Fishing & Boating News

Rain Gear makes fishing tolerable for the winners

by: Mel Phillips,

(Wednesday, May 05,1999 - Ute, NM) Fishing in our region often turns into a contest against Mother Nature, and the anglers who are dressed right are the ones who can keep fishing in the cold and rain while others are forced to retreat to the warmth of the car. Last weekend's Fun Tournament at Ute Lake was one of those miserable events where the cold winds were laced with torrential rain squaws, and only the angers with the right kind of rain gear survived and were able fish the entire event.

Forty two determined anglers from three States gathered at the ramp for the pre-dawn blast off that took place in a driving rain. Thirty minutes later, the first boat returned and the field was down to thirty-eight. For the next four hours, cold and wet tournament anglers withdrew from the tournament in what looked like a slow motion movie of beaten men dragging their fancy bass boats out of the arena of competition.

First came the guys dressed in plastic ponchos, followed by the anglers wearing the cheap plastic rain gear. After another hour passed, anglers wearing leaky rain suits fell victim to the cold rain and loaded their rigs. By the noon weigh-in ceremonies at the Marina, only the fishermen who wore GoreTex or one of the other "breathable" materials had managed to keep fishing on a very cold miserable day that would been better spent sitting in front of a roaring fireplace and not on the water.

Staying dry AND COMFORTABLE on a rainy day is always a challenge but staying dry and warm while continuing to fish imposes the ultimate test for rain gear. This tournament offers a few lessons that just might make your next trip to the lake or the mountains more fun and safer.

FIRST Those cheap plastic ponchos things not only leak, but they trap the moisture from your body. The inexpensive plastic coats and pants combinations are barely better than a poncho. No amount of layering under plastic will effectively fight the cold when you are soaking wet. SECOND Most of the water resistant rain suits will work for a few hours before the cold and wet reaches the skin.

THIRD and most importantly, Gore-Tex and those other "breathable" space age fabrics are worth the money. The best rain gear consists of bib pants and a hooded jacket. My Ten-X Gore-Tex rain gear has a built in hood and works pretty good. After last weekend, my next rain suit will be one with bib pants because they appear to hold the body heat better, and as the years pass staying warm becomes increasingly important. FATHER's DAY is coming soon. . Both the Bass Pro and Cabela's mail order catalogs have rain gear in them that will make your favorite outdoors a happy guy on FATHER'S DAY. The "Guide" rain suit looks perfect. (Yes, THAT is a not too subtle hint for my kids.)

CONGRATULATIONS to JAY FRIEMEL of Canyon for winning the Ute Lake Fun Tournament. Friemel won his eighth Fun Fishing Tournament in four years with a three-bass limit that weighed 10.37 lbs. His first place finish was worth $410 and the respect of the rain soaked field of 41 anglers. Friemel used a Nichol's spinnerbait with chartreuse willow blades on isolated trees in the shallow water.

"The bite was real light. When the blades stopped spinning, I set the hook" confided Friemel. AND, yes he was wearing a bibbed rain suit with three layers of clothing under it. "I try to always buy the best fishing equipment on the market, and today my most valuable piece of gear was my rain suit" said the exhausted but happy angler.

Second Place prize money of $205 went to Canyon's JIM SIMPSON, who brought in two largemouth bass that tipped the scales at 9.44 lbs. Simpson, who fishes with Friemel during many partner's tournaments, used a jig-n-pig to pry loose the bass from their sanctuaries at the base of flooded trees in water that was seven feet deep. "The bite was super light, when my jig felt "light", I would set the hook. The wind and rain made it really hard today, and I feel certain that I missed a couple of fish that would have won this tournament" said Simpson.

"I am just glad this wasn't an all day tournament. I am ready for a nice warm shower, and then I might watch those television guys show me how easy fishing can be" joked Simpson.

Third place and $102 was pocketed by TERRY DALE GILMORE of Childress. Gilmore's total weight was 8.12 lbs. His limit of three bass consisted of two small mouths and a largemouth. "I used a black spinnerbait, and covered lots of water looking for the few bass that were actively feeding. The bass want to be shallow and WHEN the cold winds stop, they will be right on the bank" reported Gilmore.

Other rain-soaked anglers finishing in the top ten and earning their "invitation" to the 1999 Championship included the following: JOHN SMITH of Amarillo with two largemouth at 6.41 lbs.; STEVEN SMITH of Canyon with two largemouths and one smallmouth at 6.33 lbs.; J.L. CHATWELL of Borger with two smallmouths and one black bass totaling 6.30 lbs.; KELLY NELSON of Canyon with one largemouth and one smallie at 4.69 lbs.; BUTCH COLANTONIO of Amarillo with a largemouth and a smallmouth bass at 3.92 lbs.; JEREMY NOBLE of Amarillo with a largemouth and a smallie at 3.90 lbs.; and JARRELL LONG of Amarillo with a largemouth at 3.59 lbs. Long won $41 for his tenth place finish while the other anglers in fourth through ninth place won prizes. The $50 Luck-of-the-draw went to Terry Dale Gilmore.

The next Fun Fishing Tournament is scheduled for Saturday morning, May 15, at Lake Greenbelt. The first Thursday evening (6 p.m. until 9 p.m.) Fun Tournament will take place on May 27 at Lake Meredith. ALL Fun Tournaments have a $25 entry fee and a three-bass limit is in effect. All interested anglers are invited and all kids under 17 may enter FREE when accompanied with an adult contestant. Surely winter is over, and the fish will be biting. For more information contact Mel Phillips at (806) 353-3654.

Until next week, good fishing and good luck. Don't forget Mom on her special day, Sunday, May 8th. Do something special for her....take her fishing.