Lakecaster Online Archives - Aug, 2004

Competitive fishing has many levels

By Patty Lenderman
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Patty Lenderman

When it comes to competitive fishing, there are a lot of different levels to choose from. It could be as simple as you and your buddies competing against each other all the way to world class tournaments. While there are many who fish in "circuits", there are even more who enjoy the competition but on a smaller level. For these, bass clubs are the way to go.

Bass clubs have a lot to offer. Not only is the entry fee scaled way down to minimal amounts, but the size of the field of anglers is also generally a lot smaller. The range of skill is wider between the people who fish them, for there are a lot of "weekend warriors" in the field as well as those who fish on higher competition levels.

Some of the benefits of club fishing include making new friends, learning new techniques, new fishing areas and learning the "ropes" of fishing in tournaments, like tournament rules and self discipline. Self discipline is important, because you have to learn stay focused and adapt to the bite, the elements and the clues the fish will give you throughout the day while you are fishing. As any angler can tell you, just because they bit in a certain fishing hole on a particular bait yesterday does not mean that they will repeat that same pattern today. In club tournaments, whenever anyone does well, the other members generally cheer them on. There is a heightened sense of looking out for each other, making sure everyone makes it safe off of the water. Big tournament circuits do this too, but it is more the tournament director and maybe a few other anglers who take care of that job.

Because of the smaller field, the comradery is much tighter. If you have questions about most any aspect of fishing, whether it be what to look for in a fishing area, baits to use, how the bass are biting or about boat operations, the "flow if information" runs a lot smoother in this forum.

All clubs have a set of rules that everyone must follow. There are no polygraphers, everyone is held on their honor to follow the rules on their own accord. Also, the weigh in process is pretty laid back. Usually held at the tailgate of a pickup truck at the boat ramp with everyone gathered around the scales to watch.

If you don't have a boat, many times there is someone in the club that does who you can fish with. Even though you are competing against the other person in the boat with you, there is still a lot of team effort and sharing of baits and tactics in this scenario. All anglers still have something to learn, even the professionals.

There is an array of small bass clubs and tournaments to choose from. A "club", as the word implies, requires membership and generally has an annual membership fee. Most fish once per month. Some clubs are mixed men and women, and some are women only. Some are company related, such as the Oilmen's or Pigs and Hawgs (law enforcement personnel), just to name a few. There are others, such as the Thursday Evening Anglers who fish every Thursday evening for 3-4 hours and weigh in at the public boat ramp on Hwy 255. This is an open event, anyone can fish and there is no membership dues. Going up the ladder a little bit, there are individual circuits to fish, couple circuits and team events. Clubs, just like the bigger circuits, keep track of not only the standings of each event, but also overall standings for each member for the year. In most clubs, there is even a championship at the end of the year.

Whether you are looking to learn to fish or hone your angling skills, there is any level of competitive fishing available to you. How do you find information on clubs or other events? Visit your local tackle stores and many of them can put you in contact with the right people.

Sharpen your hooks, spool your reels and have a little fun testing your skills with other anglers. You could win a little money, make a new friend or learn a new trick. It is also a great way to spend time with your spouse, kids, friends or other family members. See you out there

In these smaller events, the participants gather around the scales to watch as each competitor gets their catch weighed and tallied

No matter how big the competition, every angler is always proud of a good catch
< photos by Patty Lenderman - e-mail >

Sometimes the bass need a little TLC when being released back into the lake. By holding the fish with your thumb in its mouth and 'swimming' the fish back and forth, many times the fish will regain its strength and swim off into the lake

The weigh ins at club tournament events are very informal. There are no stages, microphones or speakers