Quite a catch for CV bass fishing

First-year program advances to states

All the ConVal bass fishing team needed was to finish in the top 30 percent.

With 32 teams entering the first ever state qualifier on Sept. 26 at Lake Winnipesaukee, the four-man team of Brian Wilder, Lawton Fagiano, Tyler leBlanc and Jeffrey Pinknam just had to catch enough fish to finish among the top tier of teams for a spot in the inaugural state finals.

Following the six-hour event, the Cougars had caught four keepers with a total weight of 8.31 pounds to finish ninth and advance to this Saturday’s NHIAA championship at Winnisquam Lake. The top 11 teams qualified for Saturday.

“I felt we had as good a chance as any and the kids did really well,” said coach and boat captain Phil Mathewson.

Mascenic also put together a four-person team made up of Brett Stauffeneker, Scott Humphrey, Travis Rautiola and Jestin Somero and finished tied for 26th with one fish and a weight of 1.06 pounds. Exeter caught eight fish for a total of 11.83 pounds to take the top qualifying spot.

The four-person teams were divided into pairs and split time on the water.

Wilder and Fagiano fished the first part of the day for the Cougars and were able to add two keepers to the live well. It was almost three, as Fagiano hooked about a three-pound bass, but lost it while reeling it into the boat.

Then within a half hour, Wilder had the catch of the day for the Cougars, landing a 4.71 pound large mouth. It was the second largest fish of the day, only trailing one from Sunapee that weighed in at 4.81 pounds.

“That was our first fish in the live well,” said Mathewson. “And getting the first fish in the boat is always a relief.”

Pinknam and leBlanc also nabbed a pair of fish and it helped ConVal advance, as the team finished just over two pounds ahead of the 12th place group from Sunapee. Each team was allowed to keep eight fish.

“Tyler and Jeffrey had a lot of pressure on them,” said Mathewson.

But it was not the best day on the water, according to Mathewson.

“It was the toughest fishing I’ve seen on Winnipesaukee,” said Mathewson. “It made things tough on the kids and the results showed it.”

ConVal began preparing for the qualifier when school began in late August. With it being a first-year team, there was no budget or funding for the sport.

“Between myself and the kids, we have to supply everything,” said Mathewson.

In the beginning, 13 students showed interest, but when tryouts rolled around at the beginning of the school year just five came out. The team was narrowed down to four after a test provided by the NHIAA and have been working to prepare for the qualifier.

“It covered basic knowledge of fishing,” said Mathewson of the test.

Over the course of nine practices, the team has spent time on Dublin Lake and Powder Mill Pond in Bennington, as well as time in the classroom. They have gone over different fishing techniques, knot tying and bait usage.

Prior to the qualifier on Winnipesaukee, Mathewson and the team worked to develop a strategy of how to best fish the lake.

“We studied some maps and came up with a game plan,” said Mathewson.

Now that they are moving on to the state finals, the team spent some time last Saturday at Winnisquam Lake — the last day it was open for qualifying teams — to get ready for an even better showing.

The team will again go over maps and devise a plan of action for once they hit the water at 8 a.m. on Saturday.

“I think we’ve got as good a chance as anyone,” said Mathewson. “But Winnisquam is known to be one of the toughest lakes to fish in the state.”

And it will all come down to one day and which team can catch the most fish.

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