2008 Bass Pro Shops Lake Simcoe Open A Huge Success

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Press Release – Wil Wegman

Photos- By Rosa Sharpe of Lures & Tours

Sibbald Point Provincial Park, Sutton ON – Canadas premier one day bass fishing tournament saw a full field of 80 two person teams compete for over $150,000 in cash and merchandise on Sat. Oct 25/08. The annual Bass Pro Shops Lake Simcoe Open presented by Jack Links Beef Jerky and hosted by the Aurora Bassmasters club was a resounding success and garnered praise from tournament competitors, sponsors, media and spectators. Running an annual event like this doesnt come easy, remarked Herb Quan- president of the club. Since February we have had regular meetings at Bass Pro Shops to plan all aspects of this high profile tournament. Id especially like to thank the dozens and dozens of volunteers who helped out today without their hard work we would have never been able to pull it off, he said.

The Winners:Howard Gifford from Ottawa and his brother Mike from Sudbury were the winners of the 2008 BPS Open and took home a cool $10,000 for weighing in a five fish limit that tipped the scales at 28.36 pounds. They fell less than two pounds short of breaking the all-time record weight for a one day Canadian bass tournament (29.90 lbs – set at the 2006 BPS Open).

Bass Pro 2008 winners

Wow They Did It: caught our bass using Berkley Gulp! Alive baits rigged on a drop shot, said Howard. There really wasnt any depth pattern yet so we found them in water ranging from 15-35 feet deep. When asked what he thought of Simcoe, breaking the all-time record and this event, Gifford explained, We were hoping to top the record like everyone else of course, but really not that confident that we would even catch any fish.

The bite was especially tough and we could have easily come in with an empty live well. Lake Simcoe seems to be a new lake every time we fish it. We were lucky. Im sure that every other team has had success stories on Simcoe of their own but on that day we were doing what the bass wanted. This tournament is the holy grail of all tournaments to us. I am sure that our success this year was more due to our ability to adapt to conditions rather than lake knowledge, he concluded.

If the Gifford’s had topped the magic 30-pound benchmark it would have paid the man additional $10,000 thanks to Bass Pro Shops and the Toyota Record Payout. Now, the pot will only grow and will include that $10,000, along with an extra$5,000 towards next year winners if they top 30 pounds… assuming the record holds till then.

Coming in a close 2nd was Joey Muszyksyi and Mark Moran with 27.2 pounds. They won $5,000 for that plus a $2,000 contingency prize for the top team using Humminbird Electronics and a Minn Kota trolling motor. To make the runner up spot even more palatable they also were the top team in the Shimano Pay-to Play pot that was worth an extra $4,160. So all in all 2ndplace paid out more than 1st at $11,160 More Unique and Incredible Prizes Sets BPS Open Apart From Other Events: In3rdspot was the team of Erny Janzen and Rob Hyatt with 27.14 for$2,000. The biggest overall bass was a 6.86 pound smallmouth caught by local favorites and former BPS Lake Simcoe Open champs Dave Johnson of Jackson Point and Barry Graves from Keswick. Yamaha matched the $20 that each team paid towards the big fish pot so that one fish earned them an extra $3,2000 over and above the $700 they took home for 7thspot. Now, if their bass happened to top the current Ontario record for the heaviest smallmouth ever caught in this province currently at 9.84 pounds, the dynamic duo from the York Bassmasters Club would have taken home a new Toyota Tundra Truck and a new Tracker Tundra boat, valued at over $100,000. The heaviest largemouth was also recognize thanks to the Berkley Gulp! Alive! Bucket Bonus. Brian Curry and Jeff English won that and$1,000 for their 5.08 pound largemouth plus the $350 check they received for their 14thplace finish.

2008 was the first year that the BPS Open specifically recognized largemouth within the overall tournament. It offered a tangible benefit for anglers who either couldnt find big smallmouth in pre fish or simply prefer to target largies instead of smallies.

2008 Team Ontario member Brian Curry acknowledged, We just werent sure about the smallmouth so we decided to go for largemouth and just had an incredible time–catching about 25 nice largemouth. Were glad we did and even managed to cash a cheque and catch one over five that paid out handsomely for us. We saw other teams down there fishing largies too  so obviously the incentive to target largemouth is worth it to several competitors, he concluded. Jeff Kerr and Mike Nabulsi may have only weighed in 3.74 pounds of bass, but their36thplace finish was rewarded with a $2,000 check from Rapala for the Rapala X Spot Award to commemorate that company founding in 1936.

The topYamaha powered team this year went to Richie Tripp and Jason Barnucz with 23.54pound. They won $650 for their 8thplace finish and extra $1,000 from Yamaha. This is the 2ndyear in a row the team won the Yamaha award.

The Strike King Coffee Tube Hidden Weight Award went to Scott Murison and Frank Adamo who weighed in 19.26 pounds of smallmouth worth and additional $1,000 on top of their $500 for an 11thplace finish.

