Long Island’s Largemouth Bass Legends

Though Long Island is surrounded by saltwater—and the most prominent bass species pursued here has seven stripes—it has a superb largemouth bass fishery. A temperate climate and a wealth of small lakes and ponds supply a nurturing bass environment and intimate, quality fishing. Despite often being overlooked by the larger bass-fishing world, Long Island’s freshwaters have been the proving grounds for several anglers who have taken the sport to higher levels, leaving their mark not only on the Long Island bass scene, but on regional and national bass fishing as well.

Earl Glasshagel

No fishing personality has ever shone a brighter light on Long Island freshwater bass fishing than the late Earl Glasshagel. Earl was a consummate bass angler, bass historian, and memorabilia collector. He was the driving force behind the formation of the Long Island Bassmasters in 1970. Glasshagel’s initiative and efforts resulted in the creation of the first affiliated Bass Angler’s Sportsman Society (B.A.S.S.) chapter in the state of New York, the first chapter north of the Mason Dixon Line, and the 22nd chapter created within the entire B.A.S.S. organization.

The Long Island Bassmasters also holds an enduring status by remaining the sixth longest-lived B.A.S.S. chapter of all time. Those milestones endeared Earl to the legendary Ray Scott, founder of B.A.S.S., and the two became friends. The club’s longevity is a testament to Earl’s mission and vision that set a solid foundation for decades to come.

I joined the ranks of the Long Island Bassmasters in 1975 and can attest to the caliber of the organization that Earl helped build. Each meeting was a packed house, and membership involvement in club activities was the highest I have seen in any fishing club. Much of that participation had to do with Earl’s diverse objectives that appealed to a core of dedicated Long Island bass anglers: education; conservation; competition, youth involvement, and community giving.

Under Earl’s stewardship and through his prevailing legacy, the Long Island Bassmasters attained state, regional and national recognition, including: B.A.S.S National Federation Chapter of the Year 1982; B.A.S.S. Eastern Division Public Relations Chapter of the Year 1987; B.A.S.S. New York State Conservation Award 2003; B.A.S.S. Chapter of the Year New York Federation 2005; B.A.S.S New York Federation Chapter Conservation Club of the Year 2008; B.A.S.S. New York Federation Community Service Award 2010; and the B.A.S.S. New York Federation Special Event Award 2010.

Consistent with Earl’s desire to give back to charities in the name of bass fishing, the Long Island Bassmasters has raised and donated tens of thousands of dollars to organizations like the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Schneider’s Children’s Hospital, Make-A-Wish Foundation, and the Wounded Warrior Project.

Those who followed in Earl’s footsteps have also made conservation and youth involvement a major priority of the club and have done so through many civic and conservation-oriented activities and events.

Ever a competitive spirit, Earl placed a high premium on inter-club tournament events, with many club members competing at regional and national levels. In recognition of Earl’s selfless contributions to the sport of bass fishing, the Long Island Bassmasters holds an annual charity tournament in his name, and the proceeds donated to various charities. As a collector of old bass tackle and lures, Earl was fond of vintage wooden plugs and was often seen fishing with these classics.

Dr. Bill Bartik

The late Bill Bartik was a well-known dentist who called Lake Ronkonkoma home. He was recognized for his bass fishing expertise and was one of the best bass anglers to ever cast a line into Long Island’s largest body of fresh water. “Doc” Bartik, as he was known to his friends and club members at the Long Island Bassmasters, was a mysterious angler who spent countless hours mastering the deep-water structure on Lake Ronkonkoma. The 65-foot depths of the lake hold many secrets, but Doc plied those waters with rigged plastic worms and primitive electronics to reveal Ronkonkoma’s lunker largemouth potential.

Dr. Bill Bartik

When I first met Doc, he had already raised the eyebrows of Long Island bass anglers with a Ronkonkoma bass of 8 pounds, 13 ounces. It is still the largest bass hauled from the depths of the lake. But Doc was far from a one-hit wonder. He had many 6-, 7- and 8-pound bass to his credit, all taken from his home water.

