Local Anglers Wins First Place and Biggest Catch at Inagural Blazing Bass Challenge
by James Coulter
What could be better than winning first place at a bass tournament? How about winning first place AND biggest catch? Because that’s exactly what one team of local anglers won during the inagural Blazing Bass Challenge at A Guy Harvey Lodge, Marina, and RV Resort.
Ryan Cooper and Owen Gooding both had the honor of winning first place and biggest catch at the Blazing Bass Challenge on Saturday at Camp Mack in Lake Wales. They won first place with an overall catch of 25.58 pounds, and biggest catch with a fish weighing 8.65 pounds. Each contestant received a check for $480.
Both Cooper and Gooding have been fishing together for many years. They have participated at numerous tournaments at Camp Mack. Cooper himself is a captain for Junior Bassmasters at a local high school. As such, he and his friends are regulars at Lake Kissimmee.
“We just love fishing and competition fishing,” he said. “It is fun, as is fishing in general.”
Ryan owes his success landing the big catch with first place on overall good timing. Both he and his partner put time into their fishing, they work hard at what they do, and they go with their gut feeling, he explained.
Overall, Cooper and Gooding love the good times spent on the water with other likeminded anglers. They enjoy being able to wake up at the crack of dawn and spending the day casting lines.
“It feels pretty good,” he said. “These [catches] are bragging rights. There are pretty good sticks out here. So when a plan comes together, it is always good.”
Camp Mack, A Harvey Guy RV River Resort, hosted its inagural Blazing Bass Challenge last weekend. The event kicked off on Friday with a Captain’s Party sponsored by The Florida Brewery Co, which provided free complimentary beer to participating anglers.
The tournament commenced early the next morning at 5 a.m. and concluded with the weigh-in at 2 p.m. The remainder of the event included a bonfire party with various activities including a 50/50 raffle, live music, children’s games, and a fishing clinic on Sunday.
The tournament was the second qualifying event of the Bonfire Series Tournament & Festival. The first qualifying event was The Lunker Lovin’ Smackdown, hosted in February, with the next two events to be the Tickled Pink Playoff in October and the Bonfire Shootout in November.
Each event was hosted with proceeds going towards a local cause. This event was hosted to benefit the Bobby Lane Cup. The February event was hosted to benefit for Keep Polk County Beautiful. October’s event will benefit breast cancer awareness, and November will benefit local veterans.
As for this recent event, the turnout proved to be exceptional, even in spite of these uncertain times. Kevin DeNell, EVP, owed the overall success to people wanting to venture out into the outdoors, even after a yearlong pandemic.
“Turnout has been good,” he said. “Everyone wants to be outside…We can be outside and there is no issue with that, so the turnout has been good as a spectator and angler standpoint.”
To learn more about the Bonfire Series and Tournament Series, visit their website at: https://guyharveycampmack.com/bonfire/