The cry of “Fish on!” was heard across the waters of local Lake Chatuge on Saturday, April 4, as nearly 60 teams of anglers vied for cash and bragging rights in the 7th Annual Tri-County Community College (TCCC) Foundation’s Fishing for Scholarships Bass Tournament.
More than $3,500 in prize money was handed out, while proceeds from the registration fees will fund two $1,000 scholarships for future TCCC students. The annual tournament is a joint effort by the Tri-County Bass Club and the Tri-County Community College Foundation, as well as by a cadre of volunteers from the College and the community.
“It was a great turnout,” said Dr. Donna Tipton-Rogers, president of TCCC. “We were initially worried about the weather, but it turned into a beautiful day. I am so thankful to everyone who helped to make this year’s tournament such an unqualified success.”
The cold-front that passed through the area the night before, with lightning, rain and high winds, did make the fishing a bit more difficult. But plenty of anglers solved the puzzle, bringing back limits of bass to the weigh-in under Saturday’s bright blue skies.
None did it better than the team of John Cochran, of Bryson City and Josh Prince, of Almond, NC. Their total catch weighed 19.83 pounds, good enough for first place overall and the $1,000 payout. Prince had the biggest fish as well, a lunker of a largemouth weighing a whopping 7.89 pounds, bringing him an additional $250 in prize money.
Teammates Wayne Henson and Bryan Kurkendall, of Clyde, NC and Clayton, NC respectively, won $250 for the biggest spotted bass (4.62 pounds) as well as $100 for finishing ninth overall. Least but not last, the team of James and John West, of Cherokee, NC, won $100 for the smallest fish (1.21 pounds) that met the minimum length requirement of 12 inches.
The remaining teams that placed overall were: second place Butch Hooper and Jeremy Cross, both of Hayesville; third place Jimmy Anderson, of Murphy, and Chris Robinson, of Hayesville; fourth place Jeff Southards, of Murphy, and Travis Hooper, of Robbinsville; fifth place David McConnell and Dee McConnell, both of Franklin, N.C.; sixth place Robie Gruper, of Hiawassee, Ga., and Mike Gibson, of Helen, Ga.; seventh place Dusty Williams, of Robbinsville, and Chris Gillespie, of Bryson City, N.C.; eighth place Tracy Ducany, of Sylva, N.C., and Joshua Allman, of Bryson City, N.C.; and tenth place went to Mike Cook, of Brasstown, and Luke Morrow, of Murphy.
Cash prizes were also awarded to the winner of the 50/50 drawing, and to the person with the closest guess to the overall winning weight, while many fishermen took home gift certificates as door prizes. Other anglers entered and won drawings for a gas barbeque grill, a Lowrance fish-finder, and a variety of marine related equipment.
Contestants, volunteers, and anyone else who happened by were treated to an endless supply of hot-dogs, chips, drinks and desserts, compliments of Tri-County Community College and Amos Refrigeration.
Tipton-Rogers said the College would like to thank its sponsors: Pepsi Cola, Murphy Electric Power Board, Blue Ridge Mountain EMC, Amos Refrigeration, Interstate Welding, First Citizens Bank, Jackie Jones Auto, Snap-On Tools, and the Mi Pueblito Restauranta Mexicano.
All fish were required to be alive at time of weigh-in, and were released, unharmed, as soon as weights were recorded. They’ll be even bigger next year.
Additional photos from the tournament may be viewed on the college’s Flickr page.
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