Berry’s Fall Tournament Trail on Lake Oconee and Lake Sinclair concluded today, Nov. 21, on Lake Sinclair, but Berry’s Tournament Trail is already gearing up for their regular 2020-2021 tournament season that begins in early December and runs until the end of May. The beginning of 2021 is still more than a month away but the new 2021 tournament fishing season on Lake Sinclair and Lake Oconee is about to begin. 

Berry’s Tournament Trail on Lakes Sinclair and Oconee began back in 2003 and has grown into one of the best, if not the best, tournament fishing trail in Georgia. Tournament anglers flock to this trail in large numbers due primarily to the family organization that operates the trail. Bobby Berry and members of his family operate and run all facets of the trail and do so in a very professional but friendly way.

Bobby’s father and mother initially operated a boat dock at Lake Jackson back in 1941, and the facility was known as Johnny Berry’s Boat Dock. Bobby’s father, Johnny Berry, sold creek minnows and snacks at the dock and trapped mink and muskrat and sold their hides. The family moved to the present site of Berry’s Marina on Lake Jackson in 1949.

Bobby retired in 2000 from his full-time job of 37 years and began building docks along with operating fishing tournaments out of the family marina. With more time on his hands and looking for more income, Bobby began the Berry’s Tournament Trail on Lakes Sinclair and Oconee in 2003. 

You could say that the family atmosphere of the tournament operations is a little laid back and personal and that chemistry seems to work with tournament anglers. 

“We are just country folks,” said Bobby. “We try to create a friendship with all the anglers and their families. I guess you could say we try to create a country boy atmosphere at our tournaments. When we hold our annual two-day classic, we feed everybody and it is just like holding a big family reunion.”   

You likely will find Bobby walking around the weigh-in site on tournament day just talking with anglers not only about their fishing success but also just staying in touch with each angler’s family and life events. Bobby can call almost all the names of the tournament anglers on tournament day from visual recognition and on any given tournament day, you might be referring to more than 150 anglers.

You can see that there is a genuine admiration between Bobby and the tournament anglers. He is also concerned when anglers have difficulties that may arise in their lives, and he will often hold and work benefit tournaments for those in need financially. Just about any good cause will elicit help from the Berry family tournament team. They recently did the weigh-in for the “Casting in Pink” tournament at Lake Sinclair that raised funds for cancer survivors and their families.

Bobby and I have talked over the years, and he has many stories about growing up that could surely fill a book. We have many similar stories about our youth, and many of those stories were about family, the cotton patch, Roy Rogers and baseball cards. We reminisced that if we had managed to keep all those cowboy things and baseball cards that we had in our youth, we would be very rich today.

We agreed that most of those things that would be considered antiques today likely ended up in the garbage dump. No one realized the value of a Mickey Mantle baseball card or a Roy Rogers cap pistol back in the days of our youth. We either wore the things out or just let them slip away. I remember asking my mother about what happened to all my old comic books. Her reply was “honey I guess they went to the dump.” It still hurts to remember what she said that day.

The Berry’s Tournament Trail schedule for the 2020-2021 season includes four tournaments on Lake Sinclair out of Dennis Station Access and four tournaments on Lake Oconee out of Sugar Creek Marina. The tournaments on Lake Sinclair will be held on Dec. 5, Feb. 6, March 20 and April 17. The tournaments on Lake Oconee will be held on Jan. 2, March 6, April 3 and May 1. 

The season will conclude with a two-day Classic event on May 15 at Lake Oconee and on May 16 at Lake Sinclair. Last year’s champions at the two-day classic took home $10,000. For additional information about the Berry’s Tournament Trail including registration forms and rules go to www.berrysbass.com or call 770-787-6179. 

I hope your family has a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving holiday. I know that I will be thanking the good Lord for all of the wonderful blessings He sends my family’s way every day. See you next week.

Outdoors columnist Bobby Peoples can be reached at brpeoples995@gmail.com.

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