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Entries in bass tournaments (23)


Kennedy Wins Bassmaster Elite at Lake Dardanelle

Steve Kennedy of Auburn, Ala., wasn’t dominating the event until he weighed 16 pounds, 9 ounces of bass during the final weigh-in to take home $100,000 and the third championship of his career at the GoPro Bassmaster Elite at Lake Dardanelle presented by Econo Lodge.

A big bass late in the day on Monday that weighed 5-10 anchored his five-bass limit and pushed his four-day winning weight to 63-12. The last time Kennedy topped a Bassmaster Elite Series field was in 2011 at Georgia’s West Point Lake.

“I’ve been so close so many times before, and I’ve usually lost tournaments because of a missed bite, or losing a fish before I could get it inside the boat,” Kennedy said. “It sure feels good to win one, especially after nearly winning this year’s Classic on Conroe.

Kennedy won $50,000 for an impressive second-place finish at the 2017 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods in March on Lake Conroe in Texas.

The 48-year-old veteran made a 100-mile round trip each day to fish a small backwater just below the Ozark Dam on the Arkansas River.

“I found that spot during practice, and since the water is over 20 feet high right now, I was able to get my Bass Cat into the small pond-like area,” he said. “Once I got in there, I was impressed with the amount of life that was present. There were gar surfacing everywhere, shad flicking and bass feeding, which told me it was worth a visit each day.”

On Friday’s opening round of competition, he made the run to the dam and caught 16-10, which had him quietly in ninth place. Saturday morning he went to the same location, caught 14-3 and moved up the leaderboard into fifth place.

“On Sunday I caught 16-6, which had me in third place and I knew I had a real shot,” he said. “After I caught that big fish today I felt like I had it locked up, but Mark Davis kept it too close for comfort.”

Davis of Mount Ida, Ark., led the event on both Saturday and Sunday, but could only manage 13-10 on the final day and finished second, only 1-10 behind Kennedy.

Most of the fish that Kennedy brought to the scales this week were caught on a 3/4-ounce D&L Advantage flipping jig with a white plastic trailer.

“I used the exact same program at the Classic back in March,” he said. “There was still a bit of a shad spawn going on this week, and by swimming the jig through the willows, stopping it and letting it fall along the edge of the weeds, the bass would absolutely smoke it. I also caught several fish on a green pumpkin swim jig, and a few on topwater.”

With Kennedy’s wife and children there to congratulate his victory, he was elated.

“It’s been a while,” he said. “I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform and do well, and when I don’t succeed I take it hard. It means a lot to my family and me to bring home one of those coveted blue trophies.”

Other top finishers included Kevin VanDam, third with 60-11; Mark Menendez, who won here in 2009, fourth with 57-9; and Dean Rojas, fifth with 56-7.

Ott DeFoe, who finished 15th at Dardanelle with 41-12, has a slight lead over Jacob Wheeler and Brandon Palaniuk for Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year with three more regular season tournaments remaining in the Elite Series. He was awarded $1,000 for leading the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year points race at the end of the event.

David Mullins of Mount Carmel, Tenn., claimed the $1,500 Phoenix Boats Big Bass Award for a 6-pound, 8-ounce largemouth he caught during Friday’s opening round.

Davis won the Livingston Lures Day 2 Leader Award of $500 for leading the tournament on Saturday’s second day of competition.

Jamie Hartman of Newport, N.Y., won the Toyota Bonus Bucks Award of $3,000 for being the highest-placing eligible entrant in the program. The second-highest-placing eligible entrant, Cliff Pace of Petal, Miss., received $2,000.

Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich., earned the Power-Pole Captain’s Cash Award of $1,000 for being the highest-placing angler who is registered and eligible and uses a client-approved product on his boat.


Be a Good Sport When You're on the Water


(Author's note: This article was written awhile back for young anglers. But the same advice also is applicable to adult fishermen.)

You and your partner are having little luck and time is running out in the bass tournament. But as you pass a point at the mouth of a cove, you notice anglers in another boat are catching fish.

There seems to be plenty of room, and they are fishing public water. You have as much right to be there as they do. Why not join them?

You know why. It wouldn’t be ethical.

“All of us who fish competitively have had experience with ethics on the water,” says a long-time bass pro from Arkansas. “And the first rule is the Golden Rule. You don’t move onto another person’s water.”

The second ethics rule among tournament anglers, she adds, is a variation of the first. “You don’t go to that spot the next day either, if the tournament is still going on. That is someone else’s water. Find your own fish.”

Sometimes you can do that, she continues, simply by noting what makes this honey hole special and then looking for similar places that are not occupied.

