I know a paper style weighing process isn’t for every bass club. However, if a bass club truly fishes for fun, being able to weigh every bass via on-the-water measurement can make it interesting. Paper bass clubs have become very popular in areas where conservation is a significant factor or when fishing small waters with smaller boats without livewells.
My bass club, called “Old Guys Bass Club,” has been around for over twenty-five years and still has three original members. Four counting me the “Johnny Come Lately,” as I recently rejoined the club. There have been many changes over the years, members come and go, but it is still going strong. I remember back in the day when it went from a competitive bass club to a conservation style bass club. The base membership is growing older, one member is in his mid-seventies, so we are now adding some younger members. The youngest was forty-six, but we just added a new member who is even younger. Most are in their sixties, and some already retired.
Paper Bass Clubs – Club Meetings
Our club meetings are on the first Wednesday of the month. There are no meetings in November, December or February; it’s too cold for fishing. Our first meeting of the year is in January, and the next is in March. Our meetings start with dinner and move on to new and old business. We then draw for partners for tournaments occurring before the next meeting. Members names are on poker chips in two piles, boaters and co-anglers. A chip from each pile is picked, and this is the team for the boat. We continue until everyone has a partner. We have more boaters than co-anglers, which is great because occasionally boaters get to fish with each. The fishing mechanics of paper bass clubs are no different than most bass clubs.
Paper Bass Clubs – Schedule
Our tournament schedule usually consists of the following: three April tournaments, three May, two June, one July, two September and one October. We do not fish tournaments in August because of the hot, humid weather. These dates change a little from year to year, but we always have fewer tournaments during the warmer months. Fewer tournaments also give the boaters more time to fish other locations. Currently, we fish tidal waters and reservoirs but will probably go to strictly reservoirs in the future. There are so many around here, and tidal water is one and a half hours plus from here.
Paper Bass Clubs – Rules are simple
Tournament rules are simple. The boater and co-angler drawn at the meeting fish together. Co-Anglers cannot fish consecutive tournaments with the same boater. Co-angler responsibilities are to work out the gasoline costs with the boater, and pay the launch fee for the boat.
Here’s what makes paper bass clubs different than a weigh-in club. We are a “Paper Bass Club.” Catch it, measure it, return it to the water and write it on the scoresheet. We do not bring bass back to a central weigh in. We do this so the bass don’t experience the stress of the ride back to a weigh in, and can return to his normal area very quickly.
Our scoresheets are two sided. Anglers write their member information and best five bass on the front. The back of the scoresheet is for recording the day’s catch. Every bass caught is measured, and recorded. Score sheets provide for fifteen entries. However, this does not limit how many can be recorded. If an angler catches more than fifteen bass, they can record them on a separate piece of paper. A bass must be at least the twelve-inch minimum length per Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Anglers round the length of each bass to the closest quarter of an inch on a fish measuring ruler. Members may keep bass if they choose. However, it will cost points on total score. Each released bass receives a 30-point bonus on the days’ final tally. For various reasons, anglers may want to bring a bass to the scales for official weight or bragging rights. We allow members to do this; however, they don’t receive the 30 bonus points for the bass.
At the conclusion of the tournament, members move the five best bass to the front of their scoresheets and turn them into the club official. The scoresheet is the member’s total weight/measurement. There are many options for converting total inches to a points system. Our club uses a predetermined spreadsheet. This spreadsheet has points assigned from 12 inches to 25 inches in quarter-inch increments. As an example, on our spreadsheet, a fifteen and one-quarter inch bass will convert to 116 points. If the bass was kept, then it’s worth only the 116 points. If the angler released the bass after measuring, the angler will receive an additional 30 bonus points for the bass and will get 146 points. Points are assigned for each bass in the angler’s stringer and then added for a total.
Anglers won’t get rich fishing in our club. Winner of the tournament receives two dollars from each participating angler, boater and co-angler. The angler catching the longest bass of the day also gets two dollars from each participating angler.
Paper Bass Clubs – Awards
At the end of our season, we have two awards. “Mr. Bass” is our angler of the year. We also award the angler with the largest bass of the year. Each receives a plaque and monetary award based on the number of members. Our annual dues, one-hundred dollars, provide for club functions and these awards.
This year we are doing something a little different for the non-boater/co-angler. We are holding an appreciation tournament to say, “Thank You” to our co-anglers. Each non-boater will pick the boater he wants to fish with. This special tournament is modeled like the old “Megabucks” tournament. The lake will be divided up into four or five zones. There will be a specific amount of fishing time in each zone. Anglers will move to the next hole in the rotation when time expires.
Paper Bass Clubs – Conservation
Our rules are a little different, but conservation is at the heart of our organization. We bass fish for fun, not money. Remember, this is a group of bass fisherman who have fished together for twenty plus years and are still enjoying it.
I know this is not for everyone, but it works well here. The reservoirs in Pennsylvania and Maryland are a whole lot of fun. We are hoping the Old Guys Bass Club format will catch on and help improve the conservation efforts in our local waters. Some are quantity lakes and a couple of quality lakes; we are doing our best to keep them productive.
Tight lines and smiles all around
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