Anglers take West Virginia Bass Tournament’s bait
Weekend competition, $15K grand prize lure fishermen to St. Marys
ST. MARYS — The winners of the 36th annual West Virginia Bass Tournament barely missed reaching the top spot last year, but came back this year to win the overall prize.
Ed Dennis and Wes Kemper of the Logan, Ohio, area won the two-day tournament with a combined weight of 16.74 pounds in fish caught. The two took home the grand prize of $15,000.
“This is a tough one to win,” Dennis said. “You have some of the best fishermen in Ohio and West Virginia here.”
Kemper said the fishing was tougher on Sunday than it had been on Saturday.
“We only got three keepers, but we got one that we believe was over four pounds,” he said. “That ought to help out quite a bit.”
At one point, Kemper said the wind stopped blowing and conditions calmed down. He used a frog lure and got the big one at around 9 a.m. Sunday. He had used a frog lure and caught three other fish and lost one. They caught nothing on Saturday with the frog lure, but caught what they got that day with creature bait.
They had 15 minutes left on Sunday and stopped on a rocky spot and used crankbait and got a two-pound fish which helped put them over the top, he said.
“It feels great,” Kemper said. “We were so close last year.
“We weren’t sure we were going to win this one until the last 15 minutes.”
Even then, they had to wait for the weigh-in.
“There is a good caliber of fishermen here,” Kemper said. “You have to be consistent. That is the biggest thing.”
The two also won the for the Biggest Bass of the day on Sunday with a fish weighing. 4.70 pounds, earning them an additional $750.
When that fish bit, Kemper said “Oh Sh–!”
“I said ‘Get the net,'” he added.
The annual River and Rail Bass Festival was held Friday through Sunday around the St. Marys Marina with 125 boats and 250 fishermen on Saturday. The field was reduced to 65 boats with 130 fishermen for Sunday. Each team had a five-bass limit and each team’s total was the total weight of the fish over the two days, organizers said.
The Ohio River had cleared up from the high water conditions they had at the beginning of the week, said Shaun Douglas, President of the River and Rail Bass Festival.
“The fishing was a lot better than it was last year,” he said. “It looks like it is going to take a bit more weight to win this year.
“I want to thank all the anglers who came out for this event. We have to have you all to be able to put on this event.”
The fishing was tougher on Sunday than it had been on Saturday.
Outdoor Channel host and Bass Tournament M.C. Joe Thomas said they had a lot of three-pound fish being brought in on Sunday.
“The key is being consistent both days,” he said.
The top 30 finishers walked away with some money. Prizes ranged from the $15,000 grand prize to $250 for 30th place.
A kids tournament was held Sunday with all of the kids receiving prizes and the top finishers being awarded with a new fishing rod and reel.
Overall, Douglas said the entire festival was a big success.
“The festival has gone really well this year,” he said.
They had a tremendous turnout for the performance of Bucky Covington on Saturday evening.
“Attendance was pretty decent, still down a little bit from last year,” Douglas said. “Overall, it was still better than average.
“Everything was still good.”