Bass tournament catches success

B.C.’s first live-well bass tournament went without a snag.

PENTICTON RESIDENT Jesse Martin shows the crowd at the weigh-in station the 4.65-pound bass he caught Saturday during the live-release OK Bass Classic on Skaha Lake. Where did he land the lunker? “I’ll tell you tomorrow

PENTICTON RESIDENT Jesse Martin shows the crowd at the weigh-in station the 4.65-pound bass he caught Saturday during the live-release OK Bass Classic on Skaha Lake. Where did he land the lunker? “I’ll tell you tomorrow

B.C.’s first live-well bass tournament went without a snag.

Held at Skaha Lake on Saturday and Sunday, the OK Bass Classic was such a success that winner Jesse Martin feels it will set a precedent for more.

“To have a circuit up here would be awesome,” said Martin, who was picked by many to win because he does guided tours in the area. “It would be great for the economy.”

The province has a ban on live-well use to control invasive species.

Andrew Klassen, a fisheries biologist based out of Kamloops whoworks in the invasive species project, said their main concern is with people moving bass to new lakes.

“In our part of B.C. in the Thompson area, we’ve had about nine new introductions in the last 10 years,” said Klassen. “Bass and perch likely coming from some of these areas.”

Klassen added that they are not overly concerned with Skaha Lake. He said that bass have been there for a long time.

“While we think the tournament is OK and we think it was a success, we are just a little bit worried about people moving bass,” he said. “The bass anglers have been really good. They are probably not the people moving them.”

Martin said it’s been a long time coming for them to have this type of tournament.

“I know they have been trying to get one organized for a good 10 years,” said Martin, who also thanked organizer Matt Benson for putting on a great tournament.

Klassen praised the efforts of Benson and said they are happy with how things went.

Hoping to attract between 17 and 22 teams, Benson was thrilled with having 19 teams out the lake. Benson credited the participants and especially the sponsors, such as the Ramada Inn, Penticton Yamaha and Marine, Molson Canadian and Canadian Pro, Credit Spro, Humminbird, Minn Kota, St. Croix, Rod Glove, Buff Canada, Dead Head Apparel, Whole Sale Sports, Okuma, Live Target and Abu for their support.

“Had a ton of great companies who stepped up and helped,” said Benson. “Can’t thank them enough.”

Martin, who was out with his father Terry, said the bass fishing in Skaha Lake is phenomenal.

“This isn’t the greatest time of year for it,” he said. “It’s slowed down a bit but it’s awesome.”

Martin and his father caught nearly 15 pounds on the first day and a dozen bass on Sunday that weighed slightly less.

The tournament also helped lure participants from other areas. Marina Wright and Ryan Hegedus traveled from Langley.

“It’s a step forward for the bass fishery in B.C.,” said Hegedus. “Hopefully now with the City of Penticton involved, it will trigger some more events with the live-well use. That’s the main key to get bass fishing bigger.”

Hegedus has fished in the area before, normally going to Osoyoos because it has bigger fish.

He and Wright caught 15 bass on Saturday that were all a foot long. On Sunday, Wright, the lone female, caught a 4.3-pound bass.

“It was awesome,” she said. “It would be nice if more girls came out too. All these guys are so nice. I just felt like at home with all of them.”

Wright and Hegedus enjoyed the weekend and said they would come back. Hegedus was excited when he initially heard the news of the tournament coming to Penticton.

“It’s always been a forbidden thing,” said Hegedus.

Those interested in learning more about bass fishing can join the Facebook page OK Bass Anglers. Martin can be reached for tours at bcbassaholic@gmail.com.