Battle Of the Grubs
What is BOG? BOG stands for "Battle Of the Grub." Well, it's a fishing tournament. Kinda like the Never Ending Story of fishing tournaments. The BOG history book dates back to the 20th century and began as a fishing challenge to decide who was better at catching speckled trout on artificial lures. It was a one on one competition with official judges assigned to each anglers boat (Major League Fishing style). As conversion grew about the challenge so did the interest from other anglers to participate. Then with in a blink of an eye they formed some rules and gave it a name.
unofficially the official shirt.
South Alabama Invitational Speckled Trout Tournament
The very first BOG was called the South Alabama Invitational Speckled Trout Tournament and was now an official tournament for those whom knew it existed. The invitational portion of this tournament is something that I adopted for The Winter Classic. The goal with invitational is to keep it keep it exclusive to those that helped to create the event, share only with fisherman of good tournament track record, and to have anglers who are not going to try and cheat to win.
Battle Of the Grubs
Bruce and Angie Howell stepped up to help with the production of the South Alabama Invitational Speckled Trout Tournament a few years after it began and decided to change the name to Battle Of the Grubs. The name suggested that the anglers would be using only soft plastic grubs to trick his or her speckled trout into the boat. However, all artificial lures would be and still are allowed in the Battle Of the Grubs.
Once per year not enough
For the first several years the tournament was a once per year event, so you only had one shot per year to prove you were the best among your fishing peers. After Bruce began to help with the production of the Battle Of the Grub tournament many anglers were asking for more. "Let's do it again next month", "We need to do more of these", "I want revenge" were all comely spoken phases after the completion of the weigh in process. Well, soon we would see two events per year. Then three. Now four times per year.
My first BOG
My first BOG was in the winter of 2006 and I partnered with my step-father Mike Foster. Mike and I have fished our whole lives but we really didn't have even the slightest grasp on how to go catch speckled trout in the winter months. Mike and I found out about the tournament through being members of the ACFA, because many of the members also fished in the Battle Of the Grubs. So, how do you sign up for a Battle Of the Grub tournament? This is where the tournament began to take on a different look.
Waffle House on Government near I65
Ok, so Mike and I are fairly new at this fishing tournament thing but we were thinking they just didn't want us to fish the tournament when we found out how to get signed up. We were told "sign up at the Waffle House on Government near I65 between 5:00am-5:30am". Mike and I decided we had enough people tell us the same sign up procedure and that this is just how it is. Well, we arrive around 4:45am and sure enough trucks pulling boats are scattered all around the Waffle House, most of which in the hotel parking lot next door.
Battle Of the Grub only accepted cash just the Waffle House did at that time. I believe all the other Waffle House patrons during sign in hours were cash only kind of folks. The Waffle House scene would never disappoint. From prostitutes peeing under the Waffle House sign to Jamarcus Russell wanting to sign up and fish with us. Well, it may have just been a guy that looked like Jamarcus.
Mike and I walk into the Waffle House and quickly find Burl AKA David Hare and Top Dawg AKA Bruce Howell sitting at a booth with cash in hand and a note pad. We got signed up and paid up. I think it was $20/man and $10/man redfish winner take-all side pot. We signed up for both. At this time the Battle Of the Grubs was a 10 fish speckled trout/team creel and the redfish was a single heaviest slot redfish. I could be wrong about this but I believe the weigh in was at Fowl River boat ramp parking lot.
As long as I have participated in the BOG we have always joked about how bad the weather has been for some of these events. My first tournament the weather was cold and it seems like we broke ice backing the boat in at Hoppe's fish camp on Dog River. I know Mike and I broke ice at least twice in our BOG career together. Besides the cold the BOG has become an urban legend that once the date is set it was a guarantee that we would have the worst weather ever on that Saturday. All day down pours, 40-50MPH wind, snow, Ice, temps in the teens, water spouts, you name it it has probably happened on a BOG Saturday.
