They didn’t race on Sunday at Bristol Motor Speedway because of inclement weather, but they did fish on West Point Lake despite similar conditions.
There was enough wind and rain to go around for everyone in the Highland Team Trail Bass Tournament. Nobody backed out. Everybody fished, and most everyone got good and wet in the tournament.
“These guys fish no matter what. They come out rain or shine. We had some good fishermen, and we have a pretty popular tournament,” said Mark Biagotti, the director of the tourney.
The anglers did have raingear, as well as fishing equipment. The fishermen and Biagotti were there for the long haul, including the 3 p.m. weigh in at Highland Marina Resort.
Despite the rain and the bone-chilling conditions, 75 bass were still weighed in at the end of the tournament. Joe Durham of Dawson was one of the hearty souls, and he did show up with fish.
Durham’s percentages were good.
“I had six bites, and I caught four fish. There were periods of heavy rain, and the wind did get up. But I love to fish,” said Durham.
He caught his fish on a plastic worm. Durham reeled in three spotted bass and one largemouth bass. Dennis Gaddy of Hogansville and Danny Kee of LaGrange also teamed up to catch 7.5 pounds of bass.
Kee and Gaddy were out in the elements, but they did catch some West Point Lake fish.
“You had to catch them early because the weather was nasty,” said Gaddy. “I was out here for fellowship.”
And fish, of course. The No. 1 fishing team out on the lake was Ben Williamson and Brian Adamson from Bowdon. Williamson and Adamson caught 17.13 pounds of bass. Those two fishermen got a pat on the back and a first place check for $1,000.
“We got lucky. We were in the right place, and the fish were coming off the bed,” said Williamson.
He and Adamson weighed in five bass, but they caught 12onthisrainyday.Williamson also pulled in the “Big” Bass” ofthetournament.Williamson’s overweight largemouth bass weighed in at 7.4 pounds. The fish was released, but only after Williamson went into great detail on his mighty catch.
“That fish jumped 10 times, and then he wrapped around a (tree) stump. I just let him (the bass) untangle. It was definitely a battle,” said Williamson, who was fishing in five feet of water.
Williamson caught the flabby largemouth at 10:30 in the morning. It was also a good, but wet day for the second place team of Mark Doss and Jason Smith. They pulled in 15.2 pounds of bass. The second place prize money was $175.
Also performing well under miserable conditions was the third place tournament team of Jeremy Stiltner and Mark Womack. They had themselves a good fishing day on the lake with 12.1 pounds of bass.
The third place anglers left under some dark skies with a check for $150. As for the fourth place team, that honor and $120 went to the fatherand- son duo of Ryan and Rylan Valentine from Jackson, Ga.
The Valentines reeled in 11.12 pounds of West Point Lake fish.
According to 7-year-old Rylan, “It’s hard reeling them in, but it feels pretty good when you do. I just wanted to see if I could hook up some.”
He and his dad did. The Valentines caught seven spotted bass and two largemouth bass. The father-and-son weighed in five of their catches. And the Valentines are glad they decided to fish in the rain.
“We were in our comfort zone. We were where we wanted to be. We did lose a four-pounder and a threepounder,” said Ryan Valentine, the father.
Randy Buchanan of Carrollton and Chris Dunn of Dallas, Ga. had a wet and fishy kind of day, too, on West Point Lake. Dunn and Buchanan caught some quantity, but not quality.
“We caught 10 (bass), but just two were keepers. It was tough, and it was hard to get a quality bite. We were finessefishing,”saidBuchanan.
He and his teammate were fishing at a depth of two to 12 feet.
“It was windy and rainy (most of the day),” said Buchanan.
The two fish that Buchanan and Dunn weighed in had a total weight of just less than four pounds.
Chris Fernsler Sports Writer