A gesture of good will Thursday from a popular locally based bass tournament series has avoided a potential conflict of major fishing events on Barnett Reservoir in March 2015.
CGM Tournaments, operated by David and Charlotte Mace of Florence, voluntarily gave up a claim to the Goshen Springs Boat Ramp on March 21, clearing the way for the FLW’s Walmart Bass Fishing League (BFL) to conduct its first Mississippi Series event on that date at the popular site on Mississippi Highway 43.
That was a big move since both the BFL and the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (BASS) were scheduled to have events the weekend of March 14. Both events are expected to draw about 200 boats.
BASS’ first event on its Central Open Series is scheduled for March 12-14 at the 33,000-acre lake’s Madison Landing.
“We are giving up that weekend because it is in the best interest of the lake, the best interest in the fishing community and, well, for everybody else involved,” David Mace said Wednesday. “That is one of our most popular events, the March one, but, still, I think it was the right thing to do.
“We will reschedule the event to another weekend so we can still have our six-event schedule filled.”
CGM does have the option of taking the vacated March 14 date at Goshen Springs, but Mace worries that the lake will have “undergone too much fishing pressure to insure his fishermen a quality experience.”
The Pearl River Valley Water Supply District oversees operation of Barnett Reservoir, which will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2015, and that includes the scheduling of fishing tournaments.
Each summer, agency officials invite tournament organizers to a meeting where a drawing is held to create an orderly selection of dates and sites for events. During the process, when an organization selects a date and a location, it is only reserving that boat ramp as a tournament site. Other organizations may hold events at other locations on the same day.
Each organization can select up to three events at the drawing, and after a two-week period, the remaining dates and locations are offered on a first-come, first-given basis.
At the drawing, a representative of BFL selected March 14 and the Maces selected March 21 at Goshen Springs, which is located at the upper end of the main lake.
When tourism officials with the City of Ridgeland later asked if Madison Landing was available on March 12-14 for a BASS event, reservoir officials certified that it was open. BASS booked the dates.
Madison Landing is located at the lower end of the main lake about seven miles from Goshen Springs. BASS will launch there all three days, hold its weigh-ins there on Thursday and Friday and then move its final weigh-in to series sponsor Bass Pro Shops in Pearl on Saturday.
A few days after BASS announced its schedule, fishermen noticed the conflict in dates.
“It wasn’t so much a problem that the two tournaments would be on the lake at the same time, because the BFL is a one-day event on Saturday (March 14), and the BASS event is three days with only the top 12 fishing on the final Saturday,” said Shannon Denson of Brandon, a regular tournament angler on the lake. “The problem was the preceding week when so many fishermen, both from the BFL and BASS, would be on the lake for pre-fishing.
“When you get 400 or 500 boats on a lake, 33,000 acres get real small, real fast. We are already looking at vegetation taking over a lot of the backwaters, and when you look at it from a fishing standpoint we’re talking about 2,500 to 4,000 of actual productive waters and that is only if the weather is favorable. Those areas were going to take a beating.”
Those areas will still be hard hit, but thanks to CGM, that pressure will be spread over a longer period of time.
“Personally, I’d like to thank David and Charlotte for agreeing to relinquish the date,” BFL angler Robbie Bridges of Brandon said. “I know it wasn’t easy for them to do, and I hope the entire Barnett fishing community understands how big this was.”