An angler who wants to claim a hole, meanwhile, should practice good angling etiquette. He can do that by moving back and forth to signal that this is his water. Otherwise, some might mistakenly believe that he is fishing down a bank, instead of working a specific area.

In general, angling etiquette is a code of courtesy that shows consideration for others and, in doing so, encourages ethical behavior. Angling etiquette is visible, such as yielding to the boat on the right or to a smaller, slower craft cutting across your bow.

But what, exactly, is ethical behavior, aside from not crowding into another’s fishing spot?

 “Your ethics are the rules or values you use to help choose behavior that is fair to others and to yourself,” says Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD). “We practice ethical behavior when we ‘do the right thing’ even when we think we won’t be caught or punished for our behavior.”

When trying to decide whether your behavior will be ethical, says TPWD, consider these questions: Is it legal? Would it be good if everybody did it? Would it make you proud?

Also, don’t allow someone’s questionable behavior to influence your judgment. In other words, two wrongs don’t make a right.

Sometimes, too, what you perceive as “wrong” isn’t seen that way by others.

“Especially in tournaments, we (bass anglers) are so intent, so focused,” says the pro. “Others, like water skiers and jet skiers, don’t understand that. And it’s not their mission to pay attention to things like the fact that they’re going between us and the shore. We have to understand that.

“And we shouldn’t get mad if we decide to fish a good spot where there’s going to be a lot of traffic. We have to accept the fact that people are going to go by.”

As a fisherman, however, you do know that motoring between an angler and a nearby shoreline is not good etiquette and possibly even unethical if it harms his fishing.

Here are some other actions that reflect good etiquette and ethical behavior by anglers:

  1. Honor another’s trust. If someone shares with you his “secret spot,” don’t tell anyone about it, no matter how tempted you may be.
  2. Whether in a boat or on shore, don’t cast your line across another’s or into “his water.” Doing so not only is unethical but could result in a tangled mess that keeps both of you from fishing.
  3. Understand and follow fishing and boating regulations. Obeying the law is not only ethical; it also keeps you from paying fines and possibly even going to jail and/or having your fishing privileges revoked.
  4. Handle fish gently. Don’t suspend them out of the water with fishing line. Don’t touch the gills. After you net or lip them, don’t allow them to flop around on shore or in the bottom of the boat. If a fish “swallows” the hook, cut off the line at the eye and leave it in.
  5. Never keep fish just to “show off.” You should be prepared to clean and eat any that you take home.
  6. Have your boat ready to go before you back it down the ramp. When you take it out, move it quickly out of the way so that others can use the launch area.
  7. Help with loading, unloading, and cleaning the boat.
  8. Take live bait home with you or dispose of it well away from the water instead of dumping it into the lake. Be certain that your boat and trailer don’t carry any uninvited hitchhikers, such as nuisance plants or zebra mussels.
  9. Don’t move fish of any kind from one water body to another. In addition to being unethical and illegal, it could do irreversible damage to a fishery that you were trying to improve.
  10. Always ask permission before crossing private property or fishing a pond or stream on private property.
  11. If you are wading, try to avoid trampling aquatic vegetation. Enter and leave the water at places where the banks are low or at gravel bars, so you will do less damage to the shorelines.
  12. If you are fishing on private land and keeping fish, offer to share your catch with the landowner.
  13. Leave an area just as clean as you found it. And especially never discard line or soft plastic baits. Even better, pick up the trash left behind by others. Littering, of course, is against the law. Picking it up shows respect for the resource.
  14. Avoid spills and never dump pollutants, such as gas and oil, into the water.
  15. Share your knowledge and enjoyment of the sport by taking others fishing.
  16. Through your own behavior, promote angling ethics and etiquette.

Sometimes when you are on the water, you will run into situations that do not fit into any of the above and you will be forced to make decisions with little time to think. In such cases, listen to your conscience, make the ethical choice, and you never will go wrong.


Bass Fisherman Brings Clean Water, Life to Thousands

Three hundred thousand people in Africa now have clean water, thanks to Global Water Partners, which bass fisherman Bruce Whitmire founded in 2009. Since 1996, he's helped drill wells that supply clean water for 12 million.

Think about that.

"Every one of us had a gift that makes the picture complete," he says. "This is where I fit--- lovin' on people and helping them have a better life."

He uses bass tournaments to help solicit support for GWP and spread the word that an estimated 2 billion people still lack access to clean water.

"When parents send their children out to a mud hole to bring home water, that water is supposed to bring life. But what it brings is death and disease," says the Texas angler. "They need clean water for life and health."

