West Virginia Bass Federation - FISHTAILS
Sutton 2001

Anglers fishing the first W.V. Bass Federation Buddy Trail event of the year at Sutton Lake had to show proof of their boat insurance prior to the morning launch. However, by the end of the April Fool's Day tournament it would have been advisable for tournament officials to request proof of a CAT scan as well.

The opener of the 2001 fishing season had already been delayed a week because of a forecast of several inches of snow, ice, and highs in the 20's. It was the first time in recent memory a tournament had been postponed for any reason.

"We delayed one several years ago, but it's been a while." Said WVBF President John Burdette. "I think we called that one off because of a flood, high water, and really dangerous conditions. We were afraid the ramp would get icy this time and some of these boats and tow vehicles would get banged up-or worse somebody get hurt trying to pull out, so we just put it off a week."

The delay proved nobody had a crystal ball.The weatherman promised March would leave like a lamb. The forecast called for partly cloudy skies and highs in the 50's with a chance of a passing afternoon shower. The reality was well short of that prediction, with a slow mist in the morning and the 45-degree launch temperature proving to be the day's high. By two o'clock the mist turned to a torrential downpour.

By 2:30 winds out of the west at 20-to-30 miles an hour picked up and somewhere near the 3:00 hour sleet and snow came down along with the temperature to a frigid 31-degrees.

"This is insane." Commented one soaked angler who called it a day around 3:15."A man needs his head examined to be out here today." Noted another drenched soul. "You gotta' love fishing to hang with this weather." Said yet another die-hard.
Fishing seemed more like an after thought by day's end. Well over half of the 80-boats entered in the day's tournament were gone well before the first-flight weigh-in at 4:00. Those who weathered the storm could muster only one-to-two fish apiece.

Eric Matheny of Bruceton Mills was one of those that had only one bass-but it was an important fish at two-pounds-seven ounces. Matheny and partner Jeff Thorn of Morgantown notched a second place finish and the tournament lunker with that one fish.
"It was pure blind luck." Said Matheny, "He was caught in about eight-feet of water on a spinner bait about 10:30." It was their only bite of the day.
Monte Krepps and Scott Phillips of Elkins were able to untangle the difficult conditions putting together a four-fish stringer weighing .

"We caught all of them in Wolf Creek." Said Phillips.

"The water temperature up there was about 46-degrees and that's the warmest water we could find on the lake so we stayed there all day."

The elements made concentration difficult late in the day-but the Randolph County duo were able to stay focused.

"We were throwing four-inch lizards in anywhere from eight to 20 feet of water. I was setting the hook on everything.Two of those fish slammed it, but the other two I would have never known they were there if I hadn't paid close attention. They just opened their mouth, bit, and sat there."

The four keepers were enough to give Phillips and Krepps the early lead in the 2001 Buddy Trail. Their 18-hundred dollar first prize payout gave at least two fishermen a silver lining to an otherwise miserable day.