Maine club hosts memorial open

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Courtesy Mainely Bass Club
Former Bassmaster Classic qualifier George Cooper and his partner Dwayne Turnage won the first Thomas Behen Memorial Open on China Lake.

Augusta, Maine — The Mainely Bass Club changed the name of its annual open tournament in memory of one of its junior club members who died in a car accident last fall.

The Maine B.A.S.S. Nation club hosted the 2018 Thomas Behen Memorial Open July 7 at China Lake with proceeds from the tournament benefitting the Thomas Behen Scholarship. Thomas Behen was an accomplished junior angler who won the 11-14-year-old division of the Maine Nation Junior State Championship in 2012. He made the 2016 Bassmaster High School All-State Team for Maine, won the 2016 Maine Nation high school state championship and competed in the 2016 Bassmaster High School National Championship. Behen won Mainely Bass Junior Club Angler of the Year in 2012 and was the Mainely Bass Adult Club non-boater Angler of the Year in 2015 and 2016.

Mainely Bass Club’s Annual China Lake Open was held in July for the past 13 years, but it was renamed and set up as a benefit tournament this year in honor of Behen. Rob Williamson, Mainely Bass Club’s junior chapter president, reported the tournament drew 62 boats with the majority of the field being Maine B.A.S.S. Nation members. “The field was up more than 50 percent of what we normally get,” Williamson said. “The tournament went really well. Everyone was pleased with the turnout, and the fishing was pretty good too.”

Four-time B.A.S.S. Nation Championship qualifier and former Bassmaster Classic qualifier George Cooper and his partner Dwayne Turnage won the tournament with eight bass weighing 27.42 pounds.

Williams said the Behen family reported they have raised about $25,000 in scholarship money so far. “The funds will be used for various purposes,” Williamson said. “One purpose will be to place a granite bench in Thomas’ name at Wilcox Pond in Biddeford, Maine. It is a youth fishing spot only. Thomas loved to go there as a little guy.” 

The bench will be engraved with his name on one side and “He Loved to Fish” on the other side. “Our hope is for people to have a peaceful spot to relax as their children fish,” Williamson said, “and, a place for family and friends to go where Thomas loved to be.”

A $500 scholarship from the scholarship fund has been given to a graduating Biddeford High School student with a 3.0 GPA or better going on to study engineering or a science field. A $500 scholarship will also be awarded to the Maine Nation state high school champions who advanced to the 2018 Bassmaster High School National Championship and another $500 scholarship was awarded to the Maine Nation state junior champions who qualified for the 2018 Bassmaster Junior National Championship.

“As (the family) continues to establish the Thomas Behen Fund and Thomas’ website (www.thomasbehen.org), they hope to increase the scholarship amounts or start some other youth organization around fishing,” Williamson said.

Mainely Bass Club members helping run the benefit event included Scott and Rosa Barker, Rob and Alex Williamson, Jason and Joe Curtis, Marco and Carl Morin, Dan and Matt Wight,  Eric Windsor, Dana Stevens, Roger LaFlamme Jr., Herb Meyer, Jim Wight,  Greg Milligan, Jim Jarboe, Bob Boynton, Tyler Allen, Bruce Richards, Sean Behen, Jayden Gaudrea and Bode Meader.