Category Archives: Tournament Fishing

Hot Tough Tournament At Lake Sinclair

Last Saturday 14 members of the Potato Creek Bassmasters fished our July tournament at Lake Sinclair.  Fishing from 5:30 AM to 12:30 PM unsuccessfully trying to beat the heat, we landed 24 bass longer than the 12-inch minimum with a total weigh of about 39 pounds.  There were three five-fish limits and six people did not have a keeper.

    Lee Hancock had a good catch far outpacing the rest of us with five weighing 11.80 pounds for first.  Raymond English was second with five weighing 5.42 pounds, Dan Dupree’s three weighing 5.23 pounds was third and my five weighing 5.19 pounds placed fourth. Donnie Willis had one fish but it weighed 4.94 pounds for big fish.

    Since we started before daylight I just knew I could catch some bass around lighted boat docks, but after hitting three in the first half hour I had not gotten a bite. I then went to a rocky point leading into a cove with grass beds and docks where I have caught many bass in the past.

    A good fish hit my buzzbait on the point but I missed it. I did not get another bite in that cove.  The next stop was a deep rocky point with a brush pile on it and I caught a short bass there. In a nearby cove nothing hit around docks but I finally caught a keeper at 8:00 AM in a brush pile about eight feet deep on a jig head worm.

    I got no more bites until 10:00 when a bass hit my jig head worm on a point. I set the hook and the fish came to the top and I saw it was a two pound plus bass. I guess I got too excited and tried to get it in the boat too fast.  It came unhooked as it came over the side of the boat, hit the deck at my feet, bounced twice and went over the other side. I almost went into the water trying to grab it.

    After that I was totally disgusted.  It was hot and I had lost a fish. But at 11:00 I decided the sun was high enough to drive some bass into the shade under docks. The third dock I fished, skipping a Senko under them, I caught my best fish of the day, about a pound and a half.

    I continued to fish docks and at noon caught my fifth keeper. I just had time enough to secure all my tackle and make a long run in very rough water back to the ramp.

    The Sportsman Club is fishing our July tournament today at Sinclair. I wonder if I can catch a bass under docks?

Hard To Catch Fish for Me In A Guntersville Tournament

I could have stayed home and cut grass last weekend rather than going to Lake Guntersville for the Potato Creek August Tournament.  In two days nine of us landed 24 keepers weighing about 58 pounds.  There were no limits and three fishermen didn’t catch a keeper in two days, I think.

    Kwong Yu won with six weighing 17.15 pounds and had big fish with a 5.47 pound largemouth, Tommy Reeves had four weighing 10.52 for second, Ryan Edge came in third with four weighing 10.35 pounds and Raymond English was fourth with five at 10.27 pounds.

    Fishing was tough.  The first day I tried everything I knew to do, from shallow grassbeds to deep ledges.  I caught some short fish that I could not weigh in.  The size limit at Guntersville is 15 inches for largemouth and smallmouth and there is no limit on spotted bass but our club has a 12-inch size limit on them.

    At 11:00 I hooked and lost what felt like a decent fish that hit a jig and pig on a shellbed on a 14-foot-deep ledge.  I fished several other places then at 2:00 went back to the shellbed and caught a 15-inch spotted bass on my first cast with the jig and pig.  An hour later I landed a 16-inch spot there that hit my jig as I reeled it in for another cast. That was a suicide spot that was just meant to get caught.

    That day Ryan led with four weighing just over ten pounds and Raymond was second with four weighing eight pounds.  The second day I never hooked a keeper although I fished the shellbed hard, starting there at daylight. 

    Kwong had the kind of day we all hope for the second day. On the first day, like me, he had two keepers weighing three pounds. But on Sunday he landed four weighing almost 14 pounds, including the big fish, and won.

    Fishing will continue to be very tough for at least another month, then the cooler weather should make fishing more comfortable and encourage the bass to bite.

Potato Creek Bassmasters May Tournament at Lake Hartwell

Last Friday and Saturday 13 members of the Potato Creek Bassmasters fished our May tournament at Lake Hartwell. From 6:00 AM to 4:00 PM Friday and 6:00 AM to 2:00 PM Saturday, it took us 18 hours to land 98 keeper bass weighing about 173 pounds.  There were 13 five bass limits and no one zeroed.

