For this column, I want to introduce to you information on how to compete in a bass tournament and how easy it is to sign up and join. There are two active clubs along the South Shore and several more around the province. The two in the South Shore area are the South Shore Bassmasters (SSBM) and the Lakeside Small Mouth Bass Club (LSBC).
The SSBM club puts on five tournaments a year in Lunenburg and Queens Counties and the LSBC offers 11 tournaments each year in the Yarmouth area alone. There are also two tournaments in the area put on by other organizations.
Many people may be intimidated by the big fancy boats and the misconception that they need a lot of fancy gear to compete. This is not the case. Yes, there are high speed boats that go very fast, but if you look at the past top 10 finishes in the SSBM, you will see that small boats do just as well as the larger ones.
When I started tournament fishing 20 years ago, I had a 12-foot boat and a 7.5 horsepower motor. Inow have a 16-foot boat with a 30 horsepower motor and I have done very well competing, with my partner, against the larger boats over the years.
So, of course, you need a boat and a motor, and in this case, size does not matter. The tournaments require you to weigh-in five live bass. To do this you will need a livewell in your boat. You can create one, if necessary, with a big cooler and a small aerator. You will also need to change the water over the course of the day (I always take a few ice blocks in a separate cooler to add to the livewell to keep the water cool). Frozen pop bottles filled with water also work very well.
The rest is all about fishing. Take your favourite bass gear (no live bait) and a couple of rods and away you go. You can register as a single, or team of two, and the registration fee is usually around $50 per boat. $40 goes to the overall tournament and $10 a boat goes to the lunker prize (largest fish) weighed in for the day. Most tournaments start at 7 a.m. and go until 2 p.m., I suggest that you get to the launch by 6 a.m., so that you have time to talk to some of the veterans.
The clubs have some teams assigned to meet new competitors and talk to them and answer any questions about the day. So launch your boat, park it close enough to the launch and mingle. Just before the start of the day, each club holds a meeting. One representative from each boat meets to go over any information about the day, any rule changes or cautions and then there is a draw for the starting order.
The start is a bit slow, with one boat going at a time. The rule is that the larger boats look out for the smaller boats. When I was running my little boat, if I got an early start number, I would stay off to the side until all the larger boats were gone, then I went on my way.
(Last year, two out of the five tournaments for SSMB, the lunker was caught within 500 metres of the launch site).
Fishing continues until 2 p.m. and you must be at the weigh-in site by then or there is a penalty. At the weigh-in you line up to get a weigh bag, go get your fish out of your boat, put them in the bag with water and bring them back. After your fish is weighed, return them to the water and wait and see how you did. Most clubs pay from 10th place to 1st place plus for the lunker. Check out the clubs’ websites for all the rules and tournament dates.
Do not forget the upcoming kids fishing derby in Hibernia and the fishing tournament at Italy Cross/Middlewood fire hall on June 2. Remember, too, that the June 2nd weekend does not require a fishing license.