Like most bass clubs, B.A.W.S. started as buddies getting together a few times during the year and fishing for nothing but bragging rights.
Based east of Hartford, Conn., we had our first "unofficial" outing in August of 2003, which included four guys in two leaky boats fishing a hot summer night. The following year we had a few more, and we started keeping official records in 2005, albeit as a team club with three teams (six total members).
By the start of 2006, we had seven boats and 12 members, mostly all buddies that went to high school or college together, plus a few work colleagues. Many of the boaters had graduated from tin cans to high-performance bass rigs.
Our name originated as Bass Anglers Who Slay, but after our first few weigh-ins, we realized it should be Bass Anglers Who Stink. When someone asks, we tell them, "it stands for whatever we want it stands for."
Because Connecticut is such a small state, it can be tough to schedule the places you want to fish at certain times of the season. We have an unofficial club rule: we don't fish any water smaller than 300 acres, which limits us even further. We generally hit the larger bodies of water in the state, including Candlewood Lake and the Connecticut River, a couple of times each, and smaller bodies of water like Congamond Lakes (usually a night tournament), Moodus Reservoir, and Bantam Lake. Last year was our first foray into holding a club tournament out of state on the Connecticut River at the NH/VT border near Brattleboro, VT. It is smallie heaven up there, and we had such a good time that we will be heading back, hopefully annually. We hold between eight and nine club tournaments yearly, but many members usually get together for fun fishing or bragging tournaments on the weekends. We don't have a tournament scheduled.
B.A.W.S. is not affiliated with B.A.S.S.; we consider ourselves a buddy club with some basic rules and the chance to win a little bit of money. Dues pay for the top three spots at the end of the year and trophies for boater/non-boater and each tournament winner. There are awards for most improved, lunker largemouth and smallmouth, and a big bag for the year. The awards are handed out to club members after the season at a dinner. Our current club records are 19.29 pounds for a five-fish limit, 5 pounds, 11 ounces for lunker largemouth, and 4 pounds, 9 ounces for lunker smallmouth.
The club put on an invitational tournament last year, combining with some other bass fishermen from around the area. It was a 100 percent pay-out event and was very successful. Time permitting, we would like to do that every year. We will look to run some kid's tournaments/derbies down the road, but most of the club members' children are too young to be out fishing all day.
We have nine boats and around 16 members heading into the 2008 season, and we couldn't be more excited.
Reprinted with permission from