    Raymond English won with ten bass weighing 20.71 pound, beating Niles Murray who came in second with ten weighing 20.68 pounds.  Unfortunately for him but good for Raymond, Niles had a .06 pound penalty for a dead fish that made the difference!

    Lee Hancock had ten weighing 18.27 pounds for third and Glenn Anderson had ten for 18.9 pounds for fourth and his 5.0 pound largemouth was big fish. My nine at 14.42 pounds was way back for fifth.

    Hartwell seems to get me every year. Potato Creek has fished Hartwell this same weekend in May since I joined the club seven years ago, and it seems I always come up short.  Even though I went up Tuesday and camped at Hartwell State Park and looked for something that would catch fish for two days before the tournament, I did not find it!

    We put in for the tournament at the mouth of Little Beaverdam Creek, many miles by water from where I camped but only 15 minutes driving on the road.  Wednesday I drove to Hatton Ford Ramp, the tournament site, and looked around that area then put in at the state park to practice in that area on Thursday.

    I tried a variety of places and lures both days.  I thought I had found a pattern casting a weightless Trick worm to shallow cover on shady banks, catching a few keeper bass doing that on Wednesday. And Thursday I caught some on a buzzbait on a shady bank. That gave me something of a plan.

    I started the tournament pretty good, catching a limit of keepers before 6:45.  I ran back in a small creek I have been fishing since catching fish there in s Top Six Tournament in the 1980s and caught two on a spinnerbait around bushes.  Then at one dock I caught two on a topwater plug, missed two more on it, and caught my fifth fish on a whacky rigged worm.

    At about 8:00 I started running different things, hitting a couple humps and points.  Then at 10:00 I went back into a small creek and started catching better fish on a Carolina rigged Baby Brush Hog.  I quickly culled all five I had caught early then spent the next two hours culling up, landing about 15 keepers in two hours.

    For some reason I stopped getting bites around noon.  I tried a lot of different things that afternoon but had five weighing 8.71 pounds to weigh in, putting me in sixth place.

    Saturday morning I ran back to the same small creek where I started the day before and got one bite, from an 11 inch bass!  It started as “one of those days,” no keepers and on one cast the side plate of one of my favorite reels fell off, hit the deck and bounced into the lake!

After setting up another rod, I then ran to the creek where I had caught so many the day before, and got one bite, this time a 13-inch spot.  I have no idea what changed other than it was cloudy Friday and sunny Saturday, and there were a lot more boats running around Saturday.

    I kept fishing and caught two more keepers but broke my line setting the hook twice and missed two more bites.  Everything just went wrong. With 30 minutes left to fish I went back to a point near weigh-in and caught my fourth fish on a roadbed with ten minutes left to fish.

That was the best ending I could hope for on a bad day!

Spalding County Sportsman Club May Tournament at West Point Lake 

Last Sunday 11 members of the Spalding County Sportsman Club fished our May tournament at West Point Lake.  We fished nine hours, from 6:00 AM to 3:00 PM, to land 43 bass weighing about 74 pounds.  There were six five bass limits and one person did not weigh in a keeper.

    Raymond English blew us all away with a great catch of five bass weighing 17.01 pounds and had a 5.33 pound largemouth for big fish.  Glenn Anderson came in second with five at 12.58 pounds and had a 5.12 pound largemouth for second biggest bass.  Doug Acree had a five bass limit weighing 7.87 pounds for third, Lee Hancock had five weighing 7.60 pounds for fourth and my five at 6.88 pounds was fifth.

    I had a very frustrating start.  On a rocky bank that usually has some feeding fish at daylight, I hooked four bass that looked like keepers, and lost all four.  Two jumped and threw my buzzbait although had a trailer hook on it. And two jumped and threw my popping plug.

At 7:30 I finally hooked and landed a keeper spot on a shaky head worm, then at 9:00 I landed another keeper spot on a Carolina rigged worm.  I had tried a variety of places and baits without much luck and that continued until 11:30.

I decided to try something different so I went to one of the few docks in the area and skipped a whacky rigged Senko under it.  I saw a fish swim over and go down after it and hit it, and I landed a very skinny 16 inch largemouth.

