Water temperature: creek arms and main channel, 67 degrees
Water clarity: gin clear
Catch ratings by species:
Black bass, 7; White bass, 5;
Crappie, 7; Catfish, 4
When you start anything new, your goal is to be successful, but with success it is important to make some decisions as to your goal. This is now the time for those of us involved in the White River Valley Tournament to stop, take a breath and do just that. This all started in 2005 when Chris Hamon asked me what White River could do in the east part of our territory because the west side has more population and makes lots of requests of the co-op to support things such as golf tournaments and many other projects important to its members in the area.
Pat Funk and I talked about what could work in our area, and it was obvious to us with Bull Shoals Lake right at our doorstep, a fishing tournament was our first choice. We held the first tournament in 2005 in the month of April thinking we would hit some good spring fishing. We did, but we also had a cold, wet and windy day our first try.
That year we had about 30 boats entered and thought that was a good start with hopes of reaching 50 boats in the next year or so. The next couple of years our numbers climbed, and we thought we had a winner, but in the late winter of 2008, it started raining and didn't stop.
I still remember the day, about a month before the 2008 tournament when Cindy Rains came through putting up posters form Branson to Gainesville. We were all working hard moving docks, trying to stay ahead of the rising water, and Cindy was shocked at what she saw. Her first question was where the launching ramp was, and what about parking for all the folks fishing the tournament. I said the ramp is about 25 feet under water, and there is no parking. Cindy already had several prepaid entry fees, and we knew it was time to stop and think about our next move. We both knew what we should do, but this was only our fourth year, and both of us hated to say so. The decision was made to cancel the tournament for that year, and return the prepaid money. We moved the tournament to May hoping for better weather, and all went well for the next two years.
The year 2011 started out fine until Easter weekend, and it rained a bunch. In fact, it rained almost 20 inches over a very few days, and you guessed it... no tournament that year.
In 2012, we had 20 or more boats, and we were off and running again. Then in 2013, with the tournament scheduled in May for better weather, we had snow, sleet wind and highs in the forties. Despite the weather we still had 88 boats entered that year, so we hoped for 100 boats this year. We made it with 35 to spare! Once we saw what was about to happen, we had real concerns about parking for that many trucks and trailers, but we give credit where credit is due. These guys know how to unload and move out of the way. A special thanks to Cindy Rains and the entire White River Co-op staff for a great job.
P.S. - On a personal note, I was very happy when Charlie Campbell accepted my invitation to join us this year and greet a good number of the fishermen who had been students of his at Forsyth High School many years ago and others who only knew him from TV and from being with Bass Pro from the beginning. We had lunch at Cookies before the weigh-in and were joined by Charlie's wife Wanda, Nadine, my oldest son Ben and his wife Vikki.
Ben worked with Charlie at Bass Pro while he was a student at MSU and for a few years after his college days. We were also joined by Mo House, house member Lyle Rowland and past house member Maynard Wallace, who is also my neighbor in Thornfield. Lyle was a student of Charlie's at Forsyth and Maynard was a young teacher and coach. He and Charlie have been friends forever.