Flint River April Oconee Tournament

On Sunday, April 8, 11 members of the Flint River Bass Club fished our April tournament at Lake Sinclair. We landed 46 keepers weighing about 92 ponds. There were eight five fish limits and one fisherman zeroed.

New club member Bubba Siren won with five weighing 15.10 and had big fish with a 5.35 pound largemouth. Doug Acree was second with five at 14.02 pounds, my five at 10.65 pounds was third and Chuck Croft placed fourth with five at 10.05 pounds.

For me it was a tough day. At my first stop I was excited to see shad spawning in the grass and on a seawall, often a sign bass will be feeding. And I quickly got a hard hit on my spinnerbait, but it was a three-pound hybrid. Within a few minutes I landed two more that size.

My luck got much better when I cast a chatterbait behind a dock. The wind took my line over the post, and as I started reeling it up to the post to try to get it off a nice bass hit. I was able to pull the fish completely out of the water against the post, use my trolling motor to ease over and get it. I could not believe it did not come off.

Then it got tough. I fished several places for the next 90 minutes and caught a couple of small fish, but at 9:10 I cast the chatterbait to some boat house rails, got a good thump and caught my biggest bass, a 3.06 pounder.

It took over two more hours with a few more short fish before A nice two pounder hit my chatterbait in a ditch, the kind of place I expected them to be. For the next two hours I fished places like that without a bite.

At 1:00 I was fishing a seawall with a jig head worm and caught my smallest keeper. That gave me four. I decided to spend my last hour in a small cove I like, but when I got to it there was a boat fishing there so
I went to another cover where I have never caught a fish.

With ten minutes left to fish another two-pounder hit my chatterbait on a seawall, giving me my limit. That I why I never give up and cast right to the last minute in tournaments!

Lake Guntersville Fishing Report from Captain Mike Gerry

Lake Guntersville Fishing Report

Check out these weekly updated reports for selected lakes in Georgia and Alabama Lakes Fishing Report. If any guides or fishermen do weekly reports and would like them published on my site please contact me: ronnie@fishing-about.com

Captain Mike with nice Guntersville bass

Captain Mike with nice Guntersville bass

Fishing Report, Lake Guntersville 4/14/18

Fishing this week had to overcome the affect of high pressure and north winds early in the
day; combine that with some 30-degree type temperatures in the morning and fishing was
good for those who were patient especially between 10 am and 3 pm. You had to find their
pattern and wait on the wind to shift to the south each day, but it was worth it.

The fish are shallow their spawning in many areas of the lake and the bite is typical spawn
bite; you must slow down look for spawning areas and the right kind of cover, but it was
worth it. With the bite in the 2 to 4 ft. range soft plastics were the key to our catches, Missile
Bait D-Bombs, Missile “48” stick baits and Missile Craw Fathers were all we fished all week.

Come fish with us we have guides and days available to fish with you, we are the most
inclusive guide service on Guntersville. No one will treat you better or work harder to see you
have a great day on the water. We fish with great sponsor products, T&H Marine, Lowrance
Electronics, Ranger Boats, Duckett Fishing, Vicious Fishing and more.

Its time to book your
Shell Cracker fishing trips, it’s one of the best eating fish in the lake, call me I have a guide
dedicated to shell cracker fishing!

Email: bassguide@comcast.net
Phone: 256 759 2270
Captain Mike Gerry

Potato Creek Bassmasters Club Classic

The last two days in March the Potato Creek Bassmasters had our end of the year “Classic” at Lake Martin in Alabama. Sixteen members of the club qualified for this tournament by fishing at least eight club tournaments last year.

We weighed in 152 keeper bass weighing 223 pounds. Almost everyone had a five-fish limit both days. Ryan Edge won with ten weighing 17.58 pounds, Kwong Yu was second with ten at 17.42 pounds, Raymond English placed third with ten weighing 17.16 pounds, my ten at 16.83 pounds was fourth, Tom Tanner was fifth with ten at 16.48 pounds and his 3.76 pounder was big fish.

