Written by, Jon Hummel
On Saturday March 21st, I fished my first River Bassin Tournament, at the stop in Perry, GA. This wasn’t my first tournament, but my first tournament on the River Bassin Tournament Trail. For those not familiar with the River Bassin Tournament Trail, it’s a trail dedicated to black bass fishing with events nationwide. This year, the Trail will host 40 events in 21 different states, culminating with the River Bassin Championship in Tennessee on the Caney Fork River. The stop in Perry was the second event of the year and it definitely ended up being a great day for me. I can tell you I’ll surely be fishing more River Bassin events in the future.
On the River Bassin Tournament Trail there are “local,” “regional,” and “super-regional” stops. The difference between the three is how far away from the host location you can fish. Perry was classified as a “local” stop, meaning fishable waters had to be within a one hour drive of the host. For Perry, that put two great rivers in play – the Flint and the Ocmulgee. I fished with some good friends from the Southern Kayak Anglers tour and we opted to fish the Ocmulgee.
The Ocmulgee River has its origin southeast of Atlanta at the confluence of three rivers – the Yellow, the South, and the Alcovy. From there it winds it way through 225 miles of Georgia, joining the Oconee River to form the Altamaha River, which eventually empties into the Atlantic Ocean along the Georgia coast. The world record largemouth bass was actually caught in an oxbow (no longer there) off the Ocmulgee.
We floated from GA 83 down to the dam near Juliette. There was a heavy amount of rain in the forecast the week leading up to the event but it never materialized. What we found when we launched was a fairly clear, slow moving river that just looked “bassy” – lots of blowdowns and underwater trees/stumps. As a group we did well – two of our five anglers limited out, and two more caught a fish. Only one angler in our group got skunked – yours truly.
My bites all came on a jig, something that’s not one of my go-to baits. Growing up fishing small farm ponds in New Jersey, jig fishing wasn’t something we did all that much and it’s one of my personal focus-points in my fishing growth this year. I’ve got some work to do, that’s for sure. Saturday was just one of those days where I couldn’t keep the fish on my hook. I had five fish on the line, including one that doubled my rod over and swam back and forth under my kayak before spitting the hook, and not a single one made it in the boat, which made for a frustrating day. At the takeout, I had a decision to make – pack it up and head 90 minutes back home or drive an additional hour further south to the host location. I didn’t score any fish so it would have been easy to head home and call it a day, but I came out with friends and decided to make the trip south to the host. I couldn’t have made a better decision.
I arrived at the host, checked in, and enjoyed a couple of pulled pork sandwiches while waiting to find out how the other 34 anglers had done. At the “regional” and “super-regional” stops, River Bassin has a raffle, the prize being a Jackson Coosa / Coosa HD. Each angler gets three entries to the raffle as part of their entry fee. Some River Bassin “local” stops also have a raffle, at the discretion of the host outfitter. Perry, GA happened to be one of those stops. In addtion to their three entries in the raffle, anglers could purchase additional entries for each $10 donation to Paddle 4 Tomorrow (www.paddle4tomorrow.org).
I made a $30 donation and had three additional chances. I got my six raffle tickets and didn’t expect much. Statistically I had about a 1% chance of winning the raffle. Our host announced the day’s winners – Lance Coley for overall, Canepole Adventures for team, and Rok Ly for big bass. Then it came time for the raffle. After the host read off the winning number – 569233 – it took a minute for things to sink in that it was my ticket. I had just won a new Jackson Coosa. I had my pick of the Coosas in stock and I chose the ever-so-sexy “Sexy Shad” color.
Despite getting skunked on the water, I came out a winner in my first event on the River Bassin Tournamnent Trail. As I wrote earlier, I’ll definitely be back on the River Bassin Tournament Trail this year hoping to score some bass and win the event. This weekend however I’ll be fishing for fun, planning to slime my new “Sexy Shad” Coosa, courtesy of the River Bassin Tournament Trail.