The morning of May 10th, 2014 found the Hodag Bassmasters on Lake Alice near Tomahawk, WI. The club fished from 8:00 am - 4:00 pm that Saturday. The results were meager. They found water temperatures in the mid forties in the morning, with some of the smaller bays approaching fifty degrees by the end of the tournament.
Anglers reported fishing everywhere from a foot of water to twenty-five feet of water with little success. Josh Coates caught the only legal fish at 15 inches. This was what the club calls a "paper tournament". That means that any fish that is caught is measured and immediately released back into the lake. While Largemouth season opened this year with the regular fishing season on May 3rd, Smallmouth season does not open until June. Rather than only weigh-in Largemouth, the club voted to hold a paper tournament, thereby allowing anglers to target both Largemouth and Smallmouth bass.
At the end of a paper tournament, the tournament director uses a special chart to convert the length of each fish into the approximate weight. While all anglers know that each fish of the same length can vary greatly in weight, this is widely accepted by most northern tournament anglers. There are rules in tournaments such as this, however, that do not normally apply in other tournaments. For instance, there must be at least two anglers in each boat. Each angler measures the fish of the other angler in the boat, and both must agree on the length of the fish before it is recorded. In this case, Josh Coates and Rod Gaskill measured the fish, determined it was 15 inches long, and Gaskill, the tournament director, later used his conversion chart to award Coates with 1.82 pounds of fish toward Angler of the Year.
There were a few fish of non-targeted species caught throughout the eight-hour tournament such as Walleye, Musky, and Northern Pike, but only one Bass. With this being the first tournament of the year, even though the fishing was tough, all of the anglers agreed it was great to get the season started after such a long, brutal winter.
The next stop for the Hodag Bassmasters is on Lake Alexander on June 7th. Anyone interested in learning more about the Hodag Bassmasters may attend one of the monthly meetings. The meetings are held at The Claridge Restaurant inside the Days Inn & Suites of Rhinelander . The next meeting will be June 2nd at 7:00 pm.