Monday, January 05, 2009

2008 Season Flashback!

Now that the holidayzzz are over and I have a few days to think back on my 2008 season with the Sonoma County Belly Boat Bass Club. 2008 was my 25th year of hitting some of Californias best float tube fishing holes. I had been Vice President for many years until 2006 when it was my turn to help take the club into the future. 2008 was my third year as the clubs President and it was my last year leading the worlds largest float tube / kick boat organization. WOW, and what a year it was! The club rouster grew to 47 paid members and our tournaments had averaged about 30 anglers. We put on 10 tournaments with B-N-T putting on one, the Clear Lake Open. We also added two new team events for the first time. This was the first time that Claifornia float tubers had the chance to pick their own two man teams and compete against each other. It proved to be a hit as 18 teams showed up for the first event on the Delta. One of the many benifits of being a part of the SCBBBC is meeting new anglers and 2008 brought several new anglers to our club.

In 2008 the SCBBBC had one of our very succefull members get real close to making it to the worlds biggest bass fishing show, The Bassmasters Classic. It was Pat Wilson , AKA, The Back Deck Pro, who represented the SCBBBC at the Bassmasters Federation Nation Championship in Kansas City. Pat had the worst fishing conditions any angler could face, but he did his best and came up empty handed as did most of the feild. 25 years ago when 9 float tubers hiked up to lake Ilsanjo for a little bass derby I don't think any of us thought that a club member would be one tournament away from competeing at the Classic.

In 2008 the club traveled with live game fish while fishing one of the worlds best bass factories, Clear Lake. The California Department of Fish & Game had worked with me and ironed out some of the details for us to recieve a special permit for transporting our catch while fishing our Clear Lake tournaments. We had to make some sacrafices with a 3 fish limit, but we did it and it proved to still be a great season on Clear Lake. This situation with the running permits had also helped to improve our clubs live-well standards and our education of the handling of our fish. Our mortality numbers for the 2008 season speak LOUDLY of our acomplishments as we only had 5 dead fish. Now I'm sure there might have been a few more that swam away after weigh-in and then past away, but I will bet the numbers are probably as low as the ones that came to the scales dead. With everyone working together our live-wells and our handling of fish will only get better.

2008 had some of the highest gas prices I have ever seen, but once I'm in the water those prices go out the window. These same high gas prices brought our club some new members. Some anglers just couldn't afford and didn't want the high cost of their glitter rockets and so they decided to sit a little lower in the water and save some money while still enjoying some great compitition. The SCBBBC can fill the void when gas goes over $4.00 a gallon. 2008 had a real bad ecomony, but it just didn't seem to faze our club rouster. This is a good sign for the future of our sport as the possabilities are endless with our growth. As a club we can work out any situation and still end up with great tournaments.

2008 was our clubs charity year. As a club we raised some canned food for people that don't have it as good as we do. I put the challenge out and all the SCBBBC members came through as we raised 672 cans of food for the Redwood Empire Food Bank. I personally would like to thank everyone for helping us feed the hungry. And thanks to Todd Iwamoto and Iwamoto jigs for donating 25 cents for every jig that our club members bought during the 2008 tour. We only do charity acts every other year so start thinking of another good charity act for the 2010 season.

The year started with some ruff weather as the winds blew at Lake Sonomas Yorty creek in Feb. This was our season opener and we kicked it off with 41 anglers. The rollers were rolling onto the ramp as I was launching my Bucksbag Bass Tech Kick boat and the wind was triing its hardest to blow my hat off. This tournament was the first in 25 years that I had beached my boat and sat in it while fishing just to get out of the wind and give my legs a rest. Jon Graves and I sat in our kick boats like beached whales, but to my surprise I caught a small keeper. Go figure. I was happy with my 8th place finish as Yorty creek is always my most humbling stop on the SCBBBC tour. When all the fish were weighed it was the only real float tuber of the day who won, Pat Wilson showed us that a angler doesn't need to have a fancy fully rigged kick boat to compete with the SCBBBC. All you need is a old school round belly boat and a few rods to catch 20.07 pounds of fish when the wind is blowing 35 plus miles an hour. What a way to start the 2008 tour.

