Professional bass fishing reached a new low recently in Grove, Okla. -- a new low temperature, that is.
Organizers of the Bassmaster Oklahoma Invitational reported temperatures as low as 11 degrees at launch time during practice and tournament days (Nov. 6-8), with the wind chill index dropping the effective temperature to minus-2.
"It was more of an endurance test than a tournament," said Ron Shuffield of Bismark, Ark., who placed first and won $35,000 with a three-day catch of 49 pounds, 1 ounce. "You had to overcome the cold mentally and physically. . . . I have never fished under those conditions in a tournament before."
Shuffield said the temperatures caused ice to form on rod guides and on the level wind system of the reels he was using.
Tournament officials said the cold caused repeated problems with trolling motors, boat steering cables, livewell aerators and other equipment the anglers used.
According to tournament officials, it was their coldest tournament in 24 years.
When the launch ramps froze over at Grand Lake O' the Cherokees, four-wheel drive vehicles were used to launch boats from gravel ramps nearby.
Shuffield said that given the conditions, he fished a half-ounce black and blue Stanley jig with a No. 11 black and blue Uncle Josh pork frog through the tournament.
Shuffield said his cold-water tactics were to fish very slowly and close to all sides of cover, working from the shallow water to the deeper around boat docks.
Leo "Buck" Doran of Belcamp finished in 123rd place with four bass for 9-1; Frank Ippoliti of Mt. Airy finished 145th with four for 7-13; and Bruce Jones of Gaithersburg finished 225th with two for 4-3.
Red Man qualifiers: Ed Loughran of Bethesda and Dick Martin of Baltimore have qualified for the Red Man All-American Bass Championship in June at Muskogee, Okla. Loughran and Martin finished in the top 10 of the recent Operation Bass Regional Championship held on Kerr Lake in Virginia.
Loughran finished 7th; Martin finished 10th.
* BOATING: Potomac River regulations: A reminder that boaters using the Upper Potomac from now through midnight on May 15 are required to wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device at all times while under way. Types I, II, III or V are acceptable.
The regulations apply to operators and passengers of all vesselsrafts and float tubes.
Failure to obey the regulation may result in a fine of $45.
* AMERICA'S CUP: ESPN tentatively will air coverage of the America's Cup trials in San Diego on Sundays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from March 28 through May 2 at 3 p.m.
The network plans live coverage of each race in the America's Cup series starting with Race 1 May 9 at 3 p.m. If the Cup series were to go a full seven races, the next six telecasts would be May 10, 12, 14, 16, 17 and 19.
* SHOWS: Starting Friday and running through Sunday, thMaryland Wildlife and Nautical Art Expo/Chesapeake Craft Fair will be at the State Fairgrounds in Timonium, with more than 150 booths of art, crafts and equipment.
.$The show opens at 11 a.m. each day.