Wow! The 2014 Sunset Bay Shootout was exciting right down to the weighing in of the final fish.
To bring you up to speed the SBSO is a walleye tournament that allows teams to bring to the scale a total of six walleye. There were 65 teams this year, which was an increase of 15 teams from last year. The entry fee was $500 per team with an optional $100 to participate in the Friday warm up called Big Fish Friday.
The Sunset Bay Shootout featured a 100-percent pay out, and the payday included an optional Calcutta, or side wager, which may have been substantial. All the teams departed at the same area, which was near the mouth of Cattaraugus Creek, with a signal provided by the local fire department. All teams had to report back by 4 p.m. on Saturday, and had to have their coolers secured with duct tape, with their team number placed on top.
OBSERVER Photo by Gene Pauszek
Pictured are Larry Johnson, Jason Lawrence and Rob Oram of Ranger 621, which won the Sunset Bay Shootout with a total weight of 47.72 pounds.
OBSERVER Photos by Gene Pauszek
Pictured, at left, from left to right, are: Chuck Climenhage, Mike Fletcher and Chris Yalowica. The trio took the Top Gun prize, with the heaviest total weights from the 44, AMARA-CAN and the Sunset Bay Shootout. Pictured in the middle, from left, are: Jeff Maskulinski, Craig Sleeman, Mark Outhose and Eric Sleeman. The quartet finished second in the Sunset Bay Shootout on Saturday. Pictured at right, from left, are: Dave Malloy, Captain Dan Campbell, Ty Richardson and Dave Earley, of Erie Tracker. The team finished in fourth place with 45.68 pounts and had the second-heaviest walleye on Saturday. The fish weighed 10.17 pounds.
The coolers were then loaded onto a tractor-drawn wagon to a secured area to the right of the stage area, which was located in front of Cabana Sam's.
Each team included an estimate as to how much their cooler weighed and the teams were called up from the bottom up. There were 45 teams that submitted coolers.
Before the weigh-in started, tournament director Don Ruppert thanked all the people and volunteers who made the Shootout a success, including Sam Bova and Kelly Borello, for having the festivities on the beach.
Yuan Charrois, the master of ceremonies, called up Team Body Count, which was the first to weigh-in with a total of 21.2 pounds. They got to sit on the hot seat until their weight was beaten. Twelve teams weighed in walleye that totaled less than 30 pounds until team 33, Bass Hole, registered a weight of 30.5 for six walleye.
The Trolling Stones may have misjudged their weight and were pleasantly surprised when the scale tipped to 43.71 pounds. The Stones sat in the hot seat, as 23 other teams weighed in totals that were less than 40 pounds. Canadian team Willow Creeker had the Stones nervous when its basket tipped 41.02 pounds, and The Fishtician inched closer with a 41.29 total. Spoonfed ended up with the eighth spot with a 41.96 total while Team Lunder crept up with a 42.2 total.
Okay 1 More put up the next challenge, but settled for the sixth spot with 42.88 pounds, securing the Trolling Stones at 5th place. Another Canadian team, Erie Tracker, dethroned the Stones with a 45.66 total and Mac Attack topped that weight by a 1/2 ounce for a total of 45.73 pounds. Midnight Express held the hot spot with their 46.51 pounds, but had to settle for second place as team Ranger 621, made up of Captain Larry Johnson, Jason Lawrence and Rob Oram, weighed their six fish that they estimated might total 50 pounds.
Their guess was a bit short, but good enough to win the tournament with a total of 47.72 pounds. The guys worked for their win, travelling 42 miles one way west to find bigger fish. Ranger 621, Midnight Express and Willow Creeker were all fishing that general area west of North East and had been pre-fishing earlier in the week. Willow Creeker found the big fish on Friday, claiming to have a 50-pound box, but Ranger 621 went inside while Chuck Abitosh went a little further west on Saturday and finished in 10th place.
Even though the guys spent most of their time travelling, Willow Creeker divulged that they had their 41-pound box in 40 minutes while Ranger 621 took about an hour and a half. Ranger 621 used 10 colors of leadcore and renosky stick baits, as well as dipsey divers set back 120 to get their fish, while The Midnight Express ended up using snap weights on planner board presentations and harnesses to finish in second place. Erie Tracker opted to fish just inside the Canadian line, with fire tiger worm harnesses on dipsey divers set on a No. 3 setting. They culled through 45 fish to get their total, including a 10.17 pounder, which was the second-heaviest fish of the tournament. Mac Attack took the heaviest walleye, which weighed in at 10.30 pounds and Erie Obsession took the third place with a 9.77 pounder. Fishtician finished with the No. 4 fish at 9.55 and Alexandria was fifth with a 9.23. Midnight Express had a 9.14 pounder and Okay 1 More took the seventh place with a 9.04 entry.
The Sunset Bay Shootout was the last leg of a three-tournament event called the Top Gun. Entrants had to be entered in the 444 out of Colburne, the AMARA-CAN out of Chadwick Bay and the Shootout. The weights registered in all three events were tallied and determined the winner of the event. The winners of the Top Gun were Chuck Climenhage, Mike Fletcher and Chris Yalowica, who received a neat trophy and an even better fist full of $100 bills that totaled $3,600. In case you were wondering, Ranger 621 walked away with over $13,700 in prize money. There is a waiting list for next year's event, which will expand to include 80 teams. The Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club three-day walleye tournament starts this coming Friday. Look for coverage in the OBSERVER.