Doc was a meticulous and methodical angler and applied a scientific approach to his bass fishing. His preferred artificial bait for his lunker-hunting efforts was the plastic worm, rigged either Texas or Carolina style. He was one of the first anglers I met who had fully embraced Buck Perry’s concepts of structure fishing for bass: studying and fishing contour lines, break lines, submerged objects, and migration routes.

Although he took part in club tournament events, Doc preferred solitude and fishing alone on his beloved lake. There were numerous occasions while fishing Lake Ronkonkoma when other anglers saw Doc sitting alone in his jon boat on some offshore break line, staring at the screen of his flasher while deliberately manipulating a deeply fished plastic worm. More often than not, he had a good fish or two under his belt for the day’s efforts. Doc’s competitive nature was more about the contest between himself and big bass than between he and other anglers. Yet, Doc willingly shared his knowledge and angling wisdom with other anglers, and he took pride in passing on the legacy of the sport he loved. Doc’s dedication to deep-water bass fishing inspired many other anglers to expand their fishing horizons and move away from the shoreline in search of trophy Long Island largemouth.

Brendan Cucinello

Long Island has produced several top-tier, tournament bass anglers, and Brendan Cucinello is one of the finest.

Brendan has recorded more than 50 first-place finishes in various regional open and club tournaments. He was born and raised on Long Island and began his fishing career at an early age, fishing salt water with his dad. During his teenage years, Brendan developed a fondness for freshwater fishing and never looked back. While he still enjoys fishing the brine, freshwater bass is his passion.

Brendan Cucinello

When Brendan was a teenager, his sister’s boyfriend introduced him to largemouth bass fishing. “Once I saw a largemouth engulf a lure in clear water, I was hooked on the visual strike. I’ve always been a versatile angler and have learned how to use just about every technique out there and put it into practice when called for. However, most of my tournament wins came while using a jig of some sort: jig and craw, jig and paddle tail swimbait, or a micro jig.”

Brendan’s angling achievements highlight his extraordinary bass-fishing skills. His heaviest catch of 10 smallmouth bass weighing a total of 39.95 pounds stands as a Candlewood Lake (Connecticut) tournament record. Other Candlewood limits included impressive weights of 35.26 pounds, 34.90 pounds, 32.84 pounds, 32.55 pounds (a lake record for eight smallmouth bass), and a five-fish Candlewood Lake limit of 23.35 pounds taken during the 2019 Northeast Bassmasters Trail.

Brendan also holds the Suffolk County Bassmasters All-Time Club Record for a five-fish limit of 23 pounds, 7 ounces, taken from Copake Lake (New York). He landed a 22-pound, 8-ounce limit of five bass on East Twin Lake (Connecticut) that stands as the Atlantic Bassmasters Individual Total Weight Record, and holds the Lake Hopatcong (New Jersey) Northeast Bassmasters Trail five-fish record at 21.78 pounds.

In addition to his large limits, Brendan is no stranger to large individual bass. His heaviest tournament largemouth weighed in at 7 pounds, 11 ounces, while his largest competitive smallmouth tipped the scale at an impressive 6.20 pounds. Brendan’s personal best largemouth currently stands at 9 pounds, 2 ounces.

Brendan Cucinello largemouth bass

His favorite bass-fishing technique is pitch-skipping docks and heavy cover, and his go-to bait is a jig. Brendan credits two people with having a major impact on his development as a bass angler: Hugh Crumpler, a Florida fishing guide, and Bob Underwood, author of Lunker.

Brendan is also the president and co-founder of BassinUSA.com, a complete online bass-fishing resource dedicated to bass fishermen around the world. Some of his favorite pastimes are creating instructional fishing videos, writing fishing articles, and helping newcomers learn more about bass fishing through seminars, clinics, and youth events throughout the Northeast.

He is also an accomplished musician and guitarist. Brendan lives on Long Island with his wife and their two daughters. During the off-season, Brendan can be found playing guitar and recording music in his studio.

Tim Carini

Although he now lives in Atlanta, Tim grew up fishing and hunting on Long Island with his father. Tim was introduced to bass fishing at the age of 12 and, at 18, he joined Long Island Bassmasters, getting his first introduction to tournament competition.

