Celina hosts pair of big fishing tournaments

 Smalljaw.com event and 26th Annual Horse Creek-Billy Westmoreland Memorial Smallmouth Invitational feature many out-of-town fishermen

SMALLJAW CHAMPS-Jeff Short and Michael Emberton won $1,100 and this year's Member's tournament with a total of 7.94 pounds.

SMALLJAW CHAMPS-Jeff Short and Michael Emberton won $1,100 and this year's Member's tournament with a total of 7.94 pounds.

CELINA-A total of almost 200 fishermen assembled here at Horse Creek Resort the last two consecutive weekends to try their hand at capturing their share of two purses offered by a pair of tournaments held here on Dale Hollow Lake.

Thanksgiving weekend the Second Annual Smalljaw.com Members Tournament brought in nearly 40 two-man teams for several days of fishing and 120 anglers gathered here on the lower end of the lake this past weekend for the 26th Annual Horse Creek-Billy Westmoreland Memorial Smallmouth Invitational.

Members of the smallmouth fishing discussion board traveled here from all over the country to take part in their gathering and participants of last weekend’s tournament had to live at least 100 miles from Horse Creek in order to compete–bringing in not only great fishermen, but also needed off-season business for local marinas and merchants.


Big 2nd-day catch “seals the deal” for East Tennessee team in the 26th Annual Horse Creek-‘Billy’ tourney

CELINA-After carrying a bag weighing 7.72 pounds to the scales the second day of the 26th Annual Horse Creek-Billy Westmoreland Memorial Smallmouth Invitational held here at Horse Creek Resort last weekend, there was no question that Kingsport and Gray, TN natives Rodney Mullins and Brad Coffman would be crowned champions of the 2008 event.

Hailing from northeast Tennessee, Mullins and Coffman sat in fourth place Saturday night with a total of 6.33 pounds, including a 5.10-pound trophy smallmouth and a small fish under 16 inches long.

Opening eyes at the weigh-in Sunday, the duo carried a trio of smallmouth to the scales to stake their claim as this year’s winners of the prestigious event.

Their second-day bag included the only fish over 21 inches long caught that day and a pair of healthy small fish under 16 inches long totaling 7.72 pounds.  

The total ended up putting them well over three pounds ahead of the closest competitor and handing them the $1,600 first-place purse.  

On top of that, their 4.01-pound big fish netted them an additional $600 for the second-day big smallmouth award, pushing their total winnings well above $2,000.

Second place went to Ken Wendling of Covington, KY and Dennis Ortlieb of Melborne, KY with a total weight of 10.77 pounds.

They sat atop of the leaderboard after Saturday’s weigh-in with a total of 7.64 pounds when they brought in a pair of small fish and one over 21 inches long weighing 3.98 pounds.

The second day Wendling and Ortlieb came up with their two fish under 16 inches, but the pair’s weight of 3.13 pounds wasn’t enough for them to hang on to the top spot.  Instead, they claimed the runner-up money worth $960.

Larry Neal of Piney Flats, TN and Benny Neal of Meadowview,VA took third place with a total of 10.34 pounds.  

After being tied for second on Saturday with a big fish weighing 4.32 pounds and a pair of small fish bringing their first-day total to 7.09 pounds, they only had two fish under 16 inches long the final day.  

The small pair totaled 3.25 pounds and the weight was just enough for them to hold on to the final paid position and pocket $640.

Father-and-son team Terry and Chuck Torbett of Cleveland, TN shared second-place with the Neals the first day, but they were unable to come up with a keeper on Sunday.  Despite that, they didn’t go home empty handed.

Their 5.38-pound smallmouth netted them the first-day big fish award worth $600 and their total weight of 7.09 pounds kept them in the top ten at seventh place.

The rest of the top ten finishers included:

• fourth place–Oscar Torbett and Mark Duncan of Cleveland, TN with a two-day limit of smallmouth under 16 inches long weighing 7.38 pounds;

• fifth place (tie)–Derrick and Chris Snavely of Rogersville, TN and Elizabethton, TN, and Greg Engle and Gary Saunders of Gallipolis, OH–both teams with four small fish weighing a total of 7.23 pounds;

• seventh place–first-day big fish winners Torbett and Torbett;

• eighth place–Donnie and Keith Steffey of Elizabethton, TN and Lebanon, VA with four small keepers weighing 6.55 pounds;

• ninth place–Don and Chris Lowe of Bristol, TN with 5.60 pounds made up of two pairs of under-16-inch fish;

• and, tenth place–Charles Gurren of Independence, KY and Ed Draud of Cold Spring, KY with the final limit of small fish weighing 5.23 pounds.

