Outdoors: Whiteside takes sixth place at BASS State Tournament
The Canyon Bass Club of San Marcos was formed in 1968. I was a charter member but dropped out of the club in 1990.
Many of my friends, who are now old guys, still fish in the club. Each year the club sends its top six fishermen to fish the BASS (Bass Anglers Sportsman’s Society) Federation Nation State Tournament.
This year the tournament was held on big Sam Rayburn Lake in East Texas. The six- man team (Kandie Candelaria, Randi Brudnicki, John Beene, Clint Robertson, Jason Brudnicki, and Bobby Whiteside) spent three days pre-fishing and then
three days competing in the contest March 24-29.
During the pre-fishing the contestants fish with members of their own club. But for the actual tournament you draw partners from other clubs. This helps prevent cheating.
Thirty-five teams made up of 203 individuals fished the tournament. Most bass clubs now consist of semi-pro fishermen who fish local money bass circuits. Few clubs remain that are purely recreational like the San Marcos club.
During the practice days a powerful cold front blasted into Texas. Fishing had been awesome. One fisherman told Whiteside about a five-fish stringer that weighed almost 40 pounds.
But all that changed. Freezing temperatures pushed bass off their spawning beds and gave many fish the lock jaw.
Bobby Whiteside and Kandie Candelaria pre-fished for three days together. The wind howled at 20-30 MPH each day. In three days of trying to locate bass they caught only two keeper fish (14 inches). Developing a pattern for the tournament was tough.
“I finally settled on a small creek that was full of aquatic vegetation and protected from the strong winds,” said Whiteside. “It turned out to be a good choice.”
Using a plastic worm hooked through the middle on a tiny jig head Whiteside managed to catch five keepers, but no real big fish on day one. The lite weight allowed the bait to sink slowly. With the bite not being very aggressive, the slow fall helped.
He and his partner almost missed the weigh-in when they hit a big stump running 45 MPH on the path to tournament headquarters. All East Texas lakes are full of timber, much of which has rotted off just at water surface level. Running fast can be very dangerous.
On day two Whiteside boated eight keeper bass, allowing him to cull some of his smaller fish from the live well. Although he now had two limits weighed in he was not near the leader. He needed bigger fish.
As day three began another boat was sitting right on his honey hole in the creek. One of the guys he had fished with earlier had taken a new partner into the creek. That’s against the rules, but Whiteside let it slide. Good boy Bobby!
When the wind slowed down to almost 15 mph at noon, he and his partner moved into open water to fish some bridge pilings. They hit the jackpot. Bobby landed eight bass in one hour, some in the four- to five-pound range.
“If I could have stayed right on the pilings I don’t know how many I could have caught,” said Whiteside. “But the wind kept blowing me away from the target.”
The San Marcos club finished in 12th place with almost 115 pounds total.
Whiteside’s total weight for the contest was 37.5 pounds giving him sixth place in the tournament. Fellow club member, Jason Brudnicki, finished in the 16th place at 29 pounds. The individual winner had 52 pounds. Whiteside’s sixth-place finish put him in first place for the South Region. He will represent the South in the 8 State Regional Tournament in June. Normally, that tournament lake would be in another state. Two years ago Whiteside won his region and fished the next tournament in Missouri.
But this June the tournament will be on Sam Rayburn again. If Whiteside wins this 8 State Tournament he would go to the BASS Classic with a chance to win $500,000.
Whiteside is the best fisherman I have ever fished with in the same boat. With a PhD in fisheries biology, years of practical practice and lightning-fast reflexes he’s still hard to beat at almost 73 years old.
If he could have fished the professional national bass circuit when he was young his name would be up there with older well- known pro’s like Bill Dance and Jimmy Houston.
Maybe he will get there yet.
Jim Darnell is an ordained minister and host/producer of the syndicated outdoors show God’s Great Outdoors. Contact him at email@example.com