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Biggest Bass Tournament raises money for good cause

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CHAUMONT — When it comes to catching bass, the Golden Crescent is the reel deal.

Anglers came from all over Northern New York to catch the biggest bass for charity during the third annual Biggest Bass Tournament on Sunday in Chaumont.

“It’s to raise money for the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired of Jefferson County,” event coordinator Roy H. Dalton said. “We get bigger every year.”

This year, 25 anglers came out for the event, garnering more than $800 just through registration. Half of that was split for prize money.

Mr. Dalton is also a board member for the association. When he joined more than three years ago, he came up with the fundraiser to help buy visual aids for the visually impaired.

“I run a bass club up here,” he said. “We just gave it a shot.”

The only rules of the tournament were that the bass had to be caught in Lake Ontario and had to be alive at the weigh-in. Also, only one fish could be weighed in for the competition.

After hours of fishing the choppy lake waters under the late-summer sun, anglers lined up dozens of bass at the state boat launch.

Ronald C. Bergman, Phoenix, won first place with a 5.75-pound fish. In second place was his wife, Colleen D. Bergman, with a 4.85-pounder.

“We’ve been fishing our whole life,” Mrs. Bergman said. “I just caught a 6-pounder the other day.”

She said persistence is the key to catching the biggest bass.

“You also have to pick your days, because it can be rough on the lake,” she said. “It can get dangerous.”

Mr. Bergman said the money goes to a good place as well.

“We like to donate to the cause,” he said.

The Bergmans have a similar event, the Nick Bergman Memorial Bass Tournament, that they started after their son died of Hodgkin’s lymphoma at age 15. The money from their event goes to the Golisano Children’s Hospital, Syracuse.

Several other competitors came from Phoenix as well. Allen H. Crutchley caught a 4.5-pound bass to enter in the contest. Before bringing his boat back to shore, he caught nearly 40 fish.

“The Bergmans wanted us to come down so they could show us up,” he said with a laugh. “We had a lot of fun. It’s a phenomenal fishery.”

Mr. Dalton said he expects to see even more supporters at next year’s event.

“We always have it the third Saturday of August every year, and anyone who is legally blind or visually impaired can enter the tournament for free,” he said.

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