Category Archives: Tournament Fishing

Frustrating April Club Tournament at Clarks Hill

In April 1974 Jim Berry invited me to fish the Spalding County Sportsman Club April tournament at Clarks Hill, my first ever. Last weekend we fished our April tournament there. We have not missed many tournaments in April on that lake in 43 years.

The lake is different every year. Full last year, this year I watched a barn swallow scoop mud from the edge of the water to build its nest on a nearby bridge. Last year that birds head would have been under 8.3 feet of water. And for whatever reason the bigger bass bit much better last year.

In the tournament, 12 fishermen landed 88 keeper bass weighing about 160 pounds. And that includes four fishermen that left after one day since the weather guessers guessed at rain for Sunday. It did not rain a drop until after 8:00 that night. There were 15 five-bass limits and no one zeroed.

Raymond Edge landed 10 keepers weighing 21.39 pounds for first, Robert Proctor had ten weighing 18.53 for second, John Miller had ten at 18.04 for third and big fish with a 5.73 pounder, Sam Smith placed fourth with ten at 17.10 and my ten weighing 13.98 was fifth.

I went over on Wednesday afternoon and stayed at my place at Raysville Boat Club. The tournament was out of Mistletoe State Park, a 30-minute drive by land but less than ten minutes by boat if light enough to see. It was both mornings.

Wednesday afternoon I looked at some of my favorite places to fish and caught a couple of keepers, but nothing to be excited about in a tournament. Everyone I talked with said the herring and shad were spawning so then next morning I drove around to Cherokee Landing, about 20 minutes away and ten miles down the lake, and put in just as it got daylight.

It was very foggy but I wanted to idle around and look for herring and shad spawning, so I did. I found a few schools and caught a couple of bass, but again not what I expected. I never got a hit on topwater. And I did not expect to have to idle around until 10:30 when the fog finally lifted. But being able to get on plane did not help. I did not find anything worth fishing.

Friday morning I put in at the boat club and went up the river, a completely different kind of fishing, and had caught seven keepers by noon, but none weighed more than 1.5 pounds. Then, at noon under the blazing sun, I landed three bass over two pounds each on three consecutive points on a topwater plug. Then I caught a three pounder on a lizard on the next one. I thought I was on something.

Of course, in the tournament that did not work. I did catch five weighing 9.38 the first day, all after 10:00. Sunday I again did not have a fish at ten and managed to catch five weighing a whopping 4.6 pounds by noon, dropping from fourth the first day to fifth the second.

April has been a strange month for bass fishing. I hope May is better!

Lake Hartwell Bass Tournament

In the two-day Potato Creek Bassmasters April tournament at Lake Hartwell, 20 members fished for 17.5 hours to land 298 pounds of bass. Lee Hancock won with ten weighing 28.91 pounds and his 5.29 pound largemouth was big fish. His partner Jack Ridgeway came in second with ten weighing 26.38 pounds, Kwong Yu was third with ten at 24.82 and my ten weighing 22.00 placed second.

I had good and bad luck. One day of the tournament I landed a big hybrid and a keeper spotted bass the first few minutes after we started. Then I hooked and landed a 4.6 pound largemouth. So far so good. But then I lost four big fish in various ways, two of them that I saw and were as big or bigger than the 4.6 pounder. A couple got me around stumps and broke me off, one just pulled off and one jumped and threw the topwater plug.

I had a limit the first 90 minutes of the tournament and later in the day had to release four two-pound largemouth since I had five that big or bigger. That day I weighed in five weighing about 12.5 pounds. But Lee and Zero were ahead of me with their great catch that day.

The other day I started by catching a ten pound striper and a four pound hybrid on top, then a keeper spot. A few minutes later on two casts I had two fish weighing between 2.5 and 3 pounds each that came completely out of the water and my topwater plug went sailing. Another five pound plus largemouth ran at my plug in about a foot of water. I could see its back out of the water. I don’t think I set the hook too soon but may have since I never felt it.

I tried another place and filled my limit but then hooked a four-pound largemouth that jumped two feet out of the water and threw my jig head worm. That is rare since that bait is light, unlike a big topwater plug that has enough weight that when the bass shakes its head the hooks pull free.

The last two hours I fished deeper with the jig head worm and landed a 3.22 pound spotted bass and another one that culled my smallest fish, ending up with five weighing just under ten pounds. That was it for the two days. I hooked enough big bass to win but did not get them in the boat.

