In the world of tournament angling, it makes all the difference! We fished our fourth tournament bright and early this morning (6am or 0600 for you military types). There were 25+ teams participating in this go round. The fishing was slow initially, but began to pick up as the morning progressed. We caught twelve bass evenly split between us at six a piece. The majority hit a 7" worm rigged weedless or a medium running crank bait.
Why does size matter? On this particular lake, state reg's stipulate that a largemouth bass must be 20" in length or more in order to be kept (i.e., put in a live well for weigh-in). A bass not meeting the 20" minimum must be released immediately. In addition, an angler can only have in his or her possession one bass that is 20" or greater. Since tournaments have to abide by state reg's, this means a two-angler team could only weigh-in two largemouth bass (one per angler). Because of these regulations, one good bass could potentially win a tournament.
Of the twelve bass we caught today, one looked like a really good fish when it came to the surface - definitely one that needed to be checked. We quickly put it on the measuring board and it was a solid 19 incher. Talk about disappointment! Unfortunately, no amount of pulling, tugging, coaxing, or stretching could make it a 20" fish. So back it went. One extra inch, or in this case, the lack thereof, made all the difference. One inch stood between us and potential prize money. On the flip side, weighing in a fish that is just one inch too short will cost you money. The Fish and Wildlife Resources guys take that stuff seriously. Naturally, the big fish hit during the last hour of the tournament and we ran out of time.
Even though we haven't won an individual tournament yet, we are on track with our points. There are two tournaments remaining - one in July and one in August. And both are night tournaments. Well, the word "night" is used loosely. They start at 6pm (1800 for you military types) and end at midnight which means there are several hours of daylight. If we complete both tournaments, we will have the number of points necessary to fish the regional tournament later this fall.
Size certainly does matter. In these tournaments, it can make a big difference!