July 25th 2015
The skies were ominous and unforgiving over Ohio in the days leading up to the Columbus Super-Regional River Bassin event hosted by Columbus Kayak. River levels surpassed their record levels in many parts of the state as it had rained for 30 of the previous 50 days leading up the tournament. However, a positive twist of fate occurred the week leading up to the gathering. The skies cleared, the temperature soared to near 100 degrees, and the river levels fell to a very manageable fishing level.
A River Bassin-record 64 anglers competed in the joint-event with Kayak Fishing Ohio. At the captain’s meeting at Columbus Kayak on N. High Street in Columbus, Ohio, River Bassin founder Drew Gregory was floored with the turnout as he shared his story of following your dreams and persevering to reach your goals. Also in his talk, Drew encouraged other anglers to continue to spread the word so large-scale events could spread around the country and become a norm for the River Bassin Tournament Trail.
After the captain’s meeting, several members from the Orion Coolers and Jackson Kayak Fishing Teams gathered for a group shot. It appropriately highlighted the support and growth of both of these companies right alongside the growing trail of River Bassin. Stories and beverages were shared as well as tips and techniques. That is one of the hallmark features of River Bassin—although it is competitive and rich with cash and prize payouts, it is not a trail where you will find many cut-throat anglers. What you will encounter, is a group who is supportive and uplifting to one another. Allowing a novice angler to tag along, or bringing along an extra kayak to allow a stranger to try for the day is a regular occurrence on the trail, and a feature that sets River Bassin apart from the rest.
At around 9PM, everyone left Columbus Kayak, and some went back to their homes, and many stayed around their campfires at Alum Creek State Park. Sleep on tournament days is hard to come by, and anglers knew they would have an early morning ahead of them. Around 4:00am, the die-hards began to roll out of the campground to travel to their fishing spots. Since Super-Regional events encompass a 90-mile radius, some anglers found themselves with over 2-hour commutes each way to their spot.
Once 6:24am arrived, and the sun rose in the East, the first lures met their watery destinations all throughout Ohio’s rivers. Many anglers were throwing spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, and topwater baits in the morning, and the bite was an incredible one from the very start of the tournament. Veteran River Basser and KFO member, Tom Monahan landed the first bass of the tournament on his third cast at 6:33AM and the fish kept rolling in from there. At the awards ceremony later that evening, a consensus of the anglers was that the bite was hot until around 10:00am and then turned off.
However, luckily the bite turned back on in the early afternoon and big fish found their way to the bump boards in the Columbus-area rivers. Rondale Middlebrooks hooked into a solid 18” fish, earning him Big Bass for the tournament. Additionally, several other anglers landed bass in the 16” and 17” classes—a solid feat for the warm late-July waters in Ohio.
Around 10:00am, Drew and his Crew also went out to explore the Scioto River, a beautiful Central-Ohio flow. The water was bubbling, and the fish were biting as they made their way behind anglers and conversed with competitors along the way, again giving the tournament a personal touch for a large-scale national tournament. After a quick float, Drew, Assistant Tournament Director Aaron Stiger, their wives, and the Columbus Kayak crew made their way to Alum Creek State Park to set up the awards ceremony. Soon, people began to file in and the anticipation of the results began to build.
First up was the Kayak Fishing Ohio awards presentation. At joint-events double the prizes and cash are given out as the local tournament trail also supports its anglers and runs its normal tournament. Many anglers participated in the KFO tournament and Columbus Kayak even awarded a Cruise 10 to Alex Roberts!
Once the KFO tournament presentation concluded, Drew stepped up and began the River Bassin awards ceremony. Many familiar faces, and some new ones, garnered the awards for the tournament. Hunter Butin, Ben Gleason, and Travis Von Neumann were awarded the top three spots in the individual division, respectively. It was a consensus that the smaller tributaries, not the major river systems were where the big bass were hitting in this tournament.
For the team division, Rip-N-Lips, 412BaitCo/Soty, and Wicked Bass took the top three places, respectively. Rip-N-Lips, consisting of James Heinrich, a River Bassin Veteran out of Dayton, Ohio and his partner Jason Grigsby took home $1,000 as their cash prize, and hundreds more in prizes from River Bassin and Columbus Kayak. They actually found success in the Dayton area, and used spinnerbaits as their lure of choice.
As stated before a great feature of River Bassin is the support from Jackson Kayak. Columbus Kayak, with the support of Jackson Kayak and Orion Coolers, provided a Coosa HD as a raffle prize for one lucky angler. All proceeds of the raffle go toward Paddle for Tomorrow, an organization focused on getting novices of all ages on the water and in a kayak. Assistant Tournament Director, Aaron Stiger, brought a group of teenagers from the Wapakoneta High School Fishing Club to the tournament. One of them actually placed fifth, and when the kayak drawing came around, another, Jared Smith, was randomly picked as the recipient of a brand new Coosa HD!
After the ceremony was over, Drew took the time to give out extra hats and prizes to the youngsters, and he signed memorabilia for them as well. The Columbus Super-Regional will certainly be a tournament that will go into the books as one that was safe and successful for all!