SOCORRO - For the last 33 years, Ron Gilworth of the Socorro Bass Club has been the Master of Ceremonies at the Annual Junior Open fishing Tournament held at Elephant Butte.
“I’ve been involved with the Elephant Butte Bass Anglers for almost as long as I have with the Socorro Bass Club,” Gilworth said. “Our club in Socorro has always assisted the Junior open Tournament with bikes and trophies.
“The idea for the tournament at Elephant Butte is based around Father’s Day,” he said. “And regardless of the outcome, every child gets a gift to take home.”
“But it’s more than just getting gifts. There’ve been expensive gifts available, things like specialty rods and reels. But you’ll see kids go up there and pick out something like a small priced radio.
“What’s unique about this event is there are a lot of repeat children coming back from all over the U.S.” Gilworth said. “Those whose families have moved away from the area. They’ll come back from places like Florida, Arizona, Texas, and Salt Lake City. This year there was a child coming back for his ninth year.”
“They can keep entering up to the age of graduation from high school.”
Two of the returnees were the children of previous contestants, “kids grown up with kids,” he said.
As Vice President of the Socorro Bass Club, Gilworth encourages its members to participate in the tournament, and to promote bass fishing in general.
“Our membership supports it very well,” he said. “There’s bass fishermen from all over New Mexico, and our club is one of the most active.”
A good example of the activity of the local club comes from its success with getting the state to create a specialty fishing license plate.
An article in the July, 2010, national magazine Bass Times, cited the Socorro Bass Club as being instrumental in lobbying the 2009 state legislature to authorized the Motor Vehicle Division to issue the special bass fishing plate.
“We understand it will be coming out the first of August,” Gilworth said.
The Socorro Bass Club has been in existence for 35 years and boasts 43 current members “from all over the area,” he said. “We do different projects throughout the year like tournament fishing and involvement in conservation.
“We worked for the creation of the warm water hatchery in Santa Rosa, and worked to set black bass limits.”
The current president is Betty Arthur from Elephant Butte.
Picture: Ron Gilworth with a hopeful young fisherman, who waited to see what his final day’s catch would weight during the 33rd Annual Junior Open Tournament June 20. Gilworth again served as the event’s emcee, greeting each of the 75 young competitors and praising their efforts, and like every wise fisherman, picking up a tip or two about successful lures and techniques. Photo courtesy of the Sierra County Sentinel
Photo courtesy of the Sierra County Sentinel