118 teams fished and 12 places were paid.
On the Dock with Rick Smith
Bass are a quirky lot. Leading up to the Saturday, November 13th Tuff Man bass tournament, fishermen were reporting some nice catches of smallmouth bass with some fish up to 4 pounds. Pre-fishing teams were sure they could take home a top 12 qualifying position plus $2,500 or more in prize money on a five fish stringer of these smallies; this would be quite a feat when you consider most local tournaments are won with largemouth bass. But it was not to be, as a cold front moved in Friday night causing the dynamics of the lake to change.
Here’s what the fishermen reported: Depending on what area of the lake they were fishing most anglers caught numerous fish under the 14” minimum length limit. Some reported catching 20 or more fish with none of them keepers. This can be exciting, but also frustrating as to win one of these tournaments the team really needs to catch a limit of five fish. The bite began early enough as the day started out with a north wind and temperatures in the mid to low 40’s. With the time change some fishermen were already plugging and chugging by 7:00 am. Eric Wendeborn of Gatesville said that he got his first bite almost immediately and thought this was going to be his team’s special day. Special it was, but not the way he hoped, as the fish fought hard only to come up short in length. Eric and his partner, Clint Glover, also from Gatesville, finished in 70th place out of the 118 teams with two fish weighing in at 3.54 pounds. They said that their only consolation was that professional fishermen Landon Ware and Keith Combs finished in 71st place with 2 fish at 3.50 pounds.
It appeared that William Vickers and Billy Hirschmann of Belton were going to take first place with 5 fish at 10.15 pounds, as their stringer held up for the first hour of the weigh-in. But the day belonged to the team of Russell Parrish of Riesel and Mickey Hamm of Temple. They took a different approach and worked the drop offs and ledges in the 14 to 20 foot range, and for their efforts caught their limit of 5 fish weighing in at 15.12 pounds. They won $2,500 and qualified for the January 8th Championship to be held during the Central Texas Boat Show at the Bell County Exposition Center in Belton.
Second place went to Anthony Ferdinando and Rick McCormack with 4 fish weighing 15.11 pounds, less than one ounce out of first. There was considerable excitement among the anglers when they pulled their biggest bass out of the weigh bag and it topped the scales at 9.11 pounds. This fish was worth $708 and won them Big Bass for the tournament, giving them total winnings of $2,208. Anthony reported both of their big fish were caught later in the day.
Last year’s champions, Ryan Warren and Ryan Crawford, of Gatesville also had 5 fish for a total weight of 13.13 pounds. The team finished third and took home $1,300.
Finishing in tenth place were David Hogge and Elton Brock; the team only weighed in 3 fish, but one of their fish was the second largest bass of the tournament at 5.96 pounds.
Almost 75% of the teams weighed in one or more fish. There were a total of 277 black bass brought to the scales for a combined weight of 519 pounds, giving an average weight of a little over 1.87 pounds. Mortality was low, as 274 fish were released back into Lake Belton. Congratulations to all the fishermen for doing such a great job of taking care of their catches.
The final qualifier for the 2010 Tuff Man Trail is on Lake Stillhouse Hollow on Saturday December 11th. Headquarters will be Island Pavilion located next to Stillhouse Hollow Marina. Entry fee is $200 per team. Complete Tuff Man Trail details can be found at tuffmantournaments.com