The Shriners have been helping children since the early 1920s, and the Denver Shrine Club has been raising money for 36 years with its annual Lake Norman Dogwood Bass Tournament.
The tournament is always held on the first Saturday in April. All the money raised goes to the Shriners Hospital for Children in Greenville, S.C.
This year, 81 teams started at Midway Marina, fought the wind most of the day and competed for cash prizes. Sixty-five teams weighed fish.
The biggest surprise was the size of the catches. The top four limits all weighed more than 20 pounds and there were six bass that weighed more than 7 pounds each. The big fish of the day weighed 7.15 pounds.
Michael Fox of Statesville and his teammate Tony Shook of Conover, won first place with a limit of five bass weighing 21.10 pounds. “This was the biggest bag of bass I ever caught in a Lake Norman tournament,” Shook said. The team won $2,000.
Second place went to Jeff Queen of Catawba, and his daughter, Chelsey, 21, a junior at Bethel University in Tennessee. Their fish weighed 21.05 pounds, and they took home a check for $1,000.
Bass fishing and competing run in the family. Chelsey and her brother Kristopher, 18, are members of the Bethel University bass fishing team and finished second last week in the Eastern Regional Bassmaster College Tournament here on Lake Norman. In March, Jeff and Kristopher won the Ledbetter Memorial Cancer Tournament and took home a new Ranger bass boat.
Third place and big fish honors went to Alton Rockett and Jake Huffman. Their big bass weighed 7.15 pounds and was worth $800. Their limit weighed 20.09. They earned $500 for third place for a total of $1,300.
“We were hoping for 100 boats, but 81 is more than last year. The windy conditions may have scared off a few anglers. This year we should clear about $8,000 for the hospital.” said Bill Cork of Denver, the tournament organizer.
The Lake Norman Shrine Club depends on the anglers and local businesses to participate and donate to the cause. “We are competing without major sponsors and big prizes like lots of other tournaments on the lake,” said Cork.
Lou Mintzer is a freelance writer. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.