May an ideal month for competitive, recreational fishing

May 2023 has been a breeze thanks to mild weather, fantastic fishing and good people doing a great job for a worthy cause.

I’ve always been a May guy, as the bass here in our corner of Ohio are predictably cooperative. Since 2000, May also has been the countdown month for the Muransky Companies Bass Classic, the annual fundraiser bass tournament benefiting the United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley on Aqua Ohio’s Evans and Pine lakes.

This year’s May, however, has been better than most. The fishing is as good as usual and I have enjoyed great trips to Mosquito and Pymatuning — without the anxiety of sweating the details for the United Way Bass Classic.

I had the privilege of chairing the fundraiser since the inaugural event in 2000. It truly has been a labor of love, as the event grew and the competitors returned year after year. The Classic became more than a bass tournament thanks to expert management by the United Way staff, innovative ideas and the generosity of Aqua Ohio providing access to the bass-filled Evans and Pine.

So while it was well worth the effort — raising more than $600,000 for the children and families served by United Way-supported agencies and creating hundreds of friendships — the Bass Classic did distract from my own fishing and other activities. I decided following the 2022 tournament that it was time for new people with fresh ideas to take the reins.

United Way Director of Marketing Roxann Sebest endorsed my recommendation of a new committee consisting of long-time Bass Classic competitors Ricky White, Steve Evans and Al Hustosky. They quickly went to work on the 2023 tournament, which will launch from the shores of Evans and Pine on June 3.

This year’s Bass Classic is shaping up nicely. In addition to the Muransky Companies and Aqua Ohio, sponsor support again includes Fisherman Central, Birdfish Brewing, St. Croix Fishing Rods and Fin Feather Fur.

Everyone who has volunteered to run an event knows the devil is in the details. The Bass Classic is no exception. I promised White, Evans and Hustosky I would continue to help if needed.

I was fishing with former Vindicator general manager Ted Suffolk on Tuesday at Mosquito Lake when my phone buzzed. The caller ID indicated Ricky White was on the line. Ted and I had just arrived at our first fishing spot. Ted is also my teammate in the annual Bass Classic.

I put the phone on speaker and set it on the bicycle-style seat on which I lean while casting. I continued fishing while discussing Bass Classic details with Ricky.

The weather was beautiful and our spirits were high. Ted chuckled as Ricky and I traded quips and speculated about the prospects for this year’s Bass Classic competition. The conversation was fun and we were relaxed. Who can complain when we’re talking about fishing while actually fishing?

Then it happened. A fat largemouth sucked in the white swim jig I’d been casting while jabbering with Ricky. Then Ted stuck a nice bass and barely a minute later, he hooked another largemouth. Ricky, on the other end of the phone call, clearly was impressed.

Our business complete, we finished the call and Ted and I got serious about Mosquito’s bass. We wrapped up that afternoon with 31 largemouths and as we recounted our day on the ride home, reality hit me.

May is a breeze when you can clear the decks and this particular May is better than most.

Jack Wollitz’s book, “The Common Angler,” is a collection of stories that explain why anglers love fishing. Send a note to jackbbaass@gmail.com.


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