Leesville BASSMaster's 2018 season has finally come to an end. Along the way, we had a lot of great times together as well as some good fishing. We started our season with three rookie additions to the Leesville family: Mark Cannon, Mike Langer, and Mike Lee.
We kicked off our twelve tournament season at Kerr Lake, where Wes House brought nearly 10 pounds to the scales, including what turned out to be the big fish for the season, a 6.53# chunk. During our second and third stops, rookie Mike Lee won back to back tournaments at Buckhorn and Falls Lake, while Wes reeled in his second win at our fourth stop at Jordan. Mark came away with his first of three wins for the year at stop number five, a two-day at High Rock that ended up being a mud derby following some heavy spring rains that churned the waters of the Yadkin into that High Rock orange that it's known for. Longstanding member Craig Koefler rounded out the first half of the season with a win at Lake Gaston in June.
As the second half of the season got underway, Mark Cannon chalked up his second win at Roanoke Rapids while Tom Robertson won a sweltering tournament number eight at Lake Gaston with a single, nearly six pound tank. Duke Bevard started his streak of late season wins with a top finish at Falls, a two-day event that saw the first day cancelled due to Hurricane Florence. Mark checked off win number three showing us how to get it done on Mayo Lake, while Duke finished strong with wins at Falls (rescheduled from Jordan due to high water) and our final competition at Kerr Lake.
A couple of other highlights from the 2018 season...rookie Mike Langer caught his first spotted bass ever (1.87#, and his first fish brought to the scales for the season). From there on, he caught at least one fish in four of the five remaining tournaments he was able to fish. Rookie Mark Cannon took big fish honors in seven of our twelve tournaments.
All in all, we had a great 2018 season. We added three new members to the Leesville family, and all of our tournaments were safe and uneventful. We look forward to building on our success in 2018, and having an even better 2019. Stay tuned!
Leesville BASSMasters finished out our 2018 season where it all started: Kerr Lake. Just a couple of weeks earlier, Kerr had been nearly 14 feet above normal pool due to the passage of Hurricanes Florence and Michael. By the time we arrived, however, the Corp had slimmed Kerr back down to a much more normal 301 and change. Temps were in the upper 40s at blast-off, rising to around 60 at weigh-in. Water temps were in the low-mid 60s with a building, gusty WSW wind.
After all fish had been called to the scales, Duke Bevard (4 fish, 7.81#) took 1st place, capping off a run of three wins in the last four tournaments of the season. Wes House (3 fish, 7.12#) came in second, followed by Sheldon Godfrey (4 fish, 6.09#) in third. Mark Cannon took big fish honors for the day with 3.14#. Duke caught all of his fish on squarebills and a Bandit 300.
With the last tournament, points scores are finalized and the field for our 2019 money tournament is set: Mark Cannon, Duke Bevard, Wes House, Sheldon Godfrey, Mike Lee, and Craig Koefler. Site selection will be determined in February 2019, when the competitors put their selection of one regular season tournament during the 2019 season in a hat, and one entry is drawn at random. The money tournament is fished at the selected site in "tournament within a tournament" format.
With our 2018 season at a close, we're looking forward to our annual Christmas Party/Awards Dinner on December 9th where we'll enjoy an evening together with our spouses and significant others, hand out awards to our top finishers for the season, and crown our 2018 champion. We're also looking forward to 2019 and another season of fishing, fun, and fellowship. See you in 2019!
Before Hurricane Michael showed up in early October, Leesville BASSMasters was scheduled to fish Jordan Lake on October 20. But with Jordan over 10 feet high a week before derby day and other lakes similarly swollen from Michael, we decided to change location to Falls Lake which was only 3 feet high. Fast forward one week later, and we made the right move: Jordan was still 6+ feet high, but Falls was only about 1 foot above normal pool.
When we arrived at the ramp, temps were around 60 and would only rise a few degrees more by the end of the day. Spotty clouds in the morning would give way to rain around lunchtime (heavy at times!), which settled in and finally dissipated when we got back to the ramp. Water temps were in the low 70s.
