Like most conservation groups in this year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Texoma Chapter of Ducks Unlimited was left wondering for months if they would be able to have the group’s annual fundraising dinner this fall.


With the Texas economy reopened this summer and life slowly trending towards some sense of normalcy, it appears as if the local group will indeed be able to hold their 2020 fundraiser, albeit with a different look and feel.


This week, the local group has announced that the 45th edition of the Texoma DU Banquet will be held next month on Tuesday, Oct. 20, at the Hilton Garden Inn Texoma Event Center in Denison. The dinner will run from 6-10 p.m. and will feature the usual array of DU merchandise, sporting art, wildlife collectibles and hunting and fishing gear available through the event’s raffles, special games, silent auction and live auction.


As mentioned above, there will be a different DU vibe at this year’s Texoma event. That’s because overall seating is limited, and sponsorship table configuration and numbers will be in accordance with whatever health mandates are in place at the time. Individual tickets are $60; Bronze Sponsorships are $300; Silver Sponsor Tables are $750; and Gold Sponsor Tables ae $1,500.


Since seating will be limited due to the state’s ongoing coronavirus response, get your tickets early if you plan on attending. You can do so by visiting the DU website at www.ducks.org/events or by calling a committee member.


For more information or to purchase tickets, call current Texoma DU chairman Kris Spiegel at 903-820-8882; past Texoma DU chairman Eric Kloppers at 903-815-2229; or retired DU regional director and Texoma Chapter co-founder Jim Lillis at 903-815-8002.


Other Local DU News — Coming up quickly on the North Texas DU schedule is next weekend’s sporting clays fundraising shoot at Fossil Pointe Sporting Grounds in Decatur. Scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 12, the shooting fundraiser will run from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. Tickets are available online at www.ducks.org/events or by contacting North Texas DU regional director Dillon Schroeder at 918-424-3422


Also scheduled soon is the annual Whitesboro DU event on Saturday, Sept. 19. Scheduled for a 6-10 p.m. run, the event will be held at a new venue this year at Ranch 82, located at 12265 E. US Hwy. 82 in Whitesboro.


Pre-event ticket prices are $45 for singles, $60 for couples, and $20 for youth (ticket prices increase by $10 at the door). There are also Sponsor Tables available along with Reserved Tables for 8, the latter costing $400 each.


For online ticket sales, visit DU's website at www.ducks.org/events or call Whitesboro DU chairman and auctioneer Doug Rodgers at 903-814-5826.


FLW TITLE Drama — After Major League Fishing purchased the FLW Tour last year, most everyone knew that some changes would be coming to the longtime pro bass fishing league.


That included a new league name — the tour is now known as the FLW Pro Circuit — and a new moniker for the league’s championship event. Formerly known as the Forrest Wood Cup, the end-of-season tournament is now known as the FLW Pro Circuit TITLE event, a derby that divides anglers into two groups and has them fish under MLF’s catch-weigh-release and live leaderboard format.


Held from Aug. 24-29 at Sturgeon Bay, Wis., the 2020 event appears to have been a solid success. California pro Rusty Salewske — who is back fishing after a 10-year absence from the FLW Tour — followed his gut instincts and made a last second move that paid off with a $200,000 paycheck and the first-ever TITLE championship belt.


That triumph came after the San Diego area bass pro left a lee-side shoal he had fished most of the final day and made a move to a windier spot. It paid off when he caught a pair of smallmouths in the final 42-minutes of the event, two bronzeback bass that pushed him past Bradford Beavers and into first place. The clincher was a nearly 5-pound smallmouth, a big smallie caught with only 12-minutes left in the championship round.


"I'd go there every day of the tournament to check that spot," said Selewske to FLW reporter Joe Shangle. "It's right next to a big current hole. To me it was going to be a good spot, but it didn't really materialize during the tournament. I just couldn't hang on that point anymore (in the wind), it was just killing me. Luckily three casts in I caught the 2-15 and then the 4-15."


Thanks to those last gasp fish, Salewske finished with a winning total of 13 bass for 48-pounds, 11-ounces, only eight-ounces better than Beavers’ runner-up tally of 48-03. John Cox finished third on Championship Day with 36-14, Kurt Mitchell finished fourth with 22-08, and Kyle Hall took fifth with 22-00.


Texan Leads BASS AOY Race — If you’re interested in professional bass fishing, there’s a really nice Bassmaster.com story this week about Leander, Texas resident Clark Wendlandt. If that name sounds familiar, it should be since Wendlandt is one of bass fishing’s quiet superstars and the host of the Cabela’s Fishing and Hunting Texas TV show on the Pursuit Channel.


After years on the FLW Tour, Wendlandt returned to the Bassmaster Elite Series last year and is now enjoying great success with three Top 10 finishes so far in 2020. Because of that sizzling hot pace, the 54-year old pro appears to be a lock to make the 2021 Bassmaster Classic on Lake Ray Roberts. If he does, it would be Wendlandt’s fifth career Classic berth after 18 qualifications for the Forrest Wood Cup championship on the other tour.


With four FLW Tour victories on his resume, Wendlandt is hunting even more pro bassing hardware for the fireplace mantle as he currently sits in the No. 1 spot on the 2020 B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year rankings list. If he can hold on and win that AOY title, it would be the fourth such trophy of his career to go along with FLW AOY wins in 1997, 2000 and 2009.


All of that adds up to more than $2.5 million in career earnings as the Texas pro pushes up the BassFan.com world rankings list where he currently sits at No. 37 and climbing.


To see the Bassmaster.com story on Wendlandt, visit www.bassmaster.com/anglers/clark-wendlandt.