The annual Leo August Memorial Breakfast was held on Saturday at The Windlass Restaurant, hosted by the Knee Deep Club, to award cash prizes to the most outstanding catches of the past year.
Newly elected Knee Deep Club president Brad Garie began the morning recalling his rapid accent from member to president all taking place within two years. Garie also talked about his passion for fishing and all the great things the club has done during its storied 67-year
“It’s a great club and people make great friendships here,” said Garie.
Bob Smith from Ogdensburg took home the top prize of $500. Back on May 13, Smith, who has only been fishing for about 7 or 8 years he said, was fishing off Brady Bridge when he hooked a 10 lb. 15 oz. hybrid stripped bass. That catch also won Smith the NJ Skillful Angler Award given out by the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife.
An admitted “avid” fisherman, Smith said he “got lucky that day,” a morning that he recalls as being cool and bright.
Smith said he will use his winnings to support his membership fees to the Knee Deep Club “for the rest of my life.”
Second place honors went to twenty-three year old Eddie Mackin from Lake Hopatcong.
Mackin was fishing off the docks at Dow’s Live Bait shop when he hooked a 10 lb. 4 oz. hybrid stripped bass. He recalled that his catch was made just a couple of days before Smith caught what turned out to be the biggest hybrid stripped bass hooked all year.
Mackin has been fishing Lake Hopatcong since 2000, when he moved to the area.
“We moved here in 2000 and I went to Dow’s. I kept going every day and then one day I never left,” said Mackin laughing. At Dow’s he met fellow angler Jimmy Welsh and other Knee Deep Club members and joined the organization immediately. Mackin said he will use the $200 winnings to buy more hunting and fishing supplies.
Veteran fisherman Welsh took third place honors with an 18 lb. 11 oz. channel catfish that he hooked from a boat off Chestnut Point this past fall. Welsh has been fishing Lake Hopatcong for nearly 60 years and has won three other Leo August awards along the way.
The seventh annual William G. Clark Youth Award went to Hunter Good, an eleven-year-old who hooked an 8 lb. 5 oz. hybrid stripped bass just on the north side of Raccoon Island. The catch also turned out to be the best in the state and Good was awarded the NJ Skillful Angler Award.
Good recalls that the catch was made when he was out in a boat with his father on a Saturday during the summer. Good said he will use his $100 winnings to buy equipment for lacrosse, and then, realizing what he said, quickly added bait for fishing.
The Leo August Memorial Breakfast was created to honor the memory of past Knee Deep Club president, Leo August. Through a trust from his estate, each year, the club recognizes the best catches of the year and awards cash prizes to the winners. According to the Knee Deep Club, the winners are established by comparing the year’s final standings in the senior division to the previous year’s records in all fish species.
“My father would have been thrilled with all the comradery,” said daughter Robin Devaney of her father, Leo. “It would have been very pleasing to him to see all these guys getting together and sharing stories. Today would have been his 99th birthday,” she said.
Besides Devaney, other invited guests included Jim Stabile, a veteran outdoor writer and Jeannette Vreeland, a delegate to the State Federation of Sportsman Clubs.