UPCOMING EVENT: T-H Marine BFL - 2020 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Low and Slow on BBQ Row

Low and Slow on BBQ Row
Fans of the low-and-slow enjoyed samples of competition level meats at the Bass & BBQ event.

Preparation, a solid game plan, perfect execution – sounds like the ingredients to a Forrest Wood Cup victory. But those elements are also required of the best competitive barbecue cooks, like the members of the South Carolina Barbecue Association (SCBA) who turned out for the first-ever Bass & BBQ festival, held in conjunction with the FLW Expo in Columbia, S.C., during the Forrest Wood Cup.

I just so happen to be a huge fan of slow-cooked pork butt … and chicken, ribs, beef brisket and just about any other meat cooked low and slow over smoldering wood. Needless to say, I was amped about my assignment to sample the fares while on site to cover the Cup.

Patrick and Darlene Staley, of Hopkins, S.C., enjoyed both sides of the Bass & BBQ event.

In fairness, scheduling and editorial space prevent a comprehensive analysis of the many diverse styles of hardware and tactics. So, let’s just say that pitmasters all have their preference for smoker, seasoning and presentation, while each showed the requisite dedication with lounge chairs, air mattresses, portable TVs and other creature comforts necessary for the long, long – did we clarify, looooooong – process of turning the lowly swine into an elevated culinary experience.

Barbecue teams primarily focused on traditional pork butts and competed for awards presented at the Colonial Life Arena prior to Sunday’s final weigh-ins, but the public got first crack at their wares. On Saturday, $5 bought five tickets, each traded for a 2-ounce sample from the vendor of choice. Sunday saw pitmasters offering full-sized portions for sale.

Yes, I tried several. Yes, I had a favorite. No, I will not reveal my preference.

The judges did proclaim a winner, however. Here’s the rundown of the top five:

1.      Up in Smoke – Brian Teigue – $3,000

2.      Big Dick’s BBQ – Richard Moore – $2,000

3.      Smokin Stacks – Jeff Smith – $1,500

4.      Buckwheats BBQ – Dewayne Jones – $1,000

5.      Blind Swine BBQ – Mike Sanders – $500

Perfect Pork

I was but a simple scribe blessed with the opportunity to query these sultans of smoke and coal on points to improve my amateur efforts. Tips on principles, preparation and proper seasoning can help even a budding barbecue fan like me wow the home crowd. And after a couple of hours on barbecue row, I walked away with much more than a full stomach and the pleasant linger of hickory smoke on my clothing.

My first tip came from Lake High, a master judge and president of the SCBA – a governing body of sorts for public events and competitive judging. Low-and-slow is the universal standard for barbecue preparation, but as High points out, the Palmetto State boasts four distinct regional barbecue styles: mustard-based, vinegar, light ketchup and heavy ketchup.

“In South Carolina, an event like this does double duty,” High says. “Everybody loves barbecue, and if you have one of these events in Georgia, everyone comes and has a good time, and it will raise the awareness of barbecue in that area. But in South Carolina, we’re the only state in the nation with four kinds of barbecue, so this event serves to raise the awareness of the different styles for people to enjoy.”

Pitmaster Cheyenne Ledyard of The BBQ Pantry checks the temperature of his smoked meats.

Championing the South Carolina barbecue message on a national scale, pitmaster Cheyenne Ledyard of Ledyard BBQ Company in Summerville, S.C., recently competed on the History Channel’s American Grilled. Specializing in pork butts and spareribs, Ledyard says that barbecue is a very personal craft that ultimately rewards diligence.

“The preparation is very important because what you put into the smoker is what you get out,” he says. “I have a company called The BBQ Pantry that specializes in fresh, hand-ground spices, and I think that sets my barbecue out from those who use store-bought spices.”

As Ledyard points out, South Carolina is widely considered the birthplace of barbecue, and that traces back to the introduction of feral pigs by Spanish Explorers. Noting the Native American technique of cooking meats over open spits prompted Spaniards to experiment with pork. Centuries of trial refined processes and inspired various smoker and slow-cooker designs.

Ledyard, whose accolades include a first-place finish at the Rib Throwdown on July 4 in Mullins, S.C., also produces a line of barbecue sauces. Some folks prefer only dry rubs, while some won’t eat barbecue without sauce. Ledyard says that whether you’re cooking for judges or just a family dinner, let your personal tastes guide your decisions.

His formula for success: dry rub, lots of smoke, a little bit of sauce – not over-sauced – and let the meat stand on its own.

“The best barbecue is the barbecue that you like,” he adds. “If you like it with no sauce, then you should eat it with no sauce. If you like it with tomato sauce, you should eat it with tomato sauce. Same for mustard sauce or vinegar – that’s how you should eat it.”

Take-Home Tips

Here are a few more interesting tips from Bass & BBQ pitmasters:

Pitmaster John O. Brown Jr. serves up some pulled pork at Southern Que-N-Stew.

