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Entries in Bassmaster Classic (18)

Tuesday
Mar252014

Conservation Directors 'Energized' by Summit

Conservation is a priority for B.A.S.S. and its members, as evidenced by this habitat work at Georgia's Lake Allatoona by the Marietta BassMasters. Photo by Dale McPherson.

As the new National Conservation Director for B.A.S.S., Gene Gilliland’s first Conservation Summit was a stimulating success, according to state directors who attended during Bassmaster Classic week here.

“Some of our sessions were very educational and others were just intense, as we gathered our thoughts about where we need to go from here,” said New Mexico’s Earl Conway, winner of the Conservation Director of the Year Award.

 “I left very energized with new perspectives about our goals.”

West Virginia’s Jerod Harman added, “Because every person involved brought his A-game,”there honestly was not  one single thing that really stands above the rest throughout the Summit.  Speaking on behalf of the B.A.S.S. Nation Conservation Directors in attendance, we are really looking forward to taking our new-found knowledge back to our states and getting to work!”

Gilliland, meanwhile, did highlight a time Friday, when the tone was set for the program. That was when B.A.S.S. CEO Bruce Akin stopped by to speak for 15 minutes, but ended up staying for an hour to talk about promoting the organization and its conservation work, especially through partnerships.

“He answered all of their questions and they appreciated that,” the National Conservation Director said. “That set the stage and encouraged everyone that conservation has the support of management.”

The first-day “business session” also included an update about the college and high school programs from Tournament Manager Jon Stewart and insights from B.A.S.S. Social Media and B.A.S.S. Nation Editor Tyler Reed on providing content for articles and updates.

Saturday began with a presentation by Gordon Robertson from the American Sportfishing Association and Chris Horton from the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation. They encouraged the 30 or conservation directors, and a nearly equal number of state fisheries chiefs and biologists, to better communicate with one another. They also reminded conservation directors that their jobs include dealing with political issues, Gilliland said.

Later in the morning, Jim Martin of the Berkley Conservation Institute led a brainstorming session about how to move the conservation agenda into cooperative ventures, looking at the bigger issues, including watersheds, water quality, and access.

“It was a very engaging discussion, with a lot of good ideas that helped energize people,” the National Conservation Director said.

Following lunch sponsored by the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Mike Netherland from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Craig Martin from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service updated attendees about issues related to invasive plants and aquatic life.

Sunday featured  a grant-writing seminar that Harman described as “fantastic.” Chris Edmonston of the BoatUS Foundation emphasized attention to detail and shared specifics for writing winning proposals.

During lunch sponsored by Alabama Power, Drs. Hobson Bryan and Thomas Wells from the University of Alabama explained how siltation is destroying important backwaters in many of our rivers.

In summarizing the event, North Carolina’s Bill Frazier said, “There’s a noticeable increase in enthusiasm since the inaugural rebirth at Shreveport. There are many very effective programs emerging out of the conservation mission and the state conservation directors are stepping up.”

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

Thursday
Feb202014

Berkley Honors New York, Connecticut B.A.S.S. Nations

The Berkley Conservation Institute (BCI) announced the award of the 2013 Berkley Conservation Award to the New York B.A.S.S. Nation. The award, worth $2,000 in cash, will be presented at the B.A.S.S. Conservation Awards banquet February 22nd in Birmingham during the 2014 Bassmaster Classic.

"The New York B.A.S.S. Nation is a role-model for other organizations to follow," said Jim Martin, BCI Conservation Director.

"Their members are making a difference. They have a great plan, are organized and dedicated. The Ramp Monkeys concept is something that every state B.A.S.S. Nation should emulate. Getting youth involved in conservation efforts is vital to the future of our aquatic resources. I salute the New York B.A.S.S. Nation for their commitment to the principles that the Berkley Conservation Institute holds dear."

In winning the Conservation Award, the New York B.A.S.S. Nation took a multi-pronged approach to battling invasive species in the Empire state. State Conservation Director Barb Elliott worked with NYBN youth clubs to form "Ramp Monkeys." These groups attend area bass tournaments and first remove plant debris from launch areas, then as anglers pull their rigs out, the Ramp Monkeys use kid-power to "Clean, Drain and Dry" each boat and trailer. The operation is an opportunity for outreach to anglers and boaters and an educational experience for the youth members.

