Devildog Anglers Clark and Smith Post 26 pound Bag including Two 10+ Pound Bass
During an otherwise dismal week-end of bass fishing to start the TBF/FLW High School bass fishing season, Travelers Rest High School bass fishing team members Daniel Clark and Jacob Smith scored an impressive win on Florida’s Lake Okeechobee held January 17 during the 2016 TBF/FLW High School Fishing Florida Open.
The duo weighed an impressive 5 bass limit weighing 26 pounds, 8 ounces which included a 12 pound -1 ounce largemouth that claimed the tournaments big fish award and another bass over 10 pounds.
Florida’s Lake Okeechobee is renowned for it’s impressive fish populations and sizes but also for subjectivity to adverse weather which was the case during the tournament. Heavy winds and rain prior to and during the event prompted tournament officials to delay the start of the high school tournament for an hour as well as restrict high school anglers, who must fish with a designated boat captain over the age of 21 in the boat at all times, to fish only the Kissimmee River portion of the area.
“When we found out about the restriction, we got on our phones and checking our mapping apps for a good place to fish the river since nobody had really pre-fished there,” said Jacob Smith, a junior at Travelers Rest. “We saw this drainage ditch up the river that was about a 15 minute run and figured with rain and current coming in, that might be a good place to start.”
The drainage ditch the pair arrived at before any of the other competitors was both a good place to start and finish. On his third cast with a Livingston Crankbait in Guntersville Craw color up near the rocky area where the water was coming in, Daniel Clark hooked into the 12 pound bass that would have won the tournament for the team by herself.
“We both started casting toward this one rock that sort of marked the edge of a ditch with weed mats on either side,” said Clark, also a junior at TR. “We caught another 2 – 3 pound fish and then a few casts later we hooked a 10 pounder. It was unreal, we were both having trouble just trying to get those fish in the boat while other teams around us were watching.”
The pair finished out a 5 fish limit, only catching 7 fish from the honey hole, but the combined weight was enough to place them an even 16 pounds over the second place finisher.
During the three day week-end, FLW professional anglers through it’s affiliate programs with the Costa Del Mar Series, couldn’t touch the success brought to the scales by these two high schools anglers on a one day basis.
“It was great to see a High School club from South Carolina come down to Florida and catch two monster largemouth and win the tournament,” said FLW spokesperson Joseph Opager. “Their 26-pound, 8-ounce five-bass limit was larger than any limit weighed in from the 250-boat Costa FLW Series tournament held that same weekend, and that was a three-day event. We’re looking forward to the FLW/TBF High School Fishing Carolina Open next month in South Carolina.”
Back at home after the event, both Clark and Smith indicated they were excited about the great start to their high school bass fishing season. The win at Okeechobee provides the two teenagers a berth to compete in the High School Fishing Southeastern Conference championship on Lake Cumberland in Somerset, Kentucky on September 16-17. In the meantime, there are high school club events as well as local high school tournaments the pair are planning to compete in. In Other News
The 46th Annual Upstate SC Boat Show will be held at the TD Convention Center on January 28-31, 2016. Show hours are Thursday & Friday: 12pm – 9pm, Saturday: 10am – 9pm, and
Sunday: 12pm – 6pm. Admission and parking is Adults $7, Seniors (65+) $6, Students (6-18) $6, Children Under 6 FREE, Parking $5. For more information, call 864-233-2562
Phillip Gentry is the host of “Upstate Outdoors,” broadcast from noon to 2 p.m. Saturdays on 106.3 WORD FM. This week, Upstate Outdoors will be broadcasting live from the SC Boat Show at the TD Convention Center. Contact Gentry at email@example.com.
The Travelers Rest High School bass fishing team of Jacob Smith and Daniel Clark, brought a five-bass limit to the scale on January 17, weighing 26 pounds, 8 ounces, to win the 2016 TBF/FLW High School Fishing Florida Open on Lake Okeechobee. Photo courtesy FLW.
Unless they spent time in the low country, most old time anglers don’t remember catching white perch in the Upstate. Old timers wax poetic about white bass fishing on Lakes Greenwood and Hartwell but a white bass and a white perch is not the same thing.
If you ever fished out west, a white perch was actually a white crappie and out there it’s mispronounced as “crah-pee” rather than the correct pronunciation crappy, which is synonymous for the weather we’re having.
