Bass fishing ace Clunn strikes again

Rick Clunn of Ava, Missouri, who turns 70 in July, won the Bassmaster Elite tour

Bass fishing ace Rick Clunn got his start in the tournament fishing world on Sam Rayburn and Toledo Bend, and with his latest victory, has won 15 B.A.S.S. tournaments. At the age of 69, he’s the oldest to win a B.A.S.S. tourney. He began fishing bass tournaments in East Texas back in the early 70s and won his first B.A.S.S. tourney in 1976. It was his first giant step toward becoming a true legend in the sport of professional fishing.

Clunn, who will turn 70 in July, caught five bass that weighed 19 pounds during last Sunday’s championship round and won the Bassmaster Elite on the St. Johns River. The win was accomplished with a monumental catch of 31.7 pounds during Saturday’s semifinal round.

“I was certainly feeling some pressure,” said Clunn, who finished 4 pounds ahead of second-place finisher Greg Hackney (77-15). “Through the years, you just learn to hide it better. Having my son (River) here helped a lot.”

After catching 16-11 and 14-13 the first two days, Clunn was in 31st place and seemed a longshot to make Sunday’s Top 12 championship cut. But the incredible catch of 31-7, which ranked as the third-best five-bass limit of his career, gave him the lead going into the final round with 62-15, according to B.A.S.S.

Clunn says he used the same bait almost the whole time — a homemade bladed jig with a green skirt and a white Luck-E-Strike swimbait for a trailer. He said he calls the bait the “Trickster 2,” and he believed it would work after watching some local anglers fishing with live shiners earlier in the week.

“I actually watched shiner fishermen in Crescent Lake flipping shiners up under a dock, and they were catching fish,” Clunn said. “I saw that, and I tied on a big Luck-E-Strike swimbait. I flipped it up under a dock and caught about a 6-pounder. That got me on the shad-type baits.”

Most of the field was sight fishing for bedding bass around the fishery’s grass-covered shorelines. Clunn chose a different approach. He used the bladed jig around the same type of cover in Lake George, getting bites from fish he couldn’t see.

The key to his magical day Saturday was an hour’s worth of wind and rain that he said seemed to make the fish bite better. He fished his bait on 65-pound braid with a 7-1/2 foot Bass Pro Shops Johnny Morris CarbonLite rod.

With this win, Clunn became the oldest to win a B.A.S.S. event, surpassing Shorty Evans, who won the Kentucky Invitational on Kentucky Lake in 1978 at age 65.


New regs on catching Sabine River bass in Jefferson, Newton and Orange counties

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission has adopted a series of fishing regulation changes affecting catches of bass on the Sabine River, and clarifying saltwater length limits on black drum and amberjack.

The changes to the 2016-17 Statewide Recreational and Commercial Fishing regulations take effect on September 1, 2016, and include:

• Modifying harvest regulations for largemouth bass on the Sabine River in Jefferson, Newton, Orange and Galveston counties. This proposal would reduce the minimum length limit for largemouth bass to 12 inches. The daily bag limit would remain at five fish in the four counties and at eight fish for the Sabine River (same as limit for waters shared with Louisiana).

• Clarifying that the recreational maximum size limit for black drum is 30 inches, and the recreational minimum total length limit on greater amberjack is 38 inches to align with new federal regulations that utilize a different measurement guideline.


Catfishing in Texas is about to get bigger and better

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has completed work on a plan, A Vision for Catfish in Texas, designed to expand angling opportunities for Texas’ growing population and introduce the next generation of anglers to fishing.

More than a year in preparation, the plan describes why catfish are likely to become more important to Texas anglers in the future, depicts the catfish species available in the state, reports results of surveys of Texas catfish anglers and presents goals and strategies designed to make catfishing better.

“Texas has some outstanding catfishing opportunities,” said Dave Terre, chief of research and management for TPWD’s Inland Fisheries division. “We believe our public waters have great potential for providing quality catfishing in the future, and we have the experience and expertise to maintain and expand the fishery.”

TPWD fisheries biologist John Tibbs was one of the authors of the plan.

“Catfish are the preferred target of more than a third of freshwater anglers in Texas,” he said. “These anglers have many different views of what catfishing means to them. The catfish management plan will be the roadmap that guides TPWD’s efforts to increase catfishing opportunities and meet the desires of anglers. Catfish can tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions. They are easy to catch, good to eat and easily reared and stocked into ponds and streams, making them ideal for providing fishing opportunities close to where people live.”