Read Whitmire's inspiring story here.


Hot-water Stress a Killer for Big Fish, Whether Sharks or Bass

The great hammerhead shark is a magnificent animal. It's also one of 24 shark species illegal to harvest in Florida waters, up to 9 miles off the coast.

Sadly,  four of them washed up on Sarasota beaches in late June and July, according to the Bradenton Herald.

What happened to them? Most likely, they were caught and released, but didn't survive the trauma of the fight and handling.

"This particular species of hammerhead is just so fragile that they go into physiological stress," said Robert Hueter, director of shark research at Mote Marine Laboratory.

One of those stressors during this time of year is the temperature.

Whether shark, catfish, or bass, a fish's metabolism  speeds up in warm water because it is cold-blooded. That means it burns more energy and, as a consequence, must consume  more food to fuel sustain itself. It also means that its oxygen needs are intensified. But . . .

"The hotter the water is, the less oxygen it can hold," Hueter said.

Now factor in the energy and oxygen expended in a struggle to escape once hooked,  and fish die, especially larger fish, which simply cannot recover no matter how carefully they are handled once they are brought to the shore or boat. In essence, they die of exhaustion, unable to gain the oxygen they need to recover.

That's why delayed mortality increases for bass tournaments during summer. And that's why those great hammerheads did not survive.

This dead great hammerhead was hauled back out to sea after recently washing up on a Sarasota beach.Hueter added that hammerheads  likely are especially vulnerable because their mouths are so small in comparison to their bodies.

 “As soon as it’s obvious that it is a hammerhead, the better thing to do would be just to cut the line or cut the leader, get as close as you can to the animal without spending a lot of time pulling it in,” he said. “Cut it and let it go.”

Dragging a shark, or any other large fish, such as a Goliath grouper, onto shore always is stressful for the animal, but especially so during summer. Meanwhile, inshore and beach fishing for sharks is more popular than ever.

"We're seeing more (sharks) than we've seen before washing up on beaches," Hueter said.

The fish is much more likely to survive if kept in shallow water for dehooking and photos.

In addition to hammerheads, bull and black tip sharks also are especially vulnerable to stress. At the other extreme, nurse and lemon sharks are among the hardiest.

Here are some handling tips to help ensure survival. They apply specifically to sharks, but are good tips for handling big fish of many species when caught on bait.

  • Use heavy tackle and non-stainless circle hooks
  • Use a dehooker
  • Cut the leader or line quickly, leaving as little as possible attached to the hook
  • Do not bring sharks out of water
  • Leave shark in enough water so that it can breathe through its mouth and gills
  • Shoot photos in process of releasing



Secrets That You Should Know About 'The Bite'--- Part 2

These are but a few of the secrets in "The Bite" from Better Bass Fishing: Secrets From the Headwaters by a Bassmaster Senior Writer. Here's a link to the book at Barnes & Noble. Amazon also carries it, but often is sold out.

Secret: Bass, as with all other predators, will feed on the largest available prey that requires the least amount of energy to catch and subdue. At least that’s what many resource managers believe, and they call this idea the “optimum foraging theory.”

            But don’t be misled and believe that this means you always should throw big baits and retrieve them as slowly as possible if you want to catch large bass. You might see your magnum crankbait or 1-ounce spinnerbait as just what the big fish should want. But what you should be paying attention to is what the bass actually are feeding on. That’s what they see as the best bang for their buck in terms of least amount of work for the best meal.

            Slowing down your retrieve, however, almost always is a good idea if the bite is slow, especially if you’re throwing a topwater or spinnerbait. 

Secret: One of the most important discoveries that we’ve made from bass tournaments is that fish always can be caught somewhere, some way in a lake or river, even under the worst of conditions. In other words, the fact that you aren’t catching them doesn’t mean that no one else is either. Don’t stick with a pattern or place too long if you aren’t getting bites, especially if you are fishing a tournament and are limited by time.

 Secret: While you can catch bass year around, you will not, on average, boat as many bass in cold water as you do in warm.  That’s because bass are cold-blooded. At 39 degrees Fahrenheit, a bass’ metabolism and digestion falls to only 20 percent and 10 percent of what it was at 64 degrees.

Secret: Some bass are more difficult to catch than others. Researchers have proven that in their quest to develop strains of bass that are easier to catch for stocking in urban fisheries. In small ponds, they kept track of how many times each bass was caught and then bred together those most easily fooled. Offspring of those fish also proved easy to catch, suggesting that genetics play a role in whether a bass falls for an artificial.

More "secrets" about the bite upcoming at Activist Angler.

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