Delaware River Elite: 8 things to know

The Bassmaster Elite series is heading to the Delaware River for the first time. Here are some facts and figures to brush up on before the tournament begins.

  • Never Before

This is B.A.S.S.'s first event on the Delaware River.

  • Once Before

This is the second time a B.A.S.S. event has been held and hosted in Pennsylvania. The first time? That would be the 2005 Bassmaster Classic on the Three Rivers out of Pittsburgh. Kevin VanDam won that championship (his second) with an all-time low winning weight (Classic or otherwise) of 12 pounds, 15 ounces for three days of fishing.

  • We're In the Money!

Through the first six Elite events of 2014, only two anglers have earned a check every time: Greg Hackney and Gerald Swindle.

  • We're Out of the Money

Six anglers have failed to earn a check this year: Scott Ashmore, James Elam, B.J. Haseotes, Derek Remitz, Joe Sancho and Dennis Tietje.

  • 5 Every Time

Six anglers have brought a limit to the scales each day they've competed in 2014, and half of them are rookies. Brett Hite, Bill Lowen, Jacob Powroznik, Dean Rojas, Randall Tharp and David Walker have ended each competition day with five bass. Hite, Powroznik and Tharp are all in their first year of Elite competition.

  • Philly's Claim to Bass Fame

William Bartram (1739-1823) was an early American naturalist born in Kingsessing, Pa. (a neighborhood in southwest Philadelphia). Like his father, John, before him, he traveled throughout the colonies observing and drawing the flora and fauna he found. 

In 1760, while accompanying his father on a trip to Florida, Bartram observed Native Americans catching largemouth bass with a "bob" (basically a hair bug) and a long pole. More than 30 years later (in 1791) he would publish this account in Travels through North & South Carolina, East & West Florida, the Cherokee Country, the Extensive Territories of the Muscogulges, or Creek Confederacy, and the Country of the Chactaws, Containing an Account of the Soil and Natural Productions of Those Regions, Together with Observations on the Manners of the Indians. Fortunately for history buffs, that book is more simply known as Travels. 

This is the earliest known reference to American bass fishing. Bartram died and is buried at Bartram's Gardens in Philadelphia.

  • Mike Iaconelli, PA?

A town named for B.A.S.S. pro Mike Iaconelli? It could happen...and if it does, it'll probably be in Pennsylvania.

About an hour and a half from our Delaware River launch site are two small Pennsylvania boroughs formerly known as Mauch Chunk and East Mauch Chunk. The boroughs were known mostly for their picturesque scenery (they've been called "the Switzerland of America") and little else.

In 1953, legendary athlete Jim Thorpe died in California. Regarded as the greatest athlete of his time, Thorpe was about to be buried in Shawnee, Okla. — near his birthplace. Residents there had paid to have his body shipped to the town (Thorpe and his family were destitute) and he lay in state while Shawnee raised money for a monument to the man who won gold in the Olympics and played professional baseball, basketball and football before becoming the first commissioner of what would be the National Football League.

That's when Thorpe's widow, Patricia, had his body shipped to Mauch Chunk. The twin towns had purchased Thorpe's remains from Patricia, erected a monument to him, merged the two boroughs into one and changed its name to "Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania." All this despite the fact that Thorpe had never been to the towns during his 64 years of life.

Not surprisingly, Thorpe's children were shocked. They tried various pleas to have their father brought back to Oklahoma...all to no avail. In 2010, they filed suit in federal court, but so far it seems that one of the greatest athletes in history will remain in the town that took his name.

So, what about "Mike Iaconelli, Pennsylvania"? Stranger things have happened in the state, and at least Ike was born in Philadelphia!

  • Pennsylvania's Record Bass

If you're looking for giant bass, Pennsylvania is probably not high on your list of destinations, but the Keystone State has produced some quality largemouth and smallmouth — especially if you apply northern standards.

The Pennsylvania record largemouth bass weighed 11 pounds, 3 ounces and was caught by Donald Shade of Waynesboro, Pa., from Birch Run Reservoir in Adams County (south central Pennsylvania) in 1983.

The record brown bass weighed 8-8 and was caught by Robert T. Steelman of Havertown, Pa., in 1997 from Scotts Run Lake in Berks County, just northwest of Philadelphia.

Don't expect anything like those record bass to be caught from the Delaware this week. Experts agree that a summertime lunker from the river will weigh about six pounds.

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