The founder of Crackle -Des Barnes who is with the Aurora Bassmasters and partner George Saliba of the Lindsay Bassmasters teamed up and weighed in 25.9 pounds for 4thplace and took home $1,000. For the first time ever, they beat out George son Jayson Saliba and his team-mate Bob Formosa who were right behind them in5thspot and received $900 for their 25.22 pound sack. This team won the event last year and two times prior and was one of the favourites going in.

Wil Wegman and tournament partner Gerry Heels, president of the BarrieBassmasters placed 12thwith 15.98 pounds  with only four bass, for a $450 payback. Payouts in fact went right down to 20thspot“ and Port Perry Bassmasters Mark Cavanaugh and Mike Graham were awarded $250 for their 11.22 pounds of bass.

Each member of the top ten teams will also receive an Ontario Parks 2009 Summer Seasonal Day Use Pass. This will allow anglers to launch their boats at Sibbald Point as well as at any other Provincial Park in the province.  The day use pass also allows entry into any Provincial Park for families to have a picnic or enjoy themselves on the beach.

Those in the top ten will also receive a $25 gas card from Pioneer.

BigTime Weigh-in Host for Big Time Tournament:

Dave Mercer, the amicable TV host of “Facts of Fishing the Show”, entertained the crowd as the Tournament MC for the 2ndyear running and he acknowledged that despite its record setting capabilities Lake Simcoe can still be a tough bite and for him and many other accomplished competitors it was just that.  Several anglers knew this would be the case before they even made their first casts Saturday morning. During pre fish the week prior when many of the competitors were on the lake, the fall turnover finally occurred when those high winds helped the lake flip. When that bottom cold-water layer mixes with the warmer surface water.

Typically this period of major change within the aquatic ecosystem disrupts the bass normally aggressive fall feeding spree for a while, so many of them have lock jaw before things settle in and they continue on their eating rampage before the long winter.

Research Project A Big Part of BPS Open:

Despite some rough water and rain for the first couple of hours, the big lake did calm down considerably and the rain eased substantially for the remainder of the tournament. Right on cue, the weigh-in ceremonies even brought blue sky and sunshine so many of the anglers finally had a chance to take off their Mustang Survival Suits.

Spectators were greeted to a great show, free Johnsonville Brats and an opportunity to witness some ground breaking research over in the bass sampling section next to the weigh-in stage.  Here over 100 bass were fizzed if necessary, tagged, data collected and live released back into the waters of our very special Lake Simcoe. Matt DeMille is overseeing the fizzing and decompression work through the lab of Dr Bruce Tufts at Queens University.

The club has been documenting the number of tagged bass that have been re caught and reported by recreational anglers during the year. Through this Community Fisheries and Wildlife Improvement Program in cooperation with MNR Aurora District, the club has tagged over 300bass in 2006 and 2007  and of the 33 tagged bass called in so far, about 25 of them have been previously fizzed. This important research is finally providing some hard evidence that by properly fizzing bass which are showing symptoms of decompression, that we can expect these fizzed fish to recover after release, said Quan.

Fizzing is a process used to treat fish with extended air bladders  which can occur during tournaments when bass are caught from deep water. By carefully inserting hypodermic needle into the air bladder of the bass either thru the side or mouth, the air is released. To date, the side method has been used for this project. The bass is held in water while air dissipates from the air bladder so that upon release, the fish is able to swim back down to the depths it came from.

This is just one of the Conservation Projects performed by the AuroraBassmasters who are proud members of the Ontario BASS Federation Nation which has about 30 clubs across the province  each conducting their own very worthwhile conservation projects. Allin all the 2008 BPS Lake Simcoe Open was a tremendous success and perhaps was best summed up by Georgina Mayor Rob Grossi who was there and remarked, This is just remarkable … what an incredible event!

To see additional photos click on to Lures and Tours

Peter Savoia

Please note the 2009 BPS LakeSimcoe Open presented by Jack Links Beef Jerky will be held Saturday October31stat Sibbald Point. Applications to fish this event will be made available early in 2009 … please stay tuned to



About Peter Wood 1194 Articles
As an avid lifelong angler and hunter, Peter’s outdoor knowledge and experiences keep expanding through his hundreds of hours of hunting and fishing podcast interviews with like minded experts. He has received numerous national writing awards. With thousands of outdoor pictures on Ripple Outdoors and many full-length articles with outdoor magazine and video clips you might say that he not only enjoys his outdoor lifestyle, but he’s quite the fanatic! In 2015 he earned fifth overall on the King of the Wood Contest hosted by Canada In The Rough team, pretty good for a baby boomer deer hunter. His buck was also one of the top bucks taken that season. Through Peter’s deer hunting seminars or by attending outdoor trade shows, like the Toronto Sportsmen Show and The SWOC Big Buck Show, he has connected with thousands of like minded people that love hunting and fishing. As a volunteer or member of local and national outdoor groups like QDMA, SWOC, Outdoor Writers of Canada, Archery Trade Show Association he continues to learn and hone his craft. Read his many articles, listen to his podcasts and rifle through thousands of photos on Ripple Outdoors. Discover Peter’s latest posts about outdoor gear, destinations, how to articles and interviews and you’ll be a better angler and hunter for the experience.

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