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5 Bass/19.5 Lbs Pro/Wins Rayburn Texas Tournament Trail
By Ed Snyder

-5 Bass/18.0 Lbs Takes Co/Angler Division-

Wal-Mart/Texas Tournament Trail 2002 $1,000,000 Tour.
Saturday, March 09, 2002, Twin Dikes Marina, Lake Sam Rayburn, TX.

With pre-tournament bass-chat of soft plastics and shallow water brush, being whispered amongst the anglers as the key for catching the predicted 20 -lb sacks and 10 lb kickers to win this event, and with "Ma" Nature stepping in with gusting 35 mph "plus" cold-front blue-bird fishing conditions, those "whispered" thoughts became a very interesting weigh-in factor for the tournament at Twin Dikes Marina that witnessed a 5 bass/19-lb 5 oz Pro/weight mark the top of the leader-board with an 11 -lb 12 oz "kicker" taking the "overall" Big Bass honors.

The Wal-Mart/Texas Tournament Trail events are one-day tournaments that team up pro/boater -(boat-owner)- and co/boater -(rider)- anglers who fish for 5 bass tournament limits each, which are then weighed-in for pro/boater & co/boater division weights and awards. After four one-day scheduled events are fished by the TTT anglers, the top 100 point-leaders of each division then qualify to fish the $195,000 Texas Tournament Trail Championship, which will be held on Lake Belton, TX, on October 19-20, 2002.

NOTE:(Angler awards are affected by a contingency plans that can greatly enhance the tournament winnings of those anglers who adhere to the contingency rules & regulations)

A full field of 200 pro/boater/co/boater teams fished this event.

1st place Pro/Boater-(5 bass/19.5)- Randy Qualls of Streetman, TX, ran his Champion/Mercury bass-rig over to mid-lake and south-lake areas to work Falcon rods and Team Daiwa reels spooled with 20 lb test Berkely Big Game mono. The winning pro/angler fished C-rigged watermelon Zoom brush-hogs around 14'-16' outside grass-edges to catch 5 bites for 5 bass that included an 8 plus big bass. "I started out deep at first, Randy informed the crowd, but then came in shallower to catch my bass, which included an 8 plus lb bass for him and an 11.12 lb big bite for his partner, Nathan Cook, who managed to land the biggest bass for the co/boater division.

2nd place Pro/Boater-(5 bass/15.6)- Chris McCall of Jasper, TX, put his Ranger/Mercury bass-rig over Veach Basin brush to work Falcon rods and Shimano reels spooled with 15 lb test Berkely Big Game mono. Chris fished with june-bug Swacky worms and 3/8 oz white Stanley spinner-baits along 2' flooded brush to catch his bass.

Pro/Boater Overall Travis Marine Big Bass-(8.12)- Mark Cowan of FT Worth, TX, put his Ranger/Mercury bass-rig over Needmore Point outside grass-lines to fish a C-rigged pumpkin-seed chartreuse Zoom lizard when an 8am big bite put a $5,000 big bass in his boat for the Travis Boating big bass Pro/Angler bonus.

Top-5 Pro/Boaters:
1-(19.50)-Randy Qualls/Streetman, TX-$10,000 + 518/Ranger Bass-Boat
2-(15.60)-Chris McCall/Jasper, TX-$8,000
3-(15.40)-David Netherland/Waco, TX-$6,000-$4,000 bonus-
4-(14.14)-John Hatton/Buna, TX-$4,300-$3,000 bonus-
5-(14.90)-Edwin Evers/Mannsville, OK-$3,200

Pro/Boater Tally- 447 bass weighing 1,038 lbs-

1st place Co/Boater-(5 bass/18.00)- Chris Slopak of Hot Springs, AR, was fishing with Pro/angler Rickey Friedrich of Bailey Springs, TX, while working with Allstar rods and Shimano reels spooled with 17 lb test Berkely Big Game mono. The Arkansas razorback was slow-rolling 9/16 oz fire-tiger MR. Blitz spinner-baits along Veach Basin grass-tops to catch 6 bass for culling his winning 5 bass weight. "It was just my day today, explained the grinning co/boater winner.

2nd place Co/Boater-(5 bass/12.10)- Jeff Smart of Denison, TX, fished with pro/angler David Truax of Beaumont, TX, while fishing 2'-4' Veach Basin brush with Falcon rods and Zebco reels spooled with 20 lb test Berkely Big game mono. The 2nd place co/boater worked Texas rigged pumpkin-green tubes, 1 / 2 oz red Rattle Traps, and 1 / 2 oz white Johnson spinner-baits to catch his 2nd place co/boater win.

Co/Boater Overall Big Bass-(11.12)- Nathan Cook of Bryan, TX, fished with pro/angler Randy Qualls of Streetman TX, while working a Castaway rod and Shimano reel spooled with 20 lb test P-line. The lucky angler was fishing a C-rigged watermelon/red Zoom brush-hog along the edges of an 18' point in the mid-lake area when the 11.12 lb big bite hit at 9am that managed to put him in the 4th place co/boater slot. It was Nathan's largest bass catch, "which almost gave me a heart attack, he stated with a wide grin!

Top-5 Co/Boaters:
1-(18.00)-Chris Slopak/Hot Springs, AR-$4,000- + 518/Ranger Bass-Boat-
2-(12.10)-Jeff Smart/Denison, TX-$3,000-$1,600 bonus
3-(11.13)-Brandon Woodell/Irving, TX-$2,000
4-(11.11)-Nathan Cook/Bryan, TX-$1,000
5-(9-60)-Dwain Morgan/Grand Prairrie, TX-$800

Co/Boater Tally- 252 bass weighing 584 lbs-

All bass were recovered and live released by Texas Tournament Trail fish recovery.

For more information on this tournament contact Operation Bass at (270)-362-4880.

Wal-Mart/Operation Bass Sponsors: Castrol- Chevy Trucks- Conseco- Energizer- EverStart- Evinrude- Faded Glory- Frito Lay- Garmin- Kellogg's- Minn Kota- Pepsi- Ranger Boats- SNICKERS- Stanley Tools- Wal-Mart- Yamaha- Holiday Inn Express, Jasper Chamber of Commerce- and the Texas Tournament Trail anglers.

Randy Qualls with reps to his 1st place pro/boater win

Mark Cowan with his 8-12 $5,000 Travis Boating Big Bass
< photos by Ed Snyder >

Nathan Cook with his 11-12 "heart attack" big bass

Chris McCall with reps to his 2nd place Pro/Boater win

L-R- Randy Qualls and Chris Slopak with 1st place "braggin-rights"

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