George Baucom of Charlotte recently caught his first smallmouth bass, and the fish helped him earn a cash prize of $50,000.
Baucom, 54, won the co-angler division of the Ray Scott Championship at Lake Wheeler earlier this month, near Decatur in northern Alabama. His winning weight in the four-day tournament was 29.8 pounds.
“I caught seven smallmouth bass the second day and I checked in with 12 pounds,” said Baucom, who usually fishes at Lake Wylie. “They won it for me, helping to build a 6-pound lead going into the final round two days later. One of the smallmouth weighed 4 1/2 pounds, and it was especially critical.”
Baucom, who is in the heating and air conditioning business, managed only 3 1/2 pounds the final day, but he was far enough ahead to top Oklahoma angler Stan Forrester’s runner-up weight of 28.15 pounds.
Baucom fished the last round of the championship with Texan Albert Collins, who won the elite boater division with 56.18 pounds. Counting bonuses, Collins earned $150,000.
The Scott series is named for the famous founder of the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society, or BASS.
Baucom’s lure of choice was an Alabama rig designed by Shane Lineberger of Charlotte. He affixed swim baits to the rig, which simulates a small school of fish in the water.
Baucom is moving up to the boater class in 2015. He plans to use his $50,000 to buy a new pickup truck.
“I’ve got a new boat,” he said. “Now I’ll have something nice to pull it.”
Co-anglers sit in the back of boats while pros from the top division operate the craft from the front with a troll motor, choosing where to fish and casting first.
The 2015 championship is scheduled April 4-10 at Lake Hartwell in Anderson. A three-day fishing expo will be held at the Anderson Sports and Entertainment complex. Tom Higgins
• David Catoe, Mike Rape and Tony Cauthern, all of Lancaster, teamed Saturday to win a Catawba Catfish Club tournament at Fishing Creek Reservoir near Great Falls. Their winning weight for three fish was 55.1 pounds. The Rock Hill trio of Gary Morton, Jason Henderson and David Henderson checked in the largest single fish at 25.75 pounds.
• Gaylen Heying of Fort Mill is the new champion of the Charlotte Rifle & Pistol Club’s annual 5-Stand Sporting Clays competition. He shattered 39 of 50 targets Saturday at the club’s facility near Waxhaw. John Lancaster of Charlotte, champion the past two years, finished second with 38 hits. Mike Pierle of Waxhaw was third with 37.
Catches of the week
• A 14-pound flounder in the Shallotte River by Jose Landa.
• A 52-inch red drum by Doug Young of Salisbury while fishing from a dock in the Intracoastal Waterway near Southport.
• King mackerel of 33 and 31 pounds off Hatteras Village by Gary Thomas and Chris Thomas of Cassat.
• Mixed limits of largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass at Fontana Lake by Robbinsville anglers Bucky and Charles Lane, and Junior Burris of Maryville, Tenn.
• A limit of large wahoo off Ocean Isle by Bryan Freeman, Tim Gallimore and Daniel Simmons, fishing at an area called The Steeples.