It was close! As usual, I had one bad day and one good day. I got back from the Top Six at Clarks Hill Tuesday and went to Martin Wednesday for one practice day on Thursday. I went to some of my favorite places that day and caught some decent fish on a spinnerbait so I decided to fish that way Friday.

Friday morning started out frustrating. Everything I did seemed wrong, with many backlashes and no bites in the first two places I tried. I had heard the fish were biting pretty good until about 9:00 AM but very poorly after that, and I and not gotten a bite at 9:00!

I started dragging a worm around, not the best way to catch quality fish most of the time, way earlier than I wanted to, and did manage to catch six small keepers and several throw-backs. But at weigh-in my five weighed less than six pounds and I was not even in the top half of the club that day.

That night I decided to go for broke since this tournament is a one-shot deal. Most tournaments at Martin are won in Kowaliga Creek, far from where we start at Wind Creek, and I hate to make that long run. But I did, getting lost one time around some islands and thinking I was lost another time in the dim light.

I finally made it to a rocky point where I have caught some quality spotted bass at first light but caught only two small fish. At 8:30 I headed to another point but slowed down to idle between two islands. I was not sure how deep it was and did not want to run aground. I am glad I slowed down.

As I idled through the gap that turned out to be 18 feet deep I saw some fish on the bottom on my depthfinder. They were in a position that looked like they might be feeding, and wind blowing through the gap had created a slight current, always a good thing. There were also some brush piles and rocks in the gap.

As soon as I dropped a swim bait to the bottom a two-pound spot hit it. I stayed in that gap for over four hours, catching close to 20 keeper spots between two and 2.68 pounds. It was fun and they hit swimbaits, jig head worms, a jig and pig and a Carolina rigged worm. They were still biting when I left at 1:00 to try to find a kicker fish the last hour we fished.

I really messed up at that point. At some brush piles known for producing big fish I got a bite on my Carolina rig but when I set the hook I broke my line. I was in too big a hurry and had not checked my line for nicks in it. I have no idea how big the fish was and I will never know.

Lesson learned, again. Slow down and check your line!

2019 Bassmaster Classic On The Tennessee River in Knoxville

April 11, 2018

Knoxville To Host 2019 Bassmaster Classic On The Tennessee River

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — For the first time in its 49-year history, the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods will be held on the Tennessee River out of Knoxville, it was announced today by B.A.S.S. and the host organization, Visit Knoxville.

The prestigious championship bass tournament — widely known as the “Super Bowl of Bass Fishing” — will be held March 15-17 in downtown Knoxville and on The University of Tennessee at Knoxville campus.

“Knoxville meets and exceeds all the requirements we have for the Bassmaster Classic — great fishing on the Tennessee River, first-class facilities to accommodate crowds of fishing fans, a vibrant city with plenty to see and do, and a corps of state and local tourism professionals who will ensure its success,” said B.A.S.S. CEO Bruce Akin.

“Bass fishing is hugely popular in this part of the country,” he added. “In fact, 10 of our 109 Bassmaster Elite Series pros are from the Volunteer State, and most live in east Tennessee. This is going to be a very exciting Classic.”

“Hosting the 2019 Bassmaster Classic is an incredible privilege for the Visit Knoxville Sports Commission. This has been a total team effort over the past two years to land this highly respected event. We look forward to welcoming the anglers and their families, along with all of the loyal Bassmaster fans from around the country to our great city,” said Visit Knoxville Sports Commission Senior Director Chad Culver.

“Knoxville is honored to welcome the Bassmaster Classic to Knoxville in 2019. We hosted the Bassmaster Elite in 2017 [held on nearby Cherokee Lake], which was a great success. We anticipate the 2019 Classic to really showcase the partnership between B.A.S.S., our own Visit Knoxville Sports Commission, the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, and both Knox County and the City of Knoxville. The Tennessee River is the perfect setting for this competition, and anglers and spectators alike will enjoy the beauty that surrounds our city,” said Visit Knoxville President Kim Bumpas.

The Bassmaster Classic pits 50 of the world’s best bass anglers against one another for shares of the $1 million purse, including $300,000 for the winner. Jordan Lee of Grant, Ala., a 26-year-old former college fishing champion, is the current defending Classic Champion after becoming the youngest ever — and one of only three in history — to win back-to-back titles.

