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Elliott and Hendricks Reel in the winnings at Skeeter Bass Champs on Toledo Bend
By Patty Lenderman

March 13, 2004

Falling lake levels kept the bass on the move and 239 teams scrambling to keep up with them at the 2nd Skeeter Bass Champs East Texas Division tournament on Toledo Bend. With the lake levels falling about 1" per day, a lot of things can and did change for the biting patterns of these bass. James Elliott and Ron Hendricks had to change up their game plan from practice last weekend to competition day. Everything came together for them, and this smiling team walked away with a brand new Skeeter SX200 powered by a Yamaha Vmax 200 motor valued at $28,000.

"We just really got lucky" 1st place team of Elliott & Hendricks reported. "We got 1 really good bass (8.80 lbs) and everything just came together for us" Three of their final fish came off of ½ oz black & blue jigs with black/blue pork trailers. The other two came from a ½ oz chartreuse & white spinnerbait. "We practiced last weekend, but our fish moved. We had to change our game plan. We threw, pitched and flipped the bushes along the banks and caught about 9 keepers throughout the day." Their efforts have made them proud new owners of a beautiful Skeeter SX200 powered by a Yamaha Vmax 200 motor.

2nd place was won by Randy Smotherman and Buddy Rutherford. They also caught their fish on black & blue jigs, throwing 3/4 oz with Gene Larew Craw trailers. "We did a lot of running and gunning, covering a lot of acres to find our fish. We caught about 10 keepers throughout the day flipping the bushes in 4' depths."

Randy Patton & Bucky Crowson landed the 3rd place position and then doubled their winnings being the highest finishing Skeeter Bonus qualifier. Starting out north of Pendleton Bridge, they went to familiar waters that they had done well in a week ago. After catching a few swimmers, they headed to their second spot just south of the bridge. They were finding quantities of bass, but not the quality they needed for a good finish. With only 1 ½ hours left to fish, they took a chance and went "way north". The gamble paid off for them, catching their kicker at over 6 lbs, and a few more they were able to cull with. They caught their bass on a 3/4 oz black / brown / amber Tapin custom jig with a Zoom pumpkin Super Chunk Trailer. "The water was stained, but we found the bass in 4'-6' depths in the brush. Our big bass got hung completely out of the water in a bush. It was our Kistler Rod and Stren super braid line that held her there until we could get to her. Our Skeeter / Yamaha got us everywhere we needed to be."

Lonnie Stanley caught the big bass of the event, weighing her in at a whopping 9.29 lbs. Lonnie laughed and shook his head. "We drew #221, so we got a late start. By the time we got to our first fishing spots, people were already there. We saw them catching (fish) in shallow water, about 3 ½ '. Finally we went to the bank and I latched on to her. I was throwing a 1/8 oz baby carolina rig with a 6" Stanley Wedge Lizard tied on. This is the biggest bass I've ever weighed in a tournament. Randy caught all the rest of our fish today." They took 8th place overall with their 5 bass limit.
Top 5 lineup:
1st $28,000 (Skeeter / Yamaha) 23.50 lbs James Elliott & Ron Hendricks
2nd $ 4,000 22.90 lbs Randy Smotherman & Buddy Rutherford
3rd $ 3,000 + $3,000 Skeeter Bonus 19.19 lbs Randy Patton & Bucky Crowson
4th $2,000 18.50 lbs Archie Dore & Emanuel Settle
5th $1,200 18.32 lbs Butch Covington & Frank LeBarron

....and last in the money.......
34th $ 500 12.94 lbs Kenny Jones & Dewayne Reese

Big Bass: $1,000 9.29 lbs Lonnie Stanley & Randy Hanna

Total number of bass weighed in: 691
Total tournament weight: 1683.63 lbs
Average weight per bass: 2.44 lbs
Total number of limits: 97

$59,750 was collected in entry fees to this event. Thanks to all the great sponsors, $67,910 was paid back in cash and prizes - 113.66% more than the anglers paid in.

This is just the beginning for the participating anglers in the Skeeter Bass Champs tournament trail. Jeff and Chad, tournament directors promise: "You haven't seen anything yet", suggesting more exciting things to come.

Skeeter Bass Champs offers an array of incentives that adds to and even doubles the prize money won.

It pays to own a Skeeter! The highest finisher in all team and individual regular season events fishing in a *Qualified Skeeter Boat with a Yamaha Motor will double their winnings up to $5,000 per event. The Skeeter Bonus winners for this event were Randy Patton and Bucky Crowson who finished in 3rd place overall with 19.19 lbs. Their $3,000 winnings were doubled, for a total of $6,000 since they were the highest finishing Qualified Skeeter Boat owners.

Skeeter also offers a $250 "Drop by a Skeeter Dealer Bonus". All you have to do to qualify for this extra prize money is to stop by any Skeeter Dealer in Texas and pick up a signed and dated salesperson's business card. This bonus will be awarded at each Bass Champs qualifying event to the first team or individual who weighs in an exact even weight. (Example: 7.00 lbs)

Diamond Cut Apparel offers $500 at each event to the Big Bass Winner if they are wearing Diamond Cut Apparel when they weigh the fish. Also, Yo-Zuri Quality Lures offers a $500 bonus to the big bass winner per event if that fish is caught on a Yo-Zuri bait. There is literally thousands of dollars in incentives for the anglers to win at Skeeter Bass Champs.

Bass Champs chooses particular events in each region to be televised on The Outdoor Channel Monday nights at 9pm, and is also televised on HD TV. For more information call 817-439-3724 or visit the website at www.basschamps.com. The next East Texas Team event will be held on Lake Sam Rayburn April 10th. Come enjoy all the fun, prizes, trivia games and excitement during the weigh in at the Umphrey Family Pavilion.

Tournament Sponsors include: Skeeter Boats, Yamaha Outboards, Acadamy Sports & Outdoors; Allen Samuels Dodge; Maui Jim sunglasses; 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


Ron Hendricks and James Elliott won 1st place with 23.50 lbs. Hendricks shows two of their 5 bass limit

2nd place was seized by Randy Smotherman and Buddy Rutherford. Rutherford hoists two of ther limit that weighed 22.90 lbs
< photos by Patty Lenderman >

Randy Patton and Bucky Crowson won double the money when they took 3rd place with 19.19 lbs being the highest placing Skeeter bonus qualifiers

Big Bass of the tournament was caught by Lonnie Stanley, totalling 9.29 lbs. He and his partner Randy Hanna won 8th place overall

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