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Entries in bass tournaments (7)


On a Fish Care Mission . . .

Most bass anglers believe that they practice effective catch and release, but many are mistaken.

That realization is what motivates Carl Wengenroth to travel the vast expanses of Texas, teaching fish care to bass clubs. It is what motivates him to educate whoever will listen at The Angler's Lodge, a resort that he owns on Lake Amistad. And it is why he will give presentations during 2013 at National Marine Manufacturers Association boat shows.

“Guys tell me that their boats never kill a fish,” said Wengenroth, conservation director for the Anglers Bass Club of Del Rio. “But when I ask them if they’ve ever been back to the weigh-in site two or three days later, they say, ‘No.’

“They just don’t understand delayed mortality. But if we’re going to preach catch and release, we need to do it right.”

Wengenroth first realized that “we have a problem” when he saw the consequences of improper handling of bass during tournaments at Amistad and other lakes. When released after weigh-in, the fish swam away, but their carcasses littered the surface days later.

Many of the fatalities were the result of barotrauma (inflated bladder) and the fish could have been saved if they had been fizzed, Wengenroth learned, as he worked with Texas Parks and Wildlife and state Conservation Director Tim Cook to improve survival rates.

“Tim’s ethic has inspired me,” the lodge owner said. “The fire underneath his butt has put one under mine.”

Consequently, Wengenroth now conducts fish care classes from Del Rio to Conroe and down to Zapata, asking only that clubs pay for his hotel room and pass the hat for gas money.

During the 1 ½ hour-class, he shows anglers how to improve water quality in their livewells and in tournament holding tanks, as well as explains the why and how to vent bass through their sides.

With an oxygenation system for the boat’s livewell, an angler can turn off the aerator and will need to change the water only two or three times a day, Wengenroth explained. “Those who don’t want to install one “should put the aerator on and leave it on,” he said.

Keeping livewell water 5 to 8 degrees cooler than surface water is important too and that can be done by ice, with chemicals added to knock out the chlorine. A cheap floating thermometer allows for monitoring of temperature.

But no matter how good the water quality, if fish are suffering from barotrauma they are likely to die. “I teach them when you put a fish in the livewell, check it in 15 minutes and then again in 30 minutes,” the club conservation director said. “If it’s still down, then you are good to go.”

Wengenroth added that many are surprised to learn what contributes to barotrauma. “High temperatures in a foot of water can cause it as well as deep water,” he said.

And needle phobia is a common theme among anglers in his classes. To deal with that, he uses small filleted fish to teach bass anatomy and show where the needle goes when it is inserted under a side scale.

“This way, the can see that the needle will go where it is supposed to go (into the bladder), and they lose their fear of killing the fish,” said the lodge owner.

Following his classes, he added, anglers often tell him “I had no idea” and express their gratitude for his instruction.

“I am proud to say I believe in my heart I have made a difference,” Wengenroth said.

Clubs that would like to learn more about fish care from Wengenroth can contact him at or (830) 719-9907.

(This article appeared originally in B.A.S.S. Times.)


Bass Bring in Bucks for Lake Guntersville Communities

Photo by George W. Ponder III

Bass are the best when it comes to generating income through recreational fishing at Lake Guntersville, according to preliminary findings from a study by Auburn University.

For the first 10 months of 2012, more than 200,000 angler fishing days translated into $13.4 million in directed related expenditures. Of this effort, 66 percent of anglers targeted bass, with crappie accounting for 19 percent, sunfish 6, catfish 3, and “anything” or other fish 5.

“We estimated the economic impact of recreational fishing expenditures and tax revenues generated for the four major recreational fisheries at Lake Guntersville to the local towns, counties, and state,” explained graduate student Chris McKee.

“Bass dominated during all seasons,” he said, adding that data was collected through monthly creel surveys and aerial counts of boat anglers.

More than 500 of the nearly 700 anglers interviewed said that they were fishing for bass, 125 for crappie, 29 for sunfish, and 10 for catfish.

Of the 1.29 million hours spent fishing at the 69,000-acre reservoir in northern Alabama, 965,000 of them were devoted to bass.

Tournaments of all kinds accounted for 21 percent of those hours, with 56 percent of competitive anglers coming from Alabama and 32 percent from border states.

Thirty-four percent of bass trips were related to tournaments, with more than half of those for pre-fishing.

Bass anglers traveled an average of 13.5 miles one way to fish Guntersville, but 39 percent of them came from out of state, and 40 percent of those stayed overnight. Average extended stay was 4.4 days.

Overall, 42 percent of Guntersville anglers were residents of the three counties surrounding the reservoir, while 27 percent were nonlocal Alabama residents, 15 percent were from border states, and 16 percent were from nonborder states.

When finalized, these results “should demonstrate that the Lake Guntersville fishery contributes significant funds to local and state businesses and to government tax bases,” McKee said. “In turn, this could help secure funding for projects that will maintain and improve the recreational fishery at Lake Guntersville, as well as the supporting infrastructure.”

(This article appeared originally in B.A.S.S. Times.)


B.A.S.S. Marshal Program Is Way to Meet the Pros

Gerald Swindle’s marshal tips his hat to crowd as they launch at Elite Series tournament on the St. Johns River in Florida. B.A.S.S. photo.

