My First Bass Tournament
LAPRBASS Potomac Series Tournament, Leesylvania, VA
I fished my very first fishing tournament ever, today. I am part of a four-man team, led by Steve Kolbe, 13-year veteran Voice of the Washington Capitals, play-by-play announcer. In his off-season, he is a FLW, BFL and LAPRBASS tournament fisherman. The other co-anglers of this team include Dave Knorr, Jeff Kvech and myself, Catholic High School boys, one and all.
Today’s event is part of a several week Potomac Tournament out of Leesylvania State Park, south of Potomac Mills and near Woodbridge and Quantico, Virginia, and across the river from the mouth of the Mattawoman and Fort Smallwood Park, over in Charles County, MD.
Your boat is assigned a number, and today’s event had around 65 boats. When your boat is called, you pass by the judges with open, empty live wells, and then off you go, fishing from 6:00 AM till 2:30 PM.
To make this eventful story short, I caught 12 fish and Steve caught 6. I had two keepers and Steve had one. The minimum acceptable size that we were allowed to keep was 15-inches, from lip to tail. Needless to say, we had several 14-inch fish!
It reminded me of fishing for flounder in Ocean City last year and only catching one keeper, but having caught well over a dozen, one-inch short for dinner filets. I threw the one keeper back, and took the family out for dinner.
Mind you, all bass tournaments are “catch & release.” As you can see from this photo, our first fish of the day was a Mattawoman catfish.
The first few hours involved using topwater lures over aquatic grass and attempting to figure out patterns and strategies.
We were fishing docks and pier slip structure, and watched this gentleman catch a handsome bass on a live worm from a pier.
We motored to the Arkendale Flats near Brent Point and Aquia Creek and did some damage, jacking-up our fishing numbers. I was surprised at the number of other tournament fishermen using swim baits in their repertoire, interesting.
Gamakatsu weedless wacky worm hooks and Yamamoto Senko’s yielded some fish.
Did I mention that it was scorching hot, with temperatures in the upper 90’s and with high humidity? Steve had a great supply of ice cold drinks on-board, and we stayed well hydrated.
Captain’s log . . . we made lots of mental notes to help our future performance, and we were always aware of the tides and time of day.
Steve had professional shirts made for the team. Way cool, we are playing with the big dogs now! Sponsors, yes sir ree, and before you know it, Steve may be getting his Bass Cat wrapped, maybe his truck too. I think it should be the Washington Capitals, and Steve should negotiate this into next year’s contract, along with a jersey signed by Alex Ovechkin for Mr. Burchick.
The ecotone edge, where differing habitats interface, of grass and open water can be very productive.
I’m melting . . . about this time in the afternoon, I was seriously thinking about going for a swim, especially as we watched occasional recreation boaters with tow-behind tubes, jet-ski’s and sun bathers on small beaches. I really think I was distracted at the inability to catch larger keepers.
Alright, put a culling tag on her, and put her in the live-well.
This heron got mad, giving us a squawk, as we were obviously working his stretch of water.
I’ve never been to a weigh-in. We saw a goodly number of four, five and six-pounders. Today’s winner had a 18-pound bag, for their best of five.
You bring your fish in a bag, rest them in aerated, cool water in tubs, and they get weighed on the scales, which is then recorded. You are allowed to bring your five largest, largemouth bass. They must be alive and after weigh-in, we are responsible to walk them to the dock and release them back into the Potomac River.
The five highest weight bags take home checks that exceed $6,000, and the cumulative boat weights apply toward a season finale, big pay-off that considers series numbers and champion play-off totals.
Thank you Steve for a great day on the water and exposure to tournament fishing. I look forward to my one or two other tournament days through the course of this summer.
Nice park, too, which obviously caters to bass fishermen, as does Smallwood.