Albert DiMassimo

Albert DiMassimo, the $1,000 cash winner, writes his name at #32 on the prize board.

The Pine Creek Trout Tournament has brought out record numbers of anglers in recent years, but one angler has been a part of it since the start.

For Albert DiMassimo of Montoursville, the day was as much a celebration of the moment as it was the past. DiMassimo has participated in the tournament 22 times since 2002, but most of those tournament years were spent with his late father, who taught him a thing or two about fishing—and life. 

DiMassimo took home top prize—$1000 cash—during the tournament held May 20-21 along a 13-mile stretch of Pine Creek in Potter and Tioga Counties. The 712 anglers that registered caught a total of 167 of the 250 tagged trout: 135 on Saturday and 32 on Sunday. 

“I fish about 125 days a year and constantly monitor the water flow by checking a river gauge,” said DiMassimo. "On Saturday, May 20, the water flow was the lowest I had ever seen it. Normally, it’s about 3½ at this time of year but was only 1½. It made it harder to fish because the water was low and clear so the trout were easily spooked."

Around 11 a.m. on Saturday, DiMassimo was fishing at Rexford when he caught the first of two tagged trout and his friend Jay Ross of Salladasburg caught three. 

“I kept telling Jay that I wanted to draw the first Ping-Pong ball in honor of my father who passed away in 2017. We enjoyed coming to this tournament together and aIways had a lot of fun," said DiMassimo.

“Jay was standing right next to me when I drew Ping-Pong ball #32 and was toId I had won $1,000 in cash. Neither of us could believe it. Sometimes you wonder. I feIt my father was with me,” he said.

“When I reached in for a Ping-Pong ball, I pulled out the first one my fingers touched. It was right at the top. I’ve won more money since my father passed away than I ever did before,” said DiMassimo.

“Jay drew four balls for prizes this year, including his three and the one for my second tagged fish. We ended up with $150 in cash, a $50 gift certificate and an electric lamp that he drew and the $1,000 I drew. We’re planning to share the lamp, too. We’ll each keep it for six months,” DiMassimo laughed. “My father’s thing was if you were fishing with someone, you split what you won 50/50 and that’s what Jay and I do.”

"It all comes down to the luck of the draw," said Snowmobile Club President Jim Baney. Participants must bring their tagged fish in “live condition” to the snowmobile clubhouse where they draw a numbered Ping-Pong ball for each tagged trout they catch.

Four other fisherman each won $500 on tournament weekend.

"The number on the ball is matched to the number on the club's prize board to identify what the angler has won. "Anglers like the ball draw because everyone has an equal chance to win our largest cash prizes rather than those who happen to catch the 'right' fish,” Baney said. 

In 2019, 518 anglers registered for the tournament, which was not held in 2020 due to COVID-19. In 2021, 644 registered and in 2022, 677.

The turnout was great for the free "Start a Kid Fishing” program for youngsters 12 and under. "We ran out of everything, rods and reels, tackle boxes and other equipment but with the help of those who donate items, we will do it again in 2024,” said Baney.

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