How would you like to spend a day on the water with one of the big names in bass fishing?  If you are a B.A.S.S. member, you can do that through the 2013 Bassmaster Elite Series Marshal Program.

“The Bassmaster marshal program’s popularity has grown immensely since its inception,” said Trip Weldon, B.A.S.S. tournament director.

 “Imagine getting eight hours of one-on-one, on-the-water classroom instruction from the best bass anglers in the world. Bassmaster Elite Series pros have embraced the program, and they are willing to share a wealth of information that is sure to help their marshals become better anglers once they return home.”

Marshal registration for B.A.S.S Federation Nation and Life members opens Sept. 25 at 9 a.m. CST for online applications and Sept. 27 at 9 a.m. CST for phone applications. All B.A.S.S. members can register online Oct. 2 beginning at 9 a.m. CST and by phone Oct. 4 at 9 a.m. CST.

According to Weldon, scoring a marshal slot can be a challenge as B.A.S.S. members play a beat-the-clock game to submit their entries to serve as marshals for their favorite tournament locations.

“We have many serious and dedicated fans, and some tournaments have all marshal spots filled within 15 minutes of registration opening,” Weldon said.

You can register online here or by calling 877-BASSUSA. Enrollment fee is $125, which includes an exclusive Bassmaster marshal shirt and hat. 


Event Name



March 14-17

Sabine River Challenge

Orange, Texas


March 21-24

Falcon Slam

Zapata, Texas


April 18-21

Bulls Shoals Quest

Bull Shoals, Ark.


May 2-5

West Point Battle

LaGrange, Ga.


May 9-12

Alabama River Charge

Montgomery, Ala.


June 20-23

Mississippi River Rumble

La Crosse, Wis.


Aug. 8-11

St. Lawrence River Showdown

Waddington, N.Y.


Aug. 22-25

Lake St. Clair Championship

Detroit, Mich.



Minnesota 'Bass'ackwards' in Tournament Management

If you fish bass tournaments in Minnesota, you’d better learn what’s being proposed by the Department of Natural Resources, and then you’d better voice your opinion. You have until Aug. 24.

A concerned Minnesota tournament angler tells this to Activist Angler:

“Minnesota is poised to become even more bass’ackwards with the passage of rules making off-site bass weigh-ins catch and kill.”

With its over-regulation, Minnesota is driving tournaments and bass fishing to other states, he adds.

“Attempts to bring the DNR into the 21st century have been thwarted at every turn.”

A perfect example of what he is talking about is that permits won’t be granted for tournaments that “promote or allow fizzing.”

Side fizzing primarily is known as a way to deflate an over-inflated bladder caused by a bass being pulled up from deep water. It allows the fish to right itself and swim away.

But side fizzing also is a proven technique that will save bass that might otherwise die of stress.

Here’s the real grabber in those regulations, though:

Permits won’t be granted for tournaments that would release fish after an off-site weigh-in under any of the following conditions:


  • When fish will be held more than 2-1/2 hours from the time they leave the contest waters until they are returned to contest waters;
  • When 100 or more fish will be weighed-in for the contest;
  • For fishing contests involving bass (Micropterus genus within the Centrarchidae family) during July and August.

“I am working on a plan to ‘get the comment out’ from the general membership and other tournament directors/participants,” Mickey Goetting, conservation director for the Minnesota B.A.S.S. Federation Nation, tells Activist Angler.

To see the proposed regulations, go here.

Send comments to Linda Erickson-Eastwood, DNR Fisheries, 500 Lafayette Road, Box 20, St. Paul, MN 55155-4020. Or send them by email to


Alabama Rig Is a Great Tournament Technique, But Not for Fun Fishing

If you’re a bass fisherman, you’d heard about the Alabama Rig. Anglers from coast to coast are using this variation of the saltwater umbrella rig to catch lots of fish, often two or three at a time.

I can understand its worth as a tournament tool. If you’re fishing competitively, you have a limited amount of time. Consequently, you want to use the most effective baits in the most effective manner to maximize your effort.

I get that. This method seems custom-made for tournament anglers, and millions of people fish competitively and/or pattern their pursuit of bass after tournament fishermen.

That’s why I’m sharing with you this article that I found at the Record-Bee about anglers using the Alabama Rig at California’s Clear Lake. Here’s an excerpt:

“Earlier this week a fisherman reported catching 20 bass, topped by a couple of 6-pounders while casting the Alabama Rig near Monitor Point and at Dollar Island. He said when he retrieved the rig there would be two or three bass following it right up to the boat.”

Also, check out this article about the Alabama Rig by my friend Ken Duke at

But as someone who prefers recreational fishing to competitive angling, the Alabama Rig is not for me. I’ve caught two fish on one bait before. In fact, I once caught a 7-pounder and a 4-pounder at the same time on a crankbait.

Lots of splashing around occurred at boatside, but the fight wasn’t nearly as enjoyable for me as it would have been if I had hooked only the 7-pounder --- or only the 4-pounder. Each weighed the other down during the battle.

For me, it’s all about enjoying the fight, instead of putting fish in the boat as quickly as possible --- a behavior of mine that drives a tournament-angler friend  crazy when we fish together.