The tournament produced eight trophy fish over 21 inches long, four of which were brought in by the top three finishers and one by the first-day big fish winners.  Others catching big fish were:

• Bobby Rutherford of Flatwoods, KY and Russell Baker of Lexington, KY with a 4.81-pound fish;

• David Shuff of Worthington, KY and James Hayes of Flatwoods, KY with a trophy fish weighing 4.65 pounds;

• and, Steve Caron of Xenia, OH and Dan Morelock of Kettering, OH with a smallmouth weighing 3.33 pounds.

The invitational event featured 60 teams made up of 120 fishermen who reside at least 100 miles from Horse Creek Resort–40 of which weighed in fish, 91 smallmouth weighing a total of 167.49 pounds, and a purse totaling $4,800.

It was established by Horse Creek owner Jack Huddleston and the late smallmouth legend Billy Westmoreland.  The two-day event is now fished in Westmoreland’s honor annually on the first Saturday and Sunday in December.

Tournament director and local fisherman Benny McBride said this year’s tournament again featured some of the best smallmouth fishermen in the country.

“I have helped with this tournament since Jack and Billy started it 26 years ago,” McBride said, “and it’s always seen good fishermen and good fishing.

“It’s a prime example of the world-class smallmouth fishing we have here and it (the tournament) wouldn’t be without the foresight of those two legends of Dale Hollow.”

For more information about the smallmouth-only invitational tournament, contact Horse Creek at 931-243-2125 or check out their website at www.horsecreek-resort.com.


Smalljaw tourney won with a two-day limit of “unders”

For the second year in a row, Smalljaw.com members held their annual get-together here to enjoy camaraderie amongst themselves, but the Thanksgiving-weekend event also included a friendly competition in the form of a two-day tournament featuring a compilation of seasoned anglers vying for their shot at significant prize money.

Day one of the event saw many of the competitors having good days of fishing, but Dale Hollow’s slot-limit (one fish under 16″ per person per day and one fish over 21″ per person per day) ruled the day and no big fish were seen at the weigh-in.

“I can’t tell you how many fish just shy of the 21-inch mark I heard had to be turned loose by the guys we had fishing, but that’s what makes this anybody’s game,” Smalljaw.com founder Andrew Robertson said after the weigh-in.  “Those are good fish in anybody’s book, but they can’t be brought to the scales.”

After Saturday’s weigh-in, it was definitely “anybody’s game” with a majority of the competitor’s weighing in their limit of “unders”–smallmouth under 16 inches long, including Jeff Short and Michael Emberton of Tompkinsville, KY.

Half of their small-fish limit, a 2.23-pound ‘bronzeback,’ netted them the first-day big smallmouth award worth $650 and put them in the driver’s seat heading into day two with a total of 3.97 pounds.

Sunday did see two trophy fish over the top side of the slot limit carried to the scales, but neither team that caught the big ones had two small fish the day before.

Short and Emberton again caught two small fish weighing an identical 3.97 pounds the final day and finished with a total of 7.94 pounds to claim bragging rights for the year and the first-place prize money worth $1,100.

Second place and $550 went to Mark Bell of Crestwood, KY and George White of New Albany, IN after they brought in one of the two big smallmouth on Sunday.  They finished with a total of 6.20 pounds thanks to their 4.77-pound trophy fish at the final weigh-in.

Claiming the third position and the second-day big smallmouth award was the team of Larry Buckingham and Ken Rogers of Mayfield, KY.  They took home $330 with a total of 6.12 pounds and an additional $650 for their big smallmouth weighing 4.78 pounds.

Fourth place and $130 went to David Duvall and Robert Marcom of Manchester, TN with a two-day “under” limit totaling 5.98 pounds.

Taking the final paid position was local father-and-son duo Huel and Brian Boles with 5.71 pounds.  They pocketed $90.

Other money was up for grabs for the largest Kentucky spot or largemouth each day, and Steve Carroll and Brad Gregory of Hendersonville, TN won the big ‘green-fish’ pot worth $300 Saturday.  Another $300 and the award was taken by David and Jim Tidrick of Lyles, TN on the final day.

The tournament featured nearly 80 participants whom must have been registered on the site by October of 2008 or family members of an eligible member in order to compete.

Tournament fishermen, along with others, also met at the East 52 Volunteer Fire Hall Saturday night and enjoyed a meal, guest speakers, and talking amongst themselves.

The event will now be held annually on the second weekend in December here at Horse Creek Resort.  

“We can’t wait until next year,” Robertson said.  “What a great weekend it was and the next one should be even better!”

Visit smalljaw.com for more information about the tournament and much more about Dale Hollow smallmouth fishing.