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Orillia Ontario - Oct. 23, 2010
On October 23 2010 the who’s who of Canadian bass fishing headed to the Port of Orillia for the seasons last  major tournament for professional bass anglers, the Bass Pro Shop Lake Simcoe Open, Canada’s premier one day event.  

With a total of $150,000 in cash and prizes and the possibility of catching record size smallmouth bass, 200 pros and industry personalities such as Bob Izumi, JP De Rose, Dave Mercer, Mike Desforges, David Chong, and Mark Kulik, along with past champions, all vying for the top spot in this prestigious event.

At the end of a rare perfect day in October with light winds, sunshine, and the City of Orillia’s waterfront packed with fishing fans and onlookers,  Joey Muszynski of Barrie Ontario and Mark Moran of Port Perry Ontario, two of Canada’s finest anglers blew the record book away weighing in an incredible 31.55 pounds of Simcoe’s legendary smallmouth, capturing top prize of $54,000.00 and a place in Canada’s tournament record books.

Second spot went to Josh Meyers and John Mcgoey with 29.80 pounds followed by Mike Desforges and Derek Strub with 29.65 pounds. In total there were ten weights of more than 27.00 pounds, another record for Canadian tournaments.

 

Big fish went to James Paluch and Shaun McKay with a 8.05 pound monster smallmouth, yet another possible tournament record for smallmouth bass. When asked if they knew if the fish was that big when they caught it McKay said “We were as surprised as everyone else that the fish tipped the scales at 8lbs”.

 

The big bass was caught on a pumpkin coloured Bass Magnet tubes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How the Day Unfolded
Long before daylight boats were lined up at Orillia’s Couchiching Park as volunteers and the staff of the Canadian Sports Fishing League operated by Andrew and Vita Pallotta funneled 100 boats on trailers to the launch. Even then there was a buzz in the air as weather forecasts called for a perfect day after a week of high winds and rain.

 

Angler preparation for the Simcoe Open starts weeks before the event for some. Late October is a tricky time for smallmouth as the waters cool and bass start to migrate towards wintering grounds. Concentrations of large fish can be difficult to find as they head deeper along their migration path. What made it more difficult this year was the weather leading into the event. Howling winds, rain and even snow plagued Simcoe for the entire week, weather normally reserved for tournament day itself.  But this year  100 boats blasted off from the Port of Orillia led by Dave Mercer of Facts of Fishing and JP DeRose of Getting Schooled and headed through the Atherley narrows, the wind was calm and the sun shined.  Anglers would be able to run where they wanted and fish in the best conditions in the tournaments history. This is critical because daylight hours are limited and tournament hours are reduced leaving less time to locate schools of moving fish.

 

At 3:00 pm all teams were back safely, some with poker faced smiles and some with disappointment on their faces.  Boats with more than 20 pounds were loaded onto trailers for a drive-by weigh-in and teams with less would have to load their fish into tournament weigh-in bags and walk them to the stage. Many jokingly consider this the walk of shame.  Early during the weigh-in there was a sense of excitement as samples of huge fish were paraded to the stage. Dave Mercer was at his best entertaining and pumping up the crowd.

 

The Hot Seat
When you take a commanding lead near the end of a weigh-in, you have to sit on the stage in what’s called the “hot seat”. This is a nerve racking experience and when asked of Muszynsky and Moran what it was like, Joey replied “We weren't overly confident about that weight just because this is LAKE SIMCOE and you never know what can happen.  It also didn't help that all the guys were coming up to saying that Meyers has giants.  At one point with all the hype they were saying he had a bag of 7's!  I was so nervous waiting for that weigh in that it took years off my life.  I wanted the win really really bad.” “We kept hearing about Josh Myers huge bag coming in that was going to be 31lbs.  No one that looked at our fish put us over 30.  All we could do was hope the weight would hold up.” said Moran.

