Wes Gilmore of Lincoln County added to his trove of fishing trophies Saturday by leading a team that scored a dominating triumph in the Striped Bass Challenge tournament at Lake Murray.
Joining Gilmore, who is from Crouse, in the South Carolina event were his usual fishing buddy, Rob Hedrick of Lincolnton, April Hedrick of Mount Holly and Jim Carver of Dallas, N.C.
They boated the tournament limit of two stripers, fish weighing 26.50 and 11.56 pounds, for a total of 38.06. The pro division catch gave them a haul of $28,000 cash and an ATV valued at $11,000. They won first place overall, the big fish pot and April Hedrick was tops among women anglers.
Well-known Lake Norman guide David Clubb of Mooresville and a frequent fellow fisherman, NASCAR figure Mike Dillon of Welcome, first discussed formation of the tournament while en route home months ago from a successful fishing trip to Lake Murray.
Dillon works for Richard Childress Racing, which employs his sons, Austin and Ty, as drivers. Dillon obtained lead sponsorship for the tourney from Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris and the competition was on, with Dillon as its director. Bass Pro also is one of the RCR operation’s backers in NASCAR.
“For being a new tournament, it was a success beyond our biggest expectations,” Clubb said Wednesday. “We had 170 boats entered and 560 participants. This enabled us to raise $9,000 and 21,000 pounds of food for the Hope Food Bank of South Carolina, and that will come in great here at Christmastime. Our goal was 5,000 pounds of food.
“We’re already planning to make the tournament an annual event.” Tom Higgins
Project set to enhance Mattamuskeet wildlife habitat
The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plan to jointly implement a habitat enhancement project in 2016 at sprawling Lake Mattamuskeet in Eastern N.C.
The program will focus on maintaining submerged aquatic vegetation in the lake’s east basin and increase its coverage in the west basin.
“Healthy stands of submerged vegetation provide food for waterfowl, habitat for other migratory birds, plus fish and crabs,” a commission spokesperson wrote in a bulletin. (This) vegetation is very limited in the west basin and in recent years has steadily declined in the east basin.”
The Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge is in Hyde County. It is home to an abundant diversity of wildlife, from hundreds of thousands of waterfowl that winter on the lake to a unique fishery that consists of both freshwater and estuarine species because of the drainage canals connecting to Pamlico Sound. Observer News Services
Catches of the week
▪ A wahoo of 56.7 pounds by Daniel Simmons, who took the lead for that species in Ocean Isle Fishing Center’s annual rodeo.
▪ Mixed limits of largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass at Fontana Lake by Charles Land and Ronnie Crisp, both of Robbinsville. One of Lane’s spots was a 4-pounder.
▪ Six Lake Norman blue catfish ranging from 15 to 21.5 pounds by Mac Byrum of Denver, N.C. At one point he had three of these hooked simultaneously.
▪ Limits of king mackerel off Ocean Isle by Alex Westbrook, Josh Hastings and Mark Hamm while fishing with skipper/guide Brant McMullan. The kings, mostly in the 20-pound range, struck jigged cigar minnows in 85 feet of water.