It’s been a while since my last Dock Talk article was published and I apologize to those few folks who actually do look forward to reading the column. The truth is that I simply haven’t made the time to sit down and compile all of my random thoughts from the last couple of months. I don’t know about you, but the Christmas holidays flew by for me and 2007 was already off and running before I even had a chance to reminisce on 2006! Although there were many significant events that transpired in the bass fishing world during 2006, I feel more compelled to share some of what 2007 has to offer.

First off, FLW Outdoors was the first fishing organization to bring in the New Year with a bass tournament by kicking off the start of the FLW Eastern Stren Series on Lake Okeechobee on Jan. 2. I equate the Stren Series to AAA Baseball as far as competition goes. In other words, everyone there is very talented or they wouldn’t be there to begin with and there’s also always going to be a few big names mixed in there with the guys that are trying to make a name for themselves. However, there’s one thing I’ve come to learn in fishing, and that’s no matter who you are or what you’ve won in the past, everybody can have a bad day and anybody can catch ‘em good any day, so names don’t mean a thing. The fishing at the Big O was less than par by Okeechobee standards, although there were still several trophy-sized bass weighed-in during the four day tournament. Ocala professional angler Glenn Browne won the event by fishing several key areas inside the rim canal and took home $25,000 cash and fully rigged Ranger 519VX for his efforts. I finished the event tied for 41st with my roommate J.Todd Tucker. Lake City angler Deryl Williams finished 159th while Ben Broughton of Day competed on the co-angler side and finished 32nd. The next stop for the Eastern Stren Series is at Lake Seminole on February 1. You can watch the live weigh-in vie the internet at www.flwoutdoors.com.

If you’re interested in tournament bass fishing and don’t want to venture too far away from home, you have several avenues you could pursue in 2007. The North Florida Bassmasters of Wellborn is seeking new members and just hosted its first monthly tournament of the year at the mouth of the Suwannee on Saturday, Jan. 13, which was won by Jr. Dice with four that weighed 12.22. Bruce Musgrove was second with a limit weighing 10.41 and B.J. Shirah took third place with five that weighed 9.69. Mickey White had big bass for the day that weighed 5.42. The NFBM will fish out of the city docks at Palatka next month.

If you’re not interested in joining a bass club, you could fish the new Xtreme Bass Series or Seniors Trail tournaments on the Suwannee River that are held on the first Sunday of the month at Hinton Landing in Old Town. There has already been one of the Xtreme/Seniors tournaments this year, which Suwannee River specialist Bob Heron won! It should be noted, however, that Harry and Charlie (a.k.a. Bruce Musgrove and Chuck Swann) were nearby in second place with Matt Frier and Robbie Ratliff in third. The complete schedule for that trail can be found at their website: www.xtremebass.com.

Also, there’s the Newberry Tournament Trail or river rats as I sometimes refer to them. They are a great group of fisherman from in and around the Suwannee Valley area that gather up on the first Saturday after the first Monday of each month to hold a 100% payback tournament on the Suwannee River. I was told that their most recent tournament was won by Dennis Redd and Tommy Boston with a nice sack of fish that weighed around 18 pounds! Of course you will have to wait until the time changes in the spring, but look for the Wednesday Night Suwannee River Tournaments to kick off in Branford here in a few months.

The Bassmasters Classic is being held in Birmingham this year and is just around the corner on February 23! My friend and Jacksonville Ranger Pro Peter ‘T’ will represent our area along with Palatka angler Terry Scroggins. This event is always enjoyable and there will be lots of activities for both adults and children. I am making plans to attend, as I will be there to help promote two of my sponsors, Ranger Boats and Yamaha Outboards. Any of you guys who might want to convince your spouse to make the trip to the Classic should know that the largest indoor shopping mall in the southeast is located just a short distance from the ESPN Bassmasters Classic Outdoor Expo. And in case you want to take the kids along too, there’s an amusement park and a zoo nearby! For more details about the Classic, log onto www.bassmaster.com.

Damon Wooley is an avid bass fisherman, tournament angler and USCG Licensed Captain. He is currently sponsored by Ranger Boats, Yamaha Outboards, Tri-State Marine of Tallahassee, Sufix Fishing Line, Tackle Warehouse.com and Penetrater Weights.

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