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Gone Fishin’

Switzerland Co. Tourism to hold inaugural bass fishing tourney

Hanover’s Thomas turned fishing
into more than a hobby

VEVAY, Ind. (May 2014) – High school graduation meant the end of playing on basketball and baseball teams, so Wes Thomas sought out something else to satisfy his competitive streak. Like most fishermen, he has fished all his life. When his father retired from the U.S. Navy and the family settled in the Midwest, he switched from saltwater to freshwater and discovered bass tournament fishing.

Thomas

Photo provided

Wes Thomas of Hanover, Ind., shows
off his catch at a previous bass fishing tournament at Brookville, Ind.

Thomas performed well in several events, and there was no turning back. Sponsored by more than a dozen businesses, the Hanover, Ind., resident has won both regional and national competitions. In May, he will participate in a new one close to home.
The Switzerland County Team Bass Battle is scheduled for May 23-24 at Ogle Riverfront Park in Vevay, Ind. Teams consist of two participants per boat and must pay a $200 entry fee upon registration in advance or on-site at the Ogle Haus Inn no later than May 22. Cash prizes include a total of more than $23,000, including a guaranteed first-place prize of $8,000. A drawing will determine launch order, though each team will have equal fishing time.
Each boat must be equipped with a live well capable of holding a limit of six fish at least 12 inches long. All the participants must wear U.S. Coast Guard approved life vests while in a boat with a running motor, and the driver must connect an operating kill switch to their person. Drugs and alcohol are strictly prohibited. For full rules and equipment regulations, visit www.switzcotourism.com/bass.

Switzerland County
Team Bass Battle

• May 23-24 at Ogle Riverfront Park, Vevay, Ind.

• Entry Fee per Team: $200 per boat of two people, either in advance or on site.

• (812) 427-3237 or 1-800-435-5688

“I’ve always been a big proponent of the river,” said Thomas, “so I approached the tourism people in Switzerland County about doing this tournament. A lot of people don’t realize how many fish are in the water now that it’s a lot cleaner than it was years ago. I think the event will draw people from all over to Vevay.”
The Team Bass Battle is an opportunity to showcase Switzerland County’s outdoor experiences. “Hunting and fishing is a huge industry and we have so much to offer,” said Kendall Miller, Executive Director of Switzerland County Tourism. “As a tourism office, we haven’t been promoting that as well as we should. The Bass Battle is one way we’re going to invite people to come see us.”
She also said that Switzerland County ranked first in the state for deer harvest in 2012. In 2013, the county came third.
For non-fishers, Vevay offers sightseeing and local shopping. The Ogle Haus Inn is offering special rates for tournament participants who choose to lodge there for the weekend. The Team Bass Battle will also hold spectator giveaways of prizes from the event’s sponsors.
Tournament Director Kenny Swint described himself as a weekend amateur, “but I love the competition and spirit of fishing.” In addition to overseeing both days of the tournament, Swint will perform the weigh-in of each team’s half-dozen fish. The judging process includes lie detector tests for the fishers who place to verify appropriate conduct. “We’ll be asking such things as, ‘Did you catch your fish in a sporting manner?’ ‘Did you knowingly violate any rules of the tournament to catch these fish?’ ‘Did you go to off limit areas?’ Things like that,” said Swint. Switzerland County Tourism has already obtained a polygraph operator for the weekend.
Thomas, who fishes an average of 24 events a year throughout Indiana, said the Team Bass Battle is an attractive competition in several ways. “The outlook for fishing is good,” he said, “and it’s in a unique place close to the dams, near Louisville and Cincinnati. That gives you a lot of area to cover. The main thing, though, is the payback on the money side.”
In addition to the first place prize, Ranger Boats is offering a $500 “Ranger Cup” to the highest placed participant fishing in a Ranger boat. The company is also donating two $100 Ranger gift cards.

Miller said she hopes people will come to Vevay for the Memorial Day weekend, if not to watch the Bass Battle, then to take advantage of the campground available right at Ogle Riverfront Park, adding that Vevay’s beautiful park affords visitors plenty of parking along the Ohio River. She anticipates, however, that many visitors that weekend will be there out of enthusiasm for the tournament. If the turnout is successful, the tourism office plans to make the Bass Battle an annual event. “There are some die-hard fishermen out there,” Miller said. “This is what they live for.” 

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