Lee takes Bass­mas­ter Clas­sic

Maryland Independent - - Sports - Jamie Drake jamiedrake­out­doors@out­look.com

The fa­ther-and-son bass fishing duo, Al­ton Jones the el­der and younger, didn’t fare as well as they hoped at the Bass­mas­ter Clas­sic in Hous­ton last week­end.

Lake Con­roe put out some nice bass, but nei­ther one fin­ished in the top half of the 50 an­glers vy­ing for the ti­tle of cham­pion. Fan fa­vorite Kevin VanDam, who him­self has four Clas­sic wins un­der his belt, in­clud­ing back-to-back ti­tles in 2010 and 2011, placed 10th.

For the first two days of the tour­na­ment, Brent Ehrler kept a grip on first place. Ehrler headed into the fi­nal day March 26 with a big tar­get on his back, as ev­ery­one tried to beat him out for the $300,000 first-place prize. He was up against some stiff com­pe­ti­tion, with de­fend­ing cham­pion Ed­win Evers, 2003 Clas­sic win­ner Michael Ia­conelli, and VanDam all within 7 pounds of his total.

The win­ner sur­prised ev­ery­one, even him­self. On March 24, he caught only three fish with a com­bined weight of 8 pounds 6 ounces. He didn’t catch the five-bass limit on the next day ei­ther. But Jor­dan Lee, a 25-year-old from Gun­tersville, Ala., who was fishing at the col­le­giate level for Auburn Univer­sity just a few short years ago, came out on top by the end of the tour­na­ment.

And it seemed fate took a turn for the worst on March 26 when en­gine trou­ble made it im­pos­si­ble for Lee to run the lake. He was stuck fishing a point all day, but fate had some­thing else in mind when that spot turned out to be a great place to fish.

Lee even had to catch a ride back to weigh-in in a spec­ta­tor’s boat, but he brought with him a fi­nal stringer weigh­ing 27 pounds 4 ounces that cat­a­pulted his total catch weight to num­ber one. His most suc­cess­ful bait was a foot­ball jig with a Rage Craw and a Space Mon­key for a trailer, fished par­al­lel to the point about 100 yards off­shore.

Ehrler didn’t go home empty-handed. A large­mouth he caught March 24 that weighed 9 pounds 12 ounces was the big­gest catch of the three-day event and ended up win­ning him the Berkley Big Bass purse of $2,500. Add to that his third-place prize and he walked away with $47,500 in total cash win­nings.

Hughes wins tour­na­ment at Small­wood

We had our own lo­cal bass fishing tour­na­ment ex­cite­ment in South­ern Mary­land with the Ram Truck Open Se­ries launch­ing March 25 from Small­wood State Park.

Je­septh Hughes, from King Ge­orge, Va., hand­ily won the one-day tour­na­ment with five bass that weighed 22.19 pounds and he took home a $5,000 check for his ef­forts.

It should have come as no sur­prise to the other an­glers

out there that Hughes was the guy to beat. He’s been fishing the Open Se­ries for the past five years and has won at least one tour­na­ment every year for the past four years. In fact, he won this same tour­na­ment in 2016.

Michael Roselle of La Plata came in sec­ond place, which is not too shabby con­sid­er­ing he was awarded $1,760. But the kicker is the 7.37-pound bass he caught dur­ing the tour­na­ment earned him a spe­cial cash prize of $950 in the Boater Big Bass con­test. Roselle also re­ceived an Abu Gar­cia Revo reel.

The third tour­na­ment in the se­ries will take place at Small­wood State Park on May 13. Be­fore that, the an­glers in this se­ries will be head­ing up to the north­east­ern cor­ner of Mary­land to fish in the next tour­na­ment at An­chor Boats Ma­rina on April 22.

Many Po­tomac River bass an­glers have never fished those wa­ters be­fore, and Hughes is one of them. But he’s not go­ing to let geog­ra­phy or lack of fa­mil­iar­ity come be­tween him and the pos­si­bil­ity of win­ning an­other tour­na­ment.

“I’ll be head­ing up there on Fri­day to fish all day and get in some prac­tice be­fore the tour­na­ment the next day. It ought to be fun,” Hughes said.

The only thing more fun than fishing the Up­per Ch­e­sa­peake Bay for the first time would be fishing it for the first time and win­ning. Best of luck to him.

Gilbert Run, Wheat­ley Lake news

Gilbert Run Park is now open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Fri­day and 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Satur­day and Sun­day. This week­end, April 1 and 2, boat rentals will be avail­able as well as con­ces­sions. Park pa­trons are wel­come to bring their own boats and use the ramp for free. The park has a nice kayak launch, too.

Wheat­ley Lake got its spring trout stock­ing from Mary­land Depart­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources on Tues­day this week.

I have it on good author­ity from An­thony Han­cock, as­sis­tant man­ager at Gilbert Run, that the lake got ap­prox­i­mately 900 healthy trout in the 10- to 16-inch range. Trout bite well on Power­bait, small spin­ners and spoons, and, on a fly-rod, stream­ers and nymphs.

Han­cock shares this help­ful tip: The trout seem to bite bet­ter on cloudy days. He said some an­glers have been try­ing their luck with large­mouth bass and have had some suc­cess from shore, but most ac­tiv­ity is out in deeper wa­ter where a boat helps to put you on the fish. Fishing lures very slowly pays off this time of year as the wa­ter is still in the up­per 40s.

Just a re­minder that both small­mouth and large­mouth bass are strictly catch-and-re­lease at Wheat­ley Lake.

‘Bird-Friendly Com­mu­ni­ties’

Do you want to learn how to cre­ate a bird-friendly en­vi­ron­ment wher­ever you live, what­ever the land­scape?

Per­haps you live some­where like Wal­dorf or Prince Fred­er­ick or maybe down a back-coun­try dirt drive­way with no neigh­bors in sight.

No mat­ter where you live, the South­ern Mary­land Audubon So­ci­ety wants to help you cre­ate a wel­com­ing and safe habi­tat for the birds who share our world. It will present “Bird-Friendly Com­mu­ni­ties” from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. April 5 at the St. Mary’s Soil Con­ser­va­tion Dis­trict in Leonard­town.

The pub­lic is wel­come to at­tend and learn more about the im­por­tance of land­scap­ing with na­tive plants, avian ar­chi­tec­ture for rap­tors and ways to help birds. Light re­fresh­ments will be served at 7 p.m.

If that meet­ing lo­ca­tion or date doesn’t suit you, the same talk will be pre­sented in Port To­bacco from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. May 3 at the His­toric Port To­bacco Court­house.

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