West Virginia Bass Federation - FISHTAILS
Prickett's Fort

A year ago the Monongahela River yielded not only the biggest catch of the Buddy Trail for the year-but maybe one of the largest hauls in history. The 2001 Buddy Trail visit to the Prickett's Fort Ramp at Fairmont would prove vastly different from the nearly 350-pounds of 2000. A tough nine-hours on the water produced a mere 123-pounds of total weight from 55-teams.

"I knew it would be tough." Noted winning angler Lester Marsh.

Marsh and partner Alan Fluharty coaxed six-bass to the boat for a total weight of eight-pounds-one ounce and the win.

"We had a club tournament here on Saturday and I pretty much knew where the fish were from that." Said Marsh. "It would have been better with clouds."

Marsh and Fluharty headed up river past Fairmont where they had located fish just north of the confluence of the Tygart and West Fork Rivers. The early bite was key with a low-lying fog on the river.
"I caught five of them on a Terminator spinnerbait and one on a worm. All of them came in the morning, when that sun came out it shut them down."

The bluebird skies seemed to be the end of any active feeding for most anglers.

Fritz Rothgeb and Randy Peters noted a nearly identical pattern, fishing around rock and wood in deeper water in the early morning hours.

"We had three before the fog lifted and a couple of more about mid-morning." Said Peters, "After that sun came out, we couldn't' get another bite."

Those five fish were worth six-pounds-11 ounces and a second place finish for the Putnam County duo. Like Marsh and Fluharty, Rothgeb and Peters stayed in the Opekiska Pool basically for the sake of not knowing any better.

"We're from down south and don't get up here too much." Said Peters, "We decided to stick with patterns and areas we've fished here before so we stayed on this pool. It just worked out for us."

The high finish was also a big asset to the duo's standings for the year on the Buddy Trail, pushing them to the top of the heap.

The weekend's third place finishers expressed shock upon learning of their standing. Father and son duo Harold and Eric Hines caught 6lbs-1 ounce.

"We're third!" said Harold, "I didn't think we did that well."

Like the other top finishers, the Hines team stayed at Opekiska fishing rock and wood cover. The only difference was the water depth.

"We caught those fish in about 20-feet of water." Said Harold, "We used Texas rigged tubes and worms, but we couldn't get anything going in the shallows. We found some cover in deeper water and they bit down there for us."

It was a tough day for the rest of the 110-anglers in the field, 14 teams blanked and that many more caught only one keeper on the day. In retrospect, the weather patterns didn't aid the cause. Every event on the Buddy Trail, with the exception of the Burnsville Tournament, has been marked with some weather phenomena.

Sutton Lake was marred with a snowstorm, Summersville included heavy rain and high winds, Ravenswood followed flooding in the north that raised and muddied waters, and true to form a massive cold front and heavy rains preceded Prickett's Fort a day earlier. Anglers brought 92-fish to the scales for a total weight of 123-pounds-12 ounces. On the upside, of the 92-fish weighed, 90-were released unharmed.

Bert Nolan and Ron Allen with their lunker (3lb 8oz.) caught during the June 17, 2001 West Virginia BASS Federation Buddy Trail Tournament on the Monongahela River at Prickett's Fort.
This lone boat waits patiently in the morning fog for the official start of the WVBF Buddy Trail tournament on the Mon River.
WVBF Tournament Director Bob Burgess shows off a nice Mon River largemouth to the TV Cameras. WBOY TV 12 covered the story for their evening newscast.
WBOY TV 12 News Reporter Sean Phillips interviews WVBF President John Burdette at the conclusion of the Buddy Trail tournament on the Monongahela River June 17, 2001
Len Lanham and Bill Kennedy on the Mon River during the West Virginia BASS Federation Buddy Trail Tournament at Prickett's Fort.
Two anglers work the shoreline near Prickett's Bay during the West Virginia BASS Federation Buddy Trail Tournament on the Monongahela River.