Paralyzed for the moment

The final stages of the weigh-in took on the excitement of a television game show with host and MC Dave Mercer at his best keeping the crowd pumped and the contestants nervous. When Josh Meyers and John McGeoy finally unloaded there fish and walked onto the stage the crowd knew it was going to be close. When the fish were first put on the scale and the digital numbers started bouncing over 30, the boys on the hot seat were paralyzed for a moment. But when the scales settled at 29.80 pounds, Joey and Mark started the celebration that was a long time coming. After years of coming close with several top three finishes dating back to the original Crackle Cup, countless days on the water, and a lifetime of experience all focused on one great day, the payoff finally came.

Time On The Water caught up with Joey and Mark after the dust settled and asked them about the day that was.

TOTW - What does this win and record mean to you?

Muszynski –“This win means huge to me from a personal victory level.  What I mean is that Lady Simcoe is special to me and always has been, any time I have success out there it gives me great pride because of how difficult it can be.  Just when you think you have it figured out on Simcoe she'll put you back in your spot with a poor finish!  After pounding that lake for years and then set the record there is an incredible feeling.”
Moran – “Wow!  Its really amazing, it took so long to set in, it really overshadowed the win for me. Setting the record and having a piece of history for a little while will be a life time of memory.” 

 

TOTW - When and how did you prepare for this event?

Muszynski – “People that know us well laugh about that question because they know that it has been a work in progress for the last 5 years!  I believe we have taken our lumps out there and that’s what it’s all about.  For years we would watch Saliba/Formosa (three time winner), Johnny Mac (MacDonald), and Dave (Johnson) and Barry (Graves) weighing huge sacks and every year we would put another piece of the puzzle together and improve.  We always take the week before the event off and spend a lot of our days graphing to see whose home and who’s not.”
Moran – “You could say that Joey and I have been preparing for this event since John MacDonald weighed 29.90lbs in the Crackle Cup.  We have spent hours mapping and fishing different areas of the lake the past five years.  Joey and I talk about it all year long, looking at maps and reading anything about smallmouth bass that we can get our hands on.  When it came to actually practicing for this event were able to hit our areas fast and determine if fish were present.” 

 

TOTW -After pre-fish did you have an idea what would happen. There wasn't too many good weather days leading up to the event and at this time of the year, particularly during turnover fish tend to move. Did things go as planned or were you surprised at the number and size of the fish you caught?

Moran –“ I had no idea what would happen with our pre-fish.  Other competitors were bragging about 7lbers and we actually only caught a few fish in practice but it was enough to put a plan together.  Things did not go quite to plan; our first stop didn't produce a fish.  We marked quite a few fish but we hadn't caught many and what we had seen in pre-fish was smaller than tournament day.  I have had some amazing days in the fall on Simcoe, I've had tough ones as well.  With the weather that was forecasted I knew we would be able to move fast and cover water so numbers wise I knew it would be good.  Size is another factor, we didn't know for sure but it’s Simcoe and the fish are always big!  LOL You can hit 30lbs plus on any day.” 

Muszynski – “We actually got a couple good stabs at our areas in practice in between all the bad weather, so we knew we had some fish going in our areas.  We don't like to beat up on our fish too hard in practice so you leave not knowing just how good/bad the area is truly going to be.  The fish are on the move this time of year so you never can really be over confident.  Spent many a night tossing and turning in bed the night before this event wondering if the fish were going to hold in our areas.  Things really went according to plan at the event, however we didn't think we would catch quite as many as we did that day.”

 

TOTW - What time did you get your first fish? Did they come fast after that and how many did you get in total?

Muszynski – “We caught our first fish at around 9:00 and they were pretty fast and furious after that for about 2 hours.  I would say that between the 2 of us we caught and landed 20 bass that day.
Moran – “I think it was just after 9 am for the first fish, we had our limit by 10:30 am.  We finished with around 20 fish total or so, I was culling and Joey wouldn't stop catching while I was at the back trying to cull.” 

