CLAYTON, N.Y. (WWNY) - The 2020 Siteone Bassmaster Elite at St. Lawrence River was a success both on land and in the water for the 86 anglers and support crew that traveled to Clayton for the four-day-long event last week.
The tournament saw Paul Mueller reel in the biggest smallmouth bass ever caught in an Elite tournament and threatened a few other records.
It all came together in a little over a week, but despite the short prep period the 2020 Siteone Bassmaster Elite at St. Lawrence River was a huge success after being moved from Waddington to Clayton.
The 86 anglers that competed are the best bass fishermen in the world and had nothing but rave reviews for the quality of fishing not only in the St. Lawrence River, but Lake Ontario as well, which was open to the fishermen this year with Canadian waters closed due to COVID-19.
“In all honesty, for me personally, this is my favorite place I’ve ever fished,” said eighth-place finisher Clark Wendlandt. “I just, I just love it here. I don’t know why. I fished my very first BASS event ever in 1992 out of Clayton and I just, I mean, I’ve only fished two tournaments here, but I just, I really enjoy fishing here, it’s a neat place. It’s huge, it’s got clear water and the big smallmouth -- I mean, what more do you need than that.”
"It's awesome, I mean, this is, I'm going to say it's, if it's not the best smallmouth fishery in the world, it's in the top five," said Mueller, who placed second.
“This place will always be near and dear to my heart and it’s my third time here, my best finish ever,” fourth-place finisher Chad Morgenthaler said. I kept getting better, better and now I finally made the top 10 -- maybe if we come back again next year, who knows.” Not only were the anglers impressed with the fishing, they were equally impressed with the hospitality the Clayton community showed them during their stay in the area.
“It’s been an awesome week,” said Brock Mosley, who finished third. “You know, it’s -- I hope we come back to Clayton, that’s all I can say. These people in Clayton are awesome. I mean, I don’t know how, I’ve had hundreds of people every day come running down the dock and just talk to me.”
“Bridgeview Motel, we stayed there all week,” champion Chris Johnston said. “They cooked all us anglers dinner every night -- it was top notch -- if you ever need a place, check ‘em out.”
The stay in Clayton was just for this year, though, since the Bassmaster Elite Series has a contract with Waddington through 2021 to hold the event there.
“You know, our contract, you know, runs through next year with them, we also got a BASS Nation event that is supposed to take place there next year as well as the elite even,” BASS CEO Bruce Akin said. “It’s been a great partnership and some of the biggest tournaments we’ve had and turnouts – yes, we, right now the plan is to go back next year.”