Bass-A-Palooza Fishing Tournament raises $15k for Save the Sound

Fishing enthusiasts participated in daylong event to support Noroton River fish passage

Saturday, June 4 marked the 9th annual Bass-A-Palooza Charity Fishing Tournament, which this year benefited Save the Sound, a bi-state program of Connecticut Fund for the Environment.

Early risers by nature, around 100 tournament fishers began casting their lines at 5 a.m. After a full day on the water, the fishers were joined by family, friends, and supporters alike for the weigh-in. Cliff Blaze of Darien took first place for a monstrous 41.5-inch bass.

The after party at Rowayton Seafood, sponsored by Titos Handmade Vodka, consisted of dinner, drinks, music, and an auction. Attendees bid on a variety of items including a boat motor, rod and reel, guided fishing charters, a golf outing, and tickets to major sporting events. One of the most memorable items, a tour of the Kennedy Compound and Nantucket Sound sail aboard the schooner Mya, was donated by CFE/Save the Sound board member Kiki Kennedy.

Even among the awe of the fish and excitement of the auction, the true reason for the gathering was never lost. For the last nine years, Clay Persinger, host of the tournament, has chosen to support a cause or project with the donations and auction proceeds raised. Past beneficiaries have included Make-A-Wish Foundation and Wounded Warriors. This year Persinger chose a local project, to help Save the Sound restore the fish passage on the Noroton River between Darien and Stamford.

“We were thrilled that Clay and his team of avid recreational fisher-folk were excited about raising money to bring thousands of fish back to the Noroton River,” said Curt Johnson, executive director of CFE’s Save the Sound program. “Right now, our river herring are trying to migrate upstream to lay their eggs but are stopped dead by a wall of concrete at the Interstate 95 box culvert. With community support, we will build a fish ramp so pregnant mother herring can once again swim upstream to quiet protected ponds, allowing them to be fruitful and multiply. We are thankful that Clay and the entire Bass-A-Palooza team totally get it – more little fish means more big fish for the Sound.”         

“Together we can restore a miraculous migration — where river herring, sea lamprey, and eel can swim freely between the Sound and the Noroton River ponds allowing them to complete their breeding cycle,” Johnson explains.“More small fish not only feed more sport fish but egrets, osprey, porpoise and other wildlife in Long Island Sound.”

“While my passion for fishing inspired me to begin Bass-A-Palooza, the goal of the tournament has always been to raise money to support a cause in need,” said host Clay Persinger. “That is what inspires me to continue year after year.” Persinger continued, “When I heard that Save the Sound was working to restore a fish migration route right in my own backyard, I knew I’d found the perfect cause. This is a message that resonates with saltwater anglers: when migratory baitfish struggle to survive, larger species, like our bass population, also suffer.”

Though the tournament has ended, support for the Noroton fish passage is still needed. Donations may be made by contacting Save the Sound at 203-787-0646 or the Darien Land Trust at 203-655-4148.

Cliff Blaze of Darien took first place for a monstrous 41.5-inch bass.

Cliff Blaze of Darien took first place for a monstrous 41.5-inch bass.

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