Lee is guaranteed the right to defend his title. Other anglers will spend the rest of this season trying to qualify from several B.A.S.S. circuits, including the prestigious Bassmaster Elite Series.

Tournament waters include Fort Loudoun and Tellico lakes, twin reservoirs connected by a canal and comprising about 30,000 acres. Competitors can fish either lake and anywhere along the Tennessee River upstream from Fort Loudoun Dam to the Interstate 40 bridge on the Holston River and the Highway 168 bridge on the French Broad River.

B.A.S.S. Nation Championship tournaments for top-ranked amateur club fishermen were held on the Tennessee River at Knoxville in 1998 and 2000, but B.A.S.S. has never held a professional bass tournament on that section of the Tennessee River.

“Anglers can expect to catch good numbers of bass in Fort Loudoun and have the potential of catching some above-average smallmouth,” said Bart Carter, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) Region 4 fisheries manager. “Largemouth will be the go-to fish for both reservoirs.”

Since 2015, TWRA has been stocking those waters with Florida-strain largemouth, which have the potential to grow much larger than the native “northern” largemouth, but the agency pointed out that it’s probably too early for those bass to reach trophy size.

Still, 7-plus-pound bass are not uncommon in early spring, and a one-day tournament held on Fort Loudoun a year ago was won with a 27 1/2-pound limit of five bass, which is considered a game-changing catch in any fishery.

The Classic is a catch-and-release event, with bass being returned to the fishery under the supervision of the TWRA. The 2018 Classic saw a 99.7 percent survival rate among the bass weighed in.

Daily takeoffs will be from Volunteer Landing in downtown Knoxville each competition day, and weigh-ins will take place in the Thompson-Boling Arena on the University of Tennessee campus — a 20,000-seat facility that is fifth largest in the country.

The fan-favorite Bassmaster Classic Outdoor Expo presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods will be held Friday through Sunday, March 15-17, in the Knoxville Convention Center and the adjacent World’s Fair Exhibition Hall, which is being newly renovated this spring.

For the past decade, combined attendance at Classic venues has averaged more than 100,000 per year, and the event typically generates about $25 million in economic impact.

All activities and venues are free and open to the public. For more information, visit Bassmaster.com.

The Value of Fishing in North Dakota

The Value of Fishing

(Today’s feature, from Greg Power of the North Dakota Game & Fish Commission, is written for anglers in his home state, but many of the thoughts he offers could apply to many states nationwide in terms of the value of our fisheries.)
from The Fishing Wire

Have you ever wondered why the diamond on a ring may cost $10,000 or more, yet it has no material utility other than to shine? Or why a teaspoon of salty fish eggs may run $100, even if the majority of people would prefer nothing more than just the cracker on which the eggs are served?

Economists use various terms for these peculiarities, but in the end it frequently comes down to societal values. These values are often determined by demand and markets based on consumption and desire. Value is a broad term that is inherently difficult to fully understand, but is driven by a balance of human wants and needs.

Readers of North Dakota OUTDOORS are likely outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy fishing and hunting. If you pick apart why we participate in these recreational activities, the word “value” will surface. But due to history, backgrounds, income and so on, we “value” our resources differently.

For example, while some people are willing to pay a lot of money for a North Dakota bighorn sheep auction license, many others are not willing to hunt prairie dogs even though no license is needed.

After a long winter of snow and cold, the value of fishing in spring for northern pike that have moved into shallow water, some anglers would argue, is high.
In simple dollars and cents, tracking value is doable as defined metrics that are often used. According to a 2012 North Dakota State University economic study, on average, resident anglers spent $178 per day of fishing. Cumulatively, fishing in North Dakota generates considerable money, as the annual gross business volume of fishing totals $885 million. That’s a lot of money by any standard, and it is obvious that a high percentage of North Dakotans participate in fishing and spend a lot of money doing it.

Interestingly, this same study also assessed how much anglers value fishing. Survey respondents were asked to place a monetary value on a single day spent fishing. According to the study, these values do not imply spending levels, but rather indicated a measure of the importance for the participant of time spent fishing in the state.