The next three docks I fished produced two more keepers, one spot and another skinny largemouth, giving me my limit by noon.  Then it got tough again. I kept looking for docks to fish and caught another largemouth that culled one of my small spots at 2:00.

While Zane backed my trailer in for me I skipped the Senko to the dock at the ramp, saying this is my last cast today. I landed my seventh keeper, a small spot that did not cull, before I had to load my boat.  

BASS Founder Ray Scott Dead At 88 Years Old


from The Fishing Wire

Ray Scott Dead at 88

Ray Scott, the man who founded Fishing Tackle Retailer (FTR) and the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (BASS) and forged the modern sportfishing industry died in Montgomery, Alabama, Sunday night of natural causes. He was 88 years old.

Born in Montgomery in 1933, Scott’s legend is well known among bass anglers. He was an insurance salesman who dreamed of taking bass fishing to a wider audience. In 1967, while waiting out some bad weather on a fishing trip, Scott sat in his motel room and had an epiphany. He would create a bass tournament format that would be fair, honest, and compelling. He dreamed of a time when professional bass fishing would appear on television alongside traditional spectator sports.

“It all just came to me,” Scott said. “I knew it would work.”

In June of 1967, he organized and conducted the All-American bass fishing tournament on Beaver Lake in Arkansas — the first modern bass competition and the template for all that have followed. Six months later, he started BASS, one of the largest fishing membership organizations in history. In 1968, he published the first issue of Bassmaster Magazine. In 1984, he launched “The Bassmasters” television program. About that same time, Scott started Fishing Tackle Retailer magazine as a division of BASS. It was his foray into the larger tackle industry and created a platform through which he could speak to retailers and industry professionals across the country and across all angling demographics.

“He created an entire industry,” said FTR co-publisher Brian Thurston. “Ray was probably the most influential individual sportfishing has ever seen and one of the best promoters of all time.”

It would be almost impossible to overstate the importance of Scott in the bass fishing world specifically and in the sportfishing world generally.

While growing BASS — which peaked at about 750,000 members and still boasts over half a million — Scott impacted virtually every other aspect of modern sportfishing, from water quality to safety to catch-and-release. He was a visionary, a trailblazer, an evangelist, an igniter, a showman, a salesman, a marketer, an entrepreneur, a publisher, a conservationist, and a leader. Most of those who work in the bass fishing industry and many in the sportfishing industry owe their careers to him.

Scott sold BASS and FTR to a group of investors in 1986, but he stayed involved as an executive and as the face of BASS. In the 1990s, he created Ray Scott Outdoors, a communications and marketing firm for fishing industry products and companies. Throughout the ’90s, he was a fixture at industry trade and consumer shows.

But fishing was not Scott’s only interest or passion, he also founded the Whitetail Institute of North America, advancing nutrition and habitat efforts for America’s favorite big game animal. And Scott was involved in politics, supporting the presidential bids of George H.W. Bush in 1980, 1988, and 1992. For several decades, Scott dedicated much of his time and resources to supporting his church — Pintlala Baptist Church in Pintlala, Alabama.

He is survived by his wife, Susan, and four children. Funeral services have yet to be announced.

Flint River Bass Club May West Point Bass Tournament

Last Saturday nine members of the Flint River Bass Club fished our May tournament at West Point. We cast from 6:30 AM to 2:30 PM to land 21 keeper bass weighing about 30 pounds.  Three people had five bass limits and two members did not catch a fish.

Niles Murray won with five bass weighing 8.05 pounds and had a 2.99 pound largemouth for big fish.  Lee Hancock came in second with five weighing 6.19 pounds, my five at 5.88 pounds was third and Doug Acree placed fourth with four at 5.46 pounds.

I have a favorite shallow gravel point in the spring at West Point near the dam. Shad spawn on it and I have caught many fish on it in April and May in past tournaments.

In one tournament about ten years ago I got seven hits on my first seven casts with a topwater popper. I landed five, putting my limit in the live well in less than ten minutes.  They were 14-inch spots and I ended up culling all of them later but that was a fast, fun ten minutes!

