There are a lot of reasons people go fishing, all of them worthwhile.
Some folks – more so in the old days than now – fish for sustenance. Delicious dishes made from catfish, flounder, bass and other species are what my late brother-in-law used to call “good groceries.” Fresh fish is economical, healthy food that’s an important part of the diet in many households.
Another reason anglers take to the water is the opportunity fishing presents to explore the natural world, away from glowing screens and congested roadways. It might be cruising across azure ocean swells on a beautiful autumn afternoon,
waiting for a king mackerel to take a trolled lure; or easing down a slow-moving creek as the sun starts to peek through the trees, flipping a cricket on a cane pole into promising spots along the shoreline. In any case, the glory and wonder of
nature as the Almighty created it is worth whatever effort it may take to experience it first-hand.
For some fishermen, the allure of angling is something else. It’s all about the chase – the challenge of figuring out how and where a fish might be caught, and then presenting a lure in just the right way to make that happen. It’s about understanding what motivates different species to strike and being able to outsmart them under different, sometimes changing, conditions. For these anglers, fishing is sort of a puzzle that, when completed, is incredibly satisfying. Even at times,
though, when the pieces don’t all come together, they find it a mesmerizing pursuit.
While some anglers prefer to pursue their favorite sport alone, most seem to enjoy the company of others with similar values and motivations. In other words, they like to have a fishing buddy along. I know of no study ever done to quantify how many fall in that category but I’m pretty sure it’s a majority of those who take to the water with hook and line. Fishing is just more fun when you have someone to share a Pepsi and a pack of nabs, laugh at a corny joke, and commiserate when a
“big’un” breaks your line. In the last case, a real fishing buddy will agree that the one that got away was undoubtedly the largest of the day, maybe of all time.
Anglers who compete in bass fishing tournaments seem to be motivated by all of those things. Well, except one; they don’t fish for sustenance. All bass competitions sanctioned today by legitimate organizations such as BASS (Bass Anglers Sportsman’s Society) are catch-and-release events that require that fish be liberated, either immediately after being weighed on the boat or after being checked in at a weigh station.
The other motivations are reasons folks participate in bass tournaments, however, and they were all obvious in a competition held recently on the Neuse and Trent rivers. It was part of the BoJangles Series of tournaments that are held throughout North Carolina from early spring till fall each year. Those events, which are limited to participants age 18 and up (unless teamed with an adult), have been held for 31 years and feature fishing on water bodies in the Piedmont and
Coastal Plain. This year’s schedule consists of seven tournaments on Harris, Gaston, Sutton and Kerr lakes and the Chowan, Roanoke and Neuse/Trent rivers.
A two-day Classic Championship will be held on the Roanoke River in September.
Organized and directed by Danny Joe Humphrey, a well-known bass angler and lure developer from Kinston, the BoJangles series consists of both professional and amateur divisions, which fish at the same time but don’t compete with each other.
Both groups can win cash prizes, some substantial, based on the poundage of bass brought to the scales. Detailed rules stipulate the creel limit (generally 5 fish per team) and other guidelines.
The tournament held recently on the Neuse and Trent rivers was not one of the regular competitions but rather one held just for young anglers. Participants were limited to those age 18 and under and, instead of cash, trophies and tackle were
awarded to those who brought the biggest fish to the mid-afternoon weigh-in.
Thirty-four boats operated by adults carried 60 fishermen (the youngest age 6) to likely spots on the two waterways beginning at first light. There, using the same tackle grown-up fishermen prefer, the youngsters worked plastic worms, spinner
baits, plugs and other lures in places they thought a lunker might be lurking.
At the weigh-in at Lawson Creek Park, it was determined that first place went to 15 year-old twins, Caleb and Austin Gay of Farmville, N.C. The boys, who will be 10th graders at Farmville Central High School this fall, said they’ve been fishing
“since they were old enough to hold a pole.” In the tournament, their five-fish bag totaled 13.59 lb., including one 3.8 lb. In typical fisherman fashion, when Caleb noted that he caught the biggest one, Austin countered with the fact that he landed the most. When asked about where they fished and what baits they used, they again sounded like grown-up anglers, only revealing with a smile that they were “up the Neuse” and using “soft baits.”
Second place was taken by Colton and Colby Tyndall with a 13.49 lb. total and the biggest fish of the day, a 4.98 lb. largemouth. Christopher Blizzard and Thomas Jones ended up third overall with five fish totaling 11.82 lb. Everyone was a winner, however. All participants received bags full of fishing gear as well as the opportunity to stand on a stage, show off the fish they caught and have their pictures made. Most important, they got to spend a day with good friends and kinfolks, doing something they enjoy in a beautiful place. As Danny Joe Humphrey said during the awards presentation, “It just doesn’t get much better.”
Oh, one other thing motivates bass anglers who fish in adult tournaments – money. Those who compete in regular BoJangles Pro Am events can earn up to $4,000 for bringing hefty fish to the dock. Information about that tournament series is available online at http://bojanglesproam.com/ The next event will be out of Lawson Creek Park in New Bern on August 11.
Ed Wall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 252-671-3207. His web site is www.edwalloutdoors.com