The average North Dakota angler valued a day of fishing in our state at $178. Of real interest was that these were independent determinations, one asking how much they did spend fishing, the other asking how much they valued fishing (in dollars), and both groups came up with the same sum of $178 per day.

The value of fishing is far more than just about money. Societal shifts over time often change the significance of value. For example, there was time in human development where availability of fresh water was not an issue for inhabitants, but they did expend a lot of time procuring salt. Fast forward to today, and we often witness on many levels shortages of fresh water, but seldom give any thought to how to find salt.

Changes over time have also influenced angler interests and how individuals value fishing. If you go back 35 years, the North American (including Lake Sakakawea, North Dakotas’ largest walleye fishery) average harvest rate for walleye (hours fished per walleye harvested) was 8.5. Today, on average, it takes less than 3 hours to harvest a North Dakota walleye. (Incidentally, the average angler will harvest 25 walleyes over the course of the year with fillets valued at nearly $500).

If fishing/catching would revert to one walleye every 8.5 hours of fishing, its highly likely many anglers would no longer fish. Today’s anglers still value fishing, but it needs to include “catching” far more frequently than what was the norm a generation or two ago.

Another change in the value system is the desire from some anglers to conserve large fish (especially walleye, and to a lesser degree, northern pike). It’s hard to argue that walleye fishing on North Dakota’s Big Three – Lake Sakakawea, Devils Lake and Lake Oahe/Missouri River – isn’t better today than it was decades ago. And despite respectable walleye harvest during that time, our fishing regulations have remained the same. Yet, the opinion of some anglers to conserve large walleye has changed.

Often nowadays when anglers legally harvest a number of large walleye and take them to a fish cleaning station, they are met with disapproval by fellow anglers. If the same event would have occurred 20-30 years ago, they would have been met with high-fives and backslaps. Even without good supporting biological rational, it’s obvious that some people value conserving large fish today more than yesteryear.

The evolving thought process of anglers has also shifted in recent years in terms of wanting to protect the intrinsic value of fish. When it comes to game fish, this has been most apparent with northern pike. Many anglers enjoy catching pike, but lose interest when handling the fish.

The value of fishing, be it from shore, in a boat, on waters large and small in North Dakota, is far more than just about money.
Unfortunately, there is a small minority in the fishing community who consider all species other than walleye as trash fish, pike included. These individuals will even catch, keep and dispose of these pike in the weeds, cattails and elsewhere. This wanton waste of a valuable resource is looked upon poorly by a growing number of the angling public and these unwanted actions surely devalue the significance of fishing.

To that end, anglers should treat fish, whether kept or released, with care. The Game and Fish Department has some information resources on proper fish handling techniques on its website that all anglers should review. The worth of a walleye, pike, bass or other species is more than simple table fare, and all should be treated with respect.

Some argue that simply fishing in North Dakota, if not undervalued, is often underappreciated. Considering the bargain cost of a fishing license ($16 for an annual individual license), year-round angling opportunities and fewer fishing regulations than most states, fishing in North Dakota is truly a bargain.

Again, the value of fishing to the North Dakota angler varies dramatically, depending on the perspective of the 160,000 residents who fish.

Many anglers define the value of fishing by the number of hours or days on the water, while others value targeting big fish, or filling the livewell. Then there are those who simply value the smile on a kid’s face when the bobber dips below the surface.

No matter the motivation, most anglers generally value what North Dakota has to offer when it comes to fishing.

Spalding County Proposes Gun Restrictions

Want to buy your kids or grandkids a BB gun, take them out in your back yard and teach them gun safety and shooting skills? Not in Spalding County unless you live in an AR-1 Zone if a proposed county ordinance passes. You could not even shoot a bow of any kind in your own yard. Spalding County proposes gun restrictions on law abiding citizens.

The proposed ordinance as originally written, Section 11-1005, has many restrictions on shooing a gun in the county. You probably could not hunt on your own property if you have five acres or less, due to the distances shooting a gun is restricted from property lines. At least it exempts use of a gun for self-defense on your property.

