Guest Blog by: James Strawbridge 5/21/2013
This weekend Sharon and I fished a Couples Team Bass Tournament down at Pueblo. We left Saturday morning early to do some prefishing and see what these fish were doing. When we got there we noticed some fish were on beds. There was also a High School bass tournament being held there as well. As we fished throughout the day we noticed lots of empty beds, and other anglers fishing shallow. If anyone knows me, you will know that I love to fish shallow and bed fishing is right in my wheelhouse. As the day went on I said to Sharon......"maybe we should look else where for fish, these fish are getting hit pretty hard". So off we went looking for prespawners (fish that haven't quite moved up yet but are really close). So we started chucking crankbaits, jerkbaits, and other baits that entice some bites. Sharon of coarse loves to throw senkos. As the day went on Sharon was kicking my butt and putting fish in the boat. These fish were good size and as always we wanted too see if these were 'keeper" fish (15"or better). It seemed like every fish on the Golden Rule was about 1/8' to 1/4" short of 15". Isn't it always that way when looking for tournament keepers!
Which brings me to the title of the blog! If you don't know, a golden rule is a piece of metal that is bent up on one end and filled with measurements that you lay your fish on see if they make the proper lengths according to the regulations. As mentioned above 15" is the official size you can weigh-in at Pueblo. When you catch a fish you close the mouth, put it up against the ruler, pinch the tail and swipe it across the board...hoping that the tail hits the 15" mark. If so...in the livewell it goes!
It's now tournament day, we now know what the fish are keyed in on and off we went. We caught plenty of fish throughout the day, but they all seemed to be shy by about 1/4". So back in the lake they went. We did this for about 5 hours and frustration was building. Finally, we got onto a main lake point and boated 4 keepers in about 20 minutes. Only problem was that two of the fish were "squeakers" (fish that just barely make 15"). So we fish on and finally catch our 5th and final keeper. Only problem is that they were all small mouth. We caught plenty of heavier spotted bass, but just didn't make the 15" mark. So back in the lake they went.
At this point the day is coming to an end and we head in for the weigh-in. When you fish a bass tournament the tournament officials have a little area called a "bump" station. This is where you can confirm that the fish make the proper length according to the tournaments "Golden Rule" before you hand the fish over to the officials. Once you hand over your fish they become property of the tournament director and you will be penalized if you have a short fish. Here is where it gets interesting! As Sharon and I put our 2 "squeakers" (mentioned above) on the "official" golden rule (at the bump station) we noticed that they were well over the 15" mark. Now that's unusual...most of the time fish tense up and tend to "shrink" when placed in the livewell. At this point I thought, hmmmm, that's crazy what was I thinking that these fish were squeakers. Then the light went off in my head, maybe the Golden Rule I carry in my boat is off. Sure enough, I put a tape measure against the board and 15" was really on the 14 3/4" mark. The Golden Rule was off by about 1/4". So all those fish we threw back were really keepers. Including the bigger spotted bass. Needless to say the couple that beat us weighed in 8.24 lbs and we weighed in 8.05 lbs. If we could have kept those spotted bass we could have cashed a check!
Now don't get me wrong. I don't mind loosing when everything is on the up and up, but for a piece of my equipment to fail me and cost me money really ticks me off. I wonder how many other tournaments (or money) I lost in the past. This one cost me $240. It's entirely my fault and I'm not blaming anyone but me. I should have checked it before I bought it......lesson learned!
One thing is for sure with bass fishing, you learn more from mistakes and loosing than you ever will from winning. I can guarantee you this, that thing is going in the trash and an email to the company expressing my feelings. I don't want anything from them, but I do want to voice my disappointment in there quality control. Seriously...how hard is it to make a piece of metal with accurate numbers. Especially when it's done by a machine for mass production.
Moral is....next time I buy a Golden Rule, you can bet I'm bringing a tape measure to the store with me! Hope all you bass tournament guys go out to your boat and check yours. Good luck and keep fishin!
Who is Jim Strawbridge you ask! Jim is a person who has a passion for bass fishing like no other. Jim grew up in Albany, N.Y. and started bass fishing with his grandfather at age six. His decision to leave New York in 1996 and head to Colorado was a tough one indeed. Although the trip was long, it really paid off. Since Jim has arrived here in Colorado his bass fishing passion has grown to new heights. Jim says, “Bass fishing in Colorado has made me a better angler”. Jim grew up fishing the Mohawk River, Hudson River, Lake George, and lots of local Ponds. He now faces the challenge of deep, clear, western reservoirs. After fine tuning his skills, Jim has decided to pursue bass fishing at the tournament level. Jim fishes The Bassmaster’s Open and is a Tournament Director for The Colorado Couples Series. The Couples Series is a male/female team type format that fishes six lakes along the Front Range, from Pueblo to FortCollins. Jim and his wife Sharon were two time winners in The Colorado Couples Series in 2010, and state champs in 2010 & 2011. Jim and Sharon also qualified for the National Championship in 2010 and 2011, and were ranked 72nd in the Nation. Jim hosts rod building seminars, and owns “Galaxy Custom Rods and Supplies”. He also will make appearances at trade shows, and sports expos. Jim loves to talk bass fishing, so the next time you see him, stop by and say hello. Remember, you don’t have to be the best, you just have to out fish the rest! Jim would like to give a special thanks to all his great sponsors, Sportsman’s Warehouse, MHX Rods, Nitro Boats, Red Dog Signs, and Galaxy Custom Rods and Supplies.
Blog content © James Strawbridge
Coyute, CO 5/22/2013 12:32:09 PM
That sucks! The ruler on my belly boat is messed up too. Whenever I catch a fish, I just add a couple inches. The 12 inchers become 14 inchers and so on. :P You and Sharon will get 'em next time, hopefully with a true scale.
toobman, CO 5/24/2013 6:12:26 PM
Look at it the other way to. How many tournaments have you been to where you measured your fish at 15 inches, only to get to the weigh master and he says your fish is a quarter inch short. It may be a good idea to take a tape measure along and ask to measure the bump board and the official scale prior to weigh ins. Just a thought. Great article Jim! I will be checking my Golden Rule for sure!
LunkerPunker, CO 5/27/2013 9:21:37 AM
Damn Jim, You are making me wonder how many limits I may have thrown back in that lake. I will be checking both of my golden rules shortly! Thanks for the heads up. Sorry we missed that tourney sounds like it was a good one.
champion184, CO 5/28/2013 11:00:42 AM
Well Jim regardless it was a fun tournement, Thanks for everything you do for us couples
FishSeal, CO 5/28/2013 11:15:00 AM
I'm going to check mine also!!
I wonder if there's a way to "re-etch" or get a replacement from Berkley for it.