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Livingston brothers team up to win the 3rd East Texas Skeeter Bass Champs event at Sam Rayburn on Easter Weekend
By Patty Lenderman

Sam Rayburn put out more than a boat load of big bass at the 3rd Skeeter Bass Champs East Texas Division event. 221 teams went out April 10th to see a socked in foggy lake with scattered showers throughout the day. The low pressure scenario had the fish biting with almost half the field weighing in limits and several big bass 8 lbs and up. A couple of brothers out of Livingston, TX Robert and Michael Laird teamed up and won the event with 22.60 lbs. Being only the 3rd team to come to the scales, they had to sweat it out a long time as the rest of the field brought in their catch at the Umphrey Family Pavilion.

Robert and Michael Laird of Livingston, TX brought in a limit of 22.60 lbs early in the weigh in. Their 8.40 lb kicker held top spot for a short while before falling behind several other kickers throughout the weigh in. This is the first year these brothers teamed up to fish tournaments, but it proved to be a great combination to win the Skeeter / Yamaha valued at $28,000. They didn't have the opportunity to practice, and hadn't even been on Sam Rayburn for over a month. Putting their faith in old familiar spots where they have had luck in the past, they threw light Carolina rigs in 4' depths. They hooked a watermelon lizard to the end of their line, dipping the tail in chartreuse dye. Their big bass was caught on a Texas rigged Gary Yamamoto 6" black/chartreuse curl tail worm. They tried to target bedding bass, but had no luck there. Then they backed out and fished the outside of bushes and scattered grass to find the post spawn bass. Their better bite came in the afternoon between 1:30-2:30.

James Elliott & Ron Hendricks of Shelbyville, TX seized 2nd place with 21.80 lbs. They were last months winners on Toledo Bend, and came very close to having back to back wins. "We had a good day. We caught all except one that we saw, and we only caught 5 keepers all day" Ron reported. "They were holding tight to the bushes, in 5'-6'. We caught some on black/blue tube baits, and then the rest on Texas rigged laminate Senko's. We got a late start, the fog was real thick first thing and we got turned around bad. We had to use our GPS to figure out where we were and get to our spots. Didn't get to start fishing until 8:20". Their best bite came around 10:00, and didn't have a kicker in the bunch. Just all solid bass.

Coming in a tight 3rd place was the team of Rusty Harvey and Kevin Castilaw. Their fish were shallow in the morning, then backed out to deeper water later in the day. They caught their fish on a combination of Mr. Blitz ½ oz chartreuse / white double chrome willow blade spinnerbaits and also 3/4 oz Carolina rigged watermelon Zoom Brush Hogs with a 5' leader. They enjoyed an all day bite in the mid lake area in and near scattered grass pockets in 5'-7' depths. "We were looking for post spawn bass. Most of them have finished spawning" Kevin reported. They were able to cull three times, and their smallest cull was a 3 lb'r. This team is sponsored by Shimano Reels, Falcon Rods, Ranger Boats and Mr. Blitz spinnerbaits.

There were a lot of big bass brought to the scales, but the one that tipped the scale the most was brought in by Mr. Charlie McGee of Westlake, LA at 10.14 lbs. Fishing clear water his fish was holding in the middle of a bush. He caught her on a watermelon blue Bass Assassin Hog Assassin in about 4' at 11:00. "She pulled right out of the bush, but after that the fight was on" Mr. Charlie said. He was prepared for her, having spooled his Ambassador reel with 25 lb Berkley Big Game line on his American Rodsmith rod.

The weights were tight as the anglers stacked in:
1st 22.60 lbs $28,000 Skeeter/Yamaha Robert & Michael Laird
2nd 21.80 lbs $ 4,000 James Elliott & Ron Hendricks
3rd 21.20 lbs $ 3,000 Rusty Harvey & Kevin Castilaw
4th 20.34 lbs $ 2,000 + $2,000 (Skeeter Bonus) Russ Carter & Scott Bailey
5th 19.38 lbs $ 1,200 Rusty Clark & Shelby Shaw
....and last in the money...
30th 14.90 lbs $ 500 Jerry Ketcham & Gordan McBride

Big Bass: 10.14 lbs $1,000 Charlie McGee & David Rabalais

Tournament statistics:
Total entries - 221
Entry dollars collected - $55,250
Payback - $62,863 (113.78%)
Total # of fish - 707
Total Weight - 1860.48 lbs
Number of limits - 107

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 Russ Carter and Scott Bailey who finished in 4th place overall with 20.34 lbs. Their $2,000 winnings were doubled, for a total of $4,000 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.

It's not just for the anglers, but for the attending audience as well! First, there are plenty of free hot dogs and drinks for everyone to enjoy, then there are trivia games, drawings and lots of audience participation which makes for a fun weigh in for everyone.

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 Toledo Bend Lake May 8th. Come enjoy all the fun, prizes, trivia games and excitement during the weigh in at Cypress Bend Park.

Tournament Sponsors include: Skeeter Boats; Yamaha; Academy Sports & Outdoors; Allen Samuels Dodge; Maui Jim; Diamond Cut Apparel; Wave Worms; St. Croix; Continental Batteries; MotorGuide; Dual Pro Charger; Keel Shield, Aqua Innovations; Bottom Line; Xtools; Yo-Zuri; Oasis Casino; Daiwa; HD-NET and The Outdoor Channel
Associate Sponsors include: