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Tournament Anglers Boat Big Bass at North Carolina's Shearon Harris Lake

North Carolina's Shearon Harris Lake claimed legendary status as a bass fishery in 1996, when Dennis Reedy won a tournament with a 10-fish limit that weighed 72 pounds. Since he finished a distant third with 35 pounds, Shane Burns well remembers that day.

But Burns and fiance Bonnie Kelly made an even more spectacular splash on the 4,100-acre reservoir in early March when they won back-to-back tournaments with 40-pound-plus limits of 5 fish.

"I just seem to keep figuring it out better every year," said Burns. "Not many weigh in a limit with five fish overs out there."

By "overs," Burns means bass above the 16- to 20-inch protected slot on  the fishery that boasts hydrilla and provides cooling water for the Harris Nuclear Plant.

"It is not specifically managed as a trophy fishery but is in a cluster of ponds in the Capitol area that seems to persistently breed above average fish," said Bill Frazier, conservation director for the North Carolina B.A.S.S. Nation. "Hydrilla is managed pretty extensively but other weeds have gotten a foothold. Notably alligator grass and primrose."

In the first event, competing against 88 other teams, Burns estimated that he and Kelly caught about two dozen overs, as they weighed in 41.93 pounds. "Everything we caught was an over," he said.

In a smaller event the following weekend, they managed an even more impressive 46.89 pounds.

"The fishing wasn't as fast and furious," the veteran angler said. "But we had a limit of 32 to 34 pounds within the first 45 minutes. I caught a 10.38 later and then a 10.91. We had eight fish over 7 pounds and I counted 30 overs."

Even more incredible, Burns went back out with a friend on the day after each tournament and enjoyed equal success.

How did he do it? Just before the first tournament, Burns found a transitional spot. "I intercepted those fish on the way to spawn," he said.

His primary area was about 100 yards long, and featured a main lake point that dropped out and then rose back up to a hump. "I was marking fish in 30 feet of water," he said. "But they wouldn't bite that deep. We caught them in 23 to 26 feet."

Only three teams fished deep in the first tournament, he added, and they finished first, second, and third.

Burns and Kelly used 3/4-ounce willowleaf spinnerbaits and football head jigs for the first win.  For the second, they needed only jigs.

"These were the most unbelievable days of my life and getting to share them with Bonnie was extra special," he said.


Young Anglers 'Clean Up' at Lake Chickamauga

From Fish Shimano:

Last weekend, at the High School Southern Open on Lake Chickamauga we challenged the group to #leaveitbetter, to pick up trash along the shoreline, boat ramps, in their own boats, and more. We estimate that more than 300 participated in the cleanup, collecting an entire dumpster load of trash that would have otherwise ended up in in the Lake.

We are so proud to be a small part of these awesome young anglers' sporting lives and to get conservation on the minds of anglers and their families! Special thanks to PlasticPlace for providing the trash bags!


New Book About Man's Best Friend From Activist Angler


"This book is dedicated to man’s best friend and no-kill animal shelters. A portion of the profit from the sale of each book will be donated to the Farmington Pet Adoption Center (M0), where I found Pippa in 2013."

In addition to inspirational stories about Pippa and other rescue dogs, the book contains two appendix articles about the different kinds of shelters and how they work and why people should adopt from shelters, especially adult dogs.

Book is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.


Children's Hospital Benefit Bass Tournament Set for May 20 in Palatka

Competitive bass fishermen and casual anglers alike will compete on Saturday, May 20, 2017, at the 28th Annual Wolfson Children’s Hospital Bass Tournament. What has grown into the nation’s second-largest bass fishing tournament takes place each year in Palatka, Florida, the “Bass Capital of the World,” to benefit patients of Wolfson Children’s Hospital.

The tournament draws an exciting range of anglers, from novice to professional, and it has grown every year, thanks to generous sponsors and participants who contributed $315,000 to Wolfson Children’s Hospital last year and more than $4 million total. Last year’s tournament drew 688 registered boats, 1,376 fishermen, and more than a hundred volunteers and supporters who enjoy the tournament and three days of activities associated with it.

Prior to the main event on May 20, the Annual Lads and Lasses Bass Tournament will be held on Thursday, May 18, 2017, and the Annual VIP and Friends Bass Tournament will be held on Friday, May 19, 2017, from safe light until 3 pm.

A drawing will be held on Saturday, May 20, 2017, at the tournament’s final weigh-in event for a 21-foot, fully rigged 2017 Bullet 21XRD with Boatmate trailer and Mercury 225 Pro XS motor valued at over $56,000. A door prize drawing will also add excitement with the chance to win $5,000 in prizes.

For full details and to enter the bass boat drawing, go here.

“Participating in any event that supports Wolfson Children’s Hospital is an honor,” said Tournament Chairman Brian Seay of Miller Electric in Jacksonville. “Watching this tournament grow over the years and become such a successful fundraiser for our area’s only children’s hospital has been incredibly fulfilling. I’m so thankful to be part of it, and to know that we are making a difference in the lives of children.”

Generous donors and community fundraising events like the Bass Tournament are what give Wolfson Children’s Hospital the ability to continue our not-for-profit mission to provide outstanding care to every child who needs our help. For other ways to support Wolfson Children’s Hospital, go here.


Tribute to a Fishing Friend

We fished Venezuela's Guri Lake for peacock bass.Yes, we fish to catch fish. But one of the reasons that we keep fishing is because of the friends that we make and the memories that we share. That's especially true as we move into our "golden years."

That's certainly the case for me and my friend Norm Klayman.  Back in the mid 1980s, Norm caught what was then the Missouri state-record smallmouth bass, and I used him as a source for several magazine articles, including one entitled, "The Bassin' Dentist of Bull Shoals." We've been fishing together since.

Norm fillets Bull Shoals fish for me to take home.He lives less than a minute's drive from Pontiac Cove Marina on Bull Shoals, and I normally make the 4 1/2-hour drive to visit him and his wife, Sue, and go fishing two or three times a year. Also, he's filleted many bass, walleye, and crappie from that clean, clear water for me to take home, and he gave me my favorite recipe for fried fish.

We caught big lake trout on a cold, windy day on Manitoba's North Knife Lake Lodge, and then warmed up by the fire before lunch.We've also fished together in Canada, Costa Rica, Mexico, Venezuela, and the Florida Keys. I've learned much from his expertise. And we've caught  double-digit bass, tarpon, lake trout, northern pike, and peacock bass.

Tarpon on in the Florida Keys.

But what I treasure most is the time that we've spent on the water together and the memories that we've shared.

What prompted this tribute to fishing friends in general and my friend Norm specifically is that we recently had a great time catching smallmouth bass together on Bull Shoals.  For reasons not related to Norm and Sue, I had not visited them in much too long. Several years, in fact. Reunited, I realized both what I had missed and how valuable friends are, especially fishing friends.

Lunchtime margarita at Angler's Inn on Mexico's Lake El SaltoIf you're an angler, you know what I'm talking about. Yeah, we'd rather catch fish than not. But that's not what going fishing is all about.