Polar Bear Report
The Polar Bear Open ended its season appropriately with the Bob Evans Classic under cold, snowy conditions and the tournament’s namesake winning two of the prizes on the St. Joseph River at 6 Span Bridge.
The biggest prize – first place – went to Wesson Vint and Chris Brunt with11.60 pounds that included the biggest bass, a 3.66 pounder. They fished Ned rigs and blade baits around shallower structure to win $340 and the $ 90 big bass pot.
Bob Evans and John Grimm not only finished second ($200) with 10.5 pounds, but they hauled in the biggest critter fish, a 17.17-pound carp, for a bonus $90. They fished blades and Ned rigs near the dam area. Evans started the annual Thanksgiving Weekend tournament years ago and the Polar Bear Open crew adopted it as the circuit’s season finale.
The nine competing teams said the bite was great early but died off as the day wore on. The water was 38 degrees and most teams reported having a great time in the snowy conditions.
Polar Bear Report
Steve Martin and John Dixon teamed up to win the Polar Bear Open last weekend on the Waldron Chain at Duke’s Bridge.
Martin and Dixon made a late day change that got them the big bass ($160) of the tournament, a 5.21-pound largemouth, and boosted their weight to 14.59 pounds to garner the win ($450).
The winners fished jigs and bladed jigs while other top patterns in the tournament were Ned rigs, blades (i.e. silver buddies) and lipless crankbaits. There were 17 boats in the event and the water temperature was 48 degrees.
Steve Kline and Kenny Watson were second ($270) with 14.57 pounds.
Jourdan Morris and Lee Duracz finished third ($180) with 13.18 pounds.
Devon Fry and Sam Kavanaugh took home $100 for fourth with 12.08 pounds.
Jim Young and Bryan Healey won the critter pot with a 9.53-pound carp.
The next Polar Bear Open is the Bob Evans Classic Sunday on the St. Joseph River at 6 Span. Tournament hours are 8 to 3.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — After a career that spanned parts of five decades, decorated professional angler David Fritts of Lexington, N.C., has announced his retirement from B.A.S.S. The 1993 Bassmaster Classic champion and 1994 Bassmaster Angler of the Year said his declining health and the rigors of the various B.A.S.S. schedules were the major factors in his decision.
“I had COVID-19 in 2021, and I still have what they call ‘long COVID,’” Fritts said. “I still can’t smell anything. I never got all of my energy back, and it sort of messed my heart up a little bit. My bones and my joints still work pretty well, but I just don’t quite have the stamina or energy I used to have.”
Though Fritts said he may still explore a less rigorous schedule, he doesn’t think he has it left in him to pursue the Bassmaster Elite Series or the St. Croix Bassmaster Opens.
That puts a cap on a star-studded career that began with the 1986 Georgia Invitational on West Point Lake and ended with the 2023 Elite Series event on the St. Lawrence River. Between those dates, he became one of the few anglers to win a Classic, an AOY title and the FLW Tour’s Forrest Wood Cup.
Former back-to-back Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic champion Jordan Lee is headed back to the Bassmaster Elite Series in 2024. Lee will return to the Elites via a Legend’s spot in the field, which opened when Larry Nixon announced his retirement.
In just five seasons competing in major B.A.S.S. events, Lee, of Grant, Ala., amassed more than $1.1 million in earnings through wins in the 2017 and 2018 Bassmaster Classic and dominant performances in both the Elites and the St. Croix Bassmaster Opens, notching 21 Top 10s and 36 Top 30 finishes.
“It is great to welcome Jordan back home to the Bassmaster stage, where he built such a fantastic career spanning from college to the historic back-to-back Classic victories,” said Lisa Talmadge, tournament director for the Elite Series.
Lee won two Classics and then left B.A.S.S. to compete on the Major League Fishing (MLF) circuit. When Nixon retired last week, Lee took advantage of his Legend status and returned to B.A.S.S.
The former Auburn University angler, who was an early star in the Strike King Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops, is ready to get back to the biggest stage in fishing.
“This is really exciting,” Lee said. “I’m really looking forward to the challenge of being back on the Elites. I know, from a competition standpoint, there are a lot of young guys on the Elite Series that are young, hungry and eat, sleep and breathe this sport.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Bassmaster’s first “Million Dollar Man,” Larry Nixon of Bee Branch, Ark., is stepping away from the Bassmaster Elite Series in 2024. Nixon decided at the end of the 2023 season that his health would not allow him to compete at his usual high standard.
“The Elite Series grind is more than most people could ever imagine,” said Nixon. “The elements of professional bass fishing are some of the toughest things in all of sports. Over the course of my career I’ve worn out two thumbs, a shoulder, a heart, a knee and an elbow due to competitive repetition.
“My health is OK, but, believe me, everything is just worn out. It’s become really difficult to just do normal things like tie knots and other little things.”