TIOGA - Area anglers who are looking for a club where they can both fish for bass and help the environment need only look toward the Tioga County Bass Anglers.
Organized Jan. 1, 1982, by anglers who called the area around Tioga home, the club has continued for more than 30 years.
Around the time the club formed, the Tioga-Hammond and Cowanesque lakes projects were being completed by the Army Corps of Engineers, said 30-year member Curt Sweely.
Willie Rice caught these largemouth bass on Cowanesque Lake at the Leigh Sweely Memorial Tournament in September 2012. One weighed 6.05 pounds.
"The club's purpose is to promote bass fishing, conservation and sportsmanship," said member Fred Metarko.
Currently, 32 men, women and children belong to the club.
They gather for friendly competition, camaraderie and community involvement.
"Club members help other members with physical, mechanical and mental needs," Sweely said.
Each year, the club schedules 10 tournaments and fish in both Pennsylvania and New York state lakes.
"If you fish 50 percent of the tournaments, you are eligible to fish a two-day classic tournament held on Cowanesque and Hammond," Metarko said. "Also, we hold an annual Leigh Sweely Memorial Open Tournament in the fall and the last two years we have partnered with Tackle Shack to run a three-day open tournament on Cowanesque, Tioga and Hammond lakes."
The club works with the Coast Guard Auxiliary to hold a Kid's Fishing Derby on Cowanesque Lake, which includes a safety demonstration, food and awards.
"We also have conducted children's and adult instructional sessions, which include knot tying and fishing demonstrations," Sweely said.
They gather for an annual summer picnic every year and an annual banquet.
"We get together at an annual banquet to give out trophies and awards for the year's achievements, and we don't forget the mishaps. Stats and stories are embellished," Metarko said.
Conservation is a key involvement for the club.
The anglers have been involved in placing and building fish habitat structures for Hammond Lake.
"In a partnership with the Army Corps of Engineers, we are in a three-year plan, building and placing fish habitat structure in Cowanesque Lake," Sweely said.
Don Kelly, member and owner-operator of the Tackle Shack, said the anglers have joined Friends of the Reservoirs, a non-profit foundation dedicated to fish habitat improvement projects in the nation's reservoirs.
They also stock trout in local waterways and do a roadside litter cleanup.
"TCBA promotes catch-and-release to ensure fishing for future generations," Sweely said.
"We are always looking for new members who enjoy fishing and having a good time," Sweely said.
The monthly meetings are always at 7 p.m. the third Tuesday of each month.