By Gradie Beaulieu 

Next Level Bass Fishing

2018 Season Starter

      Well it’s finally March and wouldn’t you know it, we just got the 2nd nor’easter in a week… F*&^%.  Many of you, west of i95, are most likely looking a foot or more. Getting the 2nd storm in less than a week is not what any of us were hoping for.  In fact, if you are anything like I am, rods were getting lined, gear ordered, new hooks being put on, jigs were getting poured and jerk baits were held in hand with admiration, anticipating that 1st strike, oh the awesomeness that could have occurred. Now I find myself with a shovel of snow and gloves on.  We all know, good dreams end, and the storm a week ago woke us up with heavy rains and damaging winds, so now my new vinyl fence has about $500 dollars’ worth of damage, I had to buy a new generator for the loss of power and my basement is flooding.  Dreams are priceless though, right? What a way to start getting ready for the tournament fishing season.

     During the winter, some of you continued to get out there, you never really put the boat away for the season, I was one of those people.  Early February sounded like this; What’s open? What’s Not? How far south is the ice?  Social media was rampant with stories of just simple sightings of open water.  Oh how we forget that East Bay was frozen… All the way out the Newport.  It was funny; in that “I have a dead battery the morning of a tournament” kind of way.   We did find some open water on the Cape though.  It was a welcomed site after the massive freeze that crushed even our most optimistic boaters. 

     Unfortunately to some hard-water guys, thankfully for others, the mid-February warm weather made quick work of the Rhode Island ice fishing season, leaving most of the diehard hard water guys searching north to put traps in the water.  Many of us traveled north to fish New Hampshire or Maine, I too was one of you.  I found a few derbies to get the family involved in.  My niece placed 2nd in the kids division on Kennebunk Pond in Lyman, Maine during the Local Fire Department’s derby, and my youngest son placed 4th in annual Waterboro derby on Little Ossipee with a nice 2 pound rainbow.  Other’s traveled south to warmer locations, either strictly fishing or with family members looking for a break from the weather.  Either option would have been good with me, although right now 75-80 degrees doesn’t sound bad.

Did I mention the possibility of a third storm by the weeks end?
To all you guys that posted pictures of your toes overlooking the beaches of Mexico… That was creepy, please stop.

  The tournament season is going to start quick.  There is a season opener this month at Long Pond Lakeville that a few have commented on in the social media world and the Next Level Bass Fishing season starts on the 7th of April at Manchaug Pond in Sutton Massachusetts.  This event is both an Open and Stop 1 for the new trail.  The trail has 5 stops and there will be an inaugural 2 day tournament on South Wattuppa Pond (The Fall River Rumble) in November to crown the Angler of the Year.  As I said, each event is an Open and a trail stop, so you can either fish one, two three, four or all five, it’s up to you.  To fish the trail no membership is required, just throwing that out there.  It should be a great time.  Although the trail starts in April, the bulk of the events do occur in October and November, so don’t miss the first one while waiting for the others later in the season.   

     The AOY for the trail will get 10% of the overall tournament entry fees for the trail year, and during the same event, NLBF will announce its AOY for the organization.  With that title, the NLBF AOY gets the other 10% taken out of each tourney to enter a large scale event of their choice.  Last year’s winner was Leo Joachim.  He chose to go to the Reynolds Boats, Northern Bass Tournament Open on Sebago Lake, hosted by Point Sebago.  His entry, lodging and fuel was paid for.  If you ask me, it’s the best annual event in the area, oh, and it comes complete with a lobster dinner; or should I write; lobsta dinna.  Low waters last year did make the fishing tough for most of the field, but like every event, there is always a winner.  37.77 lbs put Tom Sinclair & Corey Roux in the winner’s circle, congrats guys.  Unfortunately, I can’t fish that event this year, but I will still be pushing the glass across the lakes in 4 of their other events trying to get into the TOC on Lake Champlain out of Mallets Bay.  If you guys want a bit more information on the NLBF trail, check it out on line at or if you are interested in fishing with Tom Renyolds and Sandi Oja in the Reynold’s Boats Northern Bass Tournament Opens head to

     The Bass Federation of Rhode Island’s schedule is shaping up to be quite the year.  Other than the local club events and Opens that you may find on their site;, they are holding a split 2 day SQT on Wardens and Watchaug Ponds.  This is an interesting event, because members of TBF pay $125, but in a quest for new members, TBF has opened the event to non-member who pay $200, but get automatically registered as a national member of TBF.  The SQT starts at Wondens pond on the 23rd and moves to Watchaug Pond on the 24th.  There TBFRI will award not only the prizes for the winners based on entry, but the top 12 will also be qualified to fish the two day, semi-national tournament on Lake Champlain out of Ticonderoga.  Off additional note, thank you to the Ticonderoga Chamber of Commerce, who graciously awarded us a $1,500 dollar sponsorship to use for the event.  It should make things go much smoother with that kind of funds to help out.  The winners from each state, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New Jersey will qualify for the TBF national event with a change at the living the dream package and fishing the Forest Wood Cup. Not bad if you ask me.

     If I know anything, it’s that this year’s tournaments are going to be good.  Will we all fish as much as we would like? No, most likely not, but between all of the opportunities to wet a line and put your best up against everyone else’s, it should be something to remember.  There are really great lakes on the schedules this year and the next few months of spring in my opinion offers unparalleled opportunities for quantity with quality.  My bet right now is that the small mouths are slowly coming out of the depths looking for vertical banks nearest to the best or earliest spawning grounds to stage and push some bait, and the large mouths, well they are in the short grass picking of the early spawning perch.  So break out the jerk baits, the jigs, the tubes and what ever else you think with crack a good fish and start whipping those suckers around; pop, pop, pop, pause…

Tight Lines

Br Gradie Beaulieu