The Sportsman Club is at Clarks Hill this weekend. I hope my good luck holds and my bad luck gets better!

Flint River Bass Club Tournament At Lake Oconee

Just in time for the Flint River Bass Club tournament last Sunday winter decided to revisit our area. On a cold, rainy, windy day 12 members, one guest and one youth fished for up to eight hours to land 24 bass longer than the 14 inch minimum size on Lake Oconee. They weighed about 70 pounds. Those of us that stayed to the end had three limits but six people either zeroed or left early due to the weather.

Sam Smith had an incredible catch for our club of five keepers weighing 18.39 pounds. Sam’s big fish weighed 4.85 pounds so all of his other keepers were quality fish in the three to four pound range. Niles had what would usually be a winning weight but placed second with five at 15.72 and had big fish with a very nice 6.62 pounder. Niles is on a big fish roll this year!

I had what I thought was a really good catch with five at 13.64 pounds and placed third. New member Daniel Hinkelman placed fourth with five weighing 11.72 pounds. Kelly Chanbers had two keepers weighing 5.25 for fifth place. I was surprised at the number of bass weighing in that weighed in the four-pound range.

Kelly and I were very frustrated with the rain and wind that “burned” exposed skin, especially since we had one small keeper each at 1:30. I knew the fish should be shallow near bedding areas, even with the changing weather, since the water temperature was 59 degrees.

But no matter where we fished or what we tried we could not catch much. We did land several fish under the 14-inch limit but keepers were tough to find. Kelly got one on a rattle bait first thing then I caught one on a Carolina rig but those were the only two keepers. We had tried spinnerbaits, crankbaits, chatterbaits and several kinds of plastics.

Then at 1:30 in some brush in the very back of the cove I hooked and landed a 3.93 pound largemouth on a jig head worm from some brush. Working out of that cove I got my third keeper on a spinnerbait off a windblown dock, something I had tried dozens of casts without a bite. Then going into the next cove I landed another bass close to four pounds on a jig head worm.

We worked around that cove then Kelly got a 3.97 pound largemouth from some brush on a jig head worm. A few feet further up the bank I cast my jig head worm to a rock in about three feet of water and landed my fifth keeper, filling my limit with another bass close to four pounds.

That was it for the day, five keepers in one hour out of the eight we fished. At weigh-in I felt pretty good until I saw Sam’s and Niles’ great catches! Niles said he got the big one on a rattlebait and had, like me, only five keepers. Sam surprised me by saying he landed 22 keepers during the day, all on spinnerbaits, something I could not get a bite while fishing.

Just goes to show many patterns work most days even if they are not working for you, and also show you should never give up while fishing.

West Point February Club Tournament

Last Sunday 12 members of the Spalding County Sportsman Club fished our February tournament at West Point Lake. The day started cold and clear but warmed up before noon. We landed 52 bass weighing about 78 pounds. There were six five-fish limits an everyone caught at least one fish. There were only 11 largemouth more than 14 inches long and 41 spotted bass more than 12 inches long weighed in.

Kwong Yu won it all with five bass weighing an impressive 14.44 pounds and had big fish with a nice 6.40 pound largemouth. Sam Smith was a close second with five weighing 13.12 pounds. I came in a distant third with five at 7.01 pounds and Javin English came out of hibernation to place fourth with five at 6.83 pounds.

With the cold front that came through Saturday I expected fishing to be worse that it was. Cold and clear with bright sunlight is the worst kind of conditions this time of year to me, but the 59 to 61-degree stained water helped a good bit.

I had a feeling that if I went to this one point in a creek about five miles from where we took off I would catch a bass. I get that feeling rarely so I try to pay attention to it. That is what the pros do often, get a sixth sense about catching fish. It happens to me just a few times a year. Part of my feeling last Sunday was from catching some fish there the weekend before in a Potato Creek tournament.

Sam the tournament director let us go at 6:58. It was a perfect day for running fast if you were dressed for the cold and I saw 71.9 MPH on my GPS as I ran down the lake. When I stopped on the point I picked up a rattle bait and on about my third cast a keeper spot hit it. I put him in the livewell at 7:04 AM!

