Archive for bass fishing tournament

When Fishing Bass Tournaments Never Give Up

When Fishing Bass Tournaments Finish Your Last Cast – Never Give Up

By Marc Rogers

April 2009, the Central Missouri area was blessed with plenty of water. Once the ground became saturated, the streams and lakes rose quickly making for some tough fishing conditions. The clear water streams and lakes were extremely stained and the normally stained waters were downright muddy. During this time I was competing in a buddy tournament hosted by Joe Bass Team Trail on Stockton Lake in Missouri.

A late departure to a four and one half hour drive was not the best way to get started. My partner and I arrived at our motel after midnight and were only going to get a few hours of sleep at best. Both of us knew the fishing conditions were going to be tough from recent fishing reports of the local guides.

The guides reported bass scattered throughout the lake. Some were located in shallow, flooded timber while others were suspended. In addition, guides were reporting low catch rates along with stained to muddy water. Stockton Lake is generally a clear body of water and cold, muddy water always seems to result in tough conditions.

Tough conditions, little sleep and only my second day ever on Stockton Lake had me feeling like I should have paid my entry fee and stayed home. Doing so would have at least saved me the fuel and lodging costs. However, it was spring and we had spent little time on the water, so there was a desire to get some fishing time in regardless of the conditions.

The bass were locked solidly into a prespawn pattern before the chilly rains caused the cold and muddy conditions. The water surface temperature was in the low 50 degree range throughout the entire lake. In hope of the bass being shallow due to the heavily stained conditions, we started the day out pitching jigs and slow-rolling spinnerbaits in the flooded timber. We started on main and secondary points in the middle sections of the lake and continued this for the first four hours of the competition day. This resulted in not a single bite for either of us.

Searching for clearer water, we moved to the lower end of the lake and within sight of the dam. Again, we focused on points in hope of finding bass staging to move into the shallows for the upcoming spawn. While I continued to pitch jigs to flooded cover, my partner was throwing crawdad colored Wiggle Warts in the clearer water. This clearer section amounted to only the lower lake area within one mile of the dam. Another few hours of fishing this way proved no more productive than the first half of the day. Not a single bite for me, and my partner was able to catch only one largemouth bass but it was below the legal limit and released.

With just one hour until the weigh-in, I made a move and fished the face of the dam. Our focus was on the flooded rip rap covering the dam. With no bites on the jig or the crankbait, I picked up a rod with a Rapala X-Rap with two Suspend Dots just behind the lip, and began casting to the deeper water in front of the dam. My plan was an attempt to entice any bass that may have suspended in the clearer water.

Knowing that catching a limit in the last hours was very unlikely, I was thinking of at least catching one legal bass so we could gain some points in the division standings. While I was casting the jerkbait, my partner continued to throw the Wiggle Wart near the rip rap cover.

Thirty minutes to go, and collectively we still had only caught one bass the entire day. Not ready to give up, I knew we had about a 15 mile run back to the weigh-in, which left us with only about 15 minutes to fish. At this point we were not really worried about being late because a late penalty on zero still amounted to zero.

It was 20 minutes until weigh-in and I was preparing to make a couple final casts. Figuring I had time for two more casts with any chance of making it back in time I got a strike on the jerkbait. The water was clear enough I was able to see the bass strike the lure and it was big bass. The jerkbait was attached to eight pound test fluorocarbon line on a very soft action rod. This giant bass fought hard and I am thankful it never jumped during the entire fight as it was only hooked with the back treble hook.

April 2009, Big Bass & Second Place Joe Bass Tournament Trail

April 2009, Big Bass & Second Place Joe Bass Tournament Trail

The fight lasted a couple of minutes but felt much longer. Knowing I had little time left and still not having the fish in the boat, my heart was racing. I knew the fish was big, and remember thinking it was close to seven pounds, but didn’t realize its true size until moments before my partner netted it. Those few seconds this bass was close to the boat, but too deep to net seemed like hours. With only the rear hook holding the bass, I figured we had only one chance to get it into the net. Able to get the fish to come to the surface, my partner scooped it up with one swing and lifted it into the boat. The hook fell out when the net was placed in the bottom of the boat.

