Wally Balchunas and Jim D'Ambra fished out of the same boat, and they ended up in the same boat too...both standing atop the winners circle. Together, they brought in the only limits of the tournament and found the fishing so good that they assumed everyone was on fish. In reality, they had things figured out in a way that no one else did. After catching a few quality fish early on top water baits, Balchunas turned to his signature drop shot and filled out a solid limit of all Smallmouth. He then returned to his top water throughout the day to cull up to his winning weight of 14.65 lb. His winning bag also included the Smallmouth Lunker for 2017, tipping the scales at a solid 4.43 lb. Congratulations to Wally Balchunas for a great victory under adverse conditions!
Despite having to fish behind Balchunas from the back of the boat, Jim D'Ambra used his Carolina Rig to dredge up 10.91 lb which was good for second place. But, his strong performance in this tourney meant much more than just a second place finish. The points Jim earned and the total weight he accumulated were enough to propel him to his 5th Angler of the Year Title, squeaking past Matt Allen and Bill Barrett by just a few points. In the AOY race, every ounce counts and every point is valuable, and Jim D'Ambra proved that this year by winning one of the tightest AOY races in recent club history.
Club rookie, Randy Almeida, beat the bushes to bring three fish to the scales for 10.32 lb, good for third place. Almost half of his weight came from the tourney lunker, a 4.91 lb monster Largemouth. Congratulations to Randy, Jim, and Wally for a great tournament and to Jim D'Ambra for an impressive 2017 Season and his 5th AOY Title.