At 8:30 I put my fifth keeper in the livewell, filling my limit with four spots and one largemouth. But they were all just barely big enough to keep and all five probably did not weigh five pounds total. So I switched from a jig had worm and crankbaits for keeper fish to a big jig and pig for bigger fish. It didn’t work!

I kept switching back to the jig head worm just to catch something, and kept catching small fish. I wanted to keep some spots to eat so I was putting everything legal in the livewell. At 11:00 I stopped to check and had 11 keepers, one above the legal limit, so I let the two smallest go.

I kept trying to catch bigger fish, even moving out to brush in deep water, but still kept catching small spots. I put one of the biggest in the livewell but threw several back without even measuring them. Somehow at the end of the day I ended up bringing 13 spots home to eat. I caught at least 16 and maybe more.

Years ago I heard Roland Martin, one of the top pros at the time, say bass would not hit a spinnerbait on bright sunny days, so I have always had a mental problem fishing one under those conditions. Imagine my surprise when Kwong said the six pounder and another four pound largemouth hit a spinnerbait and Sam said most of his fish hit a spinnerbait, too. He had a 4.34 pound largemouth and another one over three pound.

It seems my “feeling” went only so far. I needed the feeling to throw a spinnerbait more. Maybe I would have caught something over two pounds since Kwong and Sam had the only fish over two pounds in the tournament I think!

Georgia Fishermen in Tournaments Big and Small

Congratulation to Chris Davies. Last Saturday while fishing as a co-angler at Lake Lanier in the FLW Bulldog Division BFL Chris landed a five-bass limit weighing 14 pounds, fifteen ounces and placed second out of 153 anglers. For second place, he won $1253. He also had big fish on the co-angler side with a six pound one ounce fish which added $382 to his total winnings of $1635.

Chris has been in local clubs for many years and fishes other tournament trails, too.

Two other Georgia anglers did very good in tournaments, too, while fishing the FLW Tour Series at Tavis Lake in Texas. The FLW Tour is the top trail in FLW and anglers can get in by invitation only, after qualifying through other trails like the BFLs.

Clayton Batts from Macon had 20 keeper bass weighing 48 pounds, one ounce in this four-day tournament. He won $17,000 for 7th place. In 8th place Troy Morrow of Eastanollee won $16,000 by catching 20 bass weighing 47 pounds, nine ounces.

In this tournament, 164 boaters and 164 co-anglers started the first day. After two days the top 20 boaters fish a third day and the rest go home, but anglers in 21st through 54th place do get money, with 21st getting $10,000 and 54th winning $4000.

After a third day, the top ten fish for a fourth day and 11th through 20th go home, but with winnings of $10,000 each. The final ten are the best of the best in that tournament and first place paid $100,000 plus a $25,000 bonus for fishing out of a Ranger boat. Tenth place pays $14,000.

Mark Rose, a pro angler from Arkansas, fishes out of a Ranger and has won the last two FLW Tour tournaments, for winnings of $250,000. So there is a lot of money in tournaments for top anglers.

The co-anglers fish only the first two days and the winner got $20,000 down to 54th place winning $700. Co-anglers fish from the back of the boat and have no say about where or how to fish, so they are at the mercy of the boater. Some boaters try to help their co-anglers, others don’t treat them so well. And of course, the entry fee is quite different between boater and co-angler.

On a local, much less expensive level the Potato Creek Bassmasters fished our February tournament at West Point lake last Saturday. Niles Murray won with five fish weighing a little over ten pounds, and had big fish with a largemouth weighing more than six pounds.

Dan Riddle was second with five weighing 9.04 pounds and my five weighing 9.03 pounds was third. Third place paid me $84! I think Raymond English placed fourth with eight pounds.

We had a warm but rainy day. The water temperature had dropped from 62 on Tuesday to 58 Saturday morning and with the clouds it did not warm during the day like we hoped it would. There was a Highland Marina Team Trail tournament that day. I do not know how many boats were in it but they took off 30 minutes before we did and the first four places I wanted to fish had at least two boats on them when I got there.

The fifth place was back in a big creek and there was only one boat there, fishing the right bank, the best one due to water depth. So I started on the left bank since I had already ridden around more than I wanted to. After a few minutes, I caught a small keeper spotted bass on a rattle bait but that was it in that creek.

I fished several more places, usually with other boats in sight, until noon without another bite. I was very frustrated. Fishing was supposed to be good!

