District 15 Hosts National Semi-Final Event on Lake Hopatcong

Connecticut, New Jersey and Rhode Island Advance Anglers

The New Jersey Bass Federation hosted the 2017 TBF National Semi-final District 15 event on Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey on September 30 and October 1.  While fishing was spotty, given the beginning of the fall turnover, there were solid numbers and even some healthy weights caught across the board.  A field of 36 boaters and co-anglers from Connecticut, New Jersey and Rhode Island converged to vie for state bragging rights, deeper payouts, trophies, Ranger Cup and Evinrude contingencies plus coveted spots in the 2018 Federation National Championship.

A total of $13,320 with 123% payback was awarded in cash and prizes.  The top seven boaters and co-anglers in the 36 boat field divvied up $8,100 in total cash payback, not including the $500 Ranger Cup award and the $1,000 Evinrude E-tec award for the winning boater (if he/she runs a 2012 or newer Etec Evinrude).

The new format pays back 100% of the entry fees, 75% to the top 20% of the field, 10% to the state federations and 15% to the TBF Federation National Championship.

After two days of competition, New Jersey angler, Sean Loll, bested the field to be named the 2017 National Semi-Final Champion Boater.  Loll had a slow start with one fish shy of a limit on day one for 8.68 pounds.  But, he turned it around on day two with a whopping 15.49 pounds to make his winning total 24.17 pounds, four pounds ahead of the field.  Loll not only received a $2,270 paycheck for his win but he also earned the $500 Ranger Cup award for being the highest finishing Ranger Cup qualified angler.  Loll continued to rack up the wins with his 5.17 pound largemouth and tournament Big Bass.  Loll will advance to the 2018 Federation National Championship in the boater division representing New Jersey.

On the co-angler side, New Jersey angler, Art Vitale, seemed to be the only co-angler to find the weight on a stingy Lake Hopatcong.  Vitale rode a monster two day weight paired alongside boater winner, Loll, catching 13.18 pounds to make his tournament total 19.79 pounds to claim the NSF Champion Co-angler title by over seven pounds.  He received a $1,135 paycheck for his two days of work and will advance to nationals in the co-angler division representing his state.

Other NSF anglers to receive berths in the national contest were Connecticut boater/co-angler, Alex Wetherell and John Fonda, and Rhode Island boater/co-angler, Jeremy Sadowski and Robert Rull.

The New Jersey Bass Federation capitalized on home team advantage to claim bragging rights and the District 15 State Pride Award with 74.56 total pounds.  The award is determined by adding the weights of the top four boaters and co-anglers from each state selected prior to the event.

The National Semi-Final format rolled out last year replacing the divisional events and state team line-ups.  TBF anglers can now advance to a close-to-home NSF event in one of two ways.  Active state clubs can advance their top two anglers, in addition, the top 10% of state event participation or a minimum of 12 anglers per state qualify, whichever is greater.  The new format has been highly successful with state participation and membership up across the nation.

The event also went well thanks to the New Jersey Bass Federation that ran the event and all the support from TBF’s sponsors; FLW, Ranger, Cabela’s, Lowrance, Minn Kota, Humminbird, Evinrude, Berkley and Power Pole.