After placing the bass in the livewell, we now had another problem. We had exactly 16 minutes to make an approximately 15-mile run back to the weigh-in site. Thankfully, there was little traffic on the water and a wide open run was possible. Cutting as much distance as possible off the trip back, I avoided sweeping wide turns, allowing just enough room to be safe during the entire return trip. We arrived at the weigh-in with just 30 seconds to spare and avoided a late penalty.

After loading the boat and retrieving a weigh-in bag, I lifted the bass from the livewell. Not having time to admire it on the water, I finally realized the true size of the giant. As I approached the scales, the leading weight was over 15-pounds, but second place was under eight pounds. When the scale settled, the official weight of this one bass was 8.66 pounds and we just took over second place and big bass. There were only a few more left anglers with fish needing to be weighed and we held onto both. This only bite I got the entire day won second place and big bass of the event.

While I have always believed never to give up until time expires, this is one event I could have given up on before we launched that day. I am certainly glad I did not give up even ten minutes early that day.

BASS Launches Championship for Team Tournament Anglers


Dec. 19, 2013

B.A.S.S. Launches National Championship For Team Tournament Anglers

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Many of today’s top professional anglers cut their competitive teeth in team tournaments. But to compete at a higher level, they had to leave their fishing buddies behind and strike out on one of the many draw or pro-am circuits.

With the introduction of the Toyota Bassmaster Team Championship, America’s most successful fishing teams will soon be able to prove their skills against competition from throughout the nation.

“Not only will we crown the national championship team, but we will also provide an opportunity for one outstanding grass-roots fisherman to qualify for the 2015 Bassmaster Classic,” said B.A.S.S. CEO Bruce Akin.

The championship will be held in late fall of 2014 at a date and location to be announced later. Teams from across the country will compete for the Team Championship crown. Following the team portion of the event, the Top 3 pairs of fishermen will be split up and will compete individually, from separate boats, for a berth in the Classic, Akin explained. The format is similar to the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series championship, which has qualified a collegiate angler for the Classic for the past three years.

“A key focus at B.A.S.S. is providing an opportunity for anglers of all ages and skill levels to fish competitively,” said Jon Stewart, B.A.S.S. Nation director and manager of the Team Championship program. “Recent additions include the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series and the High School Championship, and now we’re excited to offer an avenue for team tournament anglers to reach a national stage.”

As many as 200 fishing teams will compete in the championship. To qualify, they will have to finish as the top teams in a participating team tournament trail. Sanctioned Bassmaster Team Championship tournament trails will enroll their anglers as B.A.S.S. Team Members. Collectively, the charter trails that have already signed on span the country from coast to coast and represent more than 7,500 participants.

“Team tournaments are incredibly popular among grass-roots fishermen,” said B.A.S.S. Tournament Director Trip Weldon, who competes in weekend team competitions when he’s not running a Bassmaster Elite Series event. “The angler who wins a berth in the Classic will have to outfish some incredibly talented fishermen along the way.”

As evidence of that popularity, after the Alabama Bass Trail (ABT) launched its new Team Tournament Series in October, the northern division quickly reached a full field of 200 teams, and the southern division was filling rapidly, said Kay Donaldson, ABT program director.

The ABT Team Tournament Series, which includes two divisions of five events each, as well as a championship, was the first team trail to join the Bassmaster Team Championship program.
“We are excited to be the first charter trail sanctioned by B.A.S.S. because it gave us one more huge bonus for anglers to fish with us,” Donaldson said. “In tournament angling, payouts are always No. 1, but then to offer a chance at a lifetime goal of fishing the Bassmaster Classic — that is like the sprinkles on the icing.

“Team trails like the ABT are great for anglers because they allow buddies to fish alongside each other in their home state. It limits their out-of-pocket expenses but still affords the teams a highly competitive field,” she added.