Tim Carini largemouth bass

For several years after, Tim competed in tournaments including Foxwoods Team Trail, FLW Bass Fishing League, New Jersey and New York Bass federations, American Bass Anglers, and team open tournaments in the tri-state area. It was during this time that he embraced the goal of becoming a professional angler and embarked on that path. Following his graduation from college, Tim accepted a job in the fishing media business and spent all his weekends and free time fishing the entire Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions from Maryland to New Hampshire.

By 2001, Tim had moved up the tournament ladder and competed on the Bassmaster Eastern Invitationals trail. In 2002, he upped the ante and pursued professional fishing full time. He recalls, “I quit my job, loaded up the conversion van, and hit the road with the boat in tow.”

Tim performed well enough to qualify for the 2003 Bassmaster Pro Tour, (now called the Elite Series). His other qualifying events include: 2002 Bassmaster Northern Open; 2010 The Bass Federation Southern Regional Qualifier; 2012 The Bass Federation Southern Regional Qualifier; 2014 Georgia Bass Nation State Champion; 2015 Bass Nation Southern Regional Qualifier; 2017 Bass Nation Eastern Regional Qualifier (2nd place); 2017 Bass Nation Championship Qualifier; 2017 The Bass Federation Southern Regional Qualifier; 2019 Bass Nation Eastern Regional Qualifier. Tim has also fished the Professional Angler Association Circuit.

Tim Carini largemouth bass

Tim is now an active participant in the Georgia Bass Nation and the Georgia Bass Federation, the two grassroots organizations for B.A.S.S. and FLW. He’s been a member of the state team and, from that platform, went on to the regionals six times, and once to the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship. Tim’s biggest largemouth bass stands at 10 pounds, 2 ounces, and his largest smallmouth weighed in at 6 pounds, 4 ounces. His best five-fish tournament limit is 22 pounds, 14 ounces, and his best two-man limit caught with guide Rogne Brown was a remarkable 49 pounds.

When asked to name his favorite artificial bait, Tim does not hesitate in saying, “Topwater popper.” Looking back on his career, Tim notes that his dad had the greatest influence on his fishing. “He exposed me to all types of fishing, rod building and fly tying.”

Tim has built a career in the fishing industry, allowing him to follow his life’s passion. He has held several positions for the Outdoor Sportsman Group. He was also the Associate Publisher for the entire In-Fisherman brand, and is now the Sales Director at B.A.S.S. When not bass fishing, Tim enjoys all other forms of fishing and spending time with his dogs.

Eric Fieldstadt

Eric Fieldstadt is a dyed-in-the-wool Long Island bass angler who began fishing with his dad at the tender age of 3. He is one of those anglers who cannot pass up any puddle of water without making a cast. Eric has spent decades bass fishing Long Island’s lakes and ponds, and he is one of the most proficient and consistent local bass anglers, both through competitive clubs and as a recreational angler. He is yet another product of the Long Island Bassmasters, honing his skills on both Long Island largemouth and smallmouth bass. Eric joined the Bassmasters in 1976.

Eric Fieldstadt largemouth bass

Over the course of his club tournament fishing, Eric has garnered many recognitions and titles, including: 31 1st place wins, 5 angler of the year awards; 5 Long Island Bassmaster Classic titles; 2 Mr. Bass Awards for the largest bass; 11 Winter Team Tournament wins; 7 Earl Glasshagel Charity Team Event titles, and he has competed in 10 New York State Bass Federation Club Team events.

As a member of the Long Island Bassmasters, Eric has served the club as president, vice president, secretary, tournament director, board officer and chapter photographer; he was inducted as a lifetime member of the club in 1990. Eric has tallied more than 50 bass over 5 pounds, including his largest of 6 pounds, 14 ounces. His heaviest five-fish club tournament limit was taken on Lake Ronkonkoma with a spinnerbait and weighed 18 pounds, 6 ounces.

