Winston-Salem’s Paul Tsiolkas won the grand prize of $1,500 with a 4.89-pound bass at the High Rock Bassmasters’ Oct. 12 Barbecue Big Bass Tournament on High Rock Lake. 

Tsiolkas caught the fish with a soft-plastic creature bait.

The event offered hourly prizes for the two biggest bass, a grand prize for the biggest bass overall and special prizes for big bass.

Seventy-nine fishermen participated in the tournament despite an overcast day and northeast winds. Other than uncooperative big fish, the tournament went smoothly.

“We wish more big fish had been part of the tournament,” said Scott Phelps of the High Rock Bassmasters. “We had no complaints or problems, though club members were exhausted at the end of the day from overseeing the tournament.” 

Hourly winners were: 8 to 9 a.m.,Terry Trivette of Rural Hall, first with a 3.21-pound bass; Chris Albright, second with a 3.12-pound fish; 9 to 10 a.m.,Thomas Ludwick of Salisbury, first with a 3.67-pound bass; Ralph Hollifield Sr. of Winston-Salem, second with a 3.17-pound bass; 10 to 11 a.m., Larry Whicker of Winston-Salem, first with a 4.50-pound bass; Stan Speckhard, second with a 3.51-pound bass; 11 to noon, Landon Whicker, first with a 4.13-pound bass; Daniel Hayworth of Kernersville, second with a 3.55-pound bass; noon to 1 p.m., Wes Kepley, first with a 2.94-pound bass; Brian Sorrell of High Point, second with a 2.71-pound bass; 1 to 2 p.m., Tsiolkas, first with a 4.89-pound bass; Sarah Orchard, second with a 3.30-pound bass; 2 to 3 p.m., Wendell Wagner, first with a 3.50-pound bass; Samuel Thomas, second with a 3.28-pound bass.

Orchard also won the category for the biggest bass caught by a female, and Lucas Hedrick won the category for biggest bass caught by an angler under 14. He had a 3.03-pound bass. 

The Barbecue Big Bass Tournament, held two weeks before the Oct. 26 Lexington Barbecue Festival, confirmed the bass and barbecue connection. That connection became an economic drawing card in 1993 when local bass pro  David Fritts, winner of the 1993 Bassmasters Classic, was honored by leading the Parade of Pigs at the 10th annual Barbecue Festival. 

Kids’ casting contests tied bass and barbecue together at recent festivals, but this year the bond between bass and barbecue was strengthened again by the High Rock Bassmasters.

Phelps said club members brought up the idea of having a bass tournament before the Barbecue Festival. They reasoned if a soccer tournament could serve as a kickoff to the Barbecue Festival, why not a bass tournament. 

The club contacted Barbecue Festival promoters, and the Barbecue Big Bass Tournament, “the official fishing tournament of the Lexington Barbecue Festival” came into being.

The event gained media and web site support plus coverage from a local television station.