Additional charter team tournament trails include: AC Tournament Trail, U.S. Angler’s Choice Tournament Trail/West Coast, Allstar Bass Fishing Tournaments, Carolina’s Bass Challenge, Fishers of Men National Tournament Trail, Joe Bass Team Trail, Illinois B.A.S.S. Nation, McNider Marine Iron Man Tournament Trail, Morristown Marine Team Trail Invitational, New Hampshire B.A.S.S. Nation, Ozark Mountain Team Trail, Priority Automotive James River Team Series, Sylacauga Marine and ATV Nitro/Tracker Big Bucks Buddy Trail, Tom’s Marine Team Trail and The Top Stick Tournament Series.

For more information, visit or contact Jon Stewart at

2014 Bassmaster Team Championship Title Sponsor: Toyota

2014 Bassmaster Team Championship Official Sponsors: Skeeter Boats, Yamaha

2014 Bassmaster Team Championship Supporting Sponsors: Booyah, Livingston Lures

About B.A.S.S.

For more than 45 years, B.A.S.S. has served as the authority on bass fishing. The organization advances the sport through advocacy, outreach and an expansive tournament structure while connecting directly with the passionate community of bass anglers through its Bassmaster media vehicles.

The Bassmaster brand and its multimedia platforms are guided by a mission to serve all fishing fans. Through its industry-leading publications — Bassmaster Magazine and B.A.S.S. Times — comprehensive website and ESPN2 and Outdoor Channel television programming, Bassmaster provides rich, leading-edge content true to the lifestyle.

The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open Series, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series, B.A.S.S. Nation events and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the Bassmaster Classic.

B.A.S.S. offers an array of services to its more than 500,000 members and remains focused on issues related to conservation and water access. The organization is headquartered in Birmingham, Ala.


Media Contact: Cara Clark, 205-313-0955,, or Dave Precht, 205-313-0931,

Joe Bass Team Trail Schedule Update


Anglers in Action – Pomme De Terre – March 24, 2013

Anglers in Action Tournament Trail has canceled their Pomme De Terre Event on March 24, 2013 due to weather.  This tournament has be re-scheduled for June 29, 2013.  Check their website – Anglers in Action – for further details

