Add bass fishing tournament organizers and the lakeside businesses that reel in the cash anglers leave behind to the long list of those impacted by the coronavirus scare.
Several national and Texas-based bass fishing organizations have announced the cancellation or postponement of upcoming fishing derbies due to public health concerns associated with the spread of COVID-19.
On the national level, BASS and FLW recently announced the delay of numerous derbies, including the Bassmaster Elite Series event on Tennessee’s Lake Chickamauga (March 19-22) and the Bassmaster Central Open on Lake Lewisville near Dallas on April 9-11.
On March 17, MLF-FLW announced it will reschedule nearly 20 events through April 4. The decision will impact the organization’s five leagues, including the Pro Circuit, FLW Series, Bass Fishing League, College Fishing and High School Fishing.
Major League Fishing concluded its six-day, Stage 3 Bass Pro Tour event on lakes Fork and Athens on March 18 with Ott DeFoe coming away the winner on the heels of a stellar performance in the final round. All fan activities associated with that tournament were suspended, including angler meet-and-greets, a student angler clinic at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center and a crawfish boil.
Meanwhile, the FLW Pro Circuit tournament originally scheduled for March 19-22 on Alabama’s Lake Martin got underway a day early to allow anglers to complete the event as quickly as possible. The tourney was held without marshals, and daily weigh-ins were restricted to anglers and essential staff. FLW also announced the postponement of its upcoming April 2-5 Pro Circuit event on Cherokee Lake in Tennessee until June 11-14.
Locally, a number of popular Texas-based fishing circuits have cancelled or postponed team, individual and amateur derbies on lakes all around the state. Among the biggest are the Sealy Outdoors Big Bass Splash events on Sam Rayburn and Toledo Bend.
Held annually since 1984, the Sealy ‘Rayburn event set for April 17-19 has been rescheduled for Oct. 9-11. The May 15-17 Toledo Bend derby has been moved to July 10-12.
Both tournaments lure thousands of anglers from several states and different countries to cast for amateur fishing’s most lucrative pay days. This 36th annual Sam Rayburn tourney will award a guaranteed $600,000 in cash and prizes.
Anglers who are pre-registered for either tournament, but are unable to attend on the new dates, will be eligible for a refund by providing their name and order number by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, according to Nicole Bennett with Sealy Outdoors. Transferring entry fees to new tournament dates requires no action.
Haslet-based Bass Champs has rescheduled two events, including its March 22 Mega Bass derby at Lake Fork and its March 28 South Region team tournament Lake Falcon. The Mega Bass event has been rescheduled for July 19; the Falcon tournament, May 30. E-mail email@example.com for refunds.
Outlaw Outdoors also announced postponement of two Sam Rayburn tournaments — the Average Joe and Team Series — originally scheduled for March 21 and March 28, respectfully. The Team Series event is rescheduled for April 25; Average Joe, May 31. Refunds are being processed.
Also postponed are the 37th Annual KCKL Big Bass Tournament set for March 28-29 on Cedar Creek Lake and the Texas Team Trail tournament that was set for March 21 on Toledo Bend Reservoir. The new dates for both tournaments are TBA. For KCKL big bass refunds, visit kcklbass.com.
Additionally, the National Park Service has issued a mandate to cancel all fishing tournaments on Lake Amistad along the Texas/Mexico border. The Amistad National Recreation Area Visitor Center and group campgrounds are closed until further notice.
As of March 19, Texas State Parks began limiting park programming and closing public access to park headquarters, visitor centers and park stores. According to a TPWD news release, parks have suspended all cash transactions where feasible, and visitors are encouraged to utilize the self-pay stations, the online reservation system and credit card transactions. Other reduced services include the suspension of equipment rentals and interpretive programs. For updates, see tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/park-information/keeping-you-healthy.
It also should be noted that the TPW Commission’s March 25-26 regulatory hearing has been postponed until May 21. The public comment period on proposed changes to hunting/fishing regulations has been extended to May 21. Direct comments to tpwd.texas.gov/business/feedback/public_comment/.
Matt Williams is a freelance outdoors writer based in Nacogdoches, Tx. He can be reached by e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.