History will be made in Penticton when the OK Bass Classic hits Skaha Lake Sept. 22 to 23.
Nanaimo resident Matt Benson is the tournament director responsible for bringing the event to Penticton. He picked Skaha Lake because it provides good access for fisherman, but families can also come to do things.
“It’s really good fishing,” he said. “Not a lot of people know about it.”
Benson loves the venue and because of Penticton’s location, the event is attracting bass fishers from the United States and Alberta.
It will be the first officially sanctioned end-of-day release tournament in the province.
A story published by www.worldfishingnetwork.com, said the province has had a ban “on live well use for years to control invasive species, relegating these storage tanks to mere coolers on B.C. boats.”
Live wells are essentially a traveling aquarium.
Benson received assistance from biologists in Kamloops to get the process moving.
“They were really influential in helping us to get the special permit to hold this event,” he said, adding the support of Oceans and Fisheries followed.
Benson expects there to be between 15 to 20 teams. As of Wednesday, he had 11 registered.
“A lot of people just like to show up the day of the event. If the weather is nice, we will get a good turnout. If the weather sucks, it could be lower.”
What will attract people to watch, said Benson, is the weigh in.
“This is the first time ever allowed a live weigh in,” he said, adding that scientific data will be taken after and the fish will be released into the lake.
What excited Benson about the OK Bass Classic is that it could set a precedent.
“If it’s done right then hopefully allows us to maybe do two or three events per year in different areas,” he said. “Expose the sport of bass fishing to other people who haven’t tried. Some didn’t know there was bass in Skaha Lake. There is world class bass fishing in B.C. but it’s not promoted.”
Benson added that he’d like to have this event in Penticton every year because he appreciates the support he has received from the City of Penticton with funding.
“They really stepped up and I really want to reward people that help with the beginning,” he said.
Benson also received support from John Kim of Bass Anglers of B.C. Kim assisted with setting the rules and logistics.
“This is huge for B.C.,” said Kim. “I’m totally excited. It’s good to have an event like this. It will popularize our sport.”