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Alabama Outdoors – March 2015

Fishing to fight hunger

Daniel Felsher shows off a bass he caught while fishing a river backwater. Photo by John N. Felsher
Daniel Felsher shows off a bass he caught while fishing a river backwater. Photo by John N. Felsher

Bass tournament series raises money for food program

By John N. Felsher

Alabama anglers will venture forth this year to not only find big fish and win cash prizes, but also to help their neighbors during the inaugural Delta Rendezvous Bass Tournament Series.

The series features seven bass tournaments conducted from March 21 through Sept. 19. (For the complete schedule, see www.alabamahungerrelief.com). Like most bass tournaments, each event will feature anglers competing to catch the biggest fish. However, this series goes well beyond bragging rights and prizes. These tournaments will help feed hungry people through Alabama Hunger Relief.

“The tournament series is a fun way to raise money for a good cause,” says Alan White with AHR, who is also publisher of Great Days Outdoors magazine. “All proceeds from the tournaments will go toward AHR, which raises money to pay to process deer meat donated by hunters. We distribute that meat to food banks in our program.”

In 2014, AHR processed more than 2,500 pounds of donated venison, giving the meat to 10 different food banks in Alabama. To pay for that, AHR organized several fund-raising events including saltwater tournaments and charity dove hunting events. In May 2014, AHR organized the Delta Rendezvous, an all-day event that featured four simultaneous fishing tournaments, archery shooting, seminars and other events.

Jeff Bruhl shows off a bass he caught on a jig and craw while fishing the delta marshes. Photo by John N. Felsher
Jeff Bruhl shows off a bass he caught on a jig and craw while fishing the delta marshes. Photo by John N. Felsher

“The idea for the bass tournament series came to us when we held the Delta Rendezvous,” White says. “During the Delta Rendezvous, we raised the most money from the bass tournament. Therefore, we decided to concentrate on bass tournaments this year.”

Teams pay $100 to enter each event. The top 20 percent of anglers entered in each event will take home cash winnings. In addition, teams accrue points based upon how they finished in each event. Teams with high point totals after the August tournament will qualify for the series championship, slated for Sept. 19.

Each tournament will run out of Live Oak Landing on the Tensaw River near Stockton under the supervision of tournament director John Hall. Competitors may only use artificial baits to catch largemouth or Kentucky spotted bass. Each team may bring in up to five bass per event, each at least 12 inches long. Each public weigh-in will begin at 3 p.m.

“All the weigh-ins will be free and open to the public,” says Wayne Miller with Mobile-Tensaw Delta Guide Service in Satsuma. “It’s a lot of fun to bring the family, especially children, down to the weigh-ins to see the fish. I encourage anglers to come down to the weigh-ins and talk to the competitors. People can learn a lot of tips.”

Anglers may fish any public waters they can reach from the landing, as long as they return in time to weigh and release their fish alive. Second in size only to the Mississippi River Delta, the Mobile-Tensaw Delta spreads across 250,000 acres of bayous, creeks, lakes, swamps, marshes and estuaries near Mobile.

From Live Oak Landing, anglers can head north to the Alabama or Tombigbee rivers. The Alabama merges with the Tombigbee near Mount Vernon, creating the Mobile River. The Tensaw River breaks off from the Mobile and flows through Baldwin County. Near where the rivers enter Mobile Bay, several shallow grassy lakes can offer good fishing.

“A tremendous number of tributaries feed into the Alabama River,” Miller says. “Anglers catch quite a few spotted bass in streams to the north. Some lakes off the rivers can provide good fishing. From the landing, anglers can also easily run to the marshes down around the Mobile Causeway.”

Almost anywhere in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta could produce excellent fishing at times. The delta doesn’t usually produce monster bass, but people can often find great numbers in very fertile habitat. For the biggest fish, anglers typically head north to fish numerous cypress-lined lakes, backwater streams and major river channels.

“The diversity of the delta is one of the phenomenal things about this fishery, but it’s not a trophy fishery,” Miller says. “Based upon data from the tournament trail that I ran for 16 years, it typically takes between a 3- and 4-pound average to win spring tournaments. Typically, it takes a 4.5- to 6.5-pound fish to win the big bass title. The biggest bass I’ve ever seen in any of my tournaments was an 8.5-pounder.”

People can also help by making tax-deductible donations to AHR anytime they wish. The organization especially needs product donations to give away as door prizes during the tournament. To donate or volunteer to help, call 251-423-1857 or send an email to info@alabamahungerrelief.com.

“We hope for great participation from our bass fishing community and greatly appreciate any help in raising money to feed the hungry right here in Alabama,” White says. “Alabama is No. 2 in the nation in food insecurity. That means we have some work to do. We appreciate any donations we receive.”

For more information on this tournament or Alabama Hunger Relief, call White at 800-597-6828. Online, see www.alabamahungerrelief.com or the Delta Rendezvous page on Facebook.

John N. Felsher is a professional freelance writer and photographer who lives in Semmes, Ala. He’s written more than 1,700 articles for more than 117 magazines. He co-hosts a weekly outdoors radio show. Contact him through his website at www.JohnNFelsher.com.