Shad were spawning there Saturday morning and I caught two keeper spots and two hybrids in the few minutes before the sunlight hit the water.  Then it got tough.  I had only one bite, a small keeper fish that jumped and threw my buzzbait at about 9:00 AM. 

The wind got strong and it was surprisingly cold.   I headed up the lake to fish a protected creek at 11:00 AM and noticed a small secondary point that I like to fish in a cove. And it looked protected from the wind.

I pulled in there and caught three keepers, filling my limit in the next 30 minutes.  Although I fished hard I got only one more bite, a keeper that culled my smallest spot, at 2:00, just 30 minutes before weigh-in.

Two of my bass and both hybrids came on a topwater popper, two on a Carolina rig and one on a shaky head worm.

Winning A Sportsman Club Tournament At Lake Oconee

This five pounder was big fish and helped me win.

Last Sunday, March 20, 14 members of the Spalding County Sportsman Club fished our March tournament at Lake Oconee. After fishing from 7:30 AM to 3:30 PM we brought 37 keeper largemouth longer than 14 inches to the scales. There was one five fish limit and two fishermen didn’t weigh in a keeper.

My five at 12.68 pounds won and I had a 5.04 pound largemouth for big fish.  Raymond English had four weighing 9.40 pounds for second, Wayne Teal placed third with four at 7.68 pounds, George Roberts had four at 7.22 pounds for fourth and Niles Murray placed fifth with four weighing 7.13 pounds.

Will Mclean fished with me and we started on a grassbed I had a feeling would produce a fish. It did, I caught a keeper and a short fish on a swim jig within a few casts. Then it got tough as the sun got on the water.

At about 10:00 Will cast beside a dock and got a bite but missed it. He got that fish to hit two more times, hooking a good keeper on the third bite. 

My next fish hit my shaky head worm near the boat and when I set the hook it came flying out of the water and the hook came out of its mouth in the air.  But it fell into the boat! Some fish are just meant to be caught.

At noon we had only those three in the livewell so we decided to change tactics. We went to a small main lake cove from the small but bigger creek where we had been fishing.  It had deeper water and was closer to the main river.  I hoped this would mean more fish had moved up from their winter homes.

On the point of the cove a deep brush pile produced my third keeper, one that just barely touched the 14-inch line on the keeper board.  Then my fourth keeper hit my shaky head out from a small grass bed inside the point.

Will got his second keeper off the next grass bed then we both caught some throwbacks.  Going into the cove I noticed a waypoint on my GPS and remembered there were some rock piles out in 12 to 15 feet of water. A few casts to them produced a couple of short fish then a two-pounder hit my shaky head. I had a limit at 1:00!  But with the bare keeper I figured I had only about seven pounds.

I cranked up and went across the mouth of the cove to go around it again and saw another bass boat coming. Sure enough, Zane and JR pulled up on the point I had just left and started fishing!  Will and I fished around the cove toward them and caught a couple more short fish.

When we met Zane and JR, with then on one dock and us on the next one, I cast my shaky head to the dock and a bass thumped it. When I set the hook I started yelling for the net, a big fish flashed in the water and tried to run under the dock.

A I fought it I flashed back three years to another tournament and a similar day. On another dock I hooked a big fish, pulled it away from the dock post three times and got it within a couple of feet of the net. Then my line went slack, it just came off. That fish was every bit of eight pounds.

As I pulled this fish to the top so Will could get the net under it, my hook popped out and flew over the boat. I felt sick for a second, then Will raised up the net – with the 5.04 pounder in it! Talk about a fish that was just meant to get caught.

    Will said that fish was really his, so I gave it to him – right after weigh-in.

We fished the rest of the day and landed several more short fish, and I got two more keepers on a shaky head worm.  I culled three times, including the first fish I caught that morning.

How I Fished A Windy Cold Tournament At Lake Eufaula

See the leadup and practice for this tournament here.

The fishing was as bad as expected. Twenty-five members of the club fished for nine hours on Saturday in the ridiculous, dangerous wind and seven more on Sunday, a much better day. But we caught only 29 bass weighing about 81 pounds. There were 13 zeros and only three limits.