The NYBN members also continued to battle invasive water chestnuts by physically removing the plants from lakes, canals and rivers and worked with state agencies, lake associations, universities and watershed alliances to distribute educational/outreach materials to increase awareness of invasive species.

"The New York B.A.S.S. Nation is honored to receive this award," said Fred Blom, NYBN President. "I am proud of the accomplishments of the whole organization. We are all working hard to make a difference."

*         *         *

The Berkley Conservation Institute (BCI) announced the award of the 2013 Berkley Angler Recruitment/Retention Award to the Connecticut B.A.S.S. Nation. The award, worth $1,500 in fishing tackle, will be presented at the B.A.S.S. Conservation Awards banquet February 22nd in Birmingham during the 2014 Bassmaster Classic.

"The Connecticut B.A.S.S. Nation is to be commended for utilizing an approach that highlights the many activities in which their members are involved," said Jim Martin, BCI Conservation Director.

"All 26 clubs exhibit a willingness to get involved in activities that benefit youth, their communities and the aquatic resources that our sport depends on. We at the Berkley Conservation Institute are proud to honor the Connecticut B.A.S.S. Nation with our Berkley Angler Recruitment/Retention Award. In winning the award, the Connecticut B.A.S.S. Nation increased awareness of their organization and increased membership by utilizing a multi-media approach at outdoor shows and other public events.

A poster using the image of Uncle Sam was created with the slogan "The CBN Wants You" to attract attention to their booth. A large state map was displayed to help potential members locate clubs near their homes. Brochures were distributed which contained information about the CBN, contact information for joining, and examples of the CBN at work. A continuous-looping PowerPoint presentation was shown to provide a visual representation of CBN activities and projects such as Toys for Tots, The Bryan Kerchal Memorial Fund, The Robert S. Malloy Scholarship Fund, Riverfront Recapture’s Sporting Chance for Youth Day, CastingKids, Wounded Warriors Foundation, Youth Tournaments, the 26-Angels Event, as well as the CBN Tournament Trail.

"The Connecticut B.A.S.S. Nation would like to thank the Berkley Conservation Institute and B.A.S.S. for this honor and we want to recognize our members who worked hard on this project," said Bob Nelson, CBN Vice President.

Silvia Morris, CBN President added, "We feel that this was beneficial not only because it increased membership in 2013 but if gives up a plan to follow and we are confident it will pay dividends in the future."

BCI is a division of the Pure Fishing Company, the world’s largest tackle company headquartered in Columbia, SC. The brand names of Pure Fishing include Abu Garcia, All Star Rods, Berkley, Fenwick, Mitchell, Penn, Pflueger, Shakespeare, Spiderwire and Stren.

Wednesday
Feb122014

What to See and Do at Bassmaster Classic

B.A.S.S. photo of Classic in Tulsa, Okla.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — There are far more than 44 things to do and see at the Feb. 21-23 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by Diet Mountain Dew and GoPro.

But, as a salute to this Classic being the 44th annual world championship of bass fishing, this list stops at No. 44. Fishing fans and their families will discover many more over the three days of the event.

Competition will take place on Lake Guntersville. All other activities will be in Birmingham at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex. There’s no charge to attend any Bassmaster Classic event.

1. Cheer on your favorites at the morning takeoffs. Fifty-five of the world’s best anglers in 55 of the most colorful and best-equipped bass boats in the sport will line up and power out onto Lake Guntersville at 7 a.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 21-22, from City Harbor in Guntersville, Ala. On Sunday, Feb. 23, only the 25 finalists who made the Saturday cut will compete. Sunday takeoff is also at 7 a.m. Shuttles from parking areas will be provided.

2. Ride like the wind. What’s it feel like to ride in a state-of-the-art bass boat powered by an engine larger than yourself? Courtesy of Mercury, Nitro, Skeeter, Triton and Yamaha, free demo rides from the launch site will be offered Friday-Sunday. Ages 16 and up can sign up at the tents.