Lake Sonoma, Yorty Creek, Feb, 24th
Anglers = 41
Limits = 1
Fish = 34
Big Fish = 5.63 Pat Wilson
Total = 101.3
Dead = 0

Now it's March and I'm checking in 39 anglers for 19 teams as we kicked off the second stop of our tour at the California Delta, Beacon Harbor. We were welcomed with a fly by by a Black Hawk as the FLW Nation Guard tour was having there last day of compition. Thier top 10 anglers blasted off with our 19 anglers. The fishing was wide open as it seemed as if everyone caught fish on this day. The team of Dan Chester and Dan Babala took 1st place with 21.81 for a 5 fish limit. CT Beach and I brought home 3rd place and we had a great day on the Delta with some real nice weather and a lot of canned foods being handed in at check-in.

Delta, Beacon Harbor, Mar 15th.
Anglers = 39
Limits = 15
Fish = 85
Big Fish = 6.82 John Hatfield
Total = 287.24
Dead = 0

It's April and we're taking the 2008 tour to Highland Springs in Lake County. Here is the body of water that our club record fish lives and it's one of my favorite places to fish. This lake has always felt very much like lake Ilsanjo to me. I have always liked it as if fishs similar to Sanj, but the fish are much bigger. We packed 36 anglers on this little lake, but I never felt as if my water was cramped by other anglers closing in on me. This was probably our coldest morning as my braid was totally frozen. It felt as if someone had tied a bunch of little knots in my line, but it was ice. I felt like I was Stealhead fishing, but I was in my Bucksbag Bass Tech kick boat. This cold snap made for some tuff fishing too. We only had two limits and it was our Vice President who took 1st place. Binh Phi weighed in one of the two limits of 13.78 and he also had the days big fish with a whopper of 7.64.

Mr. Scotty Beem has really sharpened his fishing skills over the past few years of fishing with the SCBBBC and once again he stayed on Binhs heels with the second of only two limits that weighed in at 11.52. I was able to take home 11th place and I almost got a little money. My fingers didn't thaw out until the following day. I won't forget my gloves ever again.

Highland Springs, April 20th
Anglers = 36
Limits = 2
Fish = 63
Big Fish = 7.64 Binh Phi
Total = 127.27
Dead = 0

Now I'm able to go to Clear Lake in May for the B-N-T Open. This is great as an officer because Mitch and Paul do all the work at this tour stop and it's a great time for the clubs to mix with eachother. I missed the first day as I qualified to fish the Bassmasters Federation Nation Divisinals at Lake Coude' lene in Idaho. When I flew home on Saturday the plane flew over Clear Lake and the sky was clear. I flew into Santa Rosa so the plane was dropping as we flew over Clear Lake and I was able to see kick boaters competeing in the keys on day # 1. It was way cool knowing I would be joining them the following morning. I checked-in Sunday morning and started fishing my favorite Clear Lake spot in the spring, the Keys. I love fishing in those keys when the fish are in there.

60 anglers were signed up and fishing this tournament and I was lucky enough to bring home 40th place and some good SCBBBC points towards the TOC. When you have 60 of Californias best kick boaters on the states best bass lake it's never easy to win, but for Todd Iwamoto it looked easy. Todd had the heaviest two day 5 fish limit of 34.61 and day # 1s big fish with a whopper that weighed in at 7.55. I'm sure most of Todds fish came on Iwamoto hand tied jigs. If you haven't stocked up on his jigs then your not catching as many fish as you can. It was the kid, Randy Kidd that smoked all 60 anglers when it came to big fish of this event. Randy weighed in a monster bass at 8.73. Bass-N-Tubes always puts on a great tournament and I can't wait to fish there Open tournament next year.

B-N-T Clear Lake Open, May 17th &18th
Anglers = 60
Limits =57
Fish = 391
Big Fish = 8.73 Randy Kidd
Total = 970.16
Dead = ?