The Top 12 Traits of a Successful Angler

By Larry Murphy


  • Make Every Cast Count – every fishing day begins with a great deal of excitement and enthusiasm, but that feeling wanes as the day goes by and the bite is tough. A successful fishermen has the ability to stay focused. Each cast throughout the day should have the same energy and enthusiasm as the first cast of the day. Never give up and stay focused. Just casting and reeling is NOT fishing!
  • Use Quality Gear – successful fishermen buy quality fishing gear and maintain that gear to keep it in top working order. This includes buying good quality rods and reels that can handle the type and expected size of the days catch. It also includes good quality line, hooks, split rings, and leaders. Quality gear is often times the difference between putting fish in the boat and stories about the one that got away.
  • Stick With Confidence Lures – I’ve seen many fishermen drag along dozens, if not hundreds, of lures to the lake. I’m sure that each of these lures can catch fish, but most fishermen tend to throw a small set of baits most of the time. These favorite baits, or confidence lures, work the best because of the confidence that the fisherman has in them, not because of the color or design. Successful fishermen have a short list of lures that they use, and master the use of these lures to produce quality fish on a consistent basis. Also, when the bite is tough these lures become “go to” baits to put fish in the boat.
  • Find a Pattern, Run the Pattern – on any given body of water fish can be found everywhere, but only certain types of cover or structure hold the most active fish. Successful fishermen formulate a pattern, then the determine the pattern within the pattern, then they key in on these places exclusively. Many would call this “run and gun” fishing, but it’s actually a way of skipping unproductive water and keying in on those places that will produce more fish.
  • Observe Other Fishermen – successful fishermen pay close attention to other boats in their vicinity, especially when those other boats are running a pattern that’s different. They might see something that will urge them make a small change in presentation or pattern that might help them succeed. Learning from the success and failure of other anglers in your area is a key part in refining your own fishing pattern.
  • Match the Hatch – this is a fly fishing term, but it actually applies to all types of game fishing. A successful fisherman knows the forage in their area and fishes lures that match both the size and color of those bait fish.
  • Fish for a Reaction Bite – on days when fishing is tough or when fish are in a neutral mood, a successful fisherman will fish faster to look for a reaction bite. Many times fish can be un-catchable with normal speed retrieves, but some of these fish can be coaxed into biting with fast moving or erratic lures. Also, fishing faster allows a fisherman to cover more water and consequently present the lure to more and more fish.
  • Boat Control – accurate boat positioning, especially on windy days, is critical for the successful fisherman. Too far out and your lure may be missing the fish. Too close and the boat may spook the fish. Keeping your boat in just the right spot requires practice and attention detail, and is a key trait of the successful fisherman.
  • Lure Presentation – many times it requires multiple casts, from multiple angles, to entice a fish into biting. Sometimes the lure must be presented with the wind while other times the lure must be presented across the wind. A successful fisherman makes multiple casts, at different angles, to likely looking places to increase their success.
  • Keep a Fishing Journal – most successful fisherman I know keep a journal of their days on the water. They track several things including the days weather, wind conditions, water temperature and clarity, lures used, areas covered, and fish seen of caught. This can be invaluable information and can help the successful fisherman key in on seasonal patterns or recall forgotten techniques and “hot spots”.
  • Celebrate Success and Analyze Failure – even the best fisherman have bad days, and they make mistakes that don’t put fish in the boat. A successful fisherman takes time to learn from their mistakes, and works hard not to repeat them. Also, a successful fisherman appreciates a good day on the water and works to repeat that “good luck” on subsequent trips.
  • Put in the Time – when it comes to increasing your fishing expertise, there is no substitute for time spent on the water. Trial and error, experimenting with new lures and techniques, not to mention learning the area all come from time spent on the water. A successful fisherman puts in the time and continues to learn and improve while on the water.

    Larry Murphy is the owner of Murphy Outdoors

More Time on the Water

By Marc Rogers

Whether fishing a tournament or enjoying a relaxing day on the water anglers always seem to run out of time to catch fish. Even when catching many fish throughout the day we always seem to want a few more minutes of fishing when it is time to call it a day. There are countless ways to add more time to your fishing day without exceeding your fishing time according to your watch.

Being prepared is the key to adding more fishing time. Simple things like having the boat organized for launching when you get to the ramp and having all of your tackle inside the boat and organized will make a difference.  If you do not fish from a boat, having your tackle organized inside your boxes will also make a difference.

When returning home from an outing many anglers put their boat away in the condition is was in at the end of the day. Tackle laying on the deck and floor, rods with backlashed reels and lures in the wrong boxes and are common.  This creates lost fishing time during the next outing if not corrected before leaving home. By cleaning up the mess and properly storing your tackle, you could add several minutes onto you next trip. Remove those rods and reels that need line, cleaning or repair and get it completed before needing them next time.

Make sure your rods are clearly marked to indicate the length and action.  Many rods look alike when in a rod locker and time is wasted when searching for the one you need for that certain application. Most rods have markings on them but some are difficult to read unless removed from your rod locker.  Develop a color or number system to help identify your tackle at a glance.

Several manufacturers of fishing line provide small removable stickers to place on your tackle to indicate line size you have on a reel. Use them, or acquire something similar, and keep them updated each time you change line. This allows you to match your line weight with the lures you are presenting without having to guess what line you have on your reel.

There is no one size fits all when it comes to organizing tackle. Depending on how an angler spends most of his/her time fishing is a good indication on what may fit best. However, seldom do anglers need to take all of their tackle on every trip. Season and conditions will dictate what tackle is most effective and what is not necessary. Therefore, I have found storing tackle in the flat storage boxes like the Plano 3600 and 3700 series best meet my needs. They are versatile and easily marked on the outside to reveal the contents at a quick glance. Individual boxes for each category of lures you carry are ideal for most anglers.

