This past weekend, Martinsville-Henry County, Virginia was host to the Fishers of Men National Tournament Trail District 4 Championship. A total of 58 fishermen participated in the multi-day event.
Many teams arrived on Tuesday of last week to begin practicing and some even made earlier trips in the months leading up to the event. This allowed them to learn about Philpott Lake and determine the best techniques to fish the 3,000-acre reservoir.
On Thursday evening, the teams gathered at New College Institute for a welcome dinner and rules meeting. The meal for the evening was catered by Patrick Henry Community College’s Culinary Café, a student-run restaurant and catering service. The catering service was sponsored by the Patrick Henry Community College Foundation. At the dinner, the fishermen were welcomed by members of the local organizing committee along with Martinsville-Henry County elected officials and heard a powerful message on faith from guest speaker Mark Witt of Huntsville, Alabama.
To kick off the tournament on Friday, the boats gathered below the Philpott Lake overlook for a sunrise flag ceremony. After a brief reminder of tournament rules and a morning prayer, the fishermen stood in their boats around a central American flag as Rocky and Carolyn Rockwell of Bassett sang the national anthem. The ceremony was broadcast live via Periscope and can be viewed on Twitter: @MHCTourism.
Day one of the tournament brought overcast skies with rain and a morning hail storm. Leading the day was the team of Bobby Steele and Robert Williams of Siler City, North Carolina who brought a daily limit of five fish, tipping the scales at 9.78 lbs. Close on their heels in 2nd was Michael and David Williams whose limit weighed 9.66 lbs. Finishing in 3rd on day one was the team of Joshua Nixon and James Carnley whose 9.44 lb. limit included the Day One Big Fish, a 3.20-pound bass. Occupying 4th place was the team of Jason Smith and Sam Spruill of North Carolina whose limit weighed 9.08 lbs. Rounding out the top 5 was Samuel and Aaron Fisher of Richmond who brought 8.70 lbs. to the scales. Altogether, 17 of the 29 teams managed to bring a limit to the scales and all teams weighed in at least 1 keeper.
On day two of the tournament, the fishermen experienced a 40-minute delay due to heavy fog but were soon rewarded with a full day of clear, blue skies. James Smith and Sam Spruill of North Carolina proved to be the most consistent team at the District 4 Championship on Philpott Lake. They weighed in an identical 9.08 lbs. each day giving them a 2-day total of 18.16 lbs. to lay claim to the Champions Title. Their day two catch was anchored by the Big Fish of the Tournament at nice 3.38 lbs. Finishing 2nd was the team of Joshua Nixon and James Carnley who brought 7.51 lbs. to the scales giving them a 2-day total of 16.95 lbs. They also earned a berth in the upcoming BASS Team Championship in Kentucky. In 3rd was the team of Aaron and Samuel Fisher from Richmond, VA whose 2-day total ended up at 15.97 lbs. In 4th were the husband and wife team of Tony and Penny McGraw Hillsville with 15.64 lbs. and rounding out the top 5 were Michael and David Williams with 15.38 lbs.
Also earning a berth in the Fishers of Men National Championship by virtue of a male/female team inside the top 5 was 6th place team Marty Nester and Doug Carter. The top adult/junior team qualifying for the National Championship was Richard Griswold, Jr. and Richard Griswold III of Windsor, North Carolina.
The Fishers of Men District 4 Championship was hosted as a collaborative effort by the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corporation, Henry County Parks & Recreation / Philpott Marina, Patrick Henry Community College / Patrick Henry Community College Foundation, the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Quality-Dutch Inn.