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!
Cannon slams the door at High Rock
Leesville BASSMasters finished out the 2019 season at High Rock Lake near Lexington, NC. We launched out of the Route 8 ramp at Southmont, and the cold temps thinned out our field somewhat for our final derby. A cold rain preceded our arrival on Friday, and much of High Rock had turned a nice Yadkin orange by Saturday. We ended up moving our start and finish times back to allow the chill to come out of the air before hitting the water. Air temp at blast off was 42 degrees, and only rose to 46 by weigh-in. Water temps on the main lake ranged from 47 to 50, and a stiff wind kept High Rock sporty with white caps all day.
All of our anglers brought fish to the scales, but sacks were somewhat light. After all fish had been weighed, Mark Cannon sealed the 2019 championship with a 1st place finish with 2 fish weighing 8.53 lbs anchored by a 4.89 lbs chunk. Coming in 2nd place was Duke "Woody" Ellis (2 fish, 7.23 lbs) and 3rd place went to Leesville rookie Gray Williams (1 fish, 3.40 lbs). Gray joined the club mid-year and finished the season in 4th place overall, so Mark better watch his six next season because Gray's gonna be gunnin' for him. With our final tournament completed, the Top 6 anglers have been set for the 2020 Money Tournament, which will be fished as a TnT during one of our regularly scheduled 2020 tournaments.
The 2019 season was one of Leesville's best in recent memory, but we also shared some sorrow during the year. Sadly, we lost our good friend and member Jim Simons to Parkinson's Disease in early April, but we grew the Leesville family by several members and held our first club picnic with our families in October. We're looking forward to the 2020 season and wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving holiday!
A crisp mid-fall morning greeted us when we arrived to a very foggy Upper Barton's ramp in the low 40s at Falls Lake. Falls looked to be setting up for what you'd think would have been a great day of fishing and potential for heavy sacks...water temps falling steadily from the low 80s just a couple weeks earlier to just shy of 70 at blast off and a strong low in the guise of what's left of Tropical Storm Nestor approaching from the south. After a fog delay, we eventually decided to "ooze off" with conditions not conducive to running on plane. The fog finally lifted mid-morning to partly cloudy but steadily graying skies and a high in the mid-60s.
All of our anglers brought fish to the scales except one. When all fish had been weighed, Leesville rookie Gray Williams chalked up his third win in the last four tournaments with another five fish limit weighing 9.68 lbs anchored by a 4.05 lbs chunk that also took big fish honors for the day. Following in second was Tom Robertson (5 fish, 7.32 lbs), and fishing in his final tournament as a Leesville member was Duke Bevard (4 fish, 6.90 lbs). Gray's fish were caught junk fishing with no discernible pattern and the rest of our anglers said covering water was the name of the game, picking up a fish here and there.
Our final tournament of the year takes us to High Rock on November 16. Going into our last derby, Mark Cannon leads Wes House by just 3 points. With only the top 10 finishes contributing to year-end scores, it's possible Wes could surpass Mark if he finishes four places ahead of him in our last tournament. Falls also helped separate the field for the bottom three money tournament positions, although there's also still some opportunities for movement depending on participation and performance at High Rock. Stay tuned!
Stingy. That's the word that comes to mind after Leesville BASSMasters ground out two days from the Wittenberg ramp at Lake Hickory in Hickory, NC on October 5 & 6. Most of the Leesville BASSMasters arrived during the day or evening Thursday to pre-fish with temps well into the 90s both Thursday and Friday. Saturday, an overnight front brought overcast, temps nearly 30 degrees cooler with a high in the 60s, intermittent drizzle, and a stiff breeze at times. Water temps were in the low 80s at launch.
All of our anglers brought fish to the scales on Saturday, although sacks were light. After weighing all fish, our Day 1 leader was Gray Williams with 3 fish weighing 5.19 lbs, followed by Jeffery Kinney (2 fish, 3.89 lbs) and Duke "Woody" Ellis (1 fish, 3.57 lbs). Woody had the big fish for Day 1. Afterwards, we headed back to the house for some college football, Texas Hold 'Em, and Tom "Chef Tell" Robertson's traditional away-tournament Saturday night spaghetti dinner. Needless to say, no one walked away hungry.
Day 2 brought an overnight low in the upper 50s, a much lighter breeze, and a somewhat lower water temp that ranged from the upper 70s to low 80s depending on where you were. All of our anglers brought fish to the scales on Sunday. After all fish were weighed, Duke Bevard emerged as the come-from-behind winner, weighing in three fish for a Day 2 total of 5.88 lbs and a combined two day total of 4 four fish weighing 8.81 lbs. Tying for 2nd place were Jeffery Kinney and Gray Williams, both with a combined two day total of five fish weighing 8.55 lbs. Dukester caught all of his fish cranking a SPRO Little John on secondary points in Gunpowder Creek. Woody held on to big fish for the tournament with his 3.57 lb fish caught fishing on the Dukester's back deck on Day 1. Hickory was certainly a grind, but it was apparently a pretty consistent grind. As a club, we weighed in a total of 17 fish both days. Our Day 1 & Day 2 aggregate weights were also within 0.42 lbs of each other, at 28.09 lbs and 28.51 lbs, respectively.
Our next tournament takes us to the Upper Barton's ramp at Falls Lake on October 19, and we've got us a real horse race going for 2020 Money Tournament eligibility. While the top 3 slots are already locked in, the three bottom spots are all up for grabs. Woody, Sheldon Godfrey, and Tom Robertson are all tied for 4th place with 103 points each, while Craig Koefler, Gray Williams, and Jeffery Kinney are all tied in 7th place with 102 points each. Scoring points in the next two tournaments will be crucial to securing eligibility for the money tournament. While we fish twelve tournaments, only the Top 10 finishes contribute to each angler's overall score for the season. Stay tuned!
Leesville BASSMasters held the ninth tournament of our 2019 season at crystal clear Mayo Lake near Roxboro, NC. Temps were in the low 50s with a light variable SSE wind at blast-off. Needless to say, it was a perfect early fall morning for a derby. Temps rose to the mid-80s by weigh-in with the breeze blowing for about half the day, diminishing to near calm by the time we arrived back to the ramp (and all of a sudden, it was hot!). Water temps were in the mid to upper 70s.
All but two of our anglers brought fish to the scales today, and everyone noted that the day had been a grind. After all sacks had been weighed, Leesville rookie Gray Williams picked up his second win in as many tournaments with a five fish limit weighing 10.94 lbs, anchored by a 3.80 lb'er, which also took big fish for the day. Following in second place was Mark Cannon (4 fish, 8.95 lbs) and Jeffery Kinney took third (4 fish, 7.98 lbs). Gray caught his fish using a fluke and a drop shot.
Our next tournament takes us out west to Hickory, NC for a two-day derby at Lake Hickory, marking the first time Leesville has fished the lake in recent memory. The fall bite should be starting to pick up, and we're looking forward to spending a couple of days fishing what will be new water for many of our members. We're also looking forward to Tom "Chef-Tell" Robertson's signature Saturday night spaghetti feast, a tradition for most of our out of town tournaments over the last ten years or so when our lodging will accommodate it. See you in a couple of weeks!
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