE
Harvey’s Lake | November 2, 2019 | Harvey’s Lake, PA | 40’s
Ricky Ritter earned his first victory of the season at the 2019 HOA Club Series finale with the day’s only limit of four bronzebacks for 12.81lbs. His bag was anchored by a 4.11lb tank. The day started with borderline freezing temperatures but anglers quickly warmed up as the fishing was relatively hot. Ritter’s strategy to run and gun paid off as he picked off fish in multiple areas, rather than focusing on an isolated spot. He would have weighed in a full five fish limit, had PA regulations allowed for it. His clean fishing allowed him to capitalize on hungry smallmouth and fill his livewell.
John Palmer was right on his heels with 9.63lbs, good enough for second place. Ron Hebert, 7.72lbs, finished in third and weighed in the day’s lunker, a 4.17lb. stud. Evan Rehrig, 7.38lbs, and Cooper Rosen, 5.29lbs, rounded out the top five.
While Charlie Harris had already clinched his first Angler of the Year title and didn’t fish the tournament, Co-Angler of the Year was still up for grabs. Rosen trailed Vince Julian by 70 points entering the day. Rosen’s two fish and fifth place finish was enough for him to overtake Julian and earn his first career Co-AOY title by a mere 20 points. It was by far the closest race in recent memory.
HOA will now settle in for its off-season and begin planning for 2020, which can’t come soon enough.
ZACH TAMANDL weathers the storm at beltzville; earns second victory of 2019
Beltzville Lake | October 20, 2019 | Lehighton, PA | 50’s & Rain
17 anglers battled cold, rainy conditions at Beltzville on Sunday, October 20. While expectations for a good fall bite were high, reality was disappointment for most. With water temperature hovering 60 degrees, fish were expected to be fattening up for the winter. While that seemed to be the case for the fish weighed in, the field struggled to find schools of fish.
Nonetheless, Zachary Tamandl tipped the scales with two solid fish for 6.14lbs, including the day’s Lunker, a 4.05lb stud Largemouth. Ricky Ritter, the only competitor to weigh in three fish, earned second place honors with 5.29lbs. Evan Rehrig, 4.90lbs, rounded out the top three.
Charlie Harris entered the day with a commanding lead in the Angler of the Year race. With his ninth place finish at Beltzville, he clinched his first career AOY title, an award he’s be coveting for several years. Harris was consistently the strongest angler in 2019 and truly earned the 2019 title doing it his way. While AOY is wrapped up, the race for second and third place are as tight as it gets. Ritter is currently tied with Gerald Polachak for second while Rehrig is tied with John Palmer for third. Additionally, Rehrig and Palmer are just 20 points outside of second place. While no money or trophies are awarded for second and third places, the top three anglers in the points race will represent HOA at the 2020 Regional Tournament.
On the riders’ side, the Co-AOY title is still up for grabs as the Hawghunters of Allentown approach its final tournament of the year at Harvey’s Lake on November 2. Vince Julian currently holds a 70 point lead over Cooper Rosen. Both have been forces in the back of the boat this year and it should make for an interesting weigh in.
Lots still up for grabs with one derby remaining and we’d want it no other way.
CHARLIE HARRIS DOMINATES WALLENPAUPACK; CLOSES IN ON AOY CHAMPIONSHIP
Lake Wallenpaupack | October 6, 2019 | Lakeville, PA | High 60’s & 15 – 20 MPH Winds
Twenty anglers ventured out onto Lake Wallenpaupack at 7:00am. At 3:00pm, only nine returned with one or two fish, but one man came to the scale with a limit. Rumor has it, he even culled twice. Charlie Harris ran away with the win by snatching a mixed bag for 11.54lbs, anchored by the day’s lunker, a 2.79lb smallmouth. Harris’ lead in the AOY race is now almost insurmountable with only two tournaments remaining.
Cooper Rosen weighed in two fish for 3.67lbs, earning him second place honors and valuable points toward the Co-AOY race. Jon Hardenberg, 3.02lbs, Vince Julian, 2.99lbs, and Scott Snyder, 2.65lbs rounded out the top 5.
FRANK MESSA ENDURES BLUE MARSH; EARNS FIRST CAREER CLUB VICTORY
Blue Marsh | September 15, 2019 | Bernville, PA | Foggy in AM, Sunny in afternoon
20 anglers battled thick fog in the morning, heavy boat traffic in the afternoon and a barrage of lantern flies throughout the day at Blue Marsh, but unfortunately, only eight returned to the scales with fish. Prospective member Frank Messa was the only competitor to weigh in two fish and his 5.34lbs. was enough for him to claim his first victory with the club. Charlie Harris, vying for his first career AOY title, finished in second and earned Lunker honors with a 3.22lb smallie. Vince Julian, 2.52lbs, Phil Stevens, 2.41lbs and Cooper Rosen, 2.19lbs, rounded out the top five.