The hearing last Monday night did not get much attention until the last minute, and the ordinance was tabled until the first meeting in May, on May 7th. Apparently, some changes have been made to the original ordinance that restricts shooting firearms within 300 feet of a residence and 150 feet of a property line, but I have not seen the changes in writing.

I am fortunate that my property in Spalding County is large enough that only one of my deer stands is near a property line, and that property is thickly wooded and grown over, with no buildings on it.

Supposedly this ordinance is trying to address “inconsiderate neighbors.” There are already laws that address it. How about enforcing them rather than creating another law to harass neighbors that are not inconsiderate.

In other news trying to harass gun owners and businesses. Citi Bank will not longer allow its customers to do any business related to guns. I will be mailing them my Citicard since I might be tempted to buy a gun or ammo with it.

Good Practice, Frustrating Tournament at Clarks Hill Top Six

Catching fish like these in practice at the Clarks Hill Top Six gave me hope!

First chatterbait fish

Six pounder in practice at Clarks Hill

A week ago last Wednesday I went to my place at Raysville Boat Club on Clarks Hill to practice for the Top Six tournament. I have no TV there and it was wonderful to escape the insanity of the world for six days. No talking heads babbling about how they have to take my guns to protect kids, no whining about the actions of a duly elected president, no stupidity about how words upset some people, so they need to be banned.

The weather was not great for fishing. It was so cold and windy Thursday morning I did not go out until noon. While idling around looking at brush piles and trying to find schools of bait fish, I kept looking at the bank. The lake had come up about three feet and the shallows were full of dead weeds.

At one shallow cove that was protected from the wind I decided to try fishing it. After just a few casts with a Chatterbait I hoked and landed a three-pound largemouth. I was surprised it was in two feet of water with the bright sun and hoped it was not a fluke I caught it.

After fishing a couple more places like that without a bite I was afraid it was, but then I pitched a jig head worm to a tree top in a couple of feet of water back in a pocket. I thought I had a bite and when I tightened up my line in the wind I realized it was headed for deep water.

When I set the hook my heart almost stopped when a big bass took off then jumped clear of the water. After two more jumps I managed to land a bass that weighed six and one quarter pounds on my scales. That made me feel pretty good there were some quality bass in shallow water, although the temperature was only 56 degrees.

The first bass looked like a male, without the fat belly of a female this time of year. The big one was very fat, and her tail was bloody and raw, like she was fanning a bed. Many bass tried to bed a few weeks ago when the weather had been unusually warm so many days, but the cold weather made them back off. I tried a few more places without a bite before heading in.

Friday morning was even colder and the wind blowing even more, but I got up and on the water as the sun came up. After trying two shallow coves with weeds I caught a bass a little over three pounds on the Chatterbait, strengthening my faith in that pattern. I fished some points and brush piles where the bass should be holding this time of year, waiting to go in and spawn, but got no more bites before giving up and heading to a warm place to take a nap about noon.

Saturday was better, with little wind and much warmer. I fished several places where I had caught bass in the past under these conditions and hooked and lost one over four pounds and several smaller bass on the Chatterbait. I also lost one over three pounds on a crankbait and caught several on other baits. That make me think the bass were responding and moving into shallow water.

Sunday morning was colder, and I hooked only two bass in the weeds, but at least there were some still in them. When I headed in to get ready to go draw for partners I thought I could run a lot of shallow backouts with the Chatterbait, catch a quality bass out of a few and have a good limit after eight hours of fishing.

At the meeting I was told I would have an observer fishing with me Monday morning since there was an uneven number of boaters and no boaters. But the next morning, after meeting him and getting his stuff in my boat and lining up to launch, the tournament director called me. Another no boater had dropped out and they wanted me to leave my boat in the parking lot and go out as a no boater.

After a lot of confusion and me telling them I
would just go home and not fish, they finally made arrangements for the extra boater in the club that had a no boater back out at the last minute swap and take his place, I was the last boat to go out, about ten minutes behind everyone else. We made a 30-minute run in very rough water to the place I had caught the six pounder, but the wind was blowing right into it and it was almost unfishable.

