As if anglers, from beginner to advanced, needed an excuse to hit the lakes, ponds and streams at Fort Hood in March, the Sportsmen’s Center is hosting its sixth annual Big Bass Contest.
The contest is open to anyone with a Texas fishing license and a Fort Hood fishing permit who preregisters with the Sportsmen’s Center. Registration is $2 and the angler who brings in the heaviest catch wins a rod and reel combo.
“(Participants can) fish at their own schedule at their chosen location on Fort Hood. When they catch a bass — doesn’t matter what species — and they want to have it weighed in (for the contest), they just weigh it in with us. The largest fish weighed in at the end of the month will win the rod and reel combo,” said Judy Johnson, Sportsmen’s Center manager.
A week and a half into the tournament, 29 soldiers registered for the event and only one fish, weighing 3.6 pounds, was brought in to the center to be weighed. The record for the event, Johnson said, was a 10.2-pound bass about five years ago.
“A lot of people throw them back thinking they won’t win,” Johnson said.
“Participation has definitely increased. We’re early into March, so I anticipate doubling the participation in a couple of weeks.”
The monthlong contest rivals other big tournaments at this time of year.
While many tournaments are one-day excursions that involve floods of people flocking to a single fishing hole, the Sportsmen’s Center contest allows more individuals to get involved at their convenience, and encompasses a number of locations. Registrants can weigh in fish caught on Belton Lake or any of the ponds, rivers and streams at Fort Hood.
“Usually tournaments are involving boats, and a lot of soldiers don’t have boats, fancy equipment or anything like that for the big bass tournaments,” Johnson said. “This is a simple contest where even a novice could participate.”
The Sportsmen’s Center began the contest after receiving requests from its customers, Johnson added.
“The fishermen came to us and said, ‘How about a little contest to make it interesting,’” Johnson said. “We took what the customers suggested to us and tried to make it as simple as possible with everybody being on different schedules.”