Sunny skies and a mild breeze on the first full day of Summer greeted anglers at Kaercher Creek in Hamburg as 15 teams and boats competed against each other, trying to prove they were best at catching large or smallmouth bass during the Friends of Kaercher Creek Buddy Bass Tournament on June 22.

Kaercher Creek is a big bass lake, meaning that "keepers" must measure at least 15-inches. Anyone fishing there knows that catching small bass is relatively easy. It's finding the big ones that present the challenge.

For the five-hour tournament, only three bass made it to the scales. Partners Tommy Rivas and Scott Senna won the event. They had one largemouth bass which was 20-inches in length and weighed 4.14 pounds. Finishing second was the team of James Kish and Crystal Woodford. Their single qualifying largemouth was 16-inches long and weighed-in at 2.8 pounds. Rounding out the winners was Team Lerch. The father and son duo of Jesse and Gary Lerch brought in one largemouth bass that measured 15 1/2-inches and weighed 2 pounds.

The top three teams received cash prizes, while Rivas and Senna also received medals commemorating their victory in the first ever Friends of Kaercher Creek bass tournament.

Senna also won two additional prizes. He took home the Lunker Award for biggest bass caught and the CMSgt Richard L. Etchberger Foundation Challenge Award. That prize went to the angler catching a bass closest to the birth date (3/5) of one of Hamburg's Hometown Heroes, Richard L. Etchberger. Senna’s fish was .64 pounds away from the 3 pound 5 ounce mark, while the next closest was the Kish’s fish, .70 pounds away. The prize was presented by Cory Etchberger, the late Mr. Etchberger's son.

The tournament was supported by Cabela's/Bass Pro Shops, The CMSgt Richard L. Etchberger Foundation, Kantner's Tire Service, Walmart-Tilden Ridge, Arby's of Hamburg, Reading Tractor, Kuzan's True Value Hardware and Rental Center, John Barto, Jr. & Burger King, Mountainview Supply and Rental, Redner's Markets, Smokin' Brays BBQ, Taco Bell/Long John Silver's-Tilden, Lowe's-Tilden Ridge and the 1787 Brewing Company.

The event benefited the volunteer group Friends of Kaercher Creek. Their goal is to maintain designated areas of the park side of the property, via grass mowing and weed control, since Berks County Commissioners did not renew their lease with the PA Fish and Boat Commission in 2014.

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