 

TOTW - What was the winning technique and bait?

Moran -   “We used a number of baits, tube jigs, drop shot.  I think the key was using a Carolina Rig to move fast and cover water.  We were moving from weigh point to weigh point.  As the day went on I was able to even begin to predict when we would get bit.”
Muszynski – “We relied primarily on tubes, Carolina rigs and drop shots.  We would drag tubes around to cover water and find a pod of fish and then when we marked, drop down on them with a droppy (drop shot).

 

TOTW -You guys caught a lot of big fish. At what time during the day did you think you had a shot at winning?

Muszynski –“Towards the end of the day Mark caught another big one and went to the back to cull.  He fizzed the fish and was going to throw it over when I told him to quickly weigh it first. The fish was a 5.12 and that was when I knew that it was getting kind of crazy.”
Moran – “I'd say at the point I culled the second time, the fish was 5.8 on my scales.  Joey makes fun of my scales, not a lot invested so I didn't know how accurate they were.  Joey makes me do the culling and only the fish being culled are weighed.  Our smallest fish was a 4.10.”

 

TOTW - Did you know you had over 30 pounds on your way back to Orillia?

Muszynski – “Not for sure but when we were idling through the narrows I checked the fish and told Mark that if we don't win with this bag of fish we never will!”
Moran – “No, we were thinking 28 to 29 but not over 30.” 

TOTW - You were in a little early returning and had a long time on the hot seat. How confident were you that the weight would hold up? What's it like waiting to see if you were $50k richer?


Moran –At one point Andy was talking about holding us back and a 28 plus weight came in and he put us through.  We kept hearing about Josh Myers huge bag coming in that was going to be 31lbs.  No one that looked at our fish put us over 30.  All we could do was hope the weight would hold up.” 
Muszynski –“ We weren't overly confident about that weight  just because this is LAKE SIMCOE and you never know what can happen.  It also didn't help that all the guys were coming up to saying that Meyers has giants.  At one point with all the hype they were saying he had a bag of 7's!  I was so nervous waiting for that weigh in that it took years off my life.  I wanted the win really really bad.”

 

TOTW - You made a comment on Big Fat Bass, a popular tournament message board about practicing for next year. I'm sure part of that was just  joking but do you find it helps to know the migration paths and final wintering holes which can only be found in November?

Muszynski - Absolutely, as with any species you have to know the fish.  You have to know the seasonal migration and the forage of the fish in order to make a decision about where to find them and how to make them bite. 
Moran – “ Really it was the truth but I hope it was taken as a joke.  LOL We spend the whole year working on this tournament and definitely November is a great time to put some of the puzzle together.  You just have to remember its Lake Simcoe and smallmouth; it won't be the same next year!” 

Winning tournaments like the BPS Simcoe Open does not come without sacrifice for both the angler and their family. Support from family, friends and sponsored make these wins possible.

 

TOTW asked Mark and Joey who supports them?

Muszynski - I'm married to a beautiful, supportive wife named Eli and have a very special 3yr old little boy named William.  Also like to thank the grandparents because they step in a lot also so that Eli can come with me and help practice. I would like to thank my sponsors Shimano/G.Loomis/Power Pro Line (been very good to me)  , Top Gun Marine,  Angling Outfitters in Woodstock.

 

 

Joey Muszynski (left)and Mark Moran (right) hold up the new Canadian five bass tournament record of 31.55 pounds of Lake Simcoe's finest.

Josh Meyers and John Mcgeoy with their second place weight of 29.80 pounds. Runner up receives a cheque for $10,000.00.

Mike Desforges and Derek Strub, two of Canada's finest tournament anglers with an impressive 29.65 pounds, enough to win almost any tournament but would have to settle for third place this year.

Husband and wife team Wayne and Gail Misslebrook weigh in 29.50 pounds, good for 4th place and the largest weight ever recorded in Canada by two family members.

