Big Bass and Barbecue on “Pond Wars”

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Five, two-man fishing teams slug it out on a trophy bass lake in Realtree Fishing’s inaugural event, presented by Keystone Light

It was just five minutes into a four-hour derby when Lee Ellis, a guy best known for shooting big bucks in big cities with Seek One productions, flipped a creature bait through a grass mat and set the hook into a 7.18-pound bucketmouth of a bass. Fishing with professional angler Dustin Connell, it looked like the two-man team would be tough to catch during Realtree’s inaugural “Pond Wars” tournament, held at Live Oak Plantation in southern Georgia and sponsored by Keystone Light.

Jacob Wheeler was among the pro competitors at this year's Pond Wars. Image by Buzz Hayes

But with five, two-man teams featuring the likes of professional anglers Jacob Wheeler, Mark Daniels, Jr., Casey Ashley, and Justin Atkins, Ellis and Connell didn’t need to get too comfortable. One of those teams would put a near 9-pound bass in the boat later that day, a bass that fell for a Texas-rigged Power Worm. In fact, despite cool, breezy weather following a springtime cold front, Pond Wars proved to be a big-bass slug fest — at least for most of the teams in the competition.

While we won’t divulge the full details on which team won — you’ll have to watch the video on Realtree 365 for that — we will share one spoiler: The team of Justin Martin and Michael Pitts finished last. In fact, the duo was honored with a pair of wobble-butt “Dead Ass Last” donkey trophies, following the weigh-in ceremony.  

“I did notice there were two pros in one boat, and no pros in our boat.” — Michael Pitts 

“I did notice there were two pros in one boat, and no pros in our boat,” Pitts said, while picking a big backlash out of his baitcasting reel. “But our hopes were high.” Unfortunately, hope isn’t enough to really help you in real life, and Pitts was among the few anglers in history to ever get skunked on the highly managed fishery. He blamed the poor showing on his partner, for covering water too thoroughly from the front of the boat. Later, he even sabotaged the team’s chances at a second-to-last-place finish by grabbing the line after Martin hooked up on a 5-pounder. The fish escaped.

Pond Wars proved to be a big-bass slug fest. Image by Andrew Klatt

Still, Pitts, who sported a brand new Realtree Fishing shirt from the Keystone Light x Realtree collection, was consoled with the fact that tournament MC Michael Mixon was smoking ribs and brisket on the shore, and a big meal was awaiting everyone following the competition. If cooking is your thing, Mixon, a champion pit master, shares tips for cooking perfect barbecue throughout several Pond Wars sidebars.

Big bass. Good barbecue. Cold Keystone Lights. This was our kind of event, and we’re betting you’ll like it too. Check out Pond Wars.  

The team of Justin Martin and Michael Pitts finished last and was honored with a pair of wobble-butt “Dead Ass Last” donkey trophies. Image by Andrew Klatt

Book a stay at Live Oak Plantation where you too can not only fish for huge bass, but enjoy some of the best deer and turkey hunting Georgia has to offer.

MC Michael Mixon, a champion pit master, smoked ribs and brisket for the anglers to enjoy after the competition. Image by Andrew Klatt