The world had a chance to see a little slice of beautiful area this past week as the Bass Masters Elite came to Carters Lake in Ellijay. With just 61 miles of shoreline sitting on 3,200 acres Carters is known as the best lake in Georgia for spotted bass. Being known as it is 15 Professional anglers from 5 states launched bright an early on Thursday to fish their way in to the Bass Master Classic being held in March of 2019 in Knoxville TN on the Tennessee River.
The first day saw the bottom 3 in total weight of bass be eliminated from the competition. The 12 that made it to the 2nd round saw a different format than that of most tournaments on the water. Each angler(fisherman) was seeded from 1 to 12 according to the previous day’s weight of fish caught. Coming out with the top seed was Fred Roumbanis of Russellville Arkansas with a first day total of over 16 lbs. The format for day 2 consisted of a bracket system where two anglers would fish head to head over a 2 day time frame. Each group fished a 3 hour time slot either in the morning or the afternoon and the following day that slot was flipped to the opposite of the day before. The first day bracket had Roumbanis putting over 6 lbs in the boat and carrying a lead in to day 2 of head to head.
On Thursday the finish of the 1st head to head was completed and narrowed the field to six. These six had the pressure on them with all the previous weights wiped away and everyone starting with zero fish and zero weight. Once again each angler was matched up head to head with the winner be awarded the coveted berth to the Super Bowl of Bass Fishing in the Bass Masters Classic. The Classic has a purse payout of 1 Million dollars that is spread out among all that compete. The Top finisher in the Classic will bag a $300,000 prize. Heading in to the last day on Friday , the top six hit the water for a 6 hour time slot. Excitement, nerves and even some thinking outside the box filled the air with some hoping to return and others looking for their first appearance in the Classic. Gerald Swindle, Scott Rook and Chris Lane were a few that have made the big dance before and then there is New Jersey angler Adrian Avina who was vying for his first. Avina jumped way out of the box by going to Walmart at 11 PM on Thursday night, bought some new tackle and some paint. Paint?? I asked that question as well… Avina had talked to a friend and he said try a pink jig….so…. Avina hand painted a pink gig and it was the deciding factor at the end of the day.
Three anglers made the trip back to their home towns with smiles and three went back with a little disappointment. One being Scott Rook. At age 57 Rook has been fishing professionally for over 20 years and wanted to make the dance one more time before the end of his career. With the final round loss to Swindle, Rook’s hopes came to and end. Rook had already announced his retirement at the end of the 2018 season and this tournament was it.
Congratulations to the top 3 anglers earning their ticket to the Classic in March. Adrian Avina with 8 lbs. 11 oz., Chris Lane with 10 lbs. 12 oz., and Over all weight winner on the last day and also earning a Classic Berth Gerald Swindle with 11 lbs. 6 oz.