John O. Brown Jr., Southern Que-N-Stew: Pork butts need fat for flavor and tenderness, but trimming the excess exposes more of the meat and allows it to absorb more of the dry-rub seasoning. Doing so creates that flavorful, dark out layer known as the “bark.”

Rubs are a personal deal, and everyone has his favorite blend, but Brown says go easy on the salt. Too much of this harsh spice will overwhelm the natural meat flavor.

Cheyenne Ledyard, Ledyard BBQ Company: Stout, pungent hickory wood works well with larger cuts like brisket and pork butts, while the lighter, sweeter cherry wood is his choice for ribs and chicken.

Joe Wilson, of Mo and Joe's BBQ shows off his smoking skills.

Joe Wilson, Mo and Joe’s BBQ: Keep your meat moist with occasional shots of seasoned water. Wilson fills a plastic squirt bottle with water, lemon wheels and a secret blend of spices to create what he calls “Junk Juice.”

Here's a cool tip from Jason Hardee of Elite BBQ Smokers: Add cut peaches to your water pan for a sweeter smoke vapor.

Jason Hardee, Elite BBQ Smokers: Water pans between the heat source and the meat are essential for maintaining meat moisture, but Hardee adds peach halves to his tray. The naturally sweetened vapor enhances meat flavoring. He’ll also add Vidalia onions to his coals to bolster the smoke flavor.

Butch Kelly, pitmaster at Butts-R-Us, said the key to pulled pork preparation is the personal touch.

Butch Kelly, Butts-R-Us: Preparation styles vary from chopped to minced, but whether he’s presenting his turn-in box to judges or serving the public, Kelly prefers a traditional pulled pork look that you can’t get with forks and cleavers. Donning a pair of latex gloves, he gets up-close-and-personal with the meat he’s labored long to prepare – the only way to “feel” the proper texture and consistency.

Making it Official Food

Here’s a cool tidbit to end on: During Wednesday night’s red carpet event for Forrest Wood Cup competitors and their families, South Carolina Senator Katrina Shealy declared barbecue her state’s official picnic food in a televised press conference.

That’s impressive, but I’m not waiting for any picnic.

Yo, pitmaster, hook me up with a pulled pork sandwich, easy on the sauce.

Tags: david-a-brown  article 

Why You Should Crank Current Breaks Now

Why You Should Crank Current Breaks Now

“It’s almost like a wintertime pattern already,” Salzman says. “It’s kind of interesting. Because it’s been so hot and then so cold, the fish kind of got into the mouths of the creeks this year and never fully pushed into them. The majority of the bait is on the main lake on every lake in Alabama. The water temp was falling so quickly that the back bays were too cold, so the most stable water is on the main lake.” READ MORE »

2020 FLW Pro Circuit Schedule and Details

2020 FLW Pro Circuit Schedule and Details

Fishing League Worldwide (FLW), announced today the full details, including rules, entry dates, schedules and the location for the 2020 Championship. The circuit will feature a field of 150 pro anglers competing across seven regular-season tournaments, which culminate to the FLW TITLE. A new event, the TITLE will showcase the top 50 pros from the FLW Pro Circuit regular season as they compete for an $820,000 purse. READ MORE »

FLW Marshal Registration Now Open

FLW Marshal Registration Now Open

How would you like to experience the FLW Pro Circuit on the water with the world’s top bass anglers fishing for the sport’s biggest payouts? Now you can. Registration for the FLW Marshal program opened today for anyone who participated in the Marshal program last season. New Marshals can sign up beginning on Friday, Nov. 22.   READ MORE »

Make a Tiny Swimbait Your Winter Go-To

Make a Tiny Swimbait Your Winter Go-To

Wintertime and late fall fishing can be super fun, especially up north, when smallmouths are often fat and fairly grouped up. However, it’s not the time of year when you want a ton of rods on deck, and having a confidence bait or two is a must. For Casey Smith, the go-to winter weapon is super simple: a little bitty swimbait on a jighead. READ MORE »

2019 BFL AOY Winners

2019 BFL AOY Winners

The T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) has long been one of the hardest-fought grassroots tournament circuits and the breeding ground for future pros and local legends. With five tournaments in each division, anglers have to contend against the best in their local area, often fishing against full-time guides or local anglers with dozens of tournament wins to their name on a given body of water. As such, winning the season-long Angler of the Year title in one of the 24 divisions is a monumental feat, something that only a couple BFL anglers have done more than a few times. READ MORE »

Check-in Time: Jeremy Lawyer

Check-in Time: Jeremy Lawyer

From time to time, FLW checks in with its anglers to find out what they’ve been up to, what they’re listening to, who they’re following and where they’re heading while out on the tournament trail. This week, we caught up with Missouri pro Jeremy Lawyer.  READ MORE »