At noon I ran into Whitewater Creek headed to a point that was on a Map of the Month article last March. My luck did not change, I could see another boat on it long before I got there, so I stopped on a point that I had never fished.

My first cast to that point produced a 2.5 pound largemouth. An hour later I caught my eight bass off that point, a 2.5 pound spot. The other two keepers there were just keeper spots and the other four were short largemouth and spots.

I fished there until 2:00 without getting any more bites, then hit three more places before our weigh-in, again with no bites. It was amazing how quiet the lake got after 2:00 since that is when the Highland tournament weighed in. The boats just disappeared. I heard it took five bass weighing 20 pounds to win that tournament.

For many years if I headed to a place I wanted to fish and a boat was already there I let it upset me. I would worry way too much about it and not be able to concentrate on catching bass. But one year at Eufaula, in a two-day tournament, on the second day I headed to a bank where I had caught several bass the first day.

When I got close I saw another fisherman had beat me to it. So I just went to the opposite bank in disgust and started fishing. I caught three nice keepers before getting to where the creek narrowed down and I was near the guy fishing where I had wanted to start. He told me he had not had a bite!

That taught me to ignore others and just fish, although sometimes it is hard to do!

November Sinclair Club Bass Tournament

Last Sunday 13 members of the Flint River Bass Club tried to catch keeper bass at Lake Sinclair in our November tournament. After eight hours of casting we brought 29 fish over the 12 inch limit, most of them just barely, weighing 37 pounds. There were three limits and two zeros.

Chuck Croft won with five weighing 6.70 pounds, Niles Murray placed second with five at 5.87 pounds and my limit of five fish weighed a whopping 4.36 pounds was fourth. JJ Polak, fishing with Chuck, caught only one fish but it was the right one, weighing 4.34 pounds and giving him big fish and fourth place.

Wes Delay fished with me and we had high hopes. After an hour of casting topwater, crankbaits, spinnerbaits, worms and jigs to cover in the creek where I won the last Sportsman Club tournament we had missed two bites. They may have been bream.

We went out to a rocky point with a brush pile on it and I could see fish around the brush. Wes caught a keeper there but that was the only bite we got. That was very frustrating but it got even worse. At noon Wes had caught one throw back and that was the only bite either of us had in those three hours.

At noon in desperation I went to a creek where I fish a lot. I have spent enough time there to know where the little brush piles and rocks are located and which docks usually produce fish. In the next hour I caught six keepers and a throw backs on a jig head worm.

I used all my skill on my second and third fish. The first one hit under a dock where I have caught lot of fish. After we started moving down the bank to the next dock I cast my jig head worm ahead of the boat, put the rod under my arm, and got rid of some used coffee.

As the boat slowly drifted forward I realized my line was not getting slack like it should. About the time I got the rod back into my hands a bass took off and I landed it. Wes said he now saw the pattern to use!

As we moved up the bank I kept an eye on my depthfinder as I always do. We were in about ten feet of water a good cast off the bank. I saw something on my front sonar and as the back of the boat went over it I could tell on my downscan it was some brush with fish around it.

I told Wes we went over some fish and turned and cast to it. I felt my jig head hit the brush then a thump, and I landed a keeper. Throwing right back produced a throwback.

I caught my fourth keeper, one that some call a line burner since it just barely touched the 12 inch line, in some brush in front of dock then caught my fifth one under the next dock we fished. Fortunately I was able to cull the line burner when I caught one 12.1 inches long on a seawall.

We fished hard the rest of the day but neither of us caught even a throwback in the last two hours.

Time To Join A Bass Club

The tournament year ended in December for the three bass clubs in Griffin but our new year starts now. If you are interested in joining a club and fishing tournaments, this is the perfect time to join. And with three clubs you have a variety of choices.

In the Flint River Bass Club, for the first time ever, we had a tie for first place in the point standings for last year. Niles Murray and I tied with the same number of points for the year after 12 tournaments. Since that club awards points for the place you finish in a tournament as well as meeting attendance points, it is amazing we tied. And Niles did better in tournaments that I did but he missed several meetings I attended. If he had attended just one that he missed, he would have won for the year!

Chuck Croft placed third, Don Gober was fourth, John Smith was fifth and Travis Weatherly rounded out the top six for the year.