It's back to the Delta's Whites Slough during the month of June and we had 27 anglers fighting the howling wind on an outgoing tide. The bite wasn't great, but a few guys always seem to figure it out. This time it was Mr. Doug Tyler who caught the bass need to win 1st place and show all of us who the # 1 stick was. Doug weighed-in only 2 fish for 11.02 and proved that you don't need a limit to take the top spot. Doug had the days big fish with a 8.63 monster that tried to eat his frog. It was our clubs newest President, Steve Wilson that did all he could to bring home the win and he came up in second instead. I was able to bring home 14th place while only weighing in one fish. Some times the fish just don't want to bite, but I still have a great day on the water fishing with the SCBBBBC.

Delta, White Slough, June 14th.
Anglers = 27
Limits =2
Fish = 48
Big Fish = 8.63 Doug Tyler
Total = 116.96
Dead = 0

Once again I'm back on the Delta in June fishing the first of two new trial ( Pick Your Own Team )tournaments. My partner was Jon Graves and we were fishing against 17 other highly qualified teams. We all blasted off from Beacon Harbor on a nice day. The bite was much better then Whites Slough as eveyone was catching fish. The winning team was Mitch Teman and Chris Zelanka with a limit of 18.05. Graves and Caro came in 10th place and we were happy with that. We planned on winning, but the fish didn't plan on letting us.

Lake Sonoma
Anglers = 36
Limits =14
Fish = 81
Big Fish = 7.29 Capala
Total = 226.63
Dead = 0

It's July now and I'm fishing another team tournament on the regular SCBBBC tour and we're at Yorty creek again. It's our night tournament and I'm teamed up with Mike Casey. The team of Ayers/Marcheschi showed us how it was done by using Frogs / Jigs & drop shoots to bring in a limit that went 14.85. Mike and I took home11th place and some SCBBBC points. This tournament had a good turnout with 34 anglers ready to fish into the warm July night. The fish didn't bite like they should have on a summer night. One of these days I'm going to really get into the toads at Lake Sonomas Yorty creek and win one of these things. Maybe 2009 will be the year.

Lake Sonoma, Night, July 12th.
Anglers = 34
Limits =2
Fish = 37
Big Fish = 6.44 Rolo Villanueva
Total = 90.21
Dead = 1

August is here and the SCBBBC is at Blue Lakes. This year no one fished the upper lake and we all stayed at the mud lake. This was our ( Early Bird ) tournaments so the long drive started very early as we checked in at 4:00 AM. The wind welcomed us as it was blowing in from the north.

We had 28 anglers check-in and Doug Tyler once again showed all of us how to win. Doug weighed in 5 fish for 10.52. Doug didn't just win, Doug won after fishing a night tournament with the Bass-N-Tubes club on the Delta. After weighing in with B-N-T Doug drove to Blue Lakes and checked in and loaded his boat down the small Deer trail in the dark before launching for another tournament. Doug found some fish and stayed with his patturn for another win. My hat goes off to the marathon man. We were also joined by Berrett Klien for the first time. He came and fished with us and made it to the scales with one keeper. I'm sure when he finishs school that he'll be a member of the SCBBBC. That's if he doesn't hook some great job after he gets a degree and move away. I look forward to fishing with him in 2009. I was able to scrape up 20th place and a few more of those SCBBBC points. I have TOC on my mind now as AOY isn't in reach this year.

Blue Lake, Aug 17th
Anglers = 28
Limits =5
Fish = 80
Big Fish = 4.06 Join Graves
Total = 143.52
Dead = 1

It's still August and I'm back at the Delta with Jon Graves as my partner for the second of two new trial ( Pick Your Own Team ) tournaments. 24 anglers total with 12 teams ready to do what they do best, FISH. The bite wasn't what it's been in the past, but there is alway someone who will figure things out and this time it was the team of Iwamoto and Phi. They won with a nice limit of fish that weighed in at 21.63 I had a chance to watch Steve Wilson catch a toad while flipping a Vertical Tube bait. This was the last of a great new float tube format. I'm already looking forward to fishing the team events in 2009. I hope Mr. Graves will help carry us again for a few wins.