Adrian College Wins School of the Year

Adrian College Wins School of the Year

The bass-fishing club at Adrian College is the best in the country, capping off the 2019 YETI FLW College Fishing season in first place overall with 2,350 points, and earning the team the title of 2019 YETI FLW College Fishing National School of the Year.  READ MORE »

Rapala Varsity Bass Ep. 4 Airs Wednesday

Rapala Varsity Bass Ep. 4 Airs Wednesday

Join FLW for a watch party for the premiere of Episode 4 of Rapala Varsity Bass presented by General Tire. The episode will air Wednesday, Nov. 6 at 2 p.m. CT. READ MORE »

FLW Live Schedule for Costa FLW Series Championship

FLW Live Schedule for Costa FLW Series Championship

FLW Live is back for the 2019 Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland in Burnside, Ky. The event will feature daily weigh-in broadcasts, as well as the full FLW Live studio broadcast, with live feeds from top anglers' boats, on the final two days. READ MORE »

2020 FLW Series Schedule and Details

2020 FLW Series Schedule and Details

Major League Fishing (MLF) and Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) recently announced the expanded 2020 FLW Series details, schedules, rules, entry fees and payouts. READ MORE »

2020 T-H Marine BFL Schedules and Details

2020 T-H Marine BFL Schedules and Details

Major League Fishing (MLF) and Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) recently announced the 202 BFL details, schedules, rules, entry fees and payouts. READ MORE »

2020 FLW Series and BFL Details

2020 FLW Series and BFL Details

Major League Fishing (MLF) and Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) announced today the expanded 2020 FLW Series and T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) details, schedules, rules, entry fees and payouts, highlighted by lower entry fees in both circuits and an expanded FLW Series schedule, along with upping the FLW Series Championship payout to $200,000 for first place and adding a $10,000 bonus for the highest-finishing pro from each of the eight U.S. FLW Series divisions and the International Division. READ MORE »

Ebare Eyes Strong Finish

Ebare Eyes Strong Finish

Ebare loves to fish. A lot. And he’s fished in 20 FLW events so far in 2019. His 21st will be the Costa FLW Series Championship at Lake Cumberland at the end of October, at which he hopes to earn his first win in FLW competition. READ MORE »

Floyd Cashes in on Guntersville

Floyd Cashes in on Guntersville

Last weekend, Floyd added to his already lengthy list of accomplishments with a T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) Regional victory on Lake Guntersville – the tournament was presented by Mercury – with a 44-pound, 15-ounce three-day total, and it all came down to consistency and some really good decision-making. READ MORE »

B. Lat, MDJ Win Pan Am

B. Lat, MDJ Win Pan Am

Brian Latimer and Mark Daniels Jr. are best friends off the water, and it looks like they’ve got the makings of a deadly team on the water. Weighing five smallmouths for 21.16 pounds in the first session and 23.92 pounds in the second session, the pair totaled 45.08 pounds to win the individual competition in the Pan American Bass Championship on Lake St. Francis. READ MORE »

Canada Wins Gold at Pan Am

Canada Wins Gold at Pan Am

Though Team USA locked up the top three places, Team Canada placed six teams in the top 10 and averaged 38.98 pounds to win the Pan American Bass Championship on Lake St. Francis. Results were tallied based on the average weight brought in by each team in the two sessions of fishing, which almost guaranteed an extremely close finish. Earning a silver medal, Team USA finished just a hundredth of a pound back with a 38.97 average. READ MORE »

Canada Leads at Pan Am

Canada Leads at Pan Am

The first session of competition in the Pan American Bass Championship on Lake St. Francis was a roaring success. After the morning weigh-in, Team Canada is leading with an average of 21.16 pounds, Team USA is in second with a 19.6 average, Team Akwesasne First Nation is in third with 18.62 and Mexico had an up and down morning to accrue a 17.24-pound average. READ MORE »

Do you need a generator for bass fishing?

Do you need a generator for bass fishing?

Austin Felix has been running a generator for a few years now, and his primary use is during the spring in the North, when he’s spending mega-days on the water practicing for tournaments that feature bedding smallmouths. READ MORE »

Day 1 Delayed at Pan Am

Day 1 Delayed at Pan Am

Because of steady rain and hard winds at around 20 mph or more, day one of the Pan American Bass Championship has been canceled. With gusts up to 40 mph in the forecast, the organizers have decided to fish two sessions on Friday instead. READ MORE »

Pan Am Gets Underway in Canada

Pan Am Gets Underway in Canada

With the official training day in the rearview, the Pan American Bass Championship starts Thursday, Oct. 16, on Lake St. Francis in Cornwall, Ontario. Teams from Mexico, the Akwesasne First Nation, Canada and the United States will be competing the next two days for glory and country, but also to help along the movement to make bass fishing an Olympic sport. READ MORE »