Bass challenge coming soon

Published 12:01 am Sunday, January 8, 2012

The 2012 bass tournament season will cast off with my favorite fishing tournament in the area.

On Feb. 4 anglers from three states will converge on Lake Bruin to cast for cash during the 26th Annual J.R. Roberts Memorial Team Bass Challenge.

This is the longest running bass tournament with the most entries and highest payout of any fishing event in the Miss-Lou. The attendance record was set several years ago with 119 boats/238 contestants. Judging from the entry form requests this year, we may get close to or beat the record.

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This is a non-profit event held in memory of my dad the late J.R. Roberts. Lake Bruin’s water level was drawn down about four feet starting on Sept. 1 of last year. The gates on the weir in Ruth’s Canal are now closed so any rain we get from now until tournament day will bring the water level up.

Regardless of the water level on Bruin, you can always catch bass on this sand bottom cypress and boathouse filled lake. The record winning Memorial weight was weighed in back in 1995 by best friend and longtime team partner, Danny Smith of Monterey.

Smith weighed in a five bass tournament limit that pushed the scales past 27 pounds!

Nothing has come close to that weight, but it usually takes five bass at 20 pounds to win and 15 pounds to place. We pay the top 10 teams with the heaviest five bass limits.

Based on a full field of 100 teams the winners will take home $4,000 for first place, $2,000 for second place, $1,000 for third place and decreasing amounts down to 10th place. The team that weighs in the single largest bass of the day will win $1,000.

I’ll pay a total of three places in the big bass division and 10 places in the limit division. This event gets all the tournament fishermen and ladies pumped up and ready for the new bass tournament season.

Anglers from Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi travel to Lake Bruin to compete in this long running bass tournament. Since lodging facilities are slim around Lake Bruin many will stay in Vidalia and Natchez. Some will stay at Lakeview Lodge and the Sportsman’s Lodge on Lake Concordia as well.

Lake Bruin is a short 45-minute drive from Vidalia. You can register at Eddie’s Marine in Vidalia from now through Feb. 3 at 5 p.m. We will accept entries on morning of (Feb. 4) before safe daylight at the Lake Bruin State Park with a $10 late fee.

That late fee pays my wife for getting up at 4 a.m. and tolerating us so early in the morning. I have the forms available at Eddie’s Marine and the Sports Center Natchez. I’m so proud of this event and I thank Ted Hinson and Jim Hargon for creating the memorial.

For 25 years this is the event all the big sticks show up and want to win. Regardless of the $4,000 prize money for first place, you win or place in this one you have accomplished something. The memorial draws out the heavy hitters but you never know. Many weekend anglers that don’t fish that much have placed in this one.

Five bites and five fish and you may get a pocket full of cash! I’ll go over the past winning patterns and list last year’s winners in an upcoming column.

You’ll also get the full report on winning lures and patterns at this weekend’s Lake St. John’s Hawg Hunter Bass Club first event of 2012.

Good luck to all in the 2012 bass tournaments!