In addition, these styles of boxes are convenient to store in boat lockers as well as carry in bags made for their size. The bags make it easy to transfer tackle to another angler’s boat. Bags also make it easy to take the necessary tackle for an outing where a boat is not used. Bags are not always a good way to store tackle in a boat locker as the bag takes up valuable space. When storing in a boat locker I have found it is best to store the boxes individually in the lockers.

Mark on the outside of the boxes using a permanent marker on tags or masking tape on at least two edges and the lid. This makes the markings easy to read regardless of how they are stored. The tags or tape makes it easy to change labels if necessary.

Similar organizing application for all items used when fishing also pays big dividends. Smaller bags and containers are best with similar items stored together. It makes is easy to find what you are looking for quickly leaving more time for you to keep a lure in the water.

Co-Angler For a Weekend

By Derek Vahey

In the past I have fished out of the back of other anglers boats while competing in team tournaments and have had some less than desirable experiences.  Many boat issues occurred because my partner did not maintain his equipment very well.  When I decided to compete in the Bass Fishing League Ozark Division as a co-angler, it was a difficult decision.  The bad experiences from the past as a back seat partner weighed heavily on my mind.  To save some money fishing my first full season, I made the decision to compete as a co-angler even though I could have utilized my own boat.

The first tournament of the year held on Table Rock Lake in early March.  I traveled from St. Louis and settled in awaiting the pre-tournament meeting for pairing and rules review.  This meeting is required for all anglers participating in the tournament.  After arriving at the local Wal-Mart where the meeting and weigh-in were to take place I noticed many beautiful boats and tow vehicles.  The crowded parking lot full of anglers was adding to my excitement as the pairings were issued.  I was going out number twenty with a field of 102 boats.

After waiting a long time I realize my partner, the boater, is not at the meeting.  This meeting is mandatory per the BFL rules and my partner has not shown up.  The decision to compete as a co-angler is quickly becoming a very bad choice.  After the tournament officials found I was left without a partner they asked if I would like to call him; I had no choice and said “absolutely”.  The first call resulted in a voice mail so I immediately called again and got an answer.  He reported he was having some battery issues and still planned to attend the tournament.  I made it clear he should be there by take-off as I had a lot of time and money invested in this event.  In addition, I told him our boat number, boat check-in time and take-off time.

The uncertainty is causing me some issue with trusting if he will actually show up for the tournament.  Realizing the situation is now out of my control I prepared for the morning take-off with the assumptions he will show up.  Considering the circumstances, I slept rather well and was waiting at the boat ramp at 5:30am.  Twenty-five minutes later, I called my partner and he said he was in line at a ramp across the lake.  He expected to meet me in about 20 minutes; my concerns began to fade.

My partner calls me when he reaches the ramp to pick me up and reality set in quickly.  His boat was just a few years old but its condition was horrible at best.  The boat was filthy dirty and his equipment was scattered throughout the boat.  Rods, hooks, old line and lures were everywhere.  I settled in, stowed my gear and asked, “How far are we going to run to our first stop?”  He replied, “about a half an hour”.  My rods were rigged with jerkbaits, Midwest Custom Tackle Football Jigs and a grub.  I was ready for my first cast.

His Bass Cat was rigged with a 250hp Mercury ProXS and it was fast.  We made our first stop in record time.  We were in the back of a creek arm in about eight feet of water.  I had done extensive research for fishing Table Rock Lake and assumed we would be targeting main and secondary points trying to catch fish staging to spawn.  Instead, we were going to beat the banks and I am not sure why he chose this strategy.  While I am casting to deeper water as he beat the banks he reported, “I pre-fished this area a few days ago and did not catch any keepers.”  Trying to prepare for my hopes of catching some legal sized fish I asked where he kept his net and he replied, “Man, I knew I forgot something in the truck.”  We are fishing for thousands of dollars and he forgot the net in his truck.