As you can see the fishing is only a portion of the BOG. Mike and I discussed our strategy to win our first ever BOG competition and it began with "ok so where in the hell should we fish?" I still have to ask that question now but the 'where' part of this first question was legit because we really didn't have a clue. I took a guess and decided that we should fish Dog river and Theodore canal because my dad Marty had taken me and brother Jeff to these areas when it was cold before. The one problem was I only knew how to fish between the marinas in Dog river and one or two spots in the canal.
The tournament day is when its time to put all your efforts, knowledge and tactics together and focus on catching one fish at a time. One tip I want to share right here is, we had no idea what kind of weight it might take to win this thing. Remember we were fishing for 10 fish. We didn't have a clue at this point. We assumed if we caught 10 fish we could win. Well, we signed up and we decided to go to Dog River and throw finesse grubs and win the BOG. We were the only boat we saw on Dog River that morning. Which could make some people question the choice of where they are fishing or to put on a positive spin. "We have it all to ourselves!"
The most important thing you can do in a fishing tournament is catch fish. Well, if I remember correctly I caught a trout on the first drift between the marinas on my trusty rainbow trout fin-s-fish fluke type grub rigged on a 1/4oz lead jig head. We didn't catch another fish till 1:00 pm in the industrial canal too bad it was a flounder. Six hours of fishing 1 speckled trout in the box. Rule number 1 in tournament fishing is never stop fishing, we call it 'grinding'. We are running out of time and run back to Dog River. The tide is now coming in so maybe we can catch our 9 last fish in about 2 hours. We saw some fish suspended on the fish finder and figured out how to catch them. Using a slip cork rig and a DOA shrimp we quickly landed 4 nice quality fish to bring our total up to 5 and then they quit biting and we could not find them again.
Time to head to the weigh in and find out how well we did against our competition. Winter time speckled trout fishing can be done all the way around Mobile Bay and BOG anglers are free to go where ever they chose to go. However, they have to quit fishing in time to make it back to the weigh in prior to 4:29pm. Mike and I had about a 15 minute ride by truck. Once we arrived we see a gathering in the parking lot. Those are the guys we were fishing against. Where is the weigh in? There it is. A truck with the tailgate down, a scale and a bucket. Mike and I grab our 5 fish and weigh in approximately 10# with only half the creel. Team after team weighs in all seem to have more than our 5 fish so we see quickly that we didn't even come close to placing.
Upon the completion of each BOG we will find out who the winners are. It usually begins with whomever won the Redfish. Next, 3rd place will be announced. Then, the 2nd place team. The Lunker fish will be announced and last the BOG Champ, 1st place, biggest bragging rights for this group. Needless to say, Mike and I didn't win heck we weren't even close. Now its time for the hang. The post BOG hang. A place were the winners and the losers will talk a little about the fishing experience.
Probably the best speckled trout fishing education you could ever imagine. The BOG hang has it all. The braggers, the one cast away, the big one got away, the newbies, and the so close we can taste it. All of these guys are unwinding from the long grind. There is talk about the 'what if's', the 'we most have caught a 100 fish', or the 'we lost the big one today'. All of these conversations can help lead you in the right next step. Maybe some mentions fishing an area you would not have thought would have fish or what lure the guy was throwing when he lost the big fish. You can learn more about speckled trout fishing in one BOG hang than 10 hours of watching YouTube videos.
Multiple events per year
Apparently the BOG was supposed to be just once per year. BurlDawg Productions would risk their life collecting and carrying cash in and out of the Government Waffle House once per year yet the anglers would beg for more. The Battle Of the Grubs then became BOG and winter was no longer winter it was BOG season. We now have a BOG series with points and a team of the year award. Its amazing to think about all the memories I have made over the years. It would be even more amazing to hear some the stories from David and Bruce, maybe next time I can get some stories from them.
Till the next BOG
Those that fish in a BOG understand that its not just a tournament or even now a series, it is a way of life for Mobile Bay speckled trout-aholic guys like me. We count down the days to be able to fish in the next one. The next one looks like rain will be likely which is typical BOG weather.