It was a rainy couple of weeks leading up to the Aurora, Illinois Regional River Bassin Tournament Trail event held at Rocktown Adventures on July 11th. The Chicago-area rivers were inundated with water, as three inches fell mercilessly two days prior to the event. Fortunately, the weather broke on Friday and held off for two days to allow a successful event to take place.
Thirty-five anglers signed up, and the competition was fierce. Fishermen from as far away as Lexington, Kentucky made the trek to test their skills and wit against the bronzebacks that inhabited the region’s flows. The sun rose at 5:23 am, which signaled the first cast. Within minutes, Teddy Wozny posted a healthy smallmouth to put him first on the board, winning the “Goal Zero First Bass.” Anglers soon followed suit as a number of nice fish were put on the board.
Many of those fish were registered by Eric Schaff. Eric was a former member of the Jackson Kayak Fishing Team, and his expertise was on display on his home river- The Fox. Despite high and muddy conditions, Eric, “found fish in heavy current throwing large spinnerbaits.” This trick would eventually propel Eric to an individual first place finish for the tournament!
Eric was not done yet, however. He fished solo until 10:00am, and then picked up his son, Grant, and they fished from a Jackson Kayak Big Tuna together for the rest of the tournament. Fish after fish, Eric and Grant slayed the smallmouth bass throughout the day, eventually landing them a first place finish in the team division as well.Ted Yates also cashed in the “Bending Branches Big Bass” throughout the day with a 19” football of a smallmouth. As Rocktown Adventures staff did a fine job of setting up a large spread of food, and as anglers arrived back before 3:30pm, they had a great time sharing fish-tales and camaraderie.
With the brand new Jackson Kayak Cuda 12 sitting in the background and other great prizes from Orion Coolers, Z-man, Raymarine, Goal Zero, Mountain Khakis and more, the scene was nothing short of impressive. A Chicago Tribune reporter made the 90-mile drive from the city to document the action as well. When it was all said and done, over $8,000 in cash and prizes was given out. Eric Schaff and Grant Schaff won the individual and team divisions, respectively. They took home many great prizes totaling over $2,000 and a cool $1,000 in cash for their efforts.
Most of the anglers present, young and old, male and female, were also awarded great prizes, and each took home a collection of memories that will not be forgotten!