by Laurie Weir, Smiths Falls Record News
The Renegade Bass Tour will open its tournament series next weekend in Rideau Ferry as 77 teams descend on the Big Rideau for a 7 a.m. shotgun start on Saturday, June 23.
Anglers will blast off from the marina in hopes to bag the five heaviest small- or largemouth bass before the 4 p.m. shutdown.
That’s almost twice as many teams as last year, says Matt Massey of Carleton Place, who not only fishes in the tournament with partner Travis Raison, but will be broadcasting it as well. He has hired a crew to live stream the tournament.
“It think that it’s going to be televised is the reason we’ve doubled in numbers,” he said on Sunday morning, June 17, when he did a little pre-tournament fishing with a reporter on board.
The television show will go international on the World Fishing Network and will stream online on Waypoint TV.
On Father’s Day, Massey — dad to Skeeter, an 11-year old lab that would rather swim than ride shotgun in Massey’s Skeeter bass boat, stayed home where it was cool — was out trolling the hot spots.
Armed with his four bait-casters set up with a jig, spinner, jerkbait or Senko, the bow of his boat is all storage, as it the norm for these boats with a 250-hp motor. He’s equipped with everything but a bathroom — but he can make do. Those live-wells are good for emergencies, he says with a laugh.
The trolling motor is used most of the time, he says.
“That big motor — that’s just for getting you to your spot in a hurry,” Massey says. “It’s this little one that does 90 percent of the work all day.”
His GPS allows him to mark his favourite fishing spots, as it finds the safest places to navigate around the shallow areas of the lake where dead trees and shoals are hiding.
“You don’t have to spend $80,000 on a boat to fish,” he says. “Don’t let that be a barrier to entry into a tournament.”
Massey started to fish seriously about 12 years ago, he says, making him 44 now. He started fishing from a kayak.
He laughs when he says he can’t take it (his savings) with him, so he might as well invest in fishing.
The Renegade Bass Tournament is a live-release series. They boast a mortality rate of less than two percent.
“These fish are out of the water maybe two seconds throughout the weigh-in process,” he says.
The fish are kept in live wells on the boats, and then carried in bags filled with water to holding tanks to be weighed in. Once they’re weighed — a combined weight of five fish between the two anglers per boat — they are taken back to the live well boat and taken back to a sheltered spot on the lake.
“They’re disoriented for a few days maybe,” Massey says, “but in general, they find their way back home. For some, it may take a little longer — the largemouth are lazier so it may take them longer.”
Massey talks about the work of Dr. Bruce Tufts of Tufts’ Lab at Queen’s University of Kingston. This ongoing study is using “state of the art” biotelemetry technology to provide additional insights into the natural movements of bass, as well as their ability to navigate back to their home ranges when they are displaced in tournaments.
“He’s done a lot of work to know how they move,” Massey says.
For this self-professed urban redneck who is a marketing guru, he says fishing is the best way to relax. He’s been around the water all his life, and says most of his good friends are fellow anglers.
“All of my closes friends I’ve met fishing,” he says. “There is a lot of camaraderie, but I do what it takes to win.”
The June 23 event at the Rideau Ferry Harbour is the Q1 event; July 2, the Q2 event will be held on Lake St. Francis in Cornwall; June 21, the Q3 event is in Morrisburg, and the Q4 will be held Aug. 18 on Dog, Cranberry and Whitefish lakes in Seeley’s Bay.
The spot for the Sept. 8/9 classic will be announced.
One hundred percent of all entry fees go back to the anglers in prize money, Massey says. There is a big fish prize for each tournament. This year, there is a $75,000 boat/motor unit up for grabs for the grand champion anglers.
For this Q1 Saturday, the anglers are aiming at a 19-pound bag for the win. Last year’s largest fish weighed in at 6.04 pounds. Special guest broadcaster Rob (RJ) Jackson is the on-the-water host.
Visitors to Rideau Ferry may also catch a glimpse of such pro anglers as Charles Sim of Montreal, who is favoured to win. Lenny Devos and Jeff Desloges are also on tap for the Q1.