Bay bonanza: Spring tournament catches best of bass

In 2015 at Bay Springs, Ben Davis and Deb Waz claimed the top spot in the Jared Mann Memorial Tournament with 23.92 pounds of bass. (Courtesy)

By Kevin Tate

Outdoors Writer

The Jared Mann Memorial Bass Tournament has raised around $14,000 for scholarships over the years, and it’s kept a young man’s memory alive by putting his friends on the water at a time they all loved best. It will launch its 14th year of operation on March 26 out of Bay Springs marina.

“It’s an awesome time to be on the water,” Ben Davis, tournament director and park ranger with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said. “The water’s warming up then and the fish are starting to move up and stage for spawning. A lot of people fish spinner baits, jerk baits, Alabama rigs or jigs. At that time of year, you can just about catch them on whatever you want to fish. This tournament is really laid back. Everybody just goes and has fun.”

Davis said door prizes from sponsors S&H Feed and Outdoors, Clay’s Bait and Tackle, B&H Outdoors and Hammer Fishing Rods add a lot to the event.

“We try to spread the pay out,” Davis said. “First place usually pays about $1,000, and we pay a place for every five boats in the tournament. We try to spread it on down the line so that everybody who does well gets something.”

Davis said the tournament’s field generally numbers between 40 and 50 boats

“This tournament usually takes some heavy weight to win or get a check,” Davis said. “Last year it took about 24 pounds to win and we had seven bags over 20 pounds weighed in. There are always a lot of big spotted bass caught that time of year.”

The tournament’s entry fee is $80 per boat, plus an optional big spot side pot for the entrant who catches the largest spotted bass. The event pays back 80 percent of the fees in prizes, the balance going to support the Jared Mann Memorial Scholarships.

“Jared Mann was a young man who lived in Belmont, and he was an avid fisherman,” Davis said. “He passed away at an early age. He was a good guy and I’m very honored to be able to help keep his memory alive. He was a member of the Belmont Bass Anglers club, a good friend and a good fishing buddy of mine.

“After he passed away, our bass club decided to start having a tournament to raise money and give away scholarships in his name. We’ve been doing that for 14 years now. This year will be the 14th event. We started off giving one $500 scholarship, then increased it to two, so we give two $500 scholarships ever year. Applicants write an essay on what natural resource conservation means to them. We look at the essays and make our selection.”

The tournament will launch at safe light and weigh in at 3 p.m. March 26 at the marina ramp at Bay Springs Lake. Entrants may pre-register by mail, sending $80 to Belmont Bass Anglers, 128 CR 1, Dennis, MS, 38838, or they may register and pay at the ramp on the morning of the event. For more information, contact Davis at 662-424-2405.

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