As always someone catches them. Sam Smith won with ten weighing 30.65 pounds and had big fish with a 5.36 pound largemouth. His partner Carl Heidle had seven weighing 16.95 pounds for second, Raymond English had four weighing 7.83 pounds for third and David Martin had four at 7.79 pounds for fourth. My four at 6.82 pounds was good for fifth.

When we finally blasted off, I ran around to what I thought would be a protected area behind an island but the wind was so strong I could not fish. That made me go to the small creek hoping the wind would not be too bad in there, and there were a few areas I could fish without losing my cap to the wind.

I was pitching a jig and pig to the edge of grassbeds, letting it fall to the bottom in water a few inches to a few feet deep. At about 10:00 I got a bite but when I set the hook my line broke in the reel – a sure sign I had missed a bad place in it about 20 feet up when I checked then night before. To add “insult to injury,” the keeper fish jumped trying to get rid of my jig stuck in its jaw!

I finally got another bite at about 1:00 but the wind had my line bowed out and I missed the fish. Finally at 2:00 one hit my jig and I landed a 1.64 pounder, and was proud to have something to weigh in the first day.

Sunday as much colder but the wind did not blow.  For the first hour or so I had to dip my rod in the water after every cast to melt the ice out of the guides. And it started just as bad, with no bites until about 11:00. Then a fish grabbed my jig and ran toward the boat but spit it out before I could set the hook.

At noon I finally landed one small keeper and about gave up since I was tired, there was three hours left to fish and I did not have much hope. But at 2:00
I went to the grassbed where I caught my keeper on Saturday and caught a decent keeper, then got a second one off a nearby dock on a shaky head worm. Then it was time to go in and face the results of two tough days!

I hope the weather settles down soon!!

What Does It Mean To Be A Professional Bass Fisherman?

Pro bass fishermen at the Bassmasters Classic give young antlers advice on becoming a pro bass fisherman


from The Fishing Wire

What It Means To Be A Pro

Forestville, WI (February 9, 2022) – What defines a professional angler? Ask someone off the street and they’ll likely describe fancy boats, bright lights and big fish. Ask those who stand atop the leaderboard, however, and they’ll tell a different story – one of hard work, determination, and the efforts of many other industry pros who have helped them succeed.

“You can’t get to the top without others to lift you up,” says, Patrick Neu, president of the 1,400-member non-profit National Professional Anglers Association (NPAA). “Nobody reaches the pinnacle of professionalism in this industry without a lot of help. That’s exactly why the NPAA is inviting fishing industry workers of every type to join our ranks. Our purpose is to grow and protect sportfishing while providing our members the tools and association benefits needed to increase their professionalism and meet individualized goals.”

To be sure, professionalism in the fishing industry is wide ranging, a point not lost on the organization and its members. “Being a fishing industry ‘pro’ is a pretty loose term,” says NPAA member Chad Pipkens, a ten-year full-time veteran of the Bassmaster Elite Series and five-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier from Dewitt, Michigan, who spent several years prior honing his skills on a variety of smaller trails before acquiring the knowledge, money and flexibility of time needed to compete at the highest levels.

“Professional doctors diagnose and treat patients, teachers instruct students, pro golfers receive PGA cards, and electricians need a license to perform electrical work,” Pipkens says. “These are all well-defined fields of specialization. By comparison, the fishing world encompasses many different job opportunities. Sure, tournament anglers, captains and guides are fishing professionals, but so are the highly skilled mechanics that work on your engine as well as the folks who run the marina, design lures, sell fishing tackle, manage anglers and staff the tournament trails.

“To me,” Pipkens continued, “anyone making meaningful money or striving to earn a living in this industry should qualify as a pro. If you don’t want to be on the water day in and day out, but you still want to be in the industry, you can find the contacts amongst our membership to maybe make that happen.”

“Anyone making meaningful money or striving to earn a living in this industry should qualify as a pro.”

According to Pipkens, the NPAA does a great job of teaching aspiring pros how to run a fishing-related business through their seminars, annual conference and approachable members who have already achieved success. “NPAA membership can shorten your learning curve and raise your professionalism at any level,” he points out. “It’s a great organization for learning the ins and outs of running your own business; whether that’s tech stuff, accounting, how to network or get paid by more than one employer, it certainly can help shorten your learning curve.”

