The Hodag Bassmasters held their first meeting of the year at The Claridge Restaurant inside the Days Inn & Suites of Rhinelander in April. The club will hold two "paper tournaments" again this year. While Largemouth Bass catch and keep season opens in Wisconsin on the opening of the regular fishing season, the club has decided to hold paper tournaments until the time that Smallmouth Bass season opens, which has traditionally been the opening of bass season in general. They voted, as a club, that they would rather hold paper tournaments and give the members the ability to target either Smallmouth or Largemouth.
In a "paper tournament", no fish are kept for longer than it takes to measure them, and then let them go. Because bass spawn in early spring, some feel it is better, when possible, to allow fish that may be spawning or guarding fry, to return immediately to their beds or nests. A paper tournament allows for this. The rules state that there must be two anglers in each boat in the tournament so that someone other than the catching angler will measure each fish or witness the measurement of that fish. The length of each fish is then recorded on a piece of paper. Every angler's longest 5 fish are counted. The tournament director then uses a conversion chart that tells him approximately what each fish would weigh (on average) at any given length. The members understand that fish are probably heavier during the spawn than the conversion chart shows, but they also realize that they are all "penalized" the same.
The two paper tournaments this year will be Lake Alice on May 10th, and Lake Alexander on June 7th. The club has worked long and hard on running paper tournaments to ensure that they are fair for everyone. They encourage anyone looking for more information on how to run a tournament this way to contact them via their Website.
The club will fish five other tournaments in 2014, including the annual Challenge Tournament on the first weekend in August against the Shawano Red Nek Bass Busters. This Challenge tournament has been going on between the two clubs for over a decade now. Each year, the loser of the prior year's tournament picks the lake for that year's Challenge. Last year, the Shawano Club lost, and they picked Shawano Lake for the site of the Challenge on August 2nd, 2014. The winner of the Challenge receives the traveling trophy to display until the next year, and, of course, bragging rights for the year.
The Hodag Bassmasters will also fish Lake Minocqua on June 14th, Manson Lake in Woodboro on July 12th, and Lake Metonga on July 26th. The club then takes a break until October, when they will fish Lake Tomahawk on October 4th.
The next meeting for the club will be on Monday, May 5th at the Claridge Restaurant inside the Days Inn & Suites of Rhinelander. The address for the Days Inn & Suites is 70 N. Stevens St. The time of the meeting is 7:00 p.m. At May meeting, partners will be picked for the Lake Alice Tournament. Times for the tournament will also be chosen. Anyone interested in joining the club, or just learning more about it, is encouraged to attend a monthly meeting, or to check out the Hodag Bassmasters Website.