3. Do some star-gazing. The best bet for up-close views of the pros in action on the water is to stay glued to Bassmaster.com. Those lucky enough to live on Lake Guntersville (or who have good friends who live there) can watch from shore and have fun glassing the boats as they whiz by. For fans planning to take a boat out on the water, Bassmaster Classic officials request that all spectators keep their distance, and don’t try to talk to the anglers or fish their water after they leave (they’ll need the option to return to that spot).

4. Get into the drama of the daily weigh-ins. The doors at the BJCC Arena will open each day at 3 p.m., Friday-Sunday. Find a seat, then sit back, relax and enjoy the Evan Williams Bourbon Classic Warm-up, a slate of pre-weigh-in entertainment.

5. Score the best seat in the house. Text to win a seat on the Evan Williams Bourbon couch located at the front of the Livewell, the VIP seating in front of the stage. The daily texting contest, Evan Williams Seriously Good Seats Contest, will be announced in the arena at 3:30 p.m. each day, and fans 21 years and up will have 15 minutes to text “Evan Williams” to 271-26. The winner gets space on couch for themselves and up to three others.

6. Say, “How ’bout them dogs.” The canine athletes of the Super Retriever Series will show their stuff as part of the Warm-up show.

7. Make some noise. Mercury will distribute thundersticks to fans as they enter the arena. Bassmaster Elite Series pro Byron Velvick will canvas the crowd to select the “craziest” fan to receive a cool prize.

8. Drink the Dew. Diet Mountain Dew will distribute free cans of soft drinks for the first 10 minutes after the arena doors open.

9. Show off your catching skills. Mercury T-shirts will be shot into the stands. Be ready to catch them.

10. Win a GoPro camera. Watch the big screen in the arena for texting instructions for a chance to win a GoPro unit, the camera that can catch the action up close under extreme conditions.

11. Picture yourself as a Classic champ. As fans enter the BJCC Arena for the daily weigh-ins, they can have their photo taken with Skeet Reese’s 2009 Bassmaster Classic trophy, courtesy of Dick’s Sporting Goods.

12. Get ready for some football. As part of the Evan Williams Bourbon Classic Warm Up, a Triton 21 TrX boat will be towed into the arena by a Toyota. In the boat will be Triton pro staff anglers tossing toy footballs into the crowd.

13. Help families of warriors. At the arena, a bucket will be passed through the crowd to collect contributions to the Folds of Honor Foundation. Its mission is to provide educational scholarships to the dependents of soldiers killed or disabled while serving our country.

14. Experience the biggest tackle show in Birmingham. It’s called the Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods, and it’s open at the BJCC all three days, before the weigh-ins and even after the weigh-ins on Friday and Saturday. Hours are noon to 8 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.to 7 p.m. Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Keep reading to learn about some of the activities, displays and merchandise available. Like all Classic activities, there’s no admission charge to the expo.

15. Acquire your heart’s desire. The Dick’s Sporting Goods booth at the Expo is one place you can purchase that got-to-have gear and tackle (including 2014 model lures you probably won’t see elsewhere).

16. Meet the GEICO gecko. At the GEICO booth, you can have your photo taken with the famous TV commercial star while entering to win a $500 gas card. Kids can play a GEICO game and win prizes.

17. See what swims with SpongeBob. At the Toyota booth, more than fish will be swimming in a new 800-gallon custom tank designed by Animal Planet’s “Tanked” co-stars Wayde King and Brett Raymer in partnership with Toyota and Nickelodeon’s “SpongeBob SquarePants.”

18. Wonder at how good your kids are at casting. At the Toyota Casting Challenge, kids can test their skills at casting into targets.

19. Stuff it. In the Toyota Highlander Cargo Capacity Challenge, you can try to stuff as many fish into the Toyota Highlander as you can to win prizes.

20. Test your strength. In the Toyota Tundra Torque Pull, see if you have the strength to win prizes.

21. Collect free stuff at Dick’s, win prizes. Get a free Hook Me Up! commemorative lanyard and luggage tag at the Dick’s Sporting Goods Expo booth. There’s a different luggage tag each day, so collect all three. Wearing the “Hook Me Up” lanyard could earn a prize, including Dick’s Sporting Goods gift cards. A prize patrol will be on the lookout at the Expo and weigh-ins to tap lanyard-wearers and award prizes on the spot.