We had fished down the banks for about an hour while he continually threw a wiggle wart.  He finally connected with a short fish and I had not had a bite.  After bouncing off some flooded timber I notice he is fumblinging around in the front of the boat.  He turns and says, “Man, we are screwed.  The trolling motor batteries are dead.”  During the rest of the day, we positioned the boat with the big motor and drifted with the wind to fish this same cove all day long.  He caught about six fish all day with just one nice keeper  and I did not catch a single fish.  Words cannot express my frustration and disappointment.

During the long ride home I made yet another decision.  I will never enter another tournament as a co-angler as long as I have my own boat.  I am sure there are many good partners available for each tournament but this experience is something I will never forget.

Preparing for a Bass Tournament

By Marc Rogers

Preparing for a bass tournament begins at home long before heading to the water.  Getting your boat in top operating condition, your tackle organized and rods/reels cleaned and spooled with new line are what most anglers concentrate on when preparation begins.  However, studying maps and water conditions are also key and often overlooked.

Buying quality topographical lake maps are is something today’s anglers overlook when they have a boat equipped with the latest electronics having GPS with pre-loaded lake maps.  This equipment is great to have aboard your boat but if you don’t have a copy of a lake map you can’t start studying the body of water before hitting the water unless you want to study from the console of your boat.

Use a pen to mark key areas you find while reviewing the maps.  You should consider using different color ink for different categories of cover and structure as this can make finding areas quicker while on the water. Make notes on the margins of each page of the map close to the key areas you discover and later make notes of catches from these areas as well.

Anglers should concentrate on finding areas that will hold bass during the time of year they will be on the particular body of water.  An example would be if the tournament were held during the spawning seasons look for and mark areas of shallow flats, small coves and pockets or any area where bass may use to spawn.  Once on the water visit these areas prior to the competition day(s) to check for the current conditions.  Lakes levels could drastically affect these areas depending on low, normal or high water conditions.

If permitted to do so, arriving a day early for weekend angler is ideal for scouting the areas before the competition begins.  If there is an “off-limits” period anglers should plan a trip prior to this time and conduct scouting.  However, if you are limited to not having time to scout the water before the tournament begins at least you will have an idea of what to expect when the take-off begins.  Knowing the lake level is five feet above normal pool will allow you to know that the normally three feet deep flat is going to have eight feet of water over it instead of the normal three feet.

Study the lake conditions from past tournaments on the Internet.  Do keyword searches for the particular body of water and look for tournament results from years past.  Many times anglers will share more information once the event is over during the weigh-in.  This information allows for a starting point for the scouting process.  You may find the current conditions are very similar to years past during the same time period.

Look for lures and techniques that have done well on the water in the past.  Bass are creatures of habit and will generally follow the same patterns during similar conditions.  By no means should you throw only jigs because last year’s tournament was won on a jig during similar conditions but you should try them during practice and scouting.

Once you have chosen about a dozen key areas to concentrate on tie on some lures to get a feel for what the bottom of the lake has in cover and structure.  A crankbait that will reach the bottom of key areas will help indicate what type of cover and bottom composition is present.  Crankbaits allow you to cover water quickly and give you a feel for what the lake holds below the surface.

A Carolina rigged lure will also allow you to cover water quickly and a heavy sinker will also indicate what lies below.  If you are wanting a more detailed feel of what the bottom holds try a heavy jig and work it slowly by dragging it along the bottom.  Brush piles and submerged cover are easily detected with this lure.  Let it drag and hang up in the cover in hopes of getting debris stuck to the lure for an even better idea of what lies below.

While time on the water catching fish is priceless for anglers to gain experience, preparation begins long before launching the boat.  Just because you have high tech electronic equipment onboard doesn’t mean you should stop looking at maps before setting out on your next trip.  Maps are a great means to do some preparation long before you hook up the boat and head for the water.