Lakecaster Online

Anglers Choice tournament on Sam Rayburn
By Patty Lenderman

Anglers Choice introduced their Shared Weight Pro-Am format to East Texas March 20th on Sam Rayburn. The Pro's and Am's paired up for this two day event and everyone had a great time as the "teams" brought their bass to the scales at the Umphrey Family Pavilion. On the Pro side, Scott David dominated the field and won the $32,000 BassCat Pantera III powered by a Mercury Motor. Justin Hale won top honors in the Amateur Division

The Pro-Am concept in bass tournament fishing has been around for years. But the Anglers Choice Pro-Am Series offers a new concept named "Shared Weight". When fishing a Shared Weight Pro-Am format it doesn't matter who catches the's a 5 fish limit for the boat.
A good way to explain, "Shared Weight " would be to call it "Team for a day". In a Shared Weight Pro-Am tournament, just like a "Draw" on a "Draw" tournament, a random drawing is held to pair a "Pro" angler with and "Amateur" or "Am" angler for each tournament day. The major difference between a straight "Draw" on "Draw" Pro-Am vs. a Shared Weight Pro-Am is the "Pro" and "Am" would be fishing as a team trying to catch a limit for the boat rather than competing against each other for individual limits of bass.

For the first day of competition, the anglers were paired in a random selection. With superb fishing conditions of cloudy overcast skies and warm breezes, four limits over 20 lbs were brought to the scales. Most of the anglers were targeting spawning bass, and Scott David of Livingston, TX pulled into a strong early lead with 27.33 lbs, a full 5 lb lead over 2nd place Chris Wilkerson also of Livingston, TX with 22.24 lbs. Chris also brought in the big bass of the tournament on the Pro side on day 1, weighing her in at 10.75 lbs. On the Amateur side, Justin Hale, teamed with Pro Chris Wilkerson was leading the pack in his division with the shared weight of 22.24 lbs. Mike Taylor of The Stump Restaurant on Sam Rayburn secured his 2nd place position on the Amateur side with his 21.89 lbs, fishing with Pro Darren Wolf of Longview, TX.

For the second and final day of competition, the Anglers re-shuffled having different partners. High pressure moving in, the bass were moving out into deeper cover.

1st place Pro Scott David brought in another limit, giving him a two day total of 38.83 lbs. This is the time of year where Scott is the strongest, being an excellent site fisherman. Using hot pink 1/4 oz Gitzem tube baits, he went to Farmers Flats, pitching the willow trees, then to Fire Tiger to finish his win in the flooded sweet gums. "There was a 13 or so lb'r on the bed. I worked on her from 12:30 on, but couldn't get her to swallow the bait. I had to hunt, peck, look and dig for my bass. There are not to many pushed up on the beds yet. The major push will be on the next full moon. Right now you can really work the ones that are there. They're not too spooky yet."

2nd place Pro Joe Copeland of Roff, OK brought in back to back limits, coming from 4th place at the end of day 1 to his final 2nd place finish with a two day total of 33.74 lbs. "The first day it was an all day bite. Day two was a different story, with the high pressure it was more squirly. We went to Veach Basin and flipped watermelon 5/16 oz tube baits in the willows for our fish. This is a great fishing format. It makes the Pro & the Am work as a team."

3rd place Pro Chris Wilkerson site fished with Kicker Fish red bug wacky worms. Throwing into bushy pocket areas, his best bite was between 10:00-2:00. Catching his big bass (10.75 lbs) the first day, he also brought in back to back limits for a two day total of 33.15 lbs.

1st place Amateur Justin Hale of Kingwood, TX site fished on day one with Pro partner Chris Wilkerson using white tube baits. On day two, he switched to black / blue Senko's fished wacky style. He caught his kicker fish, 7.75 lbs at 2:00 which would have won big bass in the Amateur Division, but he did not enter into the big bass pot. His two day total was 37.29 lbs.