A white perch is actually a member of the true bass family. It’s related to white bass, striped bass, and step-cousin to the hybrid bass. Like striped bass, white perch are anadromous, meaning they can live in both fresh and salt water. That factoid might explain why there are white perch in the Santee-Cooper Lakes, which has a direct connection to the ocean via the Santee River and a frequently opening fish lift at the St. Stevens dam.
But why are there white perch in Lake Greenwood? Why are they in even smaller lakes like Lake Robinson, Cunningham, Bowen and Blalock?
The answer there lies in the anglers who like to catch them. Fisheries managers state that white perch are migratory in nature but not to the extent they have infiltrated much of the southeast. The only answer is that they were moved from areas like Santee-Cooper inland either as bait for other species like stripers and catfish and then released or were intentionally released to establish populations.
“White perch are not native to our inland lakes,” said SCDNR Fisheries biologist Dan Rankin. “In fact, they are classified as an invasive species and several years ago were de-categorized from the gamefish list, so in effect, there are no size or creel limits on them at all.”
The upside of white perch is that the aggressive fish school in large numbers and readily bite most anything. The fish also tolerate cold well so when other species are shivering on the bottom and uninterested in feeding, white perch are raring to go. This, plus the fact that many anglers relish the taste of white perch as table fare, has made the species a fan favorite, particularly when other species are not as active.
Anglers targeting panfish with artificial baits will have more success enticing a reaction bite from these fish which, though highly dormant, will strike out at baits as they die and spin off of the school or flutter to the bottom. Jigging spoons, down-sized Alabama rigs, and drop-shot rigs with small plastics are best bets.
Anglers preferring to use live baits should equip themselves with small and medium minnows, roughly equating the same size threadfin shad the fish are eating. Fish these baits vertically on one or two hook rigs. A Kentucky rig, with up to a 1 ounce bait on the bottom and two loops tied inline sporting #2 light wire hooks, is effective for making contact with the bottom, then reeling up to the desired level.
Drift or slow troll through schools of bait, paying particular attention to each end of the bait schools rather than the middle. The white perch bite will be more aggressive, even in cold water, than that of other species, such as crappie or largemouth bass which may frequent the same pattern. White perch will move off to one side while crappie will simply inhale the bait and likely spit it when resistance is detected.
Regardless of popular opinion, upscale line to 8 to 10 pound test. At depths of 30 – 40 feet, white perch are not particularly line shy and the higher tensile strength will up your chances of landing that big blue catfish, largemouth, or striped bass that inevitably didn’t get the memo that you were on a perch jerking trip.
Phillip Gentry is the host of “Upstate Outdoors,” broadcast from noon to 2 p.m. Saturdays on 106.3 WORD FM. This week’s guest on the show will be members of the Travelers Rest High School Bass Fishing Team. Contact Gentry at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Winter doldrums can be quickly relieved by the tug of a feisty white perch, which are known to bite throughout even the coldest of conditions. Photo by Phillip Gentry.
University Bass Fishing Clubs Represent Schools Well
While Clemson University and The University of Alabama are undeniably home to some great college football programs, it might come to a surprise to some that both universities also support two up and coming college bass fishing programs. These programs are not alone with the number of major universities sprouting fishing teams growing each year.
In the wide world of sports, professional bass fishing has become a major entity boasting in the millions of dollars in economic impact with tens of thousands of fans. In recent years, organized bass fishing teams on a collegiate level have also made a name for themselves due in large part to support from the professional ranks.
“We see college bass fishing as an up and coming franchise that has already begun to supply the professional ranks of bass fishing with the next generation of anglers,” said Joseph Opager, media manager for FLW Outdoors.
While the big name sports like football, basketball, and baseball are D-1 sporting programs at both Clemson and Alabama, the bass fishing teams are officially organized as clubs, led by student-athletes who represent their schools through a university advisor.
Because bass tournaments award valuable prizes such as boats and cash to tournament winners rather than just trophies, taking such a competition from a club level to an NCAA affiliated program would have it’s challenges.
“On one hand, we have to pay all of our own expenses for travel to the tournaments,” said Clemson University bass fishing team president Isaac Nesbitt. “But when one of our teams wins a check or prizes from a tournament, that stuff is ours to keep.”
College bass fishing teams have no shortage of competition to choose from. Both FLW and Bassmaster sponsor a collegiate level tournament trail that fish all over the country. College teams can register for as many or as few events as they can handle. Both offer no entry fees but require that all participants must be registered, full-time students at a college, university or community college and members of a college fishing club.
Unlike some major sports, the anglers get no allowance for tutoring while traveling to destinations to fish and most indicate it is at the discretion of the individual professors how much leeway the student-anglers get for time out of the classroom.
