Forgetting the Fish, Kissimmee Grass, More of Moore

Got fish? Funny things can happen in the heat of any competition, and the sport of bass fishing certainly is no exception.

Consider last week’s ESPN Outdoors Bassmaster Series Championship.

Jeff Coble of Manson, N.C., turned in an impressive performance, leading wire to wire to take home the $100,000 winner’s check and a berth in next month’s CITGO Bassmaster Classic.

But for Coble, the final day of competition wasn’t entirely without mishap.

Though Coble took a 4-pound lead into the final day, he didn’t catch a fish during the first three hours of competition. That prompted Coble to move from Lake Runnymede, where he established his lead the first two days, into the main body of East Lake Tohopekaliga.

The Triton boat salesman quickly boated two keeper bass to get back on track.

Then, shortly after putting the second of those fish in the livewell, Coble had a slight mechanical problem that led to one of the lighter moments of the tournament.

It started when Coble’s non-boater partner hooked into a fish in a thick patch of bulrushes. Maneuvering into the vegetation to put the non-boater closer to the fish, Coble’s trolling motor got jammed up in the bulrushes. It caused a wire cable on the electric motor’s foot-control pedal to loosen, which caused a steering problem.

Unable to easily turn his boat, Coble yelled to a nearby ESPN camera boat.

“Can y’all call somebody and get them to bring me another boat out here?” he asked.

The camera boat driver promptly called a tournament official by cell phone, explaining the problem and requesting another boat. Moments later, the official responded, suggesting that the camera crew simply switch boats with Coble since it was already in the immediate vicinity.

Within minutes, Coble swapped boats. As the camera boat driver and the cameraman held the boats together, Coble and the non-boater began transferring their rods and other tackle. Coble also was sure to grab his tournament shirt so that he could change into it and properly represent his sponsors at the weigh-in.

With the transition apparently complete, Coble started to troll back toward the bulrushes to resume fishing. But something was missing.

“Hey, what about your fish?” the camera boat driver said.

“Oh, yeah,” Coble said. “You think I might need those?”

Soon, the boats were again side by side, and Coble promptly transferred his two fish into his new boat.

“That would’ve been a pretty big oversight,” Coble said. “How do you forget to transfer your fish?”

It’s all Kissimmee grass, right? Aquatic vegetation will play a critical role in next month’s CITGO Bassmaster Classic on West Lake Toho, and one type of grass that always comes into play is the lake’s famed Kissimmee grass, a wispy, thin-stalked grass found all over Central Florida lakes.

But Kissimmee grass isn’t just one type of grass. In fact, it’s a generic term used by anglers to describe two species of emergent aquatic vegetation – maiden cane and knot grass.

So, how do you tell the difference?

“You have to look at a lot of it,” said Tim Coughlin, a fisheries biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

“They’re very similar, but they are two separate species,” said Matt Phillips, an aquatic plants specialist for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Florida BASS chapter Federation conservation director. “But for most fishermen, it’s probably easier to just call it all Kissimmee grass.”

Best finish Doug Moore of Van Buren, Ark., finished 27th overall at the BASS Federation Championship earlier this month, and while his middle-of-the-pack ending wouldn’t normally be cause for attention, in this instance it marked a BASS record.

Moore earned his slot in the Federation Championship by winning the Paralyzed Veterans of America Grand National Championship, which has been sending a contender to the Federation Championship for several years.

Moore’s 27th-place finish was the highest ever by a PVA angler in the Federation Championship.

For more on Doug Moore’s story, tune in Saturday morning to BassCenter at 11 a.m. on ESPN2.

BASS is the worldwide authority on bass fishing, sanctioning more than 20,000 events through the BASS Federation annually. Guided by its mission to serve all fishing fans, BASS sets the standard for credibility, professionalism, sportsmanship and conservation, as it has for nearly 40 years.

BASS stages bass fishing tournaments for every skill level and culminates with the CITGO Bassmaster Classic. Through its clubs, youth programs, aquatic resource advocacy, magazine publishing and multimedia platforms, BASS offers the industry's widest array of services and support to its nearly 550,000 members. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.

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