The Flint River club meets the first Tuesday each month and fishes the Sunday following the meeting, so our first meeting is this week and our first tournament is proposed for next Sunday at Jackson. We have two two-day tournaments during the year. Club dues are $20 per year but you must also pay BASS Federation Nation State and National dues of $40 and be a member of BASS. Tournament fees are $20 with additional optional $5 daily big fish, cumulative big fish and points pot.

In this club you can fish with anyone you want or fish alone. We also designate each one day club tournament as a youth tournament, so a club member can bring a youth 17 years old or younger. The youth fishes for prizes and there is no entry fee. You must be 16 to join the club so 16 and 17 year olds can pay the entry fee and fish in the club tournaments if they prefer.

Adult non-club members can also bring a youth to fish the youth tournament but the adult can not enter the club tournament.

We allow a club member to bring a guest to fish so if you just want to try it one time, let me know and I will find someone for you to fish with, probably me, in the tournament. And if you don’t have a boat don’t worry, many of us fish alone and you can start fishing with me or I will help find someone for you to fish with if you want to join.

The club tries to send a team to the BASS Federation Nation each year but struggles to get six members to go.

In the Potato Creek Bassmasters Raymond English placed first, I was second, Niles Murray was third Ryan Edge placed fourth, Lee Hancock came in fifth and Michael Cox was sixth in the point standings for the year.

The Potato Creek club meets the Monday after the first Tuesday and fishes a tournament the following Saturday. We have four two-day tournaments during the year. Dues are $50 but this club is not affiliated with either federation so there are no other dues. Tournament entry fees are $30 with additional optional $5 daily and $5 cumulative big fish pots. Guests and youth are not allowed in tournaments.

For last year in the Spalding County Sportsman Cub Sam Smith won for the year Raymond English was second, Niles Murray placed third, I came in fourth, Zane Fleck was fifth and sixth place was Russell Prevatt.

The Sportsman Club meets the third Tuesday of each month and fishes a tournament the following Sunday. We have two two-day tournaments during the year. Dues are $75 per year but that includes club, state and national FLW Federation dues and FLW membership fee for a year. Tournament entry fees are $25 with additional optional $5 daily and cumulative big fish pots.

This club also designates each one day tournament as a youth tournament so the same rules apply that apply for the Flint River club. In addition, if a 16 or 17-year-old wants to join the club and fish, the club will pay their dues for the year. They will have to pay their own entry fees in club tournaments.

This club sends a six-man team to the FLW Federation tournaments each year. We also allow guests and welcome new members with or without a boat. I fish most tournaments by myself so I would like to find someone to fish with me.

Don’t join a club expecting to win a lot of money. There are plenty of pot and trail tournaments you can enter to try to do that. Club fishing is more for the fun, camaraderie and bragging rights. We enjoy swapping fishing tales and some good-natured teasing while we eat at our meetings and at weigh-ins. And you can learn from what others say worked for them to catch fish.

I joined the Sportsman Club in 1974, the Flint River club in 1978 and the Potato Creek club last year and have not missed many tournaments in either club in all those years. I do enjoy the meetings and the tournaments and plan on fishing club tournaments as long as my health will allow.

If interesting in joining a club email me at and I will try to answer any questions you have. Again, we welcome boaters, non-boaters and if you and a friend want to join and fish together that is great, too.

Chesapeake Tournament Regulations

Chesapeake Tournament Regulations
from The Fishing Wire

Editor’s Note: Yesterday, we presented Maryland DNR’s take on reasons for new regulations on tournament bass fishing in the tidal Potomac River and Upper Chesapeake Bay. Today, we’ve got the other side of the coin from tournament angler, guide and outdoor writer Steve Chaconas:

In the first meeting of the MD DNR Black Bass Advisory Subcommittee in August, the BBAS was presented information and justification for 2 options for tournament restrictions on the Tidal Potomac and Upper Chesapeake Bay.

Without discussion or understanding of the waiver conditions or seeking collaborative data, as MD biologist Joe Love couldn’t predict the effect of these changes, the newly formed 13 member BBAS voted to restrict tournament angling by recommending a slot limit possession regulation from June 15 to March 1 affecting all anglers.

