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The Billy Westmoreland Tournament: It’s cold water Bassin’

January 15, 2014
By

By Chris Erwin

While most of us are throwing another log on the fire, there is a breed of fishermen who embraces the cold, and in fact looks forward to it. Such is the case with Chad Snider and Jason Bridwell winners of the Billy Westmoreland Tournament on Dale Hollow Lake.

The weather was bad. Rain, wind and cold would set the stage for the tournament and the team of Chad Snider and Jason Bridwell would find what little practice time they had to be mostly unproductive. Dale Hollow has odd smallmouth rules: Anglers can keep one smallmouth shorter than 16 inches and one longer than 21 as part of their limit, but no smallmouth between 16 and 21 inches long may be kept.

The tournament is quite a challenge considering it is fishing in the middle of winter. The team set out the first day to try to fill the bottom end of the limit, each fisherman could keep one fish a day under 16 inches and that is just what they did. On top of a 15 ¼ and a 15 ¾ smallmouth they managed to land one fish just over 21 inches. The three fish totaled 8.65 pounds.

Chad Snider holding the largest smallmouth that the team of Snider-Bridwell caught while fishing the Billy Westmoreland Tournament. (Photo submitted).

Chad Snider holding the largest smallmouth that the team of Snider-Bridwell caught while fishing the Billy Westmoreland Tournament. (Photo submitted).

They caught their fish using a tail-spinner under a bobber. I know many of you have heard of the Float & Fly, and while this is a variation, the concept is the same. You can suspend a lure right in front of the fish. The bobber provides the rocking movement to entice an otherwise dormant fish to take a crack at what looks like dying prey. This kind of fishing can be tough, especially when the weather is bad. Snider and Bridwell were marking shad on their electronics and then moving to the area where they knew they were bait fish.

The second day the team of Snider and Bridwell would catch two more fish under the 16-inch mark totaling 3. 72 pounds, bringing their grand total to 12.37 pounds. The second day total would be enough to push them into first place. Now and forever the team of Snider and Bridwell will be in the record books as winners of the 2013 Billy Westmoreland Invitational Tournament.

This tournament is sponsored by Horse Creek Marina. In the photographs, you can see Jack Huddleston, a great supporter of fishing in the area through the years. My good friend Soc Clay, three times Hall Of Fame recipient, had a few things he wanted to say about Jack when I told him I was going to write this article on the Billy Westmoreland Tournament.

“Jack Huddletson was never an avid fisherman. For most of his adult life, he drove a milk truck for a living. When he had the opportunity to acquire Horse Creek Dock, he would establish one of the most important fishing facilities on the 25,000-acre reservoir, one of the first. He would become a lifetime friend his neighbor, Billy Westmoreland.

From left to right: Jason Bridwell, Jack Huddleston, one of the tournament's founders, Benny McBride, tournament director and Chad Snider. (Photo submitted).

From left to right: Jason Bridwell, Jack Huddleston, one of the tournament’s founders, Benny McBride, tournament director and Chad Snider. (Photo submitted).

“Westmorland was one of the bass fishermen who joined Ray Scott and his to be famous B.A.S.S. organization. Westmoreland soon became acclaimed as the most knowledgeable smallmouth bass fisherman in the world.

“His vast interest in the smallmouth bass was quickly passed along to his friend Jack Huddleston. A powerful politician, Jack would support the new regulations on Dale Hollow that were designed to create the best trophy smallmouth lake in North America. The lake owned the all-tackle world record that was caught in 1955. The record would be challenged and eventually the Fresh Water Hall of Fame and the IGFA (International Game Fish Association) threw the record out and Huddleston went to work. He insisted the old record was legitimate and demanded that an extensive investigation about the catch be done by officials of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.

“It took a year but the agency finally proved beyond a shadow of a doubt the 11 lbs. 15-ounce smallmouth taken by David Hayes on a hot July morning was indeed the largest smallmouth ever recorded, period!

“The Billy Westmorland- Horse Creek annual tournament was established more for winter bass angling in America, and it stands out more than any other event on record,” Clay said. 

 

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3 Responses to The Billy Westmoreland Tournament: It’s cold water Bassin’

  1. SCOTT POPE on October 30, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    I AM ONE OF THOSE FISHERMAN WHO GETS THE CHANCE EVERY 1ST SATURDAY IN DECEMBER,TO FISH WITH OTHER MEN OF LIKE MIND.THERE IS KNOW WAY I COULD EXPLAIN MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH THIS LAKE ,THE TOURNAMENT, AND THE PEOPLE WHO PUT IT ON.
    IT STARTED WITH A CHRISTMAS PRESENT,MY FATHER GAVE ME 32 YEARS AGO.A COPY OF (THEM OLE BROWN FISH).THIS LED ME MEETING MR JACK HUDDLESTON.I REMEMBER CALLING AND RENTING A CABIN AND BOAT FOR THE FIRST TWO DAYS IN JANUARY.AT 18 YEARS OLD JACK GAVE ME A KEY TO THE GAS DOCK AND BAIT BOX,ALL HE ASKED WAS TO KEEP TRACK OF WHAT I USED AND SETTLE UP BEFORE I LEFT.HE MADE ME FEEL MORE THAN WELCOME,HE SHOWED TRUST TO A COMPLETE STRANGER.THIRTY TWO YEARS LATER I’VE SEEN HIM TREAT EVERYONE WITH RESPECT AND INTERGRITY.
    I’VE ALSO HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO SPEND A DAY ON THE LAKE WITH MR WESTMORELAND ALONG WITH BOB COAN. THIS PLACE IS SPECIAL FOR SO MANY REASONS.I LOOK FORWARD TO THIS YEAR AND HOPE FOR A SAFE AND MEMERABLE WEEKEND

  2. Staff on October 30, 2015 at 4:12 pm

    Jack Has been a great friend of the KOPA the Kentucky Outdoor Press Association,he has hosted KOPA many times and we all think the world of him while his health has been an issue he has never lost his love for this lake. Tom Clay, Soc Clay, Sam Piatt and Myself always enjoy staying at his place.

    Chris Erwin

  3. R. R. on July 9, 2017 at 7:39 pm

    Met Jack through a friend that introduced to me too him, as well as fishing Dale Hollow. I’m hooked on fishing those waters from now and forever. One time when a group of us were down and fishing out of Horse Creek which we always did. Danny the friend who introduced me to the Jack and the lake. We were all sitting on the big front porch of the Greenup House, and This Vehicle pulled up and a man yelled “Hey Danny” it was none other than Billy Westmoreland himself. They talked for about ten minutes and Danny gave us the scoop of how and where we should try that night. We all scored good Smallie’s that night. I would love to find a partner and fish that tournament one time.

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