“It helps if you go to your professors early on and let them know you’re on the bass fishing team and representing the university,” said University of Alabama fishing club president John Bryant. “most of the time, they will let us turn stuff in early or work online so if we have a tournament somewhere, we can go a couple days early to pre-fish.”
Both technology and the team concept of college bass fishing facilitate student anglers getting to both attend the university they represent while pursuing the sport that requires every bit of the dedication asked of any other competitive college sport.
“We take turns driving if we’re going on a long trip,” said Clemson’s Nesbitt. “One guy drives the truck with the boat in tow behind us while the other guy works on his laptop and turns in homework or maybe even takes a test online.”
With the start of the 2016 college bass tournament season already underway, Clemson bass anglers as well as other local colleges are looking forward to FLW holding it’s national championship this year on Lake Keowee.
The 2016 FLW College Fishing National Championship will be hosted by the Mountain Lakes Convention and Visitors Bureau on Lake Keowee in Seneca, S.C, March 17-19. Registration for the 2016 season opened on December 14, 2015, for teams from clubs represented in the 2015 FLW College Fishing National Championship. All other teams began registration beginning December 15, 2015. Anglers can register at FLWFishing.com.
Phillip Gentry is the host of “Upstate Outdoors,” broadcast from noon to 2 p.m. Saturdays on 106.3 WORD FM. This week’s guest on the show will be Randy Morrison, tournament director for SC Upstate Chapter of Fishers of Men Bass Tournament Trail. Contact Gentry at email@example.com.
College bass fishing may never gain the widespread appeal of college football, but today’s student/angler/athletes are no less dedicated to their sport.
Most outdoorsmen look at the beginning of January with disdain. The long 3 – 4 month deer season is over and most of the better fishing is still several weeks away. Suffice to say unless you are a die-hard duck hunter or still in the woods trying to rid your property of the wild pigs or coyotes that seem to get more and more plentiful each year, you probably have a little time on your hands.
January is a great time to head out to the garage or wherever you store and stage most of your hunting and fishing gear and do some cleaning and organizing. It’s a great time to clean all the guns up and store them for the season and start taking a critical eye toward any fishing gear that needs attention.
Today’s fishing rods and reels are so expensive, ignoring any problems early on can cost you in the long run. Try to take an inventory of which reel might have been giving you some problems and break that reel down and give it a really good cleaning. While you are at it, take this opportunity to check your rod guides for any nicks or abrasions that can cut or damage line when under pressure – like when you have that big pre-spawn bass or striper hooked up.
Cotton swabs or balls wiped on the guides will quickly show any picks you have in your guides so you can work on those. Since most manufacturers are not too fond or you opening the casings on the reel because of warranty violations, make sure you lubricate each reel and if anything needs work, now is a good time to box it up and ship it in for service.
Back in the old days, dad and grandpa had one giant tackle box with fold out trays that held all of the tackle they owned. Today’s anglers realized that it was much easier to stock specific use clear tackle trays and load them into a larger bag depending on the species and pattern you wanted to fish on a particular outing. Whether you have only a handful of these tackle boxes or half a garage full, now is a good time to open all of those boxes and re-sort lures, hooks, weights and terminal tackle back into the box they go in.
Reorganizing your tackle will also remind you of which staples of lures you’re getting low on and which ones you thought you’d use but are just taking up space. You can tell which ones produced best because the bodies will have love bites on them and the hooks will be dull and bent. Take the time to either re-hook those lures or file the points back to razor sharpness and give them a shot of WD40 to prevent rusting.
For those of you who don’t change fishing line very often, now is the time to get in there and strip off all the old line from your fishing reels and replace it with fresh line.
One last remark about organization and maintenance is don’t forget the big stuff, your 4 stroke outboard motor oil needs to be changed, the wheel bearings on your trailers, and you might as well include the utility trailer your wife is going to want you to haul mulch in, will all need attention. Hopefully that just means topping off the bearing hubs with some fresh grease and not having to get in there and re-pack the whole wheel bearing.
Kind of makes you yearn for those lazy fall afternoons when all you had to do was sit in a tree.
Phillip Gentry is the host of “Upstate Outdoors,” broadcast from noon to 2 p.m. Saturdays on 106.3 WORD FM. This week’s guests on the show will be members of the Clemson and University of Alabama bass fishing teams. Contact Gentry at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With a small gap between deer season and spring fishing, now is the time to maintain and organize your outdoor gear. Photo by Phillip Gentry.