At a September meeting, waivers to the new slot limit (4 fish between 12-15 inches and ONLY one fish over 15 inches) were discussed. Beyond standard licensing, livewell inspections, and dead fish penalties, there are numerous fish handling requirements. No fish-piercing culling systems are allowed. Bass will be transported in bags filled with water no longer than two (2) minutes prior to, during, and after weigh-in without supplemental aeration and/or water exchange. Fish must then be placed in mobile holding tanks, not immediately released into the water. The total weight of bass confined shall not exceed one pound per gallon. Tanks shall be equipped with aeration, air injection, or oxygenation systems. Water shall be maintained at the river surface temperature or no more than 7 degrees Fahrenheit below the surface temperature. A release boat, tanks on a trailer or in the bed of a truck, a pre-release tank to hold bass or refresh bass before their release to the water or using bass boats live wells, will allow fish to recuperate before release. MD DNR will provide assistance in redistribution of bass at approved sites. For larger commercial, out of state organizations, compliance to achieve waivers is part of their existing tournament model. It is the smaller, local events that do not have the specialized equipment nor the manpower to carry out the extra weigh in steps.

At the heart of the issue is really whether any action is needed at all. August’s Bassmaster Elite Series tournament winner brought in an astounding 18 pounds a day with many 20+ pound bags weighed in. This year’s event had an average fish weight of 2.94 pounds compared to 2.29 pounds in 2007. Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) biologist John Odenkirk maintains, that in a fishery with a high voluntary release rate (over 99%), and a low total annual mortality rate, restrictive regulations would only inconvenience anglers. “There is no evidence of excessive angling mortality. Recruitment is not density dependent on spawning stock but is linked to environmental variables. The regulation is a poor solution in search of a problem.”

Often cited as further evidence the Potomac’s demise was the absence for several years on the Bassmaster Top 100 fisheries list. However, this list is an informal survey of fisheries managers, outdoors writers and BASS Nation officials, not a scientific study.

Ten years of tournament data, reflecting results of 12 Potomac events a year, has been compiled from Virginia’s New Horizons Bass Club by Odenkirk for tabulation, who remarked this data is amazingly consistent and similar to electrofishing data showing an improvement this year and getting near average, while still not back to the prime years 2009-2012.

In November, MD DNR gave the BBAS a Potomac data preview. What had been three consecutive years below their Fisheries Management Plan line was now well above their threshold to take action, but not enough for MDDNR nor the BBAS to reconsider small tournament restrictions. The Department is taking the next step in making the slot limit a law, public scoping.

During the August meeting where the BBAS passed the tournament restrictions, the man who literally wrote the book on fish care, fisheries biologist Gene Gilliland was present. With over 30 years fisheries management experience, he recently became B.A.S.S. Conservation Director. Gilliland noted the 13-member BBAS composition where 6 are guides, giving the appearance tournament anglers are not fairly represented. “In my opinion, the process needs to slow down and take a step back…look harder at the makeup of the committee and look even harder at the data and recommendations being made. Ask the committee for solutions rather than offering a suite of options with little room for modification. Moving too fast and alienating a large portion of your constituency is never a good thing for an agency to do.”

In October, the MD Sport Fish Advisory Commission tabled the BBAS slot limit regulation recommendation. The DNR Director was concerned that an opposition letter sent to the SFAC Commissioners and the BBAS subcommittee would delay pubic scoping before heading to the MD General Assembly for the slot limit to become law. A special BBAS meeting in November began with a motion to investigate board members who presented slot limit opposition to the Sport Fish Advisory Commission. The motion was soundly defeated.

Given their opportunity for public comment, speakers voiced strong slot limit opposition. Capt. John Sisson, Potomac guide and tournament angler representing DC anglers, said this recommendation appears to be an attack on tournament anglers. VA Tournament director Lee Blount concurred, adding they do not have the budget to purchase or manpower to operate a professional style weigh in. He also made it clear their events already practice good fish care and have even restricted limits to 4 fish.

Resonating what others presented to the BBAS, the President of Maryland’s largest bass club, Fish On Bass Anglers, said confusing and prohibitive regulations have forced his club to opt out of Potomac fishing. Logan Summers says his 60 members are opposed to the BBAS slot recommendation, saying slot limit waivers can only be achieved by larger commercial tournament entities. He noted an unintended consequence of the restrictive slot limit, with major events being scheduled outside the slot limit calendar, staged during the spawn. Anglers left with the belief that the BBAS has an anti-tournament sentiment.

