Roberts: J.R.’s tourney just around the bend

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 31, 2004

The 17th Annual J.R. Roberts Memorial Team Bass Tournament casts off at Lake Bruin on Feb. 7.

Cypress Landing in the host marina. For the past 17 years this event has grown to an established, very well known open bass tournament.

Some of the best team fishermen and women from across the south travel to Bruin to &uot;Cast for Cash&uot; in memory of my Dad.

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It’s a neat to see the same faces, and the new ones, each year. Some of the competitors that never met my father often ask me what kind of person he was and why we held this event on Lake Bruin.

Dad was a fisherman. He would rather fish than watch the Super Bowl &045; me too. Dad was born in Arkansas on the banks of the Black and Clear Rivers near the foothills of the Ozark Mountains.

He fished the oxbow lakes off the Black and Clear Rivers which are very much like our oxbows’ lakes but smaller. Dad really loved the big reservoirs.

He fished Greer’s Ferry, North Fork and, later in life, Toledo Bend. Our camp on Toledo Bend was his home away from home.

We farmed during the season and spent the winter and early spring on Toledo. With a 182,000 acres of water and 1,200 miles of shoreline there were plenty of patterns to learn and many bass, crappie and stripers to catch.

He began fishing Lake Bruin about 26 years ago (I believe it was 1978). Lake Bruin has a very fast drop-off just out from the piers and Dad liked to fish for bass in &uot;heavy&uot; water.

This lake fit his style and that’s the reason for having his memorial tournament on Lake Bruin.

The lake is in good shape this year. There’s not a lot of big bass showing up, but the numbers of two- to three-pound fish are there. Try jigs and then try jigs some more.

More cold-water tournaments are won with jigs than any other lure. Target the cypress trees early. When the shallow bite slows down, move out to the end of the piers &045; the drop-off &045; or look for man-made brush piles.

The man-made cover can hold the winning limit as well as a short stretch of cypress trees. You just have to mix it up.

Fish shallow and deep. One thing’s for sure: you will have company during this event.

We average between 70 and 100 teams and the first place winners will take home $4,000.

The single largest bass weighed-in will be worth $1,000. We’ll pay cash through 10th place, and three places in the big bass division.

Come and join us for a day on the water at Lake Bruin on Feb. 7.

Eddie Roberts writes a weekly fishing column for The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at