No boat? That’s not a problem for anglers who want to compete in Inland Northwest bass fishing tournaments.
The Spokane Bass Club features eight club tournaments a year, from March through November, in which participants draw their partner for the event. Boaters are paired with non-boaters.
“You don’t need a boat to fish in our tournaments,” said Tyler Brinks, who helped found the club two years ago. “The draw format is common in other states, but it’s been relatively rare around here until now.
“We have a random draw and partner pairing. People with boats pick a number for a start time and people without boats pick a number. Those with the same number are paired.”
Brinks cited numerous advantages.
“Obviously it’s an incentive for someone who doesn’t have a boat to get involved,” he said. “But even some people who own boats may not be comfortable being in charge. This gives them a chance to be aboard with somebody else and learn how it’s done.
“We’ve had three people who were non-boaters last year step up to be boat operators this year,” he said.
The Club has 45 members so far with upcoming tournaments scheduled, in order, at Liberty, Hayden, Badger, Banks, Spirit and Lake Spokane.
“Our first tournament of the year was in March at Newman Lake,” Brinks said. “It was scheduled at Eloika, but the lake was still frozen. Newman turned out to be great. Everyone caught nice bass, mostly largemouths. I caught the biggest, 4.88 pounds.”
Last weekend, the club had its Long Lake Clash on Lake Spokane, where 21 boats landed many nice smallmouths but only one largemouth.
“The winner had a five-fish limit totaling 20.10 pounds,” Brinks said. “Nice, nice fish.”
And that was a nice thing for the angler who was paired with him. “Every time you get in a boat with someone else you have a chance to see other styles and techniques. You might fish different water or at least see how familiar water is fished in a different way.
“People tend to want to fish only with their buddies. But forcing people to pick partners means that eventually you’ll fish with everyone in the club. I can’t tell you how many good friendships have formed after being randomly paired together.”
The non-boater partner must come to the club meeting for the pair drawing and offer a minimum of $20 to the boat operator for a share of gas and expenses. Members meet the first Wednesday of the month, 7 p.m., at Spokane Valley Marine.
“We do have one team format open tournament a year where you sign up and fish with your partner,” Brinks said. “That’s the Long Lake Classic on May 3-4 out of Willow Bay, a charity event with 10 percent of entry fees going to the Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital.
“Most of our tournaments are local because the club is designed for the angler who wants to base out of his own home rather than traveling and staying in motels or camping and being away from the family.
“But we have the Banks Lake tournament specifically so we can all get a campground together, fish and have a big barbecue.”
The Club finishes its season in November back on Lake Spokane. “It’s really the best around, especially for big fish,” Brinks said. “It’s remarkable to have such good bass fishing lakes so close to home, and that’s why our club takes advantage of it.”