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!
Leesville BASSMasters returned to Lake Gaston for the second time in three months, launching from the Steel Bridge ramp in the riverine section at the far western end of the lake. Temps were in the low 70s at launch with a hint of a breeze and some intermittent cloud cover. Temps reached around 90 by weigh-in. Water temps were around 80. From the looks of the trees, dock pilings, and shoreline water marks, Dominion Power had likely pulled water for generation on Friday, dropping the lake level around 1 foot while Kerr had apparently released no replenishment water upstream. With no water being pulled through the dam on Saturday, everyone reported a slow grind.
When all fish had been called to the weigh-in, Tom Robertson walked away with 1st place with a single 5.84 lb toad, which also took big fish honors for the day. Duke Bevard followed closely in 2nd (4 fish, 5.44 lbs), with Mark Cannon coming in 3rd (3 fish, 4.28 lbs). All but two members brought fish to the scales, and a couple of members reported losing some nice fish at the boat.
Our next event will be a two-day tournament at Falls Lake on September 15 & 16. Falls has been fishing a little slow lately, but that's par for the course in August. With September 15 & 16 on the cusp of autumn, we're hoping to see some quality fish brought to the scales as the shad begin to move toward the backs of the creeks with the bass close behind.
Leesville BASSMasters returned to Roanoke Rapids Lake for the first time in several years, and RoRap has changed little since our last visit. It's still loaded with grass, but the recent unsettled weather seemed to have dulled the bite a bit. Several members had pre-fished prior to derby day and reported much better success than what the scales showed on Saturday.
After all fish were weighed, rookie Mark Cannon buzzed his way to his second win of the year (3 fish - 8.05 lbs) and also took big fish for the day with a solid 4.60#. Finishing in second was Sheldon Godfrey (1 fish - 2.12 lbs), followed in third by Mike Lee (1 fish - 1.43 lbs). Mark reportedly caught all of his fish on a buzzbait.
Our next tournament takes us to the Steel Bridge launch in the upper reaches of Lake Gaston on August 18. Water temps in that region of the lake tend to be significantly cooler due to the outflow from Kerr Lake directly upstream. Hopefully, they'll be pulling water at some point during the day to get some current flowing.