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Big T Gives Up 22.87 Lbs For Bass-N-Bucks Win
By Patty Lenderman

Bass Champs tournament trail debuted their East Texas Team Trail on Sam Rayburn this Valentines day. What a sweetheart of a day it was for Rick Barns and James Stricklin, whose winnings totaled $33,000 in cash and prizes. Hosting their event at the Umphrey Family Pavilion, TV camera crews were busy catching the top anglers on film. Freezing temperatures with drizzling rain and sleet couldn't keep the 228 teams from launching into the waters of Sam Rayburn to fish for over $63,000 in cash and prizes to be won in this event.

Rick Barns and James Stricklin, Jr brought in the winning catch, a limit weighing 20.20 lbs. "We caught our first three bass in 30 minutes, and then didn't catch another fish until after 1:00. At that point we caught 5 more, culling three times." They used a ½ oz Terminator spinnerbait in Fire Tiger as well as chartreuse/white colors with double colorado blades. Throwing in 2'-4' depths, they found their fish in the bushes. "We fished through about 50 miles of water today and froze our tail off." Their success came using a 6 ½' medium heavy Compre Rod with 20 lb test line. This team is sponsored by Shimano, Pro Craft, Terminator Spinnerbaits, Castrol and Mercury.

2nd place with 19.42 lbs was the father / son team of Donald and Brad Stringer. "We hadn't been on Sam Rayburn in almost two weeks before this event" Brad began. "We didn't get a chance to practice, knew the water was on the rise, so we just decided to go to some familiar water where we have had previous success. Our fish were caught on ½ oz Austin Strap traps as well as ½ oz Stanley Wedge Spinnerbaits with double willow blades and white / chartreuse skirts. We found our fish shallow, in 1'-2' depths on muddy secondary points. Our best bite was around 10:00, and we were able to cull three times today." The Stringers are sponsored by Stanley Baits, Terry's Marine and Castaway Rods.

3rd place was won by Rusty Harvey and Kevin Castilaw with only 4 fish weighing 17.42 lbs. They weighed in a kicker fish at 6.64 lbs. "We lost our big bass. Most of the bass we caught came off of a carolina rigged watermelon lizard. Our carolina rig had a 5' leader and a 1 oz weight. We also caught a few on Mr. Blitz shad colored 1 oz spinnerbait. We caught all of them in main lake grass pockets in 9'-12' depths. Our best bite was between 7:30 and 11:00." This team is sponsored by Ranger boats, Falcon Rods, Shimano and Mr. Blitz.

Curtis Kayda brought in the big bass of the tournament weighing 9.53 lbs. He caught her on a crawfish colored crank bait fishing main lake points. "She came out of about 10' of water at the edge of the grass. I caught her on the 3rd cast of the day. She didn't hit it hard, it just felt heavy." Curtis and Tim had a few mechanical problems through the day to overcome, batteries going dead and big motor not cranking. They said they got a little worried for a while, but managed to get cranked up and motor to the weigh in. This team is sponsored by Bayside Fire Protection and T-Star Fire Services.

Rounding out the top 10:
1st - 20.20 lbs - (Skeeter/Yamaha) - Rick Barns & James Stricklin Jr
2nd - 19.42 lbs - ($4,000) - Donald Stringer & Bradley Stringer
3rd - 17.42 lbs - ($3,000) - Rusty Harvey & Kevin Castilaw
4th - 16.34 lbs - ($2,000) - Juanita Robinson & Donnie Robinson
5th - 16.21 lbs - ($1,200) - Joe Joslin & Brantley Salter
6th - 15.85 lbs - ($1,100) - Curtis Kayda & Tim Miller
7th - 15.60 lbs - ($1,080) - Jack Carroll & Rick Hill
8th - 15.52 lbs - ($1,070) - Jason Hanks & Maark Woolems
9th - 15.47 lbs - ($1,060) - David Czudek & David Czudek Jr
10th - 15.00 lbs - ($1,050) - Jesse Adams & Larry Price
Big Bass - 9.53 lbs ($1,000) - Curtis Kayda

Total tournament fish: 367
Total tournament weight: 1013 lbs
Total tournament limits: 24

"I am more excited about 2004 than I ever have been going into a new season", said Chad Potts, President of Bass Champs. "Even though this is only our 4th year hosting tournaments, we always try to improve on what we did the previous year, and I believe this will be our biggest year ever. We have increased our paybacks, we now have National Television Exposure for our Anglers, and Sponsors, a new website, more events, more sponsor bonus money, 30 Skeeter Boats to give away in Texas, and the Richest Championship in the History of Texas." The Skeeter Bass Champs tournament trail provides anglers of all skill levels with a unique opportunity to compete with a high level of competition in each field, yet the events are still geared towards the local weekend angler. Touring professionals are not allowed to enter Bass Champs events, but the paybacks in Bass Champs tournaments are as close to the professional level as it gets. Bass Champs has some anglers (men & women) that are brand new to the sport and some that have been fishing competitively for over 25 years, and the best part is they all have a chance to win big purses. "Since the majority of our events are one day events, it's anybody's tournament to win on any given day. Good Luck to all those planning on competing in the Skeeter Bass Champs Tournament Trail during 2004. Thanks to the over 4000 anglers who have fished with us over the past 3 years, we look forward to seeing all of you walk across the stage again this year" - Chad Potts, Bass Champs.

All Bass Champs events will be televised on The Outdoor Channel Monday nights at 9pm, and is also televised on HD TV. The next Bass Champs East Texas Division tournament will be March 13th on Toledo Bend. For more information call 817-439-3724 or visit their website at

Tournament Sponsors include: Acadamy Sports & Outdoors; Allen Samuels Dodge; Yamaha; Skeeter; Maui Jim; Diamond Cut Apparel; Wave Worms; St. Croix; Continental Batteries; MotorGuide; Dual Pro Charger; Aqua Innovations; Bottom Line; Xtools; Yo-Zuri; Oasis Casino; Daiwa; and The Outdoor Channel

Associate Sponsors include: Johnson's Fiberglass; All-Star Marine Electronics; Pro Rule; Martin's Maps; Please Release Me

Rick Barns and James Stricklin win 1st place with 20.20 lbs, and was awarded the fully rigged Skeeter / Yamaha bass boat

2nd place was won by the father / son team of Donald and Bradley Stringer with 19.42 lbs
< photos by Patty Lenderman >

Rusty Harvey and Kevin Castilaw took 3rd place overall with their four fish bag weighing 17.42 lbs, which included their 6.64 lb kicker fish.

Donnie Robinson hoists two of his and wife Juanita's 16.34 lb stringer that won them 4th place overall

Curtis Kayda caught this 9.53 lb Rayburn hawg, taking big bass honors. Curtis and his partner Tim Miller won 6th place overall

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