2nd place Amateur Ricky Heard of Jasper, TX finished with a two day total of 35.55 lbs. "I had a great time. I learned a lot from my pro partners. I probably wouldn't have my 5.99 lb big bass if my pro partner didn't have me change my hook. I was having some trouble sticking them and lost two before that." Throwing a watermelon red Zoom trick worm wacky style, he found his fish in 5+' of water outside the bushes. "I had to work at it. Definitely earned my fish. I like this format. It helps Amateurs learn new tricks." Ricky said all his day 1 fish came in a 10 minute window.

3rd place Amateur Mike Taylor of the Stump Restaurant was all grins. Having a two day, 9 bass total of 31.64 lbs, he had several nice fish to his name. "I fished with Darren Wolf on the first day, and we went to my fish. I caught an 8 lb'r, a 6 lb'r and tried to get another 6 lb'r in that same area but couldn't quite get her. Then we went to his fish and Darren showed me a lot about how to catch bedding bass. We ended up culling four fish flipping the bushes. I finally got to fish with Bob Sealy on the second day. Both my partners were real gentlemen. Very obliging, sharing baits, and positioning the boat where we both had good casting areas. The second day I threw a 4" red neon craw rigged Texas style in 2' depths. We also caught them on watermelon red Senko's and brush hogs, and green pumpkin / red lizards dipped in chartreuse. I love this format. It's a way to meet new friends, learn new techniques. I felt like I was going to school again this weekend."

Top 5 Pro's:
1st - 38.83 lbs - Bass Cat / Mercury - Scott David
2nd - 33.74 lbs - $2,670 - Joe Copeland
3rd - 33.15 lbs - $2,165 - Chris Wilkerson
4th - 32.53 lbs - $1,480 - Eason Dowden
5th - 32.26 lbs - $ 975 - Lindy Hadley

Top 5 Co Anglers:
1st - 32.79 lbs - $690 - Justin Hale
2nd - 35.55 lbs - $765 - Ricky Heard
3rd - 31.64 lbs - $515 - Michael Taylor
4th - 28.35 lbs - $385 - Paul Henry
5th - 28.12 lbs - $175 - Fil Torres

"We will be back, Tom Shockley promised, as he prepared to move on to his next "Shared-Weight" Pro/Am event to be held at Richland Chambers on April 9th and 10th, of 2004.

Day-1 -99 bass- weighing 309- lbs- with 16 limits.
Day-2 -93 bass- weighing-230 lbs- with 12 limits.
2004 Anglers Choice Pro/Am Schedule; March 19-20- Sam Rayburn TX- Umphrey Family Pavilion
April 9-10- Richland Chambers TX- Oak Cove Marina
May- 14-15- Lake Fork TX- Axton's Bass City
June 18-19- Toledo Bend LA- Cypress Bend Resort
September 10-11- Red River - Natchitoches LA
Angler's Choice Pro/Am Championship; Sam Rayburn TX- Umphrey Family Pavilion

For more information on the Angler's Choice Pro/Am circuit contact Tom Shockley at (318)-965-9669 - or write to - Angler's Choice Pro/Am Series - c/o Tom Shockley- PO Box 962- Benton, LA. 716006.

Angler's Choice Pro/Am Sponsors; U.S. Angler's Choice- Bass Cat Boats- Competitive Edge- Mercury Outboards- Motor Guide- Lowrance Electronics- Bass West USA Magazine- Eagle Electronics- Rejuvenade- Solar Bat- Wilson Trophy Co- and the Angler's Choice Pro/Am anglers.

1st place Pro Scott David dominated the field both days for a two day 10 bass total of 38.83 lbs

2nd place pro Joe Copeland shows his day 2 catch with Am partner Jeff Penso that brought him from 4th to finish 2nd place
< photos by Patty Lenderman >

1st place Amateur Justin Hale heaves part of his catch as well as 3rd place Pro Chris Wilkerson, Chris with his 10.75 lb Pro big bass

Ricky Heard (R) took 2nd place in the Amateur division, hoisting his catch with Pro partner John Wess

(Top, L-R) 1st Pro Scott David; 2nd Pro Joe Copeland; 3rd Pro Chris Wilkerson; (Bottom, L-R) 1st Am Justin Hale; Tournament Director Tom Shockley

Scott David wins the BassCat / Mercury bass rig valued at over $32,000 presented by Tom Shockley

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