BULL SHOALS, Ark. — Strong storms heading straight toward Bull Shoals Lake early Thursday morning forced B.A.S.S. officials to postpone the start of the Bassmaster Elite Series Ramada Quest.
Instead of beginning on Thursday at 6:15 a.m., the Ramada Quest will begin Friday at the same time. A full four days of competition will extend the tournament to Monday. The entire field of 100 Elite Series pros will compete Friday and Saturday, and the Top 50 who make the cut will continue on to Sunday. Only the Top 12 will advance to the final round, now set for Monday.
“Severe storms west of Bull Shoals are going to train through here this morning,” said B.A.S.S. Tournament Director Trip Weldon, on site at Bull Shoals Lake Dock.
Weldon said he’d been watching the weather closely Wednesday and was awake and tracking conditions since 2:30 a.m. Thursday.
“Oklahoma [directly to the west of Bull Shoals] got hit. Here on the docks we’re already having gusts of wind close to 30 mph. The safety of anglers, staff and fans is of paramount importance. Lightning, rough boating conditions and heavy rains are conditions we take seriously,” Weldon said as lightning flickered in the still-dark skies.
Eilte Series pro Charlie Hartley, waiting on the docks for his turn to pull his boat out of the water, said he was disappointed.
“We’re missing a great bite today. And we didn’t fish in practice for the bluebird skies we’ll get tomorrow. Today would have been a power-fishing day. Tomorrow will be like a practice day as we turn to different techniques,” said Hartley, who is from Grove City, Ohio.
Reigning Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Brent Chapman of Lake Quivira, Kan., described his feelings in one word: “Frustrating.”
“It is what it is,” he said, “but this lake doesn’t get rough. The safety concern is there, I realize that. But they’ll bite today. I guess I’ll go get started re-rigging for postfrontal conditions. Under bluebird skies, the bite gets tough.”
For 12 of the Elite pros, the postponement was a familiar experience. On March 24, the Top 12 finalists in the Rigid Industries Falcon Slam on Falcon Lake had a forced day of rest when a wind storm hit Zapata, Texas, the tournament’s host city. The championship round was postponed until the next day.
Looking on the bright side, Hartley said that once the weather system passes through, he could pursue his new fishing love.
“I’ll go trout fishing,” he said, excited about the rainbows he’d been pulling from the White River on lightweight spinning gear. Although the pros were banned from Bull Shoals Lake Thursday, other waters are open to them.
The third event of the Bassmaster Elite Series season, the Ramada Quest offers a first prize of $100,000 and an instant qualification for the 2014 Bassmaster Classic. All participating anglers earn points toward securing a Classic berth. The top points’ earner will win the prestigious Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year title at season’s end.
For updates on the April 19-22 Ramada Quest, go to www.Bassmaster.com.
2013 Bassmaster Elite Series Official Sponsors: Toyota, Bass Pro Shops, Berkley, Evan Williams Bourbon, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Skeeter Boats, Triton Boats, Yamaha
2013 Bassmaster Elite Series Supporting Sponsors: Carhartt, Diet Mountain Dew, Livingston Lures, Lowrance, Luck-E-Strike, Power-Pole, Ramada, Shimano
2013 Bassmaster Elite Series Proud Partner: Mustang Survival
About B.A.S.S. For more than 45 years, B.A.S.S. has served as the authority on bass fishing. The organization advances the sport through advocacy, outreach and an expansive tournament structure while connecting directly with the passionate community of bass anglers through its Bassmaster media vehicles.
The Bassmaster brand and its multimedia platforms are guided by a mission to serve all fishing fans. Through its industry-leading publications — Bassmaster Magazine and B.A.S.S. Times — comprehensive website Bassmaster.com and ESPN2 and Outdoor Channel television programming, Bassmaster provides rich, leading-edge content true to the lifestyle.
The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open Series, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series, B.A.S.S. Nation events and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the Bassmaster Classic.
B.A.S.S. offers an array of services to its more than 500,000 members and remains focused on issues related to conservation and water access. The organization is headquartered in Birmingham, Ala.