SCOTT SNYDER GRINDS OUT WIN ON TOUGH DAY AT MERRILL CREEK
Merrill Creek, NJ | August 11, 2019 | Washington, NJ | Low 90’s
It was a tough day at Merrill Creek on Sunday, August 11, a re-scheduled tournament for Hawghunters of Allentown. Little to no wind, sweltering temperatures and a crowded waterway made for challenging bite, and resulted in only seven of 18 anglers weighing in fish. Scott Snyder brought one fish to the scale, but it was the right one, a 4.05 tank Smallie which took earned him 1st place and Lunker. John Palmer, 3.65lbs and Evan Rehrig, 3.56lbs, rounded out the top three.
HOA CRUSHES ‘EM AT CAYUGA; HARRIS, REAM AND ROSEN EARN HONORS AT 2019 CLASSIC
Cayuga Lake, NY| June 29 – 30, 2019 | Seneca Falls, NY | Mid 80’s
Sunny & Calm on Saturday | Rainy & 20MPH Winds on Sunday
Since 2015, the Hawghunters of Allentown have made the annual four hour trek north to Cayuga Lake in search of behemoth bass. The famed New York waterway, ranked as one of the best bass lakes in the nation, has become the most anticipated tournament of the season and the 2019 edition proved why.
For the first time in a long time, perhaps even in HOA’s 36 year history, all 17 competing anglers weighed in five fish limits on the first day of the tournament. Nonetheless, many anglers were left with a feeling of Deja vu on Saturday as the youngest competitor, Cooper Rosen, weighed in an astounding 18.14lbs to win Day 1 at Cayuga for the second consecutive year. Rosen’s payday was boosted by boating the day’s lunker, a 4.46lb. Cayuga stud. He was helped, in part, by his boater John Palmer, who was right on his heals with 16.73lbs. Mark Ream, who also weighed in 16.73lbs, finished in third place as Palmer’s big fish, a 4.36lb toad, was the tiebreaker. Ricky Ritter, 15.54lbs, and Charlie Harris, 15.51lbs. finished in fourth and fifth places, respectively.
While the field relished in the calm, clear conditions on Day 1, competitors were greeted with 20mph winds and intermittent rain on Sunday which challenged anglers to adapt their game plans.
Charlie Harris, a proven veteran at Cayuga, bagged 15.83lbs of green fish to claim victory on Day 2. While Harris didn’t weigh in a fish over four pounds all weekend, he did find the areas that produced the most consistent three pound fish. Eventual two-day winner, Mark Ream, earned a second place finish with 15.22lbs. Mike McNicholas, 14.43lbs, Cooper Rosen, 13.55lbs, and Gerald Polachak, 13.02lbs, rounded out the top five on a day where 14 of 17 anglers weighed in limits.
Ream’s consistent bags and total combined weight of 31.95lbs earned him the overall win for the club’s first two-day derby of 2019. Rosen, 31.69lbs., and Harris, 31.34lbs., were just ounces away from bringing home a trophy at the end of the year. Ream’s big weekend lands him in first place in the Angler of the Year race while Rosen leads all Co-Anglers as we near the midway point of the season .
A few fun facts from Cayuga…
- 17 anglers weighed in 161 largemouth for the weekend.
- On average, 9.47 fish per competitor for the two days combined.
- 240.42 lbs was weighed in on Day 1 and 187.08lbs was weighed in on Day 2.
- The average fish weighed in was 2.65lbs.
- Not a single smallmouth was brought to the scales.
- While no one eclipsed the 5lb mark, 13 fish in the 3lb range and nine fish over 4lbs were weighed for lunker between the two days.
ZACH TAMANDL EARNS FIRST CAREER VICTORY AT LAKE NOCKAMIXON
Lake Nockamixon | June 16, 2019 | Quakertown, PA | Mid 70’s | Mostly Sunny
The 2019 Hawghunters of Allentown tournament trail has been one of evolution. Most recently, Zach Tamandl became the third consecutive first-time career winner of the season at Lake Nockamixon on June 16.
The two-time Quad State Student Angler Federation champion and 2018 High School World Finals qualifier put his knowledge of the lake and experience to good use and captured his first career HOA tournament victory with a four fish limit for 13.13lbs. Tamandl’s day got off to a hot start with him culling by 9:00am while other anglers were struggling to coax fish into biting. Anglers had the opportunity to launch at the ramp of their choice and Tamandl keyed in on an area at the southern most point of the lake, allowing him to avoid the boat and kayak traffic around Tohickon and Haycock.
Second place belonged to Charlie Harris, who was the only other angler to weigh in a limit. Unfortunately for Harris, a dead fish penalty of 0.50lbs. cost him the win, lowering his total down to 13.08lbs. Harris caught his first fish early and put it in the livewell, not knowing how the rest of his day would proceed. The 1.50lb. fish succumbed to a shad being stuck in its gullet, forcing Harris to toss away pounds and release multiple three pound fish.
Prospective member Nick Donavan finished in third place with 6.50lbs and took home lunker honors with a 5.26lb. Nockasaurus. John Palmer, 5.64lbs., and Don Anderson, 4.50lbs., rounded out the top five, respectively.