After calling the fish to the scales, Duke Bevard (4 fish, 5.45#) eeked out his second win of the year at Falls, edging out Craig Koefler (3 fish, 5.36#) by less than a tenth of a pound. Craig did, however, take big fish for the day with 2.80#. Sheldon Godfrey (4 fish, 4.89#) took third place.
With our final tournament at Kerr Lake in two weeks, the last derby looks to be a barn burner on a number of fronts. Mark Cannon still leads the pack by 14 points. Duke could still mathematically take 1st if Mark doesn't weigh any fish at Kerr AND Duke finishes in at least 4th place, but Mark can seal it up by catching just one fish. Current third place holder Wes House won't be fishing Kerr, which means Michael Lee could potentially vault past Wes into third place with a fourth place or better finish at Kerr. Lastly, the final positions for the money tournament are also still in play with Tom, Sheldon and Craig in contention for the final two slots. Stay tuned! It looks like the end of our 2018 season could be a photo finish!
With the passage of Hurricane Florence, Leesville BASSMasters wasn't sure what we'd find at Mayo Lake near Roxboro, NC. Mayo's waters are typically crystal clear, and with all the rain and runoff, we weren't sure whether we'd find it gin clear or more like chocolate milk. We arrived to a light mist and cloudy skies with temps in the upper 60s at blast-off, rising to around 80 at weigh-in. Those overcast skies gave way to intermittent sunshine later in the day. Water temps were near 80, and water clarity was still pretty good.
When all of the fish were called to the scales, Leesville rookie Mark Cannon won his third derby of the season with a four fish sack of 9.16 lbs, anchored by a 3.95 lbs which also took big fish for the day. Duke Bevard followed in 2nd (4 fish, 6.30 lbs) with his partner, Sheldon Godfrey, taking 3rd (3 fish, 5.63 lbs). All but one of our anglers caught fish, and Mark caught all of his winning fish on a buzzbait that's no longer in production.
With two tournaments left, Mark is still solidly in first place, and he'd have to falter badly to relinquish the top spot. Duke has firmly locked up second place, but third is still up in the air: current third place angler Wes House is unable to fish the remaining tournaments for the season, and fourth place angler Mike Lee will miss our next tournament at Jordan. Craig Koefler could wind up in third place for the year if he finishes first in our remaining two tournaments (Jordan, Kerr) and Mike Lee zeroes at Kerr. While first through third place often get the glory, don't forget that our top six anglers in 2018 qualify for a TWT money tournament fished during the 2019 season and a couple of those final slots are still up in the air!
Our next tournament takes us to Jordan Lake which was swollen by Hurricane Florence and stood over 15 FEET above normal pool following the storm. The Corps has been rapidly releasing water and we expect Jordan to be at or near normal pool when we arrive to fish on October 20.
Even the remnants of Hurricane Florence couldn't keep the Leesville BASSMasters from hitting Falls Lake in Raleigh, NC for our ninth tournament of the season. Air temps were around 70 at blast off, and water temps were around 80. A persistent rain dogged the anglers for most of the day, along with a steady ENE wind as the back side of Florence made her way through the Triangle, Moderate rains at weigh-in prevented us from getting any pictures.
After a soggy day, Duke Bevard came away with the win (5 fish, 11.18 lbs), followed by Mark Cannon in 2nd (3 fish, 5.25 lbs), and Sheldon Godfrey in 3rd (4 fish, 4.97 lbs). Sheldon would have edged Mark out by two hundredths, but he unfortunately had a gut hooked fish that didn't make it. The best part is that all but one of our anglers caught fish today. Duke caught all of his winning fish on watermelon seed Trick Worm rigged on a shaky head.
With three tournaments left in 2018, Mark Cannon has pulled away in the points lead, and would have to zero in two of the three remaining tournaments for Wes House or Duke Bevard to have any chance of overtaking him for first place. Wes and Duke are separated by only three points in 2nd and 3rd respectively, so that one's still a horse race.
Our next tournament takes us to Mayo Lake on October 6 which is known for its gin clear water and grass beds. It's unclear what impact Hurricane Florence has had on Mayo, and we'll just have to see when we get there in a couple of weeks. Stops at Jordan and Kerr Lakes round out our 2018 season, and we'll find out who will be crowned our champion for 2018. Tight lines and stay tuned!