After three hours of not getting a bite trying the Chatterbait pattern I gave up and started fishing just to try to catch a keeper and landed four. With an hour left to fish I decided to try the Chatterbait one more place and hooked and lost a bass that looked like it weighed close to four pounds. In the very next pocket I landed a bass over 3.5 pounds.

At weigh-in my five weighed 7.67 pounds and one of them was as heavy as the other four put together. The next day we again tried the Chatterbait pattern and my partner and I caught one each doing that, and each had four more keepers. The bass again didn’t hit the Chatterbait until there was only an hour left to fish.

My five the second day weighed 8.64 and my biggest fish was about half of that weight. I ended up with 16.31 pounds and 41st place out of 130 fishermen, not the finish I had hope for!

What Is the 2018 National Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Summit

Big red Fish

Recapping the 2018 National Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Summit
by Mike Leonard, Conservation Director, American Sportfishing Association

If the Bassmaster Classic is the “Super Bowl of Bass Fishermen,” then the National Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Summit is the “Super Bowl of Marine Fisheries Policy Wonks.”

Held in Arlington, Va., on March 28-29, this gathering of over 100 fisheries managers, scientists and leaders in the saltwater recreational fishing community was an opportunity to discuss and collaborate on ideas to improve saltwater fisheries management and conservation. What it lacked in large crowds and dramatic weigh-ins, it made up for in PowerPoint presentations and stimulating breakout sessions. For a policy wonk like me, that’s about as exciting as it gets.

With the theme of “improving opportunity and stability in saltwater recreational fisheries,” this year’s summit had a level of optimism far beyond what I’ve experienced at past summits. As a community, we’re moving past the point of only complaining about our problems (although there was still a fair amount of valid criticism on display), to working through solutions.

The commitment from the Trump Administration to saltwater recreational fishing was evidenced by the participation of the Secretary of Commerce, the Acting Undersecretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and the Assistant Administrator of NOAA Fisheries. Secretary Ross’s remarks in particular underscored that the nation’s 9 million saltwater anglers and their $63 billion economic impact are being taken seriously by this Administration. The recreational fishing community has a tremendous opportunity to take advantage of these favorable conditions to collaboratively advance management and data collection improvements that will result in better fishing opportunities.

Innovation on full display
One of the most fascinating presentations of the summit came from John Carmichael with the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council. While many parts of the country have struggled with managing recreational fisheries under stringent statutory requirements and insufficient data, this problem has been particularly acute in the southeastern U.S., where a lack of timely and quality fisheries data creates significant challenges for managing the region’s high species diversity and total number of anglers.

However, the South Atlantic Council is exploring innovative ways of better aligning fisheries regulations with current fisheries conditions using different metrics of abundance, with the aim of providing more stability and reasonable access. This approach requires more vetting, but it was encouraging to see a Council thinking outside the box on an idea that holds a lot of promise for improving federal management.

Another key theme to emerge from the summit was the potential for improving fisheries data through electronic reporting. Almost every angler these days has a smartphone, and while challenges exist in ensuring data provided by anglers is usable, there is growing interest among managers and anglers to figure out how to tap into this technology to provide more timely and accurate estimates of what’s being caught. Once again, the South Atlantic Council is thinking innovatively by testing voluntary electronic reporting in conjunction with reopening the red snapper fishery. While it’s not a panacea, electronic reporting can help significantly in providing managers with fisheries data they currently lack; a problem that is leading to overly precautionary management measures that limit access.

With great power comes great responsibility
I talked to several attendees who clearly were not accustomed to our community finally having such an ability to influence the fisheries management system. The saltwater recreational fishing community has been frustrated for many years over a federal marine fisheries management system that hasn’t given us a fair shake, leading to less access to marine fisheries resources than we feel we deserve. Now that we have an opportunity to fix that, some are concerned that we might go too far and lose sight of our roots as conservationists.

While I can understand where this concern is coming from, I certainly don’t see that being the direction our community is headed going into, or coming out of, this summit. The innovative management approaches being discussed aren’t about simply allowing us to kill more fish, but rather allowing access that’s better aligned with the actual abundance of fish stocks instead of overly precautionary guesses. That’s not anti-conservation, it’s anti-mismanagement.