22. Win cool stuff at the Bass Pro Shops/Nitro expo booth. Giveaway items include autographed jerseys, fishing tackle and Bass Pro Shops gift cards.

23. Enter a raffle for a trip on the lake. Pick up a wrist band at the Bass Pro Shops/Nitro Expo exhibit and qualify for prizes and register for a raffle to ride in a Nitro Z-9 and follow your favorite pro on Lake Guntersville during a Classic competition day.

24. Start (or add to) an autograph collection. Famous bass pros will be on hand for autograph sessions, courtesy of many of the expo exhibitors. Check schedules at each booth.

25. Make it a banner day. Your entire family can get in on this: At the Mercury expo exhibit, create your own banner to cheer on your favorite Mercury pro staff member fishing in the Classic.

26. Power up with PowerBait. Samples of the newest and hottest PowerBait shapes will be given to the first 250 people at the Berkley booth each day.

27. Make music. Stop in at the Humminbird/Minn Kota Expo booth to register to win a Gibson guitar. The drawing will be Sunday in the booth.

28. See yourself on the cover of Bassmaster Magazine. Courtesy of Yamaha, take home a 5x7 photo of yourself on the cover of Bassmaster. While you’re at the Yamaha booth, have your photo taken with a Yamaha pro. Autographs also are available.

29. Line up your kids to play a new game. B.A.S.S. Conservation partner Recycled Fish will be at the Dick’s Sporting Goods booth with “Bass Labyrinth,” a new game that teaches kids how to release a bass. Families can get a Recycled Fish Stewardship Kit to help them be effective caretakers of their local waters.

30. Learn at seminars. Several expo exhibitors will offer seminars. Check at each booth for schedules. For example, hourly seminars will happen at the 40-foot, 4,000-gallon Dick’s Sporting Goods Bass Tank.

31. Try to win Duckett rods at Triton booth. Enter daily drawings for a chance to win a set of four Duckett Fishing Micro Magic Triton-branded rods. The winner will be notified via email.

32. Pocket up to $1,000 from Livingston. Besides great giveaways like signed apparel and Livingston lures, cash prizes will be awarded every day at the Livingston Expo exhibit. One of the prizes on one of the days will be $1,000. Learn details at the Livingston booth.

33. Enter to win a Toyota Tundra in the new Booyah sweepstakes. Also up for grabs is a trip to the 2015 Bassmaster Classic in Greenville, S.C. Booyah will launch the sweeps at the expo, giving Classic visitors the first chance to enter the season-long contest. At the final Bassmaster Elite Series event of 2014, 11 entries will be drawn. All 11 will be guests of Booyah at the 2015 Classic; each of those 11 will receive a key. The one who has the key that fits will win the Booyah-wrapped Toyota.

34. Spin to win. At the B.A.S.S. expo booth, visitors can win prizes by taking a turn at the Spin ‘N’ Win board.

35. Enter the Reelin’ & Racing Sweepstakes. Also at the B.A.S.S. booth, enter to win a fishing trip with Bassmaster Elite Series pro (and Classic competitor) Aaron Martens — and a VIP experience at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama.

36. Live, from Birmingham, it’s the Bassmaster Interview Stage. There’s a full slate of interviews, Classic competition analysis, fishing tips and much more on tap at the Bassmaster Interview Stage inside the expo. Hosts include the Bassmaster Magazine editor James Hall and the senior editor Ken Duke.

37. Catch up with AutoZone Winning Ways. If you haven’t yet seen The Bassmasters TV program named AutoZone Winning Ways, here’s your chance. It will be shown at the Bassmaster Interview Stage.

38. Take home the T-shirt. Arguably, the official Bassmaster Classic T-shirt is the ultimate Classic souvenir. But there’s much more at the B.A.S.S. merchandise booth, from hats to shirts in all sizes and colors and for all ages.

