The 1986 Bassmaster New York Invitational was held on New York’s Hudson River. It wasn’t the first time the tournament circuit visited the historic river – they’d been there as recently as 1984 – and they’ve returned there multiple times since.
David Fenton averaged over 16 pounds a day to win there in ’86, his lone B.A.S.S. victory in 89 tries. Much of the field struggled, though. It took just over 10 pounds a day to make the top 20, not even 8 pounds a day to make the top 50 and right at 6 pounds a day to finish better than 100th.
While some anglers may have left Catskill, NY grousing about their bad fortune during the tournament, three of the 12 anglers who zeroed had a real tragedy befall them.
Do you remember what happened?
On the first day of the tournament, two boats collided. One had been headed to weigh-in and the other, having already weighed in, was heading to the ramp to load up. James Atkinson, 37, of Texas and Daniel Barragan, 36, of New York, died as a result of the accident. The NY Times reported that Leslie Foster, 65, also from New York, was hospitalized with a fractured hip.
The NYT story quoted Sgt. Walter Schelling of the NY State Police as stating that “Mr. Foster’s boat went over the top of the other craft and crushed the two men underneath.”
It was the first set of fatalities in professional fishing tournament history. There have been a number of accidents in various levels of competition since then, some of them fatal. For example, in 2010 a co-angler fishing a BFL Regional on Kentucky Lake died in an accident. Last year, also on Kentucky Lake, Shin Fukae hit a bridge piling but fortunately he and his rider did not suffer life-threatening injuries. More recently, Florida angler Lorenzo Magdaleno was killed when he was struck by lightning while fishing the TBF Southern Division Championship on Lake Okeechobee.
While the reports at the time did not say what size and model of boats the anglers crashed that day on the Hudson, the standard tournament craft of the time was an 18 footer with a 150 HP engine. Boaters today are better educated and equipped, but with modern boats that are faster and bigger, in many respects it’s surprising that more of these accidents do not occur. At the 2010 Bassmaster Classic in New Orleans, several competitors elected to run through the fog guided solely by radar – fortunately, the radar did not let them down.
This was Brian Waldman’s Third and final win in the BFA Trivia Contest. We congratulate Brian on winning three and look forward to the next winner!