The early fall is a happening time in our local bass fishing tournament scene.
The six-month long Tuesday Night 3x9 Series just wrapped up, the ProAm series is now underway, and the annual Fishing for Freedom event, our area’s largest, ongoing fishing event, takes place Saturday.
THE 3X9 SERIES: After fishing 29 weekly tournaments which began in March and went through September, 47 two-angler teams launched out on Saturday morning from the Stillhouse Park boat ramp in search of the heaviest five-bass limit they could muster.
With $4,000 up for grabs to the winning team, the competition was stiff.
Saturday’s clear skies, high pressure, and light winds made schooling fish easy to spot on the surface, which, in turn drew many anglers.
In the end, it took more than school-sized bass to take first place, however. The team of Craig Gilbert and Dexter Thompson led the field with a final five-fish weight of 19.83 pounds, anchored by their largest fish, a 5.62-pounder.
Ervin Woodard and Kacey Henderson took second place and split $2,000 with their 17.67-pound catch. Willie Vickers and Billy Hirchman took third place with just four fish weighed in. Their catch of 14.65 pounds was rewarded with a $1,500 prize.
Quinten Twiggs caught the single, largest bass of the event. That fish weighed 9.34 pounds.
Anglers interested in this style of fishing next season may contact Dean Thompson at Tightlines Premium Fishing Tackle at 254-690-3474.
THE PROAM SERIES: The second of five ProAm series tournaments took place on Lake Belton on Sunday. Interest in this new format, modeled after the Major League Fishing template, has grown rapidly.
While 8 boats competed in the first ProAm event held on Stillhouse Hollow on Aug. 19th, 27 boats competed in this second event.
ProAm tournaments tend to favor those who are able to catch high numbers of bass.
The ProAm format calls for all fish to be quickly measured lengthwise, then, if a fish exceeds the tournament’s minimum length, it is to beweighed on a scale and released, thus reducing stress on the fish and the fishery. Each angler’s cumulative weight is tracked throughout the tournament to determine a victor based on total weight.
Additionally, the Pro Am format eliminates the end-of-tournament weigh-in by tracking fish weight in real time as the fish are caught.
Anglers compete as individuals accompanied by an in-boat referee.
In this second contest, first place went to Lee Beuershausen. His 42.12 pounds of bass earned him a $1,000 check. Charlie Gantenbein took second place with 42.08 pounds, earning him $600. Third place went to Adam Glazener who landed 27.04 pounds and earned $300.
Anglers interested in pursuing bass following this format may contact Linwood Cottner at 254-432-3060 or go to www.proambass.com.
FISHING FOR FREEDOM, SATURDAY: Marine Outlet owner Rick Smith said it well, “[Fishing for Freedom] is a way for the community to say thank you to our military for their service and sacrifice. It serves as a way to offer fellowship and to assist in building friendships … while introducing the men and women of all branches of our military to the joys of the Texas outdoors.“
On Saturday, an estimated 300 local boat-owning bass anglers will partner with another 300 military personnel taking to the waters of Lake Belton in pursuit of the single heaviest sack of fish each team can come up with.
Saturday’s event will be preceded by a grand banquet, complete with guest speakers, dinner, prize drawings, and more, all held at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center.
The many generous sponsors of this event make it possible for military anglers (active duty and veterans) to participate at no charge, and for their spouses and families to participate at only a nominal charge.
As this article goes to press, there are still boaters available to be matched with interested service personnel.
The website www.fishingforfreedom.org provides all necessary information and a means to register for the dinner and tournament. Look for the “Tournament Info” tab.