As a pro angler, Pipkens says his life is organized chaos; getting the boat ready, crisscrossing the country, and being on the road for five weeks at a time while never losing his family focus. He often practices on the water from sunrise to sunset. Despite the pressure to win, tournaments are actually the fun part of his routine. “Balancing all the rest,” he says, “is what really makes you a professional.”

For tournament pros, guides and charter captains in particular, there is a ton of preparation that takes place behind the scenes, notes John Campbell, an NPAA founding member and full-time guide. A Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame member inducted in 2018, Campbell managed to win both the Pro Walleye Trail Detroit River and FLW Lake Ouachita championships. He also qualified for a major walleye championship every single year from 1989 to 2011 while on the pro tour. That’s 22 consecutive years, if you’re counting.

Like Pickens, Campbell agrees publicly visible aspects of being a tournament angler or guide help solidify your status as a professional, but the business end of things is vitally important. “Sure, you’ve got to pre-fish, choose your lures, maintain your gear, set up the boat and put in plenty of time on the road,” he notes, “but you also have to learn to book charters, carefully plan out your competition schedule, promote your sponsors and tend to family matters. Earning money and winning tournaments is vital, but also important is finding ways to help grow the sport through sharing knowledge and getting more kids involved.”

As a professional guide, Campbell is in the business of educating anglers. “To me, helping others learn the game is the sign of a true pro,” he states, adding that this is exactly the kind of people you’ll network and rub elbows with in the NPAA. “This organization supported over 100 Future Angler clinics in 2021 alone. With support from the Future Angler Foundation, it’s member volunteers also distributed over 4,000 NPAA Future Pro T-shirts and 3,000 rod/reel combos to kids at NPAA Future Angler education events. That, I believe, is professionalism at its finest.”

For information on joining the NPAA and exploring the many benefits membership provides, visit

Windy Cold Tournament At Lake Eufaula

These two last-hour fish at Eufaula on the second day helped me to a fifth-place finish out of 25 people.

 I usually enjoy the four seasons. Changing weather often makes fishing better and it is less boring. But going through all four seasons and worse last week at Lake Eufaula was a bit much.

    I went down to Lake Point State Park last Tuesday and set up my slide in pickup camper.  The weather was very warm when I went to bed and I knew storms were possible.

    At 5:00 AM someone pounded on my camper and woke me. I thought they said the power was out, but my fan was still running so I turned over to go back to sleep. Then a car horn started blowing, making me look at my phone – there was a Tornado Warning for the campground on it I had not heard!

    I joined all the other campers in the cement block bath house for the next hour!

The rest of Wednesday was decent, with some light showers but little wind. I was able to get out on the lake and look around some. I joined the 196 other bass boats on the water, a Fishers of Men National Championship tournament was scheduled for Thursday through Saturday.  It was a big deal, first and second places in the tournament would win fully rigged bass boats worth either $80,000 or $60,000, depending on place.

Thursday was a nice spring like day, warm weather and sun.  I again looked around, watching the many boats with teams fishing the first day of the tournament.  Most were easing around the shoreline, casting various baits to grassbeds. 

When I went to my favorite small creek I was happy to see just two boats in it fishing, but while I idled around about six other boats ran in, fished a few minutes, then left.  I knew by the start of our tournament Saturday the poor fish would be beat to death, seeing every lure carried by Berry’s Sporting Goods and then some.

Friday the wind was up a little and the misty rain made me sit at my camper and watch the tournament fishermen go round and round in the creek out from the campground.  Weather guessers were saying 20+ MPH winds for Saturday. Most lakes are dangerous with those kinds of winds, and Eufuala is one of the worse.

Fishers of Men announced they were canceling the third day of their tournament due to dangerous conditions. And the Bass Fisherman’s League canceled their big tournament on Oconee for the same reason.

Potato Creek did not cancel, but when Tom Tanner and I idled to the ramp for our set 7:00 blast off, we were told the executive committee delayed our start by 30 minutes. So for 30 minutes Tom and I sat in our boats as the cold wind got about five miles per hour stronger and the temperature dropped another two degrees while everybody else sat in their warm trucks in the parking lot.

how the tournament went for two days