Junior Collis, Larry Kitchens Win Sinclair Bass Tournament!
Georgia bass fishing legends whip the youngsters and take home the prize money at HD Marine Sinclair tournament.
All of us have experienced those rare, sweet moments when something good happens to people we know. You know the feeling, that warm inner glow you get, a swelling of pride that something that ought to have happened, some special reward or recognition, has been bestowed on one of the good guys.
It happened recently.
And it happened not to one guy, but to two guys. It was great!
The box score version of what happened is simple. Junior Collis and Larry Kitchens won the Thursday edition of the HD Marine Tournament at Lake Sinclair back on June 9, 2005.
If you didn’t know who these guys are, this piece of information would be underwhelming to you.
But legions of people know these guys. If they were politicians, they have lived long enough to be referred to as statesmen.
Imagine how you would feel if you heard that Dale Murphy had been invited to play in a Brave’s game; not an old-timers game, but the real thing. That he had suited up and gone four-for-four with a homer and 3 RBIs in the game. He still had the magic.
Don’t we all wish that for ourselves? Wouldn’t it be great for each of us to go back to something we loved to do, that we were good at, and once more capture the magic, hit the zone, be washed in the moment of accomplish and peer recognition?
Yes, that yearning is universal. But it is most commonly a wish unfulfilled. So when it does happen, it is a very special moment.
When it happens to genuinely good people, the moment is made even more special.
That moment came when these two old Lake Sinclair dogs approached the scale in the company of their peers that warm Thursday afternoon at Little River Landing. They were hefting a sack full of fish. They knew they had a chance. Would fate and the fish smile on them both just one more time?
And even the fishermen closest to the top of the field rejoiced as the scale readout clipped the 20-lb. mark and set them solidly atop a field of some of the best anglers in the state.
The old dogs had won. It was a solid win. They were so proud and thankful that both were emotional as they stood up before their peers to accept the first-place check. And in the crowd, among a leather-skinned cadre of hard bassing men there was a special moment of pride and joy and tight Adam’s apples. Most were glad they were wearing sunglasses to hide eyes watery with emotion. “Good for you Junior, and good for you Larry,” they thought. “Good for you.”
It was great.
Two things made it great. First, of course, was the sack of fish they put on the scales. They didn’t back into this win with a thin field of anglers or a really tough fishing day when fluke wins can happen. Everyone was catching good sacks of fish on Sinclair in early June. This pair of old dogs bested good fishermen on a good lake on a good day.
To put in perspective what happened, Junior and Larry went on Sinclair with boats full of guys who know how to catch bass, and they whipped the youngsters.
To get to their five-fish limit that hit 19.99 pounds on the scales, Junior and Larry sorted through the more than 50 bass they caught on the day. The biggest fish in the bunch tipped the scales at 5.49 pounds. And what’s more, nearly every fish was caught on a Texas-rigged plastic of some sort in 15 to 20 feet of water.
Junior threw a 10 1/2-inch Junebug Zoom Ol Monster while Larry worked his bass over with a green pumpkin Trick Worm. Both men believe in using the lightest weight they can get away with. In this case, 3/16-oz. was the magic number.
The other thing that made this day special was who these two men are. There are few bass fishermen who have been around more than eight or 10 years who do not know these two men. There are virtually no bass fishermen who have been around more than 20 years who can’t sort through their stories about these men and pick their favorites. And the stories go way back.
These two will whet your appetite.
Sixty-seven years ago Junior was running a 5 hp outboard while another man fished. The man loaned Junior a lure and allowed Junior to fish along with him. That day, Junior caught his first ever 10-bass limit. The man was was so impressed with the youngster’s fishing prowess that, to mark the event, he gave Junior the lure. It was a Dalton Special. Junior still has that lure and a rod and reel like the one he used that day. The rod is a square, metal baitcasting rod and the reel is a JC Higgins 400 baitcaster. From that early event, Junior would go on to cast a long shadow over the lore of southeast bass fishing.
Larry Kitchens keeps his hand in the outdoor world helping operate Little River Landing three days a week. In 1977 he was operating a sporting-goods store in Covington and was universally well-known enough to be included in the very first issue of Georgia Sportsman.
Georgia Sportsman went on to become the premier outdoor magazine in Georgia with more than 60,000 subscribers at one point back in its heyday.
Speaking of magazines, the Sept/Oct 1973 issue of Bassmaster magazine has the article describing how Junior won the Bassmaster Tournament on Lake Keowee, besting 161 anglers to take first, including a bass over nine pounds.
There is an eerie link between Junior’s first win in a Bassmaster event and the HD tourney. Back in 1973, Junior didn’t have the money for the entry fee. Atlanta Falcons defensive end John Zook paid the entry fee and enabled Junior to fish and win. Fast forward 32 years and, at the HD event, owners of the Trophy Hut in Marietta invited Junior and Larry to fish, paying their way.
Junior has been featured in many magazine articles, including on the pages of GON. He has 265 fishing trophies on his wall and 20 bass over the magic 10-lb. mark to his credit.
Larry won’t say much about himself, always pushing Junior’s accomplishments. But fishermen have never had a better friend than Larry to help with the best advice and encouragement he can muster. Nothing changed when we were talking with him about this report. “Junior had the fish,” he said.
The other interesting coincidence to go along with this win is the plans Larry and Junior had made to have all their old friends get back together once more.
They already had the flyers made up for the “Ole Timer’s Reunion Bass Tournament” before the HD tournament. The event is scheduled for September 17 at Little River Park on Sinclair. The entry fee is only $50 per boat and at least one fisherman in the boat has to be 50 or older.
Before the pair won the HD Thursday tourney, they had looked on this Ole Timer’s tourney as a sort of reunion. Now they look on it as a reunion and a plucking!
They are hoping to see lots of old friends and share a great time. And it is good to know that a 76-year-old and a 69-year-old can still spank these 20-to-50-year-old whippersnappers on the lake!
It was great. The Ole-Timers Tournament in September will be great, too.
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