Lee takes Bassmaster Classic
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.
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.