1st Place - Jim Buehler & Brett Wilson
The U.S. Angler’s Choice Region 4 Tournament of Champions re- turned to Oneida Lake near Syracuse, New York for the second consecu- tive year October 15-17. This event was hosted by Gander Mountain, Comfort Suites - Cicero and the Syracuse Visitor and Convention Bureau. Last year’s championship was held a week earlier. A warm spell seemed to turn the fish off a bit, as the big smallmouth need some consistent cooler temperatures to trigger their fall feeding patterns. Little did we realize how different the weather would be just a short year later. The air temperatures were chilly all week, occasionally accompanied by wind and rain. All eyes of the 83 teams competing in this prestigious event were cautiously watch- ing the weather as a strong front was due to move into the Syra- cuse region bringing snow, freezing rain and wind as the Friday and Saturday tournament days approached. The late forecast broadcast Thursday night predicted some form of frozen precipitation to be in the Oneida Lake area by morn- ing. The qualifying teams were pleasantly surprised to look out the door of their Comfort Suites rooms and find dry asphalt. The lousy weather was surrounding us in all directions but did not material- ize on Friday. In fact, the temperatures reached 50 degrees…one of the more pleasant days of the week.
JIM BUEHLER AND BRETT WILSON gO WIRE-TO-WIRE TO WIN CLOSE REgION 4 TOC
We appeared to be the eye of the storm as Saturday was also clear and dry with snow just to the east and south of our champi- onship venue. Strong east winds produced some major rollers on Oneida Lake early on Saturday but were all but gone by noon. This tournament had dodged a major bullet. Oneida Shores County Park was open and ready for launch to begin at 5:00AM on Friday. Other than a parking lot mishap, ev- erything went smooth and all boats were in the water prior to safe light. Pat Donnelly from Team E Outdoors was on hand this morn- ing and throughout the event filming for a December airing of the Region 4 Tournament of Champions on the Time Warner Network. Oneida’s own Mike McKay performed a glorious rendition of our National Anthem as the American flag was unfurled and the tournament of Champions was underway. All 83 boats were quickly launched and headed in all directions in primarily in search of the huge smallmouth bass that are usually so eager to feed heavily in autumn on Oneida Lake. Many teams had surprisingly disclosed they had discovered a shallow largemouth bite early in the week. As the cooler temperatures moved in as the week progressed, howev- er the largemouth seemed to disappear. As the scales were closed on the first day of competition it was Jim Buehler and Brett Wilson, Angler’s of the Year from the Upper Susquehanna Pro Teams Divi- sion who led the field with 18.69 pounds of smallmouth. Oneida Pro Teams Angler’s of the Year Matt Martin and Mike Cusano held down the second spot with 17.60 and Potomac Pro Teams’ Aaron Hastings and Jeremy Birmingham were sitting in third place with
2nd Place - Ed Riley & Justin Riley
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