“No cull” = “No limit”?

UTAH Leads Team Standings

Strategy was key, as the 2009 Western Division Championship kicked off at Flaming Gorge, Wyoming’s Buck Board Marina.

The lakes “no cull rule” played a large part in the anglers’ decision making process. The dilemma to keep some fish and not keep others hoping for one bigger, was about the only thing that kept most anglers from a limit of bass today. The majority of anglers weighed in limits today so it is going to be a close race to the finish line on Friday, however those few without limits told stories of throwing back keeper fish before reaching their no cull limit in hope of finishing their limit with a “big” fish. It is a gamble. In the end, the decisions cost some anglers, while others found enough keepers to pull ahead. Ultimately, 118 anglers weighed-in over 830lb. of small-mouth bass.

The Utah Bass Federation is leading in the team standings with a total weight of 103lb. 4oz. and the always strong California Team is breathing down their neck at 95lb. Less than a pound back in third is the Idaho Bass Federation weighed in a total of 94lb. 2oz. The Washington Bass Federation is in fourth with a total weight of 91lb. 5oz. Each state can bring 12 anglers to the division championship to compete for the cash payout. Next year, TBF will split the West into two divisions, the Northwest Division and the Southwest Division. This year we are holding a “two in one” event, so we have two anglers to talk about that are leading their divisions.

Cameron Smith from Dana Point, Cali., and Brandon Palaniuk from Rathdrum, Idaho, came out on top, both with a limit weighing 12lb. 8oz. Brandon is the leader for the Northwest Division, while Cameron is leading the Southwest Division. Brandon caught his limit before 11:30 am and then spent the rest of the day searching for good areas to fish tomorrow. “I will do the same thing tomorrow, just cover a lot of water and go for pounds,” Brandon said. Like several other anglers, Brandon faced a challenge with the no cull rule. “I was nervous a few times, but I decided to throw back anything under 2lb. and it seemed to work for me. Tomorrow, I just have to stick to my guns and go out there and do it again,” Brandon commented.

Right on their heels, is Wayne Crowder from Salt Lake City, Utah with a limit weighing 11lb. 13oz. Tyler Swaney from Fort Collins, Colo., is close behind him with five fish weighing 11lb. 8oz. Aaron Echternkamp from Moses Lake, Wash., weighed in a limit of 11lb. 6oz., and Jeff Erickson from Phoenix, Ariz., caught a limit of bass weighing 11lb. 1oz. Jeff caught his limit early as well. “Today was a lot tougher than it was pre-fishing. But, we ran around the lake a lot bed fishing, and I managed to catch my limit before 11:40am.” Jeff said.

TBF’s newest federation is the Nevada Bass Federation and we’re extremely excited to have them join the ranks of America’s largest organized grassroots fishing organization. The Nevada’s federation squad is only competing with 10 anglers, due to the last minute emergency that kept two of their members home, yet they are showing they came to play and they’re holding their own, even short-handed. The Nevada Bass Federation President, Mitch Geyer, had a great day of fishing. “This has been the best day of fishing all week. I caught my limit before 10am, and my partner caught his limit right in the nick of time,” Mitch said.

Tomorrows weigh-in will be at 2:30pm at BuckBoard Marina. And it’s free to the public.