Elite Series bass tournament stirs positive memories

One of the bass that helped Albert and his tournament partner in the early 2000s seal their first victory. (Photo by Joe Albert)

I’ve always been a bass fisherman at heart. There was a time in the early 2000s when I fished a lot of bass tournaments, and I’m starting to feel that pull again. That’s probably one of the reasons I’ve been paying pretty close attention to the Bassmaster Elite Series, which held its first event of the season two weekends ago. Another reason is because Minnesota pro Seth Feider is tearing up the series, having placed high (second place, a win, and fourth place) in the past three events, dating back to last year.

I was monitoring the tournament on Cherokee Lake in Tennessee and watched as the eventual winner – Jacob Wheeler – vaulted to the top of the leaderboard. It happened quickly – he’d started slowly on the final tournament day – and coverage of the event explained why: In one spot, in just a matter of minutes, he caught more than 17 pounds of fish.

I couldn’t help but recall the one time that happened to me. It was 2003 and my partner and I were fishing a tournament on the Alexandria Chain of Lakes. These were three-hour events, and after a couple hours we didn’t have much to show for our efforts. We were working our way down a breakline when one of us got a bite and set the hook on what wound up being a nearly 4-pound bass. Then another bit, and another. We’d cast out our jigs, let them drop, and feel a tick. We’d rear back and set the hook, our rods bowing deeply under the weight of big bass after big bass.

The flurry lasted maybe five minutes – but probably less – and I don’t recall exactly how many bass we caught. But by the time it was over the hook on my light-wire mushroom-head jig was pretty much straight, and we had four bass in the livewell that easily gave us the victory in that tournament.

The flurry of bass Wheeler caught resulted in him winning $100,000. We only won a few hundred bucks, but I’ll never forget how cool it was even for that short period of time to cast out and just know a big bass was going to bite.

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