I sat down recently with Bobby Dodson, chief of the Semora Volunteer Fire Department, (SVFD) to discuss the annual October Bass Fishing Tournament hosted by the department. It was apparent from the start that Chief Dodson is passionate about this event.
He explained that it is the fire department’s number one yearly fundraiser. For those not familiar with volunteer fire departments in our area, they are self-funded for the most part, and in order to function they hold all sorts of fundraisers, from stew sales to gun raffles to fishing tournaments. Luckily, over the past few years, the fire departments have received more funding for operations from the county, but there is still a large need for fundraising.
Chief Dodson said 62 boats participated in the 2021 Bass Fishing event. The largest number of boats ever to enter the event is 64. The chief recalled that, in 2002, when the Semora Fire Department held its first fishing tournament, only 13 boats entered. The annual Bass Tournament has obviously gained popularity over the years, and the SVFD is looking forward to a successful event in 2022.
On the day of the tournament, registration will begin at 5 a.m. on site at Hyco Lake. One member of each team is required to register prior to the tournament’s starting time. All flight times are assigned in the order in which the applications are received. Rules are listed on the registration forms and are simple. For instance, all anglers are required to catch all fish with artificial lures and wear approved life vests while boats are underway. A team consists of two fishermen in each boat and teams will weigh in five of their largest fish. There is an option to weigh in only the biggest fish. The optional biggest fish usually means each boat pays $10 more for a separate pot and the fisherman who catches the biggest fish wins. If there are as many as 60 boats in the tournament, that would be a nice payout.
After everyone has registered, boats stage themselves at a point in the marina cove. The teams that know they will blast off first will have made their way toward the front of the cove, awaiting the signal. For those who don’t know, this is one of the most exciting times of the tournament; everyone’s adrenaline is high waiting for the start. Some fishermen are thinking to themselves, “I hope no other fisherman ahead of me will get to my fishing spot before I do,” or “I hope I’m fishing the right lure,” or “I hope I don’t get run over by these faster boats.” Having fished some tournaments, I can testify that you can feel the tension and excitement in the air just before blastoff, and it’s kind of like the feeling you get on a rollercoaster ride.
I asked Chief Dodson about a memorable event that had taken place over the years. He said that one year, on the night before the tournament, a hurricane passed through with blowing winds and large amounts of rain, placing the tournament in jeopardy. The department wondered if the tournament could take place. The chief said, once he arrived onsite at Hyco Lake, there was water running everywhere across the parking lots, making it difficult to get things set up. There was flooding in some areas but, as luck would have it, the weather began to clear just minutes before the scheduled tournament start. Only 13 boats showed up to fish the tournament that year. One of the teams had slept through the hurricane in their truck in the parking lot at the lake so they could be sure to be at the tournament.
How to Participate
Those who would like to fish in the tournament can find information on the Semora VFD Facebook page (@SemoraVFD). Some of the local stores around the area will also have registration forms on hand. Chief Dodson can be reached directly at (336) 504-2337.
Tournament sponsors have their businesses listed in a tournament booklet issued in August and on a large banner displayed on the day of the event. By the time this article is published, the deadline for sponsorship for the 2022 tournament will have passed but there is always next year.
Bobby Dodson will step down as chief of the SVFD in November. He will still be involved in daily operations but will move to a supportive role in the department. We are fortunate to have volunteers like him who give their time and efforts for fundraising, responding to calls, and supporting our communities in many other ways.
Semora, NC 27343
“And remember, I’ll see you on the water.”
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