Delta, Whites, Real Team, Aug, 23rd.
Anglers = 24
Limits =7
Fish = 41
Big Fish = 8.80 Steve Wilson
Total = 106.79
Dead = 0

The month now is September and 23 anglers have there trucks loaded and ready to run to there secret spots on Clear Lake. This will be the first time our club has a 3 fish limit as the DFG put this restriction on us so we can "Run" legally. I wasn't sure how this new 3 fish limit would pan out, but it seemed to work good. My area I went to had trucks lined up to launch so I went to plan B. I only shared the ramp at plan B with one other kick boater. This time I came home with 6th place. I had a great day as I was able to cull a few times and get fish on the Speed Trap. I love catching fish on crank baits. I wish I knew were Matt Cahill fished because he took home 1st place with a 3 fish limit that weighed in at 13.56 and he had the big fish of the day with a toad that weighed 6.5. I'm sure glad we were able to "Run" as it really helps to spread us out and not crowd us together. The water was low so if we couldn't have ran it would have made for a ruff day on the water no matter were we launched.

Clear Lake, Sept, 20th.
Anglers = 23
Limits =10
Fish = 40
Big Fish = 6.50 Matt Cahill
Total = 115.30
Dead = 1

Finally it's Oct and time for the 24th SCBBBC State Classic. This was the first year that the Bass-N-Tubes club put this tournament on there schedual. It started off with rain, rain and more rain. There was also a million dead carp everywhere you went on Clear Lake. This didn't seem to faze the bass as they were still on a good bite. Once again we were able to run legally and spread out over the entire lake. After day # 1 we came back to a great BBQ put on by the State Federation Nation, thanks to Andrew Sayles and Captian Jack. The raffle was off the hook and the Evans Williams was flowing and great sponsors product was flying. I still feel a little hangover.

The rains let up and the tournament ended up being good. We had 40 anglers this year show up and fish with us. It was our own Deren Kozenko who took the top prise. Deren weighed in a total of 6 fish for two days that went 25.07 and he had the big fish of the tournament with a 6.67 toad. This has always been a fun event for me as I can remember when Jimmy Reese used to be the one putting it on back in the day. He had two weigh-ins each day and when you came in for the first weigh-in on Saturday he had a BBQ going for lunch. We'd come in and weigh-in , grab some food and take off again. Boy O boy, those were the days my friend. This year I was able to take 8th place and a few more SCBBBC points towards that big end of the year TOC.

Clear Lake, State Classic, Oct 4th & 5th
Anglers = 23
Limits =10
Fish = 40
Big Fish = 6.50 Matt Cahill
Total = 115.30
Dead = 2

As we wind on down the season we come to our last official stop before the 2008 SCBBBC TOC. We all checked in at Blue lakes for our last tour stop of the 08 season. It's November and the weather was cool and the wind was mild. I fished my fins off at this stop and I wasn't able to catch a keeper. So out of the 24 anglers that entered this tournament it was myself who came in last. After 25 years of fishing with this club I have came in last many times, but this time it didn't feel so bad. Don't ask me why, but it just wasn't all that bad getting my butt kicked. The weather was good and I fished as hard as I could all the way to the end. I had just finished another great year with a great club. I had met a lot of great people along the way. I had already came to terms with myself about stepping down from leading the worlds oldest and largest float tube / kick boat organization. I knew I had qualified for the 25th TOC and I would have a chance at the $1000.00 TOC prise money and that I would enjoy another dinner with the top 1/3rd of the club. I wish the whole club could join us for the TOC dinner.

On the other hand big Dave Sternitzke was a happy angler as he wrapped up a day of fishing with a big fat WIN with a limit of bass for 10.30 and his second SCBBBC Angler Of The Year 2008 and he wasn't sharing it with no one. I said it once before and I'll say it again. It's one thing to have won AOY back in the day when our tournaments averaged 10 anglers, but now they average 30 well rounded anglers with a lot of knowledge. My hat is tipped to big Dave.

