In 2018, Bass Battles expanded to include more events and cover more of Oregon. The foundation set with two years in the Coastal Series had anglers from all parts of the Pacific Northwest speaking up wanting to participate close to home. Listening to angler feedback gave us an expanded season moving into the Summer months with Bass Battles “The River” and separate divisions for Men’s and Ladies Non-boaters using locations in the Willamette Valley. As excitement builds for Bass Battles, 2019 planning has been ongoing for months hoping to include a Junior Angler division and location expansion into Washington and Northern California.
Bass Battles “The River”
With Columbia River locations ranging from Scappoose Bay to The Dalles, putting our anglers (and crew) to the test was an understatement. Conditions changed each round making fishing and running a bass boat in the mighty Columbia very challenging. Skilled “River Rats” took on every challenge and in the end, three anglers would enter the final round for a shot at the title. Thanks to Jim Thompson’s sponsorship, Bass Battles also added the Thompson Auto Body Big Bass award each round. Here is how it all ended up:
The 2018 Bass Battles “The River” Champion started out a bottom seed and became the first person, other than Jeremy McKay, to earn this title. Jeff Reid had a dismal start in the seeding event at Scappoose Bay but was able to pull it all together in the next round to beat the favorite Darryl Burkhardt. Darryl had won the seeding event with a great bag of largemouth weighing 17.24 lbs for $400 and a Day 2 Thompson Auto Body Big Bass of 4.15 lbs for another $100. On day 2, Jeff was able to put his own largemouth pattern together for over 15 lbs while Darryl came up just short of 12 lbs.
In the Semi-Final Round, Jeff was matched up against Duane Mathis at Hood River where the wind blew right from the start. Jeff was able to handle the big water in his “Titanic” Ranger to put just over 10 lbs in the boat and get into the Championships the following day at The Dalles. Wind was again a factor in the Final Round where Louis Smith and David Mays would try everything they could to come out on top. At the end of the day, Jeff managed the Thompson Auto Body Big Fish with a 2 lb 12 oz smallie for $100 and a total payday of $900 and a 5 bait pack of Willamette Weapon Custom Lures from Bryan Chapman. The winning lure Jeff credited as the difference maker was a Willamette Weapon he already had in his arsenal.
In Second Place and also qualifying as a boater in the TBF Semifinal event, Louis Smith took home a total of $600 between the first day seeding event, the championship round, and the Thompson Auto Body Big Bass of the Semi-Final with a nice 4 lb smallie. Louis overcame motor issues on day 2 fishing the Willamette River and squeaked out a win against Keith KaDell. Unsure of how to move on, Jason Patton, a fellow 503 Basserzz club member, offered Louis the use of his Phoenix Boat to compete in the championships. Using an unfamiliar boat didn’t deter Louis at all as he put pressure on all day within sight of Jeff Reid and getting constant updates from the Bass Battles crew. Louis ended up just 1lb 11oz away from the win but still managed his best Bass Battles finish yet.
David Mays, a veteran of Bass Battles, also had his best finish taking home third place for $200 and a spot in the TBF Semifinal as a non-boater but will be fishing the event from the Greater Oregon TBF side as he is dual qualified. Many remember David from the giant 7+ largemouth he weighed in the Coastal Series earning him a Perk’s Big Bass Award but “The River” is obviously a comfortable place as he managed a win against two time champ, Jeremy McKay, to launch him into the finals. David’s 6 lb 10 oz limit in the Bass Battles Championships wasn’t what he had hoped but we know he will be one to watch in October up at Tri-Cities looking for a National Championship spot.
On the bubble, Joe Potter will be the next person up for the Non-Boater spot in the TBF Semifinal event. Joe was looking forward to Bass Battles “The River” all year and managed a win against Kevin Snelling to move into the “Strong Six”. There Joe would manage 9 lbs 12 oz but matched up against Louis Smith and his 4 lb kicker fish, Joe would be sent packing and miss out on the Finals. Tri-Cities in October will be his redemption but will this Drain Raider be able to adjust to fishing from the back of the boat for this event?
Bass Battles NEW Non-Boater Series kicked off at the end of July with Men and Ladies each competing for their opportunity to make the TBF National Semifinal event.
This series is currently ongoing as a pilot but has been impressive to watch as each angler brings something different to the game. On the Men’s side, Todd Dunlap, Joel Berukoff, and Darryl Fairbanks managed first round wins and await the next location for their Round 2 battles. On the Ladies side, Mona Dunlap and Whitney KaDell both won their respective battles to earn their space in the first ever ladies Championships.
Round 1 will wrap up in August with Blossom Langston and Debbie Maddox battling on the Willamette River August 5th.
Nick Chin and David Soliz will finish off the Men’s Round 1 battles August 11th with the location TBD.
As always, Bass Battles is not possible without the contributions of our sponsors. We kindly ask that you support those companies that support us! Many of our sponsors are local and do a tremendous job following our events and supporting our anglers. Check them out below and feel free to drop them a note thanking them for their support.