Meadville Tribune

Local News

July 27, 2013

Bass Classic: Hooked on fishing for United Way

CONNEAUT LAKE — Jet skis and motorboats whizzed past local fishermen wrapping up this year’s United Way of Western Crawford County Bass Classic at the Iroquois Boating and Fishing Club at Conneaut Lake Friday morning and afternoon.

Although the weather turned from chilly to sunny and clear by midday, fishing teams had a tough time getting bites on the lake, bringing in a bit lower yield than in some of the previous years.

“The weigh-ins were down a bit this year, but that makes it more exciting,” said Paul Hirosky, four-time champion and Bass Classic emcee. “If it’s a rough day then that next bite could be the deal breaker.”

Taking on the challenge, 60 professional and amateur fishermen paired up on 30 boats as early as 7 a.m. for roughly six hours of fun and fundraising for the local United Way.

“It’s a good number (of boats) for the lake,” said Amy Woods, local United Way executive director. “Last year was about the same.”

Woods confirmed the Classic as the local UW’s biggest fundraiser event, netting about $21,000 this year, similar to 2012.

After final weigh-ins, pro-am team Scott Welker and Jay Parker took first place after catching eight bass for a total of 16.42 pounds, followed by two-time winners Steve Hughes and Lon Wilson with 14.45 pounds and James Micsky and Justin Welker with 13.98 pounds.

Rob Genter and Kevin Jones were recognized with fourth place while Ben Lipiec and Scott Sada placed fifth. Lipiec and Brock Henderson, who did not participate this year, were the 2012 winners.

Lunker awards went to teammates Mark Szitas and Greg Wasko for a 4.46 pound bass and Ron Cancilla and Jerauld Smith Sr. for a 3.8 pound bass, the two biggest fish caught throughout the day.

The first five placing teams won cash prizes in addition to receiving plaques for their achievement.

“The thing that means the most is how much money we raised for the United Way,” Scott Welker said. “That’s why we’re here.”

Parker and Scott Welker ended up abandoning their initial plans in favor of coasting to more than 20 different spots on the lake, catching whatever they could.

“I feel pretty fortunate,” Scott Welker said. “There are a lot of good guys here who work hard and put a lot of time into the Classic.”

Professional and amateur fishermen alike look forward to the Bass Classic every year, according to Bill DeArment of Channellock, the event’s main sponsor.

“It amazes me how excited people get,” DeArment said, thanking the local United Way as well as event participants for all their hard work. “It takes a lot to put this together. It’s a good fundraiser.”

“A lot of fishermen enjoy this event,” Scott Welker echoed, praising Woods and Eric Marsh, president of Bassmasters of Crawford County for organizing and sanctioning the event. “It’s fun to participate in and everybody comes out and enjoys it.”

The 2013 Bass Classic also saw the return of celebrity amateur Jon Kolb, former member of Pittsburgh Steelers and four-time Super Bowl champion.

Kolb snagged a few less fish than his previous year on Conneaut Lake, but he still had a good time with his pro, Wade Adams. Kolb and Adams finished 10th.

“I would’ve loved to catch more,” Kolb said, “but I got to go out with good people and I count that as a blessing.”

“It’s all about fun for a good cause,” Hirosky said. “It’s always an awesome event.”

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