The recent weather has not been the type of early spring weather that anglers look forward to for catching largemouth bass. However, the recent bad weather did not hamper the results from the March 2 Berry’s Tournament Trail event at Lake Oconee.

Muddy water caused by local rains and passing cold fronts have made it tough for finding a consistent pattern for catching largemouth bass on middle Georgia lakes like Lake Oconee. As always, some anglers are able to find a winning pattern to catch fish. In this tournament, 138 two-man teams competed for the first-place prize of almost $4,000. 

More than 250 anglers caught 428 fish weighing 1,087 pounds. Sixty-nine teams brought a five-fish limit to the weigh scales. The average weight of the fish brought to the scales was 2.5 pounds, which is a great average weight for a tournament on Lake Oconee.

Three teams weighed in more than 20 pounds of largemouth bass. Flipping jigs around lake docks would prove to be the best pattern and technique for many of the anglers. In fact, a jig was used by the top three teams to catch their fish. In addition, the big fish of the tournament was caught on a jig.  

The two-man team of Kip Carter from Mansfield and Joe Ellington from Oxford caught 23.87 pounds and they took the top prize of $3,950. Along with flipping jigs, they caught some of their fish on crankbaits.

Finishing in a close second place was the team of David Lowery and Adam Wicks from Milledgeville with a five-fish limit on jigs weighing 21.87 pounds. They took home the second-place prize of $1,975. Lowery also caught a beautiful 7.76-pound largemouth bass to take big fish honors. Third place and $1,230 went to John Duvall from Madison and Will Sizer from Milledgeville with 20.65 pounds. 

The tournament trail is moving into the prime spring spawning season, but the weather has been so topsy-turvy, it is anyone’s guess when the spawn will actually get underway. The pre-spawn period we are now in will end as soon as the water temperatures reach the low to middle 60s and the fish begin to spawn.

This tournament was the forth in an eight-tournament schedule for the Berry’s Tournament Trail that is split equally between Lake Oconee and Lake Sinclair. 

Weather and water conditions continue to play a big part in turnout and results at many fishing tournaments but this tournament trail remains popular, turnout is great, and it remains one of the better tournament trails in Georgia. Even with tough fishing conditions, the popularity of this trail was evidenced by there than 200 anglers that turned out for this latest tournament.

This latest tournament will be followed by tournaments at Lake Sinclair on March 16 and April 20 and at Lake Oconee on April 6 and May 4. The eight-tournament trail will be followed by a two-day classic at Lake Oconee on May 18 and Lake Sinclair on May 19 with the top team taking home a prize of $10,000. 

Anglers who fish competitively or anglers who fish only for fun contribute greatly to the economy nationally as well as to our local economy. Fishing is one of the great outdoor activities in America for the entire family.  

With spring holidays upcoming at local schools, I would encourage families to get involved in fishing and make plans to take your children and grandchildren outdoors to a lake, pond or to a state facility like the Go Fish Education Center in Perry. 

Good fishing and see you next week.

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