Blue Lakes, Nov, 8th.
Anglers = 24
Limits =3
Fish = 57
Big Fish = 3.10 Jon Graves
Total = 101.09
Dead = 0

It's still November and 17 of the SCBBBC TOC qualifiers are back at Clear Lake and there trucks are idealing alongside the Skylark as we prepair for blast-off. It didn't feel the same as Bill Sweatt wasn't with us. This is the 25th SCBBBC TOC and we're fishing for $1000.00 for 1st place. We had great weather and some hot sticks ready to fish. We had several new faces that had never fished with the SCBBBC before 08' and several who had never made it to the TOC. After two days on the water it was one of our 2008 Rookies that out did eveyone. Rolando Villanueva caught a two day, two limit total for a total of 20.13. Rolo quietly joined our club and quietly fished throughout the season while quietly weighing in his fish all year. This was Rolandos first year fishing the SCBBBC and he is one of the new people I have had the pleasure to meet and fish with. The 2008 TOC could not have went to a nicer guy.

I once again got skunked on day # 1 and with some help from Dave Sternitzke I was able to get a limit on day two for a 13th place finish. If I would have found those fish on day # 1 things would have been a lot different for me. I still had a great time while fishing with the club on a great lake.

I also tip my hat to another new friend as he capture Rookie of the year. Dominic Doans aka The Dominator. Congratulations Dom on a job well done. He learned a few hard lessons in 2008 and he probably fished more then any SCBBBC all year. Watch out for this guy in 2009. We had a few members that were only able to fish with us one time and I'm sure they had a good time while fishing with us nut cases. We also had a couple members join that were not able to fish with us in 08, but we'll try to get them out with us in 09.

2008 was a great year and all the SCBBBC officers did a great job at makeing these tournaments go very smooth. This was Jon Birds first year at donating his time to be your Tournament Director. He weighed 773 fish that weighed a total of 2041.68 pounds. If I didn't know any better I would have thought that Jon had been the Tournament Director for the SCBBBC for a long time. We have had some great TD's in the past, but Jon worked some magic with everyone who brought him fish. Thanks Jon for a thankless job well done. 2009 we'll see a new face weighing in the fish. DJ Von bima is taking over for Jon as Jons back is hearting from weighing in all your monster bass.

I would have to say the Matt Cahill kept our check book balance down to the penny all year. Our account had never had such a large balance and Matt took care of it while we all fished. Thanks Matt for a job well done.

Now it's time for me to step aside and let Steve Wilson take his turn at steering the worlds largest float tube organization into the future. I needed to take a break and focus on some other things such as my wife who suported the club and me all through the year. I also want more time to jam on my new Les Paul, but don't think you wont see me on the water. I plan on winning every tournament throughout 09' and I think an Angler Of The Year award is in my future. LOL

I'll still be in the shadows of the new officers and maybe in a few years I'll run for President again, but for now I just want to fish and meet new anglers and help others catch fish.

I hope you all had fun while fishing with the SCBBBC I also hope you learned some new ways to catch a bass. I hope you fished some new waters with us and I hope to see you all at the 2009 SCBBBC tournaments.

Rich Caro

P.S. I would also like to thank Rebecca for all her help with the paperwork at the end of each tournaments weigh-in. And thanks to DJ for helping Jon weigh all those fish. And thanks to all of you for joining the SCBBBC in 2008 and helping to make it the best float tube club on the planet.

Big Fish 2008 = Steve Wilson 8.80 Delta, Whites Slough.

Heaviest Individual 5 Fish Limit = 20.07, Pat Wilson, Sonoma, Yorty Creek.

Heaviest Team 5 Fish Limit = 21.81, Chester/Babala, Delta, Beacon H.

Heaviest 1 Day 3 Fish Limit = 16.41,Matt Cahill, Day # 2 Clear L, Classic.

Lightest Winning Weight = 10.30, Dave Sternitzke, Blue L.

Limits =112

Fish = 773

2008 Total Weight = 2041.68

Total Dead = 5