One 3-plus-pound bass was placed on the scale. Then another. With competitors eagerly looking on, results were tallied. "We've got a tie," exclaimed Cortez BassMasters' tournament director Terry Belden. "Three-eleven both ways."
What an exciting way to conclude the Cortez BassMasters' final fishing tournament of the season, held under clear blue skies at McPhee Reservoir on Saturday, Sept. 21. Twelve total fishermen, divided among seven boats, competed.
Tying for first place in the "big-fish" competition were local fishermen Lonnie Huff and Steve Lang. Both men managed to land smallmouth bass weighing 3.11 pounds, an impressive feat considering the difficulty of catching large bass in McPhee Reservoir.
Dolores resident Huff said his "big-fish" struck at 7:15 a.m. near a number of partially submerged tires located just south of the main boat ramp.
"I was using a 'slow-go', just bouncing it off the bottom," said Huff. "It was my first fish of the morning."
Like Huff, Lang landed his "big fish" early in the morning near some tires that are located just north of the boat ramp near a large island.
"It was the first fish of the morning for me," said Jordan. "I caught it at about 8:30. I was just using plastic."
Speaking of how the recent rain has affected fishing in McPhee, Lang said, "The fishing is still good. The water has come up. You have to find (the fish), but once you find them, it's great."
Proving Lang's point, overall tournament winner Wade Jordan returned to the dock with five bass, which together, weighed a total of 8.34 pounds. As a reward for his catch, Jordon walked away with a $140 prize.
"I was just staying on points and throwing plastic bait," said Jordan. "The fishing this summer has been really good. (The low water levels) move the fish to the points and congregate them, so it's easier to catch them."
Placing second overall in the tournament was Mike Carver, who returned to the dock with five bass totaling 6.55 pounds. Carver's second-place prize totaled $88.
Ben Ferris finished third with five fish totaling 5.27 pounds.
Mike McAndrews won the "small-fish" competition, reeling in a minnow slightly larger than his little finger, while Huff won a raffle for a brand new Denali fishing pole.
"We're in this for the fun," said Cortez BassMasters' president Mike McAndrews," speaking about the tournament, as well as the Cortez BassMasters club. "A lot of people have the idea that they can't get into this because we are fishing for large amounts of money. It's not a big-money thing."
Individuals interested in learning more about the BassMasters or fishing in future tournaments can contact McAndrews at 970-749-2422.