Lakecaster Online

9th Annual Tracy Byrd Big Bass Tournament a Huge Success for Children's Miracle Network
By Patty Lenderman

March 27, 2004

Each year the Tracy Byrd Big Bass Tournament draws more and more amateur anglers to participate in this fun, worthwhile event. This year, a record breaking 757 participants hit Sam Rayburn fishing for $108,000 in cash & prizes. Through the years (not counting this one) over $400,000 has been raised benefitting the Children's Miracle Network.

With overcast skies and a steady gentle wind, the anglers had nearly optimum conditions to lure that big bite. The excitement of big bass coming to the scales started right off in the first weigh in hour, 7-8:00 am. Clyde Pennington of Pineville, LA, fishing with grandson Zack Gagnard brought in an 8.97 lb'r that officially topped the first hour. He had a little bit of a rough start, beginning with his 3 hour drive to get here to the Walter Umphrey Family Pavilion. Upon arrival his cranking battery wouldn't start the motor. Overcoming these obstacles, he and his grandson went out on the lake and quickly found this whopper bass.

The next hour, 8-9:00 am, the all time tournament record was broken when Buddy Hardin of Nederland, TX brought to the scales a 10.56 lb lunker. This is the heaviest bass ever weighed in at a Tracy Byrd Big Bass event. His partner Judy Macha, excited to be the one to net this monster, was just as shaken as Buddy. He caught her on a methiolate colored wacky worm about 5' deep. "I brought her right in" Buddy stated. This is not his first rodeo, "I always fish Tracy Byrd's Tournament". Curtis Smith brought in his 9.53 lb'r that same hour, taking second place for the hour as well as second place overall.

As the day progressed, anglers were bringing their bagged fish to the back "hold" tanks while they pondered their weigh in strategy. Knowing when to hold 'em and when to weigh 'em is half the game in this hourly payback event. The top 5 weights for each hour receive a check. 1st place for each hour receives $1,000 and 5th place receives $100. When the anglers bring their bass to the holding tanks, they check to see the top weights of the hour. Then they ponder where their fish might stack up in the line up, deciding whether to weigh this hour or try their luck in another. As more anglers stack up on the back tanks, each pondering the same question, they eye each others catch and wait to see who will weigh their fish before that hour is closed.

With 10.56 lbs, Buddy Hardin took 1st place overall, winning the Grand Prize 2004 Ranger 519 VX with 200 EFI Mercury Outboard, Minn Kota Trolling motor valued at $36,000.

Finishing in 2nd place was Curtis Smith with 9.53 lbs. He won a 2004 Ford F150 XL Extended Cab Pickup from Philpott Ford valued at $26,000.

3rd 9.33 lbs $1,000 Academy Gift Cert. Travis Pattillo
4th 9.25 lbs $750 Academy Gift Cert. Troy Strange
5th 9.10 lbs $750 Academy Gift Cert. Ricky Williams
6th 8.97 lbs $500 Academy Gift Cert. Clyde Pennington

7th thru 15th place received Justin Work Boots

16th thru 23rd place received All Star Titanium Rods
24th thru 31st place received $100 Mossy Oak Gift Certificates
32nd thru 40th place received $25 Wrangler Gift Certificates

Gary Smith of the BASS Federation, Coordinator for the Youth / Casting Kids conducted a pitching contest for the kids up to age 14 who came to the event.

The 11-14 age group was as follows.
1st Place - Maddie Smith Vidor, Texas
2nd Place - Dustin Jackson Silsbee, Texas

7-10 Age Group
1st Place - Beaux Howard Brookeland, Texas
2nd Place - Gabbie Smith Vidor, Texas

Maddie Smith also qualified for the Jr. Bassmasters National Championship. It will be held in July in North Carolina the weekend before the Bassmaster Classic. She will represent Texas and fish in a pro am the first day, then fish in competition with a pro as a guide on day two. She qualified for this through the Lil Buddies Tournament Trail this past year. Jr. Bassmasters is a new BASS/ESPN program created to enhance youth fishing nationwide. It will work pretty much like the Federation Trail does with Divisionals being held in the years to come. The winners from the divisionals will go on to represent their state in their age group, much like the federation anglers do.

It happens everyday. Children are struck down by sickness or injury. It may begin with a seemingly small cough, an accidental injury, or a little temperature. Whatever the cause, the hospitals associated with Children's Miracle Network are there, in your community, prepared to help. 5 year old Catherine Escagne is the poster child signifying the real differences that CMN can and does make in the lives of hurt or sick children. When Catherine was only 3 years old, she was in a severe auto accident that left her in a coma for 3 months. She was blinded, could not walk or talk. Part of her brain had to be removed due to the injuries. She was virtually a vegetable. Her insurance had run out and it looked as though it was the end of the road for medical improvements. Finally, a call was placed to the Children's Miracle Network. Within 2 days, Brenda Drago called back and appointments were soon made to see what could be done to help Catherine. It was decided to begin treatments in a Hyperbarack Chamber. The trip was long and tough on the family, having to go to New Orleans for the nearest Chamber. Two treatments a day for 40 days, and Catherines eyesite came back, she is now walking, talking - even skating, which she loves to do. Recently a Hyperbarack Chamber was brought to St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Beaumont, TX relieving a lot of the stress and strain on Catherine and her family being a lot closer to home. She is continuing to improve today. This is but one of several stories of miracles that CMN has helped make into a reality. A Hyperbarack chamber floods the body with pure oxygen, promoting healing and cell regeneration. It is also being looked at for stroke victims and wound care. Although CMN is an international organization, 100% of the local monies raised through donations and charitable contributions stay right here to benefit Christus St. Mary, Christus, St. Elizabeth and Christus Jasper Memorial Hospitals. CMN is dedicated to purchasing equipment for pediatric needs, programs for young patients, grants for those needing specialized care, research programs, and health education. The only Hyperbaric Treatment Center in Southeast Texas is now open at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Beaumont thanks to your generous support. For more information about Children's Miracle Network of Southeast Texas, please call (409) 983-5065.

The Grand Casino Coushatta, along with The Beaumont Enterprise, Ranger Boats, Mercury Motors, Garmin, Minn Kota, Ford Philpott, BASF, Acadamy Sports & Outdoors, All Star Rods, Wrangler, Mossy Oak, and Justin Boots are proud sponsors of this event.

(L-R) Gary Smith, BASS Federation Youth Coordinator with the winners of the pitching contest: Beaux Howard (9 yrs), Dustin Jackson (12 yrs), Mattie Smith (10 yrs) and Tournament Director Dave Concienne

1st place Buddy Hardin with his 10.56 lb Tournament record breaking bass, his wife Judy and Tourn. Director Dave Concienne
< photos by Patty Lenderman >

2nd place was won by Curtis Smith with 9.53 lbs, brought in the second hour of the event

Thanks to the Children's Miracle Network, children like Catherine Escagne are living miracles. Before CMN came into her life, the doctors gave her a life long prognosis of never being able to see, walk or talk. Just look at her now!

Gary Horn of Ranger Boats presented Buddy Hardin and his wife Judy with their grand prize, a 2004 Ranger 519VS powered by a 200 EFI Mercury motor

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