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Snag Proof Open recap

By Bill Adelman
08/08/15 -- Having recently attended the 14th Snag Proof Pro–Am Open team event August 1 & 2 in the Delta out of Russo’s Marina on Bethel Island, it turned out to be more enjoyable than one might imagine. Most everyone has seen a bass tourney on TV with way too many boats and what appears to be mass chaos. After watching what goes on, especially behind the scenes, it really isn’t. It was almost almost awe inspiring, except for the down time between blast off and weigh in. Lunch at the very quaint and down home riverside Porthole Restaurant next door was a relaxing break for many who had time to kill.

Pre blast off, waiting your turn, photo by Gerry Madrid
Pre blast off, waiting your turn. All photos by Gerry Madrid

This particular event was organized by Randy Pringle (aka the fishing instructor). His well oiled staff made it appear that placing 208 boats in the water in a timely fashion was a piece of cake. He organizes his amateur tournament schedule of about 30 events per year through the Best Bass Tournaments program with info available on the internet. As it was sponsored by Snag Proof, the number one rule was that only their frogs could be used.

Snag Proof frogs luers, photo by Gerry Madrid
Just how many are too many? Snag Proof frogs

They also had a display on site showcasing all of their frogs and clothing. Froggie the Gremlin would have been in hog heaven. How is it possible that there can be so many colors and styles of soft frogs? One of their latest “hot tickets” is the sputter frog. The upgrade is a buzz blade at the head of the frog that not only displaces a bunch of water, but is really loud as well. Of course I came home with one. Peripheral sponsors were Cousins Tackle, Lowrance,, Tackle Warehouse, and Comfort Suites. The boat fees were $200 for the pros and $100 for the amateurs.

So, what went on?

Staff inspector clearing all wells , photo by Gerry Madrid
Staff inspector clearing all wells

Every boat was required to come to the launch dock for a complete inspection. Tournament staff people boarded and checked every possible hiding place, even the battery storage areas. When cleared, a plastic tie was placed near the head of the trolling motor and must be kept on display. On the second day, of course, it was done again with a different color ribbon. The release boat was about 700 yards from the launch area. All boats had to remain in the general launch area until they got their blast off schedule, which was visibly posted. A staff member called out the flight numbers, advising the boats to approach the release boat. They were then released and one corner of Frank’s Tract turned to whitewater. Each boat had to return on time and check in their launch number with the release boat. If even one minute late, you’re DQ’ed.

First bass of the day, photo by Gerry Madrid
First bass of the day

This particular two-day tournament had a Day One blast off at noon. Day two was 6 a.m. Boats could launch at any time, however, they had to hang out near the marina until check in and then wait for their turn to blast off. The final count was 114 pro and 94 amateur boats. As pre- registration is taking place, tickets are given out indicating your take off position. Let’s just say that there are 20 boats per flight, which are separated by 15 minutes. Each flight is given a weigh in time, again separated by 15 minutes, allowing pretty much the same on the water fishing time per boat. On day two, the take off order is reversed. Where you go once out on the open water is up to you. We heard that a few boats went clear to Tracy. Wow!

First 3-fish limit of the day, 8.28 pounds, photo by Gerry Madrid
First 3-fish limit of the day, 8.28 pounds

As the boat numbers increased in such a small area prior to blast off, another rule was that if the outboard was running, boaters had to be wearing their life vests. Most had those really light weight ones that inflate on demand. We saw very few of the old fashioned Coast Guard PFD’s.

Let’s move on. You can return and check in your live fish anytime you want. A few boaters came in early to avoid the crowd, I’m guessing. As bass were weighed, they immediately were taken to carts. The cart bolted off to the corner of the dock, where they had a 12 inch tube with running water that ended in the creek. The bass were placed head first into the tube and released, where the tidal movement assisted in pushing them away from the dock.

Now, end results. A total of 550 bass were weighed. Total weight was 950 pounds with the biggest bass at 8.28 pounds. The winning team weight was 25.1 pounds and earned that team $8160. Total payout was $46,130. Big biz huh? Tight Lines!!!

Bill Adelman is a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of California. His work has appeared in the Fish Sniffer newspaper and MarketPlace magazine. He was a full time freshwater fishing guide for 20 years. Now retired he still likes to serve as a flyfishing instructor, rod builder, outdoor photographer, seminar speaker and hunting mentor.

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