39. Tweet Up. Want to meet other devoted Bassmaster Tweeters? Meet Saturday at noon in the B.A.S.S. Life Member Lounge at the expo. Anyone who follows B.A.S.S. on Twitter (@BASS_Nation) is invited.

40. Be social. Use the hashtag #bassmasterclassic on Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Pinterest or Facebook. Submitted photos could be selected to go up on the big screen in the BJCC arena. Photos also will be displayed on a screen in the B.A.S.S. booth at the expo; photos with the hashtag on Instagram will appear on the B.A.S.S. Facebook page, https://apps.facebook.com/bconinstagram.

41. Follow the competition via Bassmaster.com. The Classic anglers are on the water; you’re inside at the expo, or eating lunch at a Birmingham restaurant. No problem. Go to Bassmaster.com on your cellphone or tablet and check the BASSTrakk weight reports, watch video fresh off the water, and read all about the competition. Live, streaming video of the weigh-ins also will be available.

42. See future pros. The Carhartt College Series gets in on the Classic action with a friendly competition among collegiate rivals in the annual Bassmaster Classic “Iron Bowl.” Defending 2013 champ Oklahoma University will be up against teams from several colleges, including Auburn and Alabama. The College Series weigh-in will be Sunday as part of the Evan Williams Bourbon Classic Warm-up activities.

43. Support the growing high school teams. During Warm-up on Saturday, 10 high school fishing teams from Alabama and other states will take the Classic stage to weigh their catches. Give them your best applause.

44. Revel in a confetti shower. Get ready for confetti as a new Classic champ is crowned Sunday. Lightweight, colorful (and free), a piece or two of saved confetti is a unique souvenir from a great three days at the 2014 Classic.

Wednesday
Jan152014

Anglers Divided Over Diversion to Restore Mississippi Delta

Vanishing Paradise staffer Ben Weber

The campaign to protect and restore the wetlands and marshes of the Mississippi Delta has been fractured. Sadly, anglers now are pitted against anglers regarding the strategy for coastal Louisiana, with the future of fish and waterfowl, as well as their habitat, in the balance.

“It breaks my heart to see this fragmenting,” says Ben Weber, a Louisiana native and staffer for Vanishing Paradise, a coalition endorsing a comprehensive plan for rehabilitation of the Mississippi Delta. “Opposition is not based on science, and bass fishing is taking a hit.”

“This is the greatest environmental disaster in our country and no one knows about it,” adds Ryan Lambert, owner of Cajun Fishing Adventures. “We have to get bass fishermen involved in the fight.”

In short, manmade alterations in the river’s natural flow during the past 70-plus years, mostly for flood control, have allowed saltwater intrusion. That has killed vegetation and prompted erosion and loss of about 1,900 square miles of wetlands.

As this habitat for bass and waterfowl has been destroyed, a multitude of saltwater species, including redfish, flounder, speckled trout, shrimp, and crab, have enjoyed an expanded range. Not surprisingly, some commercial fishermen, charter captains, and local communities  want to maintain the status quo.

Their Save Louisiana Coalition supports restoration, but opposes freshwater diversion, one of the most effective tools for doing so. That’s because this sediment-carrying water, which will rebuild marshes, also will move saltwater species back toward the Gulf.

As an angler, it’s easy to understand their point of view: They don’t want to surrender any of their fishing grounds, including those created by man’s interference with a natural system.

But they also are short-sighted. Freshwater diversion is vital to the continued health of both the fresh and saltwater fisheries in the Delta. If saltwater continues to encroach, nearly all nursery habitat will be lost and redfish and trout will decline, right along with bass and catfish.

“The problem in Louisiana is we’re addicted to salt because that salt brings tremendous benefits in fisheries,” offers Robert Twilley, a coastal scientist at Louisiana State University.

But every year, he cautions, that artificial fishery moves closer to the river than nature ever intended.

“In 15 years, I’ve seen 80 percent of the marsh near our camp (Leesville) vanish,” says Weber. “There are cemeteries in bayou communities with just one or two headstones left (above water). We fish in the cemeteries for trout.”

