Well, another season has come to a close and the Leesville BASSMasters family gathered this past Saturday to celebrate the holidays with our wives, fiances, and significant others at Farina Italian Restaurant in North Raleigh. After enjoying a delicious meal and a highlights reel for the season, year-end awards were handed out to our top anglers.
Taking 1st place as club champion for the second consecutive year was Mark Cannon. Mark also won the annual Money Tournament on March 2 & 3 at Buckhorn Reservoir with a two day total of 31.01 lbs. Additionally, during that tournament Mark caught what would wind up being the big fish for the year a 7.18 lbs tank. With all of the plaques, someone in the crowd remarked that Mark's new nickname should be "Hardware". Coming in 2nd place was Wes House and 3rd place went to Duke Bevard, the second consecutive season for both (they're nothing, if not consistent).
2019 was a great year for Leesville BASSMasters, but also brought some sadness. We all took a moment to remember our departed friend and colleague Jim Simons, who lost his long, hard-fought battle with Parkinson's Disease on April 6th of this year. Mark expressed how he felt honored to have fished with Jim in what ended up being his last tournament with the club in early March. Tom recalled how some combination of he, Duke, and Craig spent most Wednesday evenings with Jim during his last six months so his wife, Pat, could relax and enjoy an evening out. We all miss him dearly.
We also bid a fond farewell to long-time Leesville member Duke Bevard who recently relocated to Charlotte. During Duke's 16 years in the club, he served as club Secretary for 11 years (ten of those consecutively), club President for seven years consecutively, and club webmaster/statistician for 4 years.
In recognition of his service, the club presented Duke with a BPS gift card and a plaque acknowledging his years of dedication to the club. Duke said a few words, and acknowledged that he had good partners in his fellow club officers over the years. He also felt that this past year was one of the best years for the club as a whole, if not THE best. As a final surprise and unbeknownst to Duke at the time, Mark detailed Duke's boat while it was stored at Mark's place during the month Duke was getting his affairs straight in Charlotte. The final surprise was revealed when Duke picked up his boat the Sunday morning after the dinner.
While Duke was certainly surprised, it's really no surprise because that's just how the Leesville BASSMasters family rolls. It's not just about the fishing, it's also about fellowship and family. We're already looking forward to next season. New officers have been elected, and Wes House (TD) & Gray Williams (Asst. TD) are putting the 2020 trail together to present to the membership at the January meeting. We'll see you next year!