Jeremy Holden (left) and Dr Bruce Tufts of Queens University taking blood samples from one of over 200 fish sampled, tagged, and spine sampled for aging and released back into the lake.

 

In 2006 the Aurora Bassmasters began an MNR sanctioned Community Fisheries Wildlife Involvement Program (CFWIP) project that tagged bass caught during Lake Simcoe and Couchiching bass tournaments. As well as double tagging each fish, lengths and weights were taken, a couple scales and the 3rd dorsal spine were removed for ageing purposes. If it was a late fall tournament, the bass was fizzed before it was live released.  Typically only bass caught from these late fall events in deep water on Simcoe/Cooch would require fizzing. This five year research project officially ended on October 30th ,2010 when the last of about 1,300 bass over five years was sampled and tagged.  “We have tracked the movements of bass caught over the years by relying on all anglers to call the MNR whenever they catch a tagged bass.  These tags have that MNR phone number, but also a unique Fish ID number.  That number allows MNR to track the bass in their data base and tell us if it has been fizzed or not.  Of the 60 or so recaptured tagged bass that have been called in by anglers, over half of them were previously fizzed ... and found to be in great shape months or even years later,” said Herb Quan president of the Aurora Bassmasters. more on this research..

 

George Wallace (left) one of the driving forces behind the Simcoe Open and Andrew Pallotta CSFL organizer and BPS Open Tournament Director couldn't be more pleased with the incredible success of the tournament. Since 2007 Bass Pro Shops have been the title sponsor of the event and George has vowed to make the tournament bigger and better every year. After this year what will he do for an encore?

 

Orillia Chamber of Commerce Doug Bunker smiles on reflecting the success of the event. The City of Orillia has become the beneficiary of the economic impact of large tournaments as millions of dollars are brought to the town each year. Doug is also the organizer of the annual Spring Perch Festival.

Vita Pallotta one of the hardest working people in the fishing industry starts her day long before sun up and ends well after dark as she ensures the day runs smooth for everyone else.

Anyone who fishes tournaments understands her value to the industry(Vita takes her coffee regular).

 

Wil Wegman one of Canada's most active dedicated conservationists, award winning writer,the initiator of the tagging research project and one of the tournaments founders, and last but not least one of our finest tournament anglers. Wil is the editor and a contributing writter for Time on the Water Canada.

You can also follow Wil at www.wilwegman.com

 

Mark Kulik founder of Xzone Tournament Baits & Joe Cutajar round out the top ten weighing in 27.00 pounds.

Final Top 20

Position Team Weight
1 Mark Moran & Joe Muszynski 31.55
2 John Mcgeoy & Josh Myers 29.80
3 Mike Desforges & Derek Srub 29.65
4 Wayne & Gail Misslebrook 29.50
5 Todd Hatch & Chad Wentzell 28.70
T6/7 Mike Reid & Brian Gardy 28.45
T6/7 Greg Klatt & George Schneider 28.45
8 Scott Murison & Paul Hecking 27.60
9 Simon & Melanie Frost 27.30
10 Mark Kulik & Joe Cutajar 27.00
11 Dave Kennedy & Bob Devine 24.55
12 James Paluch & Shaun McKay 23.50 BF 8.05
T13/14 Gerry Heels & Wil Wegman 21.85
T13/14 Ernie Jenson & Rob Hyatt 21.85
15 Todd Currie & Alex Campbell 21.75
16 Marcel & Carrie Cartwright 21.20
17 John Prokator & Kevin MacDonald 21.05
18 Barry Graves & Dave Johnson 20.75
19 Jay Hotzak & Russell Watkins 19.80
20 George Saliba & Des Barns 19.15

Complete Results

The popularity of competitive sports fishing is not only growing in numbers of angling competitors but attendees at weigh-ins as well. Hundreds of people come from all over Ontario to watch and enjoy the waterfront.

Read here how tournaments effect your community

 

 

 

 

 

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