Along the Mississippi at Buras, a stark contrast highlights the importance of using freshwater diversions, adds Lambert. On the west side, which receives little to no freshwater, only open water and dead marsh grass remains. On the east side, where freshwater flows, the wetlands are alive and thriving.

In that area, the Louisiana angler notes, “bass fishermen and redfish fishermen go to the same place to catch fish. From Buras down to the mouth of the Mississippi is the best fishing in North America.

“You can’t just pump in sediment,” he says. “You have to have freshwater too (for sustained fisheries).”

He also points out that the Davis Pond Diversion, where Kevin VanDam won the 2011 Bassmaster Classic, is no longer a viable fishery because flow has been reduced. “Saltwater has come in and killed the grass,” he says. “There are no bass, no brim, no crappie, no catfish, and no duck habitat. And it’s all because they want to grow oysters there.”

Freshwater diversion is but one of several tactics that will be used to revitalize the Delta. Others will include vegetation planting, dredging and placement of sediment, and protecting shorelines and barrier islands.

But reconnecting the river to the Delta is of paramount importance.

Only by restoring the natural process as much as possible can we achieve a solution that will benefit both freshwater and saltwater species.

 “Sportsmen and women have always had an eye towards long-term conservation,” says Steve Bender, Vanishing Paradise director. “That is what this is all about ---  the long term. To do it any other way is shortsighted and will not ensure that future generations will have the hunting and fishing opportunities we have all come to enjoy.”

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

 

Monday
Jul222013

Decatur Heritage Team Wins B.A.S.S. High School Invitational

Photo by Shaye Baker/B.A.S.S.

Mitchell Gowen and Brianna Tucker of Decatur Heritage outfished 65 other high school teams Saturday to win the 2013 B.A.S.S. High School Invitational on Wheeler Lake in Decatur, Ala., according to Bassmaster.com.

This was the first event of its kind and netted the team a spot in the 2014 B.A.S.S. High School Classic, which will be held in conjunction with the 2014 Bassmaster Classic. Gowen and Tucker will be joined in the Classic by the rest of the top 8 finishers from the invitational.

“I just want to thank God for giving us the opportunity to fish,” said Tucker, who was responsible for four of the five fish the team weighed in Saturday. “I also want to thank our boat captain.”

Norman Brown, their boat captain, said that things did not start off with a bang, but his team stayed focus and for that he was proud of them, as they eventually checked in with 16 pounds, 15 ounces of largemouth bass.

“Around 9 [a.m.] I think they only had one fish,” he said.

“Once we started catching them, it kind of happened all at once,” Tucker said.

“She caught the first three back-to-back-to-back,” Brown said.

That initial burst was triggered by water generated through Guntersville Dam.

The team fished a few spots upriver from Decatur, and it wasn’t until the current arrived that the team finally found its groove.

“The last two we had to scrape for,” Brown said. “We probably caught 10 fish. The biggest one they weighed in was around 4 and 1/2 [pounds] and the smallest was about 2 and 3/4 [pounds].”

Finding a consistent, quality bite helped Decatur Heritage overcome some of the bigger fish weighed in Saturday, including the 5-3 Carhartt Big Bass caught by Jake Turnbloom and JT Russell of Briarwood Christian.

The majority of the fish that Tucker and Gowen brought to the scales came on a Norman DD22 crankbait. Gowen also caught one fish dragging a big worm.

In addition to Tucker’s and Gowen’s 2014 B.A.S.S. High School Classic berth, the duo and Brown received exclusive backstage privileges for the entire 2014 Bassmaster Classic.

Joining Tucker and Gowen in the 2014 B.A.S.S. High School Classic are runners-up Jarrett Martin and Billy Powers of Gallia Academy High School, third-place finishers Tanner Jones and Clay Teague of Tuscaloosa County High School, fourth-place finishers Beau Ashcraft and Shawn Zellers of Wabash Valley Bassmasters, fifth-place finishers John Garrett and Peyton Lyons of Obion County Student Anglers, sixth-place finishers Ryan Winchester and Justin Burris of Clinton High School, seventh-place finishers Jake Lee and Jacob Mashburn of Clinton High School, and eighth-place finishers Ben Stone and Christopher Bensel of Dixie High School.