The recreational fishing community’s continued commitment to conservation was prevalent at the summit, with important discussions on our leadership in improving the survival of released fish, conserving forage fish and restoring fisheries habitat.

Bill Shedd, President of AFTCO, summarized the current position of the saltwater recreational fishing community well in his keynote address: “I can tell you that right now is the best time in the last 40 years for all of us who are involved with fishery issues on behalf of the saltwater recreational fishing community… we have earned a bigger seat at the table and it is time for us to more confidently take that seat.”

Frustrating March Tournaments At Oconee

Caught in March tournament

I came home in time to fish the Potato Creek Bassmasters March tournament at Oconee on Saturday, then went right back to Oconee the next day to fish the March Sportsman Club tournament. My results seem to tell me I did not learn much at the Classic about catching bass.

On Saturday, in the Potato Creek Tournament, 23 fishermen weighed in 46 14-inch keeper largemouth weighing 95 pounds. There was one limit of five fish weighed in.

Frank Anderson won with three weighing 9.59 pounds, Lee Hancock had the only limit and his five weighed 7.82 for second, Kwong Yu with three at 7.46 pounds was third and his 4.53 pounder was big fish and Jamie Beasley placed fourth with four weighing 7.19 pounds.

On Sunday in the Spalding County Sportsman Club tournament 19 members and guests and one and youth fished our tournament for eight hours. We landed 31 keepers weighing about 71 pounds. There was one limit and four of us zeroed.

Javin English blew us all away with five weighing 15.42 pounds for first, Billy Roberts had four weighing 7.68 for second, third was Niles Murray with three at 7.04 pounds and Russell Prevatt’s grandson, Craig Zoellner, fishing as a guest, placed fourth with two weighing 6.99 pounds, including big fish weighing 5.72 pounds.

Javin brought his nephew Kaden English, to fish the youth division. All our tournaments are designated youth tournaments and youth can fish them with no entry fee. They do not compete against the adults but win prize packages. Kaden had two weighing 5.62 pounds to win the youth division. He would have placed sixth in the adult division with his catch!

Dan Dupree and I took off Saturday morning and went to the point where I had caught three keepers in the Flint River tournament the previous Sunday. I landed two keepers there on a crankbait. During the next few hours we caught some short fish but no keepers. At 1:00 I went to some deep brush piles and caught my third keeper on a Carolina Rig. That was it for us.

In the Sportsman Club tournament my day started wrong when I waited in Jackson for 15 minutes for a partner that did not show up. At blast off I ran to the point where I had been catching keepers but in over an hour of fishing it I landed only two short fish. One was 13.98 inches long – so close but no cigar.

I fished hard for the rest of the tournament and landed about ten more short fish, but no keepers. I guess I got all the goodie out of that point. It was very frustrating.

Caught in March tournament

Academy Outdoors Mentor Reel

I had fun at the Classic and think I learned a lot. Watching Steve Kennedy trying to figure out patterns based on what he had learned during previous days of practice was instructional. He thought he had three patterns going where he could catch a limit of three-pound bass each day, and he caught a bass weighing more than three pounds each on each pattern while I watched. Based on the results, they didn’t work out as hoped.

Thursday night Academy Sports and Outdoors hosted media for dinner and a presentation of their fishing products and gave us a few samples. Most interesting to me was their new “Mentor” bait casting reel. Fishermen learning to cast with a bait caster have a lot of problems with backlashes, when the spool turns too fast at the end of the cast and creates a “birds nest” of looped line on the reel.

Their new reel is supposed to help with this problem. All bait casting reels have adjustable internal brakes to help prevent backlashes, but the tighter you set them the shorter your cast. Experienced fishermen are able to use their thumb to control reel speed, most of the time.

The new reel has the usual internal brakes that help, but has a second set of them gives you more control. The second set helps a lot and, as you learn to use your thumb, you can release the second set completely. Then as you get better you can back off the other set, too, and get longer and longer casts.

Academy Outdoors has been a big supporter of youth fishing and this reel should be excellent for the beginner.