The Full Moon Open is one of Colorado's most anticipated if not largest bass tournaments. Every year, bass anglers test their mettle against the best in an all-night moon-soaked event that isn't over until the sun rises and dew lifts.
Typically, as the name implies, the event is held during the full moon, giving anglers a bit of ambient light to aid their efforts. In 2006 however the event was plagued by rains that lasted most of the night and hid the moon. This year the event occurred a week ahead of the full moon due to scheduling conflicts, but the waxing moon provided enough light and gravitational pull for assistance.
The event held by Centennial Bass Club started at 7pm Saturday night and fielded 44 two-man team boats in search of smallmouth, largemouth, and spotted bass. Following a safety meeting and livewell check at 6pm, all boats launched freely and settled in their starting spots on the lake. When starting time was reached, on the honor system, fishermen began their 12 hour test of stamina.
Action started quickly for the few boats we witnessed before 8pm already landing several bass. Action seemed to slow a bit for most anglers as dark settled in and then faded as weigh-in approached at 7am Sunday morning.
Each team was allowed to weigh their 5 best bass over the legal length limit of 12 inches. Aerators in the livewells in each boat kept the fish alive and happy. Special bags were used to transport the fish from the livewells to the weighing station, then back to boats dedicated to returning the fish back into Horsetooth Reservoir.
Boats converge on the docks at the South ramp of Horseooth to hand in their chips.
Pounds were deducted for fish below length and for fish that were not alive. Out of the 120 fish sampled, only one perished and only one was released short of length. Boats caught speeding or otherwise breaking any other Colorado State laws, of which there were none, would have been disqualified.
The Big Bass Award was given to Jason Winkler for his 3.11 pound bass taken on a tube jig some 3 hours into the event. First place went to Mike Hubbard and Ron Mayer for their total weight of 8.64 pounds. Second place went to the team of Jason Winkler and Scott Tracy. Third place was a tie between the teams of Brandon White/Bryan Johnson and Eric Bergersen/Karl Bergersen both with 7.46 pounds, going to the tie-breaker of big bass of 2.91 pounds caught by the White/Johnson team.
Jason Winkler with his 3.11 pound bass
Of the 44 teams, 14 did not weigh any fish, 14 weighed the limit of 5 fish, and the rest brought in numbers somewhere in between. The 2nd place and 15th place finishers were only separated by 2 pounds total. Only two fish over 3 pounds were recorded.
Most boats felt tested by the conditions this night. Quickly falling water levels at Horsetooth were recently followed by an influx of water through the Big Thompson Project, which evened out the decline. These conditions proved tough, however 26 boats brought in over 4 pounds of fish each.
From dead batteries to escaped fish, the FMO competitors battled tough conditions aside from a sleepless night. The coffee flowed and breakfast burritos devoured as the weigh-in drew a crowd.
So it was at 8:30am Sunday morning that the mostly red-eyed tournament participants turned to their vehicles looking forward to a good day's rest. And for sure they're planning their strategies for the 2008 FMO. For more information on the Centennial Bass Club and FMO, click here.
About the author, Matt Snider: Matt Snider is a life-long fly fisherman who has turned his attention to the "other species" of Colorado, namely any non-trout species. Having caught multiple warmwater species in Colorado on the fly in Colorado alone, Matt built Fish Explorer as a means for anglers to maintain updated lake conditions, an element he finds critical in catching fish and enjoying our resources. An advocate of alternative fly fishing and fisheries preservation, Matt is an avid wiper and muskie fisherman traveling with boat in tow in pursuit of these hard-to-find fish. If a fish is willing to eat something, his bet is that it will eat a fly. Contact Matt