Bass tournaments are a lot of fun. Plus, you can win money, prizes, rods, reels hats, etc. There are even National Bass Tournaments that, if you qualify and win there are checks waiting for you and Iím talking a $300,000 payday to the winner.

It is nice to dream about winning a bass tournament and cashing a big check, but the odds are against you as the Southerners can practice on the lakes every day while the Northerners are shoveling snow or out ice fishing.

However, if you just want to fish and have an enjoyable time, the Northeast is looking for you.

Many bass clubs make New England their home and they will fish every chance they get. In the South, they can fish 365 days a year if they want to.

All you have to do is find a nearby club and attend one of its meetings. If you like what you hear, then join up!

If you already have a boat, find a partner to fish with you. If not, try to hitch a ride with one of the club members.

I learned a lot about bass fishing from Don Cresswell of Eliot, Maine, and he convinced me to join his bass club that he was just starting up. So, with six members we formed the Seacoast Bassmasters. That was in 1972. By 1979 we had 33 members and the meetings lasted until midnight. It was terrible trying to pick lakes to fish, prizes to share, club hats, shirts and jackets.

Thatís when I started Northeast Bassmasters and the rest is history.

The six members became members of the Bassmasters. For 10 years we stayed with them as their opportunity to fish in a regional tournament and possibility to make the Bassmasters Classic was staring us in the face.

We also joined the Forrest Wood Cup. This gave us more chances to step on the big stage of tournament fishing.

I was fortunate to be a part of the Bassmasters regional tournament on the Hudson River in New York. It was the best tournament I had ever fished. They had tables of lure, hats, patches, T-shirts, line ... and all of it was free.

Now, the Northeast Bassmasters only schedule four tournaments a year, two in April and two in October.

However, my son Shawn is running Moeís Midweek tournaments on Wednesdays and The Maine Bass Trail on Sundays. So we have plenty of tournaments to fish.

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The Brook Trout, Brown trout, Rainbow Trout and Atlantic Salmon fishermen have many rivers, streams, lakes and ponds in which to pursue their favorite fish. They also have national organizations that they can join and receive boatloads of information on their favorite fish.

Contrary to some opinions, most trout fishermen will be eager to show you what lures, flies or baits they are using.

We see many boats trolling on the lakes we fish, and those fishermen are anxious to share information on what is hitting and what lures they are using.

Even with a short season to be on the waters of New England, to me, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont are the best states in the East to fish.

Wayne Hooper is a member of the New England Outdoor Writers Association and a lifelong Seacoast resident. He can be reached at sports@seacoastonline.com.