Crane takes first Top Rod tournament

Published 12:01am Sunday, November 11, 2012

As typical of the mid-fall season, numbers of bass are being caught but big fish are hard to come by.

There is certainly nothing wrong with catching numbers of largemouth bass. It feels good to catch fish and not just be fishing.

Lake Bruin produced a lot of bass for the 25 contestants competing in the Top Rod Series last weekend. A total of 94 bass were weighed in and released weighing 219.49 pounds.

Gary Crane of Denham Springs, La., won first place with five bass weighing 14.80 pounds. Crane netted $1,125 for his efforts.

It was a tight race. Anyone in the top 10 had a shot at winning or placing in this tournament. I placed second with five at 13.98 pounds worth $625.

Right on my transom, as close as you can get without a tie, was John Bruce in third place with 13.97 pounds for $375. Bruce also landed the largest bass of the day, a nice 5.69 Lake Bruin largemouth worth an additional $250, which brought his take home total to $625.

Jena, La., resident and retired B.A.S.S. pro, Gerald Mitchell placed fourth with 12.86 pounds. Joey Pruitt took home that final cash place with 12.80 pounds.

This was the first of a five-tournament circuit that will conclude with a championship in April of 2013. There are no dues to enter the Top Rod Series, so you can fish one or all events.

We keep track of the contestant’s total weight. After the final event, which will be held in March on Lake St. John, the top five point leaders will compete in a championship event with no entry fee for a small percentage of each entry fee collected throughout the season.

The Top Rod Series is a non-profit event featuring a 100 percent payout.

Our next stop will be on the Saline/Larto Complex on Dec. 8.

Contestants are allowed to cull one of the five events so you can still get in the pound race if you fish on Dec 8.

The fish on Lake Bruin were caught on a variety of lures at different depths.

Crane stuck with a shallow pattern all day for the win. I started in deep water with a heavy jig and boated a good weigh fish, but that pattern has yet to develop enough to catch the numbers deep. I went shallow at noon to finish off my limit.

Just after I caught that good fish deep, something hit my jig hard. After a five-minute battle, a 16-pound flathead catfish rolled to the surface.

That was fun on bass tackle.

Concordia Bass Club fished Lake Bruin the same day. Some entered both tournaments. I did and was glad I did. I won that club event and the big bass money.

The next day, this past Sunday, we traveled to the Saline/Larto Complex to fish with the Miss/Lou Bass Club.

I had a great day boating over 25 fish exceeding the 12-inch minimum and placing first with 15 pounds and some change, but big bass were hard to come by on the Complex. That will soon change as the water continues to cool down.

There were several white perch fishermen and ladies on Saline/Larto that day, but I didn’t see them catching much.

Like the bass, the perch bite will continue to improve as the water cools off. Last weekend surface water temperatures in the early morning hours were 63 to 64 degrees and warmed to 70 degrees by 3 p.m.

There is no better time to catch fish from our area lakes than in the next six months. Our lakes will produce more and bigger bass and white perch than any other time of year. It’s time to go fishing.