Hemphill has a storied existence in bass fishing, and a current batch of Elites again did their part to keep that going.
At the behest of longtime B.A.S.S. pro and Toledo Bend guide Dave Mansue, a contingent of Elite Series anglers converged on Hemphill High School on Sunday night. In town for the A.R.E. Truck Caps Bassmaster Elite at Toledo Bend, the Elites took the time to visit with members of the school’s bass fishing club. They did their best to entertain, inform and enlighten the youth.
“For a lot of these kids, the pros are their heroes,” Mansue said. “I just asked the teacher (Karen Bass Bennett) if she had any interest in me bringing in some of the guys and she jumped all over it.”
Mansue said Mike Iaconelli, Ish Monroe and John Crews stay with him for Toledo Bend events, and they were all in for the youth outing. Brandon Palaniuk, Chad Morgenthaler, Shaw Grigsby (Happy 60th, Shaw) and Keith Combs also accepted the invite.
“I’m very fortunate because I knew a lot of the guys,” said Mansue, who did the same thing around the 2014 Elite event here. That’s the same year the club was formed. The Hemphill Hornets Bass Club now lists 41 members, a decent percentage of the 280 students at the high school.
“The way it’s gone, the guys come in early, get in on a big spread – fried catfish, French fries, all the fixins,” Mansue said. “There’s a lady who makes unbelievable bass-designed cakes. They sit down and eat and talk to kids about anything they want to talk about. These guys are all great spokesmen.”
Then Mansue emceed a question-and-answer session. He’d hand over the microphone to, let’s say, Keith Combs when he was asked about fishing in tough conditions and what might happen in this tournament. Most of the pros were asked how they got started, how they approach practice, what colors they use for certain water conditions and what they would be doing if not fishing.
Mansue said Ish Monroe might have shared the most poignant story of the night. On Day 2 of the 2011 Elite on Toledo Bend, Monroe was struggling in both the event and the season. He sat down wondering what he should do, then remembered Ike’s advice to fish the moment. On his Lowrance, Monroe saw a piece of structure, fished it, and caught a 10-pound, 15-ounce lunker.
The day turned bad again on his run back, as he speared several waves, broke a rod strap and lost $10,000 worth of rods and reels. Yet he remained positive because that fish earned him a check and he went on to finish the season strong and made the Classic.
“He said that was the turning point of the season,” Mansue said. “The way he told the story, he had the kids laughing. It was a great story for them to hear.
“It was a lesson. Like Ike says, you never give up, especially on a lake like this because on any cast you can catch a giant and quickly turn your day around.”
About 20 members of the Hemphill club attended, but the public was invited for $10 a plate to benefit the team, which has a number of other hopefuls who can’t afford to fish.
“Obvsiously, bass fishing is a big thing here,” Mansue said. “The unfortunate thing is a lot of other kids would like to be part of it and their parents can’t afford it.”
Harold Allen, Tommy Martin and Larry Nixon, among others, were a part of the Hemphill Gang. They moved there and guided on the hot lakes. Mansue and others have followed, and now Mansue is among those trying to give back to the community. To help, check out of the bass club’s Facebook page.
BIG BAG ON THE BEND
Lane Martin just wanted a 10-pounder so he could join the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program. A 9-13 weighed at Fin and Feather last Friday was close, but he told the woman working the official scale there he’d be back with a 10.
It wasn’t long before he did come back with a 10.24 and quite a story. He and son Hunter actually landed five fish that would have given them a bag of 42.97.
Read more about their huge day in Louisiana Sportsmen.
MANSUE GIVES LAKE RUNDOWN
Mansue, who has guided on Toledo Bend more than five years, thinks some big bass will be caught by the Elites this week but conditions won’t make accumulating a monster bag easy.
“The water color is real good across the lake, perfect for catching fish. It’s better than I expected it to be after the rains we had about a week ago,” said Mansue, who caught an 11.03 there in April. “Fish are kind of spread out all over the place. The majority of them are postspawn. They’re not really out on anything where you can catch them bunched up on.
“It’s going to be one of those deals where you pull up and catch one or two, and then you have to move on and catch one or two in some other spot. Right now it’s not setting up where the summer spots are loaded up and you just wail on them.”
A recent event showed that anglers can still really get on them. In one 250-boat event, two teams came in with bags topping 30 pounds, but the weights dropped dramatically after that. In another two-day event, 40 pounds won, which is closer to what Mansue sees for the Elites.
“The winner is going to have to be close to 20 pounds a day, without a doubt,” he said. “Now, you might get one of those 25-pound bags one day and 18 another, but you’re going to have to average around 20 a day to win it.”
He said the 50 cut should be just under 30 pounds, so maybe 14 pounds a day, but he does think a couple Elites will join that lunker bass program.
“There’s a good chance you’re going to see a few double-digit fish coming in,” he said.
We can’t wait.
VEGEMITE POWERS JOCUMSEN?
Vegemite to Carl Jocumsen isn’t like spinach to Popeye, but the Elite from Australia hasn’t needed any such gimmick. He’s just been fishing with confidence after a rough start.
Jocumsen gladly accepted a bucket of Vegemite from a fan during the Wheeler Lake event, where he made his third consecutive cut. He started the season with a 104th-place finish at the St. Johns River, then was 36th at Winyah Bay, 46th at Bull Shoals/Norfork and 44th at Wheeler. He’s 61st now in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings with hopes of climbing.
“I’m feeling on top of the world,” he said. “I’ve never felt better since being in the U.S. I feel like I’m actually starting to accomplish something. Every other time on tour has been a beatdown. You have little peaks, little highs, and then bang, right after comes another big blow. I couldn’t be happier right now.”
For those who are unfamiliar with Vegemite, this is from Wikipedia: “Vegemite is a dark brown Australian food paste made from leftover brewers’ yeast extract with various vegetable and spice additives developed by Cyril P. Callister in Melbourne, Victoria, in 1922. A spread for sandwiches, toast, crumpets and cracker biscuits as well as a filling for pastries, Vegemite is salty, slightly bitter, malty, and rich in umami – similar to beef bouillon.”
Most seppos – that’s Aussie for Americans – only relate to Vegemite from the Men at Work song, Down Under (Looking back, it’s one of your weirder music videos), because it just kinda looks nasty.