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Bass Cash: Catching Tagged Bass Reels in Big Prizes

January 12, 2018 - The 2018 BassCashBash season blew in right along with the nastiest cold front we've seen around here in a very long time, bringing with it more ways to win big than ever before.

BassCashBash is a series of a multi-month bass tournaments that anyone can enter on three different lakes -- Sam Rayburn, Lake Fork and Toledo Bend.

Unlike most tournaments that are decided by total weight, BCB events center on catching tagged bass. Anglers who catch tagged bass from tournament lakes during specified time periods are eligible to win a wide variety of prizes ranging from cash to boats and trucks.

The tournament runs Jan. 1 - April 30 on Sam Rayburn; March 1 - June 30 on Lake Fork; and May 1 - Sept. 4 on Toledo Bend. Here's how it works:

Contest staff catches, tags and releases bass back into the tournament lakes before each event period gets underway. The 2018 tags are colored green. Tags are placed on the fish's back, behind the dorsal fin, using a special tagging device. Each tag wears an individual number coded to specific prizes provided by contest sponsors.

During late fall, 200 bass valued $1,000 each were tagged and released in preparation of the four-month Sam Rayburn tournament. Additionally, fish were tagged for a fully-rigged Phoenix bass boat valued at at $60,000 and a new Dodge pick-up. Anglers who reel in tagged bass at 'Rayburn between now and April 30 can redeem the tag for the designated prize within 24 hours of when the fish is caught.

But there is a catch.

In order to be eligible to win you have to be pre-registered for BassCashBass on the tournament lake before you catch the fish. It costs $50 to enter.

It is not legal to register after a fish is caught in an attempt to claim a prize. Doing so could lead to trouble with the law. Everyone who claims a prize must pass a polygraph test before the money goes in their pocket.

It might seem that the chances of hooking one of the tagged bass would be pretty slim in a lake as big as Sam Rayburn, Fork or Toledo Bend. But it happens much more often than you may think.

During the previous three seasons, two boats and more than $346,000 in prize money have gone unclaimed by 331 anglers who caught tagged fish but were ineligible to win because they were not pre-registered when the catch was made, according to BCB founder, P.D. Vinson of Many, La.

Last year, 144 tagged bass were documented at Sam Rayburn and Toledo Bend. Interestingly, only 29 of those tagged fish were caught by pre-registered anglers who were able to claim their prize money.

The remaining 115 tagged fish were released back into the respective lakes and the prizes went unclaimed. One of those fish was caught by Jarrod Rascoe of Stonewall, La.

Rascoe got an unpleasant surprise when the showed up at a Tackle Box Open night tournament weigh-in last summer on Toledo Bend. When he turned his fish over to be weighed, the weigh master discovered a tag in the back of one of the fish - a 2 1/2 pounder. The tag identified the fish as one of the grand prize winners.

"That fish would have won him (Rascoe) a fully rigged Phoenix bass boat if he had been pre-registered," said Vinson. "But he wasn't pre-registered so the fish went back into the lake. He was sick about it, because he knew about our tournament but just didn't enter. I hear it all the time and I just don't get it. It costs less to enter than it does to buy a rod and reel or a tank of gas for your boat."

The 2018 calendar of events are richer than ever. The Sam Rayburn and Toledo Bend tournaments are offering $400,000 pursues; Lake Fork, $100,000. To learn more or to register online, see basscashbash.com.

BassCashBash is offering cash, boats and trucks to pre-registered anglers who catch tagged bass on designated lakes. The four-month tournament is currently underway on Sam Rayburn with others to follow this spring and summer on lakes Fork and Toledo Bend. (Courtesy Photo)