The 2011 Berry’s Tournament Trail Classic took place June 4 and 5 during some of the hottest June weather imaginable. Temperatures were in the middle to upper 90s for both days of the two-day classic event.

Day one of the classic occurred on June 4 at Lake Oconee and the 98 teams competing caught 312 largemouth bass but only 39 two-man teams were able to bring five-fish limits to the weigh scales at Sugar Creek Marina.

On June 5 at Lake Sinclair’s Little River Park, only 84 teams turned out for the second day but they caught 334 fish and 63 of those two-man teams caught five-fish limits.

Talk about a close finish when a first place prize of $10,000 is on the line. The top three teams were separated by less than two pounds and the top two places were separated by a mere .20 hundreths of a pound.

When all was said and done and the last bag of fish was weighed, the team of Darren Taylor and D. J. King from Monroe had a combined weight from Lake Sinclair and Lake Oconee of 25.54 pounds to take home the top prize.  Taylor and King caught their fish fishing in deep water with Wackem crankbaits and Texas rigged Wackem worms.

Finishing a close second with 24.34 pounds were Chad Bickelman and Dink Williams from Macon. The pair of anglers used Wackem crawfish around boat docks to catch their fish and took home $5,000 in prize money.

Third place and $2,500 went to John Duvall from Madison and Jack Morris from Watkinsville for weighing in 24.06 pounds. Duvall and Morris used jigs and crankbaits around rockpiles and docks to catch their fish.

A big fish prize of $980 was given for each day of the tournament and on Saturday June 4 at Lake Oconee, Larry James from Gray had a largemouth that hit a Texas rigged worm and weighed 6.61 pounds. On Sunday June 5, Jack Brown from Covington caught a 6.63-pound largemouth to take big fish honors on Lake Sinclair.

Teams accumulated weights over the eight regular season tournments that were evenly divided between Lake Sinclair and Lake Oconee. The team accumulating the most weight for those eight tournaments were crowned Anglers of the Year and that distinction went to Tony Couch from Buckhead and George Goodman from Monticello.

This was the final event for the 2011 edition of the Berry’s Tournament Trail and it marked another successful year for this middle Georgia tournament trail that began back in December 2010. The Bobby Berry family that operates the trail has presented a tournament format that has been very popular with anglers from all across middle Georgia.

Fishing tournaments begin to slow as the hot weather deepens but some tournaments continue right on through the summer months including nighttime tournaments that allow anglers to beat the daytime heat. Call or stop in at Sugar Creek Marina on Lake Oconee or at Little River Park Marina on Lake Sinclair and get a list of the upcoming tournaments. Good fishing and see you next week.

Outdoor columnist Bobby Peoples can be contacted via e-mail at

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