As they have for four decades, dozens of astute anglers made their annual pilgrimage to bass Mecca on beautiful golden pond in Sunny Sandwich, New Hampshire this past Fathers’ Day weekend. Millionaires and mud dogs alike head to the calling of these crystal clear shores of rock, sand and towering pine each year to celebrate the great outdoors with like-minded men. From as far away as Florida and North Carolina, they make this annual migration to live as free men, if only for a weekend. The tradition marches on for years, nearly two score now, surviving weather and wars, recession and recovery. Weddings, graduations and all celebrations take second place on the calendar for this rag tag band of brothers as they plan their year around this event.
Thursday night brings nearly 100 men to the Camp Hale mess hall for some food, spirits and catching up. Come Friday Morning, it is all about the fishing. Some set out on the lake in a borrowed flat-bottom row boat, while others take to Squam upon magnificent state- of- the-art bass boats that sell for more than most guys’ pick up trucks. There is no class warfare, no envy, no racism and no discrimination. Every man knows he is just one more brother knucklehead trying to claim his right to pursue happiness as a member of Cross Roads Athletic Club – and happiness is what they find.
Early on Friday, it was chaos as anxious anglers made their way to the weigh station, only to find there was no weigh station set up. Tournament Director, Jeff Hanson, slept through his alarm and was a little late getting the weigh-in station set up by dawn as required. He was able to scramble around and had the station up and running only a few minutes after waking up at 2:30 pm. The result was a series of fish that were weighed on different scales, creating a huge controversy over the standing in the tournament. All the usual suspects were in the running, the dreaded Banks boys scored a series of great fish, getting on the board with some impressive bass and pickerel. Master angler, fishing boat capt, and owner of the Anglers Den breakfast shop, Clyde, even got in on the action. Clyde has always considered himself a true sportsman for not weighing in his legendary catches. This year, Clyde caught bass fever and joined forces with the best and brightest anglers of Cross Roads to unseat the grand champion, Dominic, and his faithful mate, Dominic Jr. All day Saturday, it looked like Dominic would not even place this year leaving the cup up for grabs to Turtles, Minks and Ducks. But then, near dusk on Saturday, a slight buzz could be heard approaching the camp. As if it were riding on air, a state-of-the-art bass boat raced across the glass surface of the evening lake at full speed. At about 20 yards from the dock, the motor went silent as the magnificent watercraft pitched its nose from the plane and made a perfect loon-like landing just feet from the dock – much to the amazement of the members who watched. Dom and Dommer played it cool and quiet as a few competitors began to heckle the champ. “What do you have champ?” they jeered. “Struck out, did ya?” Dominic just smiled as he tied off the boat and asked one of the hecklers if he would mind grabbing the official scale and if he would witness a weigh-in as required in the rules. Dominic opens the live well and reaches in. Out of the live well comes a massive five-pound large mouth bass. The others could only gasp and hope for second place. Dominic had done it again – largest bass and largest fish right at the bell. But it wasn’t over yet. Dommer then stuck his hand in the live well and emerged with a huge 3.4 pound pickerel to take what should have been the second biggest fish for the third straight year. Dom and Dommer are now truly a family fishing dynasty at Cross Roads Athletic Club. Three years in a row – biggest fish champions. Note: Dominic was not awarded biggest bass because the bass tournament had ended at 5 pm. (It was in the fine print).
The fishing was fine and the fare was finer. Cross Roads Athletic Club members eat like kings on the four-day event: steaks, prime rib, lavish lunches, bountiful breakfasts as well as savory snacks and unlimited distilled spirits. Mark and Larry donate half a day to cut, trim, season and grill the sirloin steaks on Saturday. This year, the steaks were USDA Choice New York Strip Sirloin that may have been our best ever.
This year, the casting championship went to this Bellingham DIT,( Duck In Training). Dominic heads up the casting contest every year; and this was the best year ever, bringing in nearly 300 dollars for the club. Anglers are challenged to cast into a bucket from 30 yards away. More than three hundred tries – and only one guy got it in.
Saturday night brought the annual auction and awards ceremony. The horse’s ass awards were distributed; and for the first year ever, recipients are contesting the awards. All three horse’s ass recipients contend that Jeff Hanson messing up the bass tournament was far more deserving of a horse’s ass award than what they did. The BOD will hear the case at their January meeting, and we will release the names then.
Finally came the auction item that all were waiting on – the coveted Cross Roads flag. Bearers of the flag are entitled to a gourmet meal of their choice on Thursday night, a reserved dining table, boat slip and choice of cabin, along with a year full of bragging rights. Jimmy”For the Kids” Casey and his cabin of Bugs were in the running early; but the deep pockets of Rockvegas Furniture mogul, Brad “Warmington” McCaughey, and Mark “The Pres” Bennetti were too much for the Aviation giant. The Cross Roads Flag was awarded to the one and only Wood Chucks of Rockland, MA!
The 2012 Cross Roads Athletic Club Extravaganza at Camp Hale was a great success.
Long Live Cross Roads Athletic Club !