J.R. Roberts Bass Challenge coming soon

Published 12:01 am Sunday, January 25, 2015

The 29th annual J.R. Roberts Memorial Team Bass Challenge will cast off at Lake Bruin on Feb. 7.

This event is hosted in memory of my dad and kicks off the open bass tournament season each year drawing some of the best bass anglers from miles around. You can enter the event at Eddie’s Marine in Vidalia from now until 5 p.m. Feb. 6th for $120 per boat. You can fish as a team or fish alone. If you fish alone, the fee remains $120, which includes the big bass division. The late registration site and weigh-in site will once again be the Lake Bruin State Park. If you enter the morning of the event at the state park, the fee is $130 and it is cash only on tournament morning. If you pay before then, you do not have to launch or check in at the state park. You can leave any time after 4 a.m. once you have entered and start casting at 6:30 a.m. You must weigh-in by boat at the State Park and be in the State Park launching area no later than 3:30 p.m. For more information or to pick up entry forms, just come see me at Eddie’s Marine or call me.

We have a lot of fresh water in our lakes but Lake Bruin is still producing more bass than any lakes in the area. That is simply because the lake has a lot of deep water opportunities. If you can’t locate the fish in thin water or in the mid-range depths, just back off and fish the drops from 15- to 30-feet of water. It helps to know where the manmade brush piles are located, but many times I have located fish on drop-offs that have no brush piles.

To find those fish, sonar is a must. Right now, the upper third of the lake is fairly clear. As you boat further south, the water will get stained and once you are on the extreme southern end of Lake Bruin expect to see muddy water. Of course, that could change by tournament day if we don’t get a lot of rain. Last year, it only took a five bass tournament limit of about 16 pounds to win $3000-plus, and it took about 10 pounds to make the money.

Of course, that is a big difference in what it used to take to win. One year, if you did not have five fish weighing 19 pounds or more, you did not get a check. Lower weights are the norm in this area now. We used to catch five at 20 pounds and pretty much be assured a check, but not a win in this event. If you catch five at 20 now you will win. Years ago it took 27 pounds to win and the lowest five bass limit to win this one was on a bad day in 2009 when 13 pounds won. Water temperatures are still in the 40s on most of our lakes, and that is cold, but the temps have been in the 40s for several weeks so the fish have had time to adjust.

Watch your sonar’s surface water temp gauge close. Just a warm up of four to five degrees can make a big difference in a good shallow water bite. Of course, water clarity plays a big part in where the fish will be located. If the water is stained to muddy, you are much better off staying shallow or in the mid-range depths of about 8-12 feet. If the water is fairly clear, you can find fish as deep as 20 to 30 feet.

Just stop by for a visit or give me a call at Eddie’s Marine (318-336-5133) for more information on the 29th annual J.R. Roberts Memorial Bass Tournament on Lake Bruin.

Eddie Roberts writes a weekly fishing column for The Democrat. He can be reached at fishingwitheddie@bellsouth.net.