Eric is a versatile bass angler, adept at all methods and techniques. He is especially fond of the jig-and-pig, though he enjoys the excitement of fishing buzzbaits. I’ve had the opportunity to fish with Eric on many occasions and his approach to fishing is methodical and technical, matching technique, tackle, and baits to specific fishing conditions. Equally comfortable in his bass boat, jon boat, or kayak, Eric is at home on any body of bass water.

Eric Fieldstadt largemouth bass

He is also a very willing ambassador of the sport and has introduced many anglers and non-anglers alike to the joys of Long Island bass fishing, sharing his accumulated fishing wisdom.

When not bass fishing, Eric enjoys photography, nature, and music. He is an aficionado of the “blues” and has been a vice president of the Long Island Blues Society as well as their official photographer. In fact, his photographic efforts on behalf of the society earned him induction into the New York Blues Society Hall of Fame. Eric still lives on Long Island with his wife, Kathy, and dog, Finn.

Bob Losi and Dick Kent

I regularly bass fished with Bob Losi and Dick Kent for many years, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t include Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid of Long Island Bass Fishing on this list.

I met both Bob and Dick through the Long Island Bassmasters, and the two of them were the greatest influence on my Long Island bass fishing. Both willingly shared their most prized fishing holes and knowledge of the when, where, and how.

Throughout the years, the three of us cast lines into almost every body of water on Long Island that we thought might hold a bass or two. We shared the common bond of all things related to largemouth bass fishing.

Bob Losi largemouth bassBob Losi

Bob Losi began bass fishing Long Island waters in 1963. He attributes his interest in bass fishing to the writings of Jason Lucas, one of the venerable outdoor scribes who wrote for Sports Afield. Back then, more often than not, he had to “lock the hubs” on his 1972 Chevy Blazer to reach the remote, off-road ponds that so few fished at the time. Bob’s biggest Long Island largemouth stands at 7 pounds, 2 ounces, taken from the Peconic River, and his largest smallmouth hit the scales at 5 pounds, 6 ounces, and came from Montauk’s Fort Pond.

Bob is no stranger to the tournament scene, and he won several local events. His favorite methods for catching bass are old-school classics—the floating Rebel and the plastic worm. His preferred artificial lure is the Humpback Rebel, twitched seductively on the surface of the water. Bob now lives in Florida and regularly fishes the lakes and ponds near his home. He especially enjoys fishing the Stick Marsh and Blue Cypress.

Dick Kent largemouth bassDick Kent

Dick Kent began fishing in the early 1960s, mentored by his grandfather. His biggest bass weighed in at 8 pounds, 9 ounces, and he vigorously pursued oversize bucketmouths, catching scores of Long Island bass over the coveted 5- and 6-pound marks. Whenever I heard a truck horn in my driveway late on a Sunday afternoon, I knew it was Dick with another Long Island lunker under his belt – or at least a tale of the great fishing he had just experienced.

His enthusiasm for bass fishing was contagious, and I recall that Bob and I once fished an East End Long Island pond in the middle of a “mild” nor’easter. The park staff thought we were totally nuts being out there, but the bass were playful and receptive. That day, we tallied 42 bass, with a few memorable lunkers in the mix.

Dick is equally adept at spin fishing and baitcasting, though he prefers topwater fishing. His three favorite bass baits are the jointed or straight Rebel, a spinnerbait, and a crankbait. Dick’s other interests included breeding prize-winning Jack Russell terriers and hunting trophy whitetail deer. Dick has also taken four Pope & Young record bucks from the woodlands of Long Island and numerous bucks that achieved New York State recognition.

Long Island Bassmasters

Long Island Bassmasters

Started in 1970, Long Island Bassmasters is an affiliated chapter of the Bass Anglers Sportsman’s Society (B.A.S.S.). It is the 22nd affiliated club created, the first club north of the Mason-Dixon line, and the sixth-longest-lasting in the B.A.S.S. organization.

Long Island Bassmasters holds its meetings on the second Thursday of every month at 8:00 p.m. at the Ronkonkoma VFW Hall. The group encourages anyone interested to stop by.

Ronkonkoma VFW
55 Lake Shore Drive, Ronkonkoma, NY
longislandbassmasters.com

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