Tamandl’s win catapults him into first place in Angler of the Year standings, however, his absence at the upcoming 2019 Cayuga Classic may be difficult for him to overcome at the end of the year. Gerald Polachak, Zach Seip, Mike McNicholas and Harris are right on Tamandl’s heels and should be able to make up ground in the two-day derby. In the Co-Angler’s division, long-time and returning member Scott Snyder currently leads the Co-AOY race. But, like Tamandl, Snyder will not be competing at Cayuga and opens the door for Vince Julian, Matt Karnas and Jason Penrose.
The club heads north to the famed Finger Lake June 29 – 30 with hopes of big fish and big limits. Over the course of the past four years, Cayuga has proved time and time again why it is regarded as one of the best bass fishing lakes in the country. Hopefully, the 2019 edition proves it again.
ZACH SEIP LOWERS THE BOOM AT MERRILL CREEK
Merrill Creek Reservoir | May 19, 2019 | Washington, NJ | Mid 70’s | Partly Cloudy, Winds 10 – 20MPH
At precisely 7:00am on Sunday, May 19, a thunderous boom could be heard by competitors at Merrill Creek Reservoir. Ultimately, it was the demolition of Martin Tower in Bethlehem, but it could also be confused with the smack down Zach Seip was putting on the other 25 anglers in the field.
Practice paid off for Seip as he crushed a 19lb 4oz limit, the biggest in recent club history, en route to his first career victory. His bag was anchored by a 4lb 10oz smallie, current leader for Smallmouth Lunker of the Year. Seip focused his attention on finessing fish he found on beds in the week leading up to the tournament. Mark Ream put forth a tremendous effort to claim second place with five fish for 16lbs 10oz. Vince Julian was in the mix as well with 15lbs 15oz. Rob Hebert, 13lbs 13oz, and Zach Tamandl, 13lbs 12oz, rounded out the top five. Tim Stevens, fishing in his first competitive tournament, bagged a 5lb 6oz bucket mouth to take home Lunker honors and sets the pace for Largemouth Lunker of the Year.
Twenty two of 26 anglers weighed in fish, and despite heavy pressure from two other tournaments and recreational anglers, Merrill Creek once again proved that its the place to be in late May. One angler reported that he marked 118 fish on beds during the week leading up to the tournament.
As good as Merrill Creek was, the club now looks forward to its 4th annual “Cayuga Classic” June 29 – 30. The two-day tournament is expected to bring loads of quality limits to the scale. Cayuga is repeatedly the most anticipated tournament on the schedule, and for good reason. In 2018, the Central New York Finger Lake produced the top five heaviest bags of the season and 14 of the top 20. Will someone surpass the 20lb mark in 2019? We can’t wait to find out.
MARK PRUTKO KICKS OFF 2019 WITH FIRST CAREER VICTORY AT HOPATCONG
Lake Hopatcong | April 7, 2019 | Mt Arlington, NJ | Low 60’s | Partly Cloudy, Winds Light & Variable
After a long winter, the Hawghunters of Allentown anxiously opened its 2019 Club Tournament Series at Lake Hopatcong on Sunday, April 7. For the past few years, the season opener has proved to be a tough bite for the club, and unfortunately for the 21 competitors, the 2019 edition was no different.
Nonetheless, Mark Prutko was able to provide some excitement by grinding out two fish for 4.77lbs. to earn his first career victory. Prutko made his first trip to the lake earlier in the week and benefited from identifying key areas of water where he found fish. However, his practice didn’t pay immediate dividends. Prutko went without a bite until 11:00am when he boated his first fish. Like the rest of the field, he struggled the rest of the day until he hooked into the day’s lunker, a 3.11lb. smallmouth, with less than 20 minutes of fishing left.
While Prutko delivered the fireworks, prospective junior member Phil Stevens offered up the story of the day. Stevens, 16, was a late addition to the field. Paired with guest boater and Hopatcong veteran, Frank Messa, Stevens weighed in one largemouth and finished in 4th place and in the money in his first career derby.
Co-angler Matt Karnas secured second place with one fish for 2.16lbs. Fellow rider, Jason Penrose, was the only other angler to weigh in two fish and finished in 3rd place with 1.90lbs. Stevens, 1.39lbs., and Mike McNicholas, 1.29lbs., rounded out the top five.
Despite the favorable conditions, 60 degree air temperature and partly cloudy skies, anglers were plagued by a cold front and rain that punished the area two days before the tournament. Water temperature topped out in the low 50’s, creating a sluggish bite.
HOA will look to rebound at Merrill Creek on Sunday, May 19. Historically, this tournament has accounted for some of the club’s best bags over the past few years. In 2018, both largemouth and smallmouth lunker of the year were caught at the New Jersey reservoir, including Cooper Rosen’s mammoth 7.75lb. bucketmouth. Let’s hope for another strong showing in 2019.