Worse yet is the impact on local charity tournaments. The Reel American Heroes Foundation (RAHF) has afforded military members a day on the water and supplies for our overseas troops. With uncertainly of whether they would qualify for a waiver, RAHF is pursuing alternative fisheries, at the risk of losing anglers and sponsors. Another charity mainstay unable to qualify for a waiver is the St. Jude Children’s Hospital tournament, raising over $250,000 in 21 years. Anglers surveyed revealed 70% would not fish a slot limit event.

MD DNR has not supplied any impact studies of the recommended slot limit other than pointing to new Florida fishing restrictions. There are enormous differences. FL permits possession of 5 fish with only one over 16. Their stated rationale was to protect Florida’s lunker population and to encourage the harvesting of smaller fish, allowing any size below 16 inches and consolidating numerous fishing regulations across the state for easier compliance and enforcement. Interestingly, waivers for tournaments do NOT require weigh in tubs, recovery tubs or fish relocation to release sites. In other words, there are no comparisons.

Maryland needs to find another way to guide anglers to better fish care.
Bottom line, without MD reaching out to VA and DC Departments and considering the impact on small local angling clubs, it will take a united opposition to keep up the pressure on the MD DNR and up the chain.
Fish care should not be regulated, in this case, but rather educated.

Capt. Steve Chaconas has covered pro bass fishing for more than 20 years. He’s a guide on the Potomac River and a contributing writer for BoatU.S. (

Mid November Lake Allatoona Club Tournament

Last Saturday six members of the Potato Creek Bassmasters took the hazardous journey with our boats through downtown Atlanta to fish Lake Allatoona for our November tournament. We landed 23 keeper spotted bass weighing about 35 pounds. There were three five-fish limits and no zeros.

I managed to catch five weighing 10.08 pounds for first, Raymond English was second with five at 7.08 pounds, Mike Cox came in third with five weighing 5.41 pounds and Donnie Willis had fourth with two at 5.26 and big fish with a 2.76 pounder.

As we got ready to blast off someone asked if it was a 12 inch limit on Allatoona, and I said yes, and a 13 inch fish is a trophy. Allatoona is known for its small spotted bass but very few bigger fish. It is the only lake in Georgia that consistently does not produce a five pound fish each year in club tournaments.

I was pleasantly surprised when I stopped on a shallow point and landed a two pounder on a spinnerbait on my fourth cast. I did not expect to catch one that big all day, but a few minutes later, as the sky got a little lighter, I landed another two pounder on topwater. I was thrilled starting that way.

Two hours later I had missed three bites on topwater but had not landed another fish. Then, in a small pocket I had gone into trying to get out of the wind, I landed a 12 inch fish on a jig head worm. It was the size I expected to catch.

After that I started fishing pockets like that and landed another two pounder on a jig and pig. It was noon now and I moved out to a rocky point and landed another keeper, this one about 13 inches long, on a jig head worm. That filled my limit so I went back to the jig and pig hoping to catch a bigger fish.

At about 1:00 I landed my biggest fish, a 2.66 pounder, on the jig from a rocky point. Since I was in my new boat I headed back closer to the landing, knowing I had a good catch for Allatoona, and worrying something might go wrong. I wanted to be on time for weigh-in!

Another local club weighed in the same time we did and it took 10 pounds to win that club, too. One of their fishermen had a largemouth, the only one weighed in by either club. There was also an ABA tournament the same day and it took just over 10 pounds to win it and only eight to get a check.

Allatoona is hard to get to due to the traffic in Atlanta, especially pulling a boat, but you can catch a lot of keeper spots there.

I was also thrilled to win my first tournament out of my new boat. Twelve years ago I won my first tournament out of that boat when it was new, too. Now, if I can just keep fishing out of this one for 12 years I will be very happy!

Two Club Tournament At Jackson Lake

At Jackson Lake last Sunday 12 members of the Flint River Bass Club and the Spalding County Sportsman Club fished our end of the year joint tournament. In eight hours we landed 42 bass weighing about 61 pounds. There were six five-fish limits and two fishermen didn’t have any fish. Ten of the keepers were largemouth.

Niles Murray blew us all away with five weighing 12.30 pounds and big fish with a 3.57 pounder. Raymond English had five at 9.15 for second, third was Randall Sharpton with five weighing 6.63 pounds and George Roberts was fourth with five at 6.46.

Niles said he caught his fish on a spinnerbait. Raymond said most of his hit a crankbait. I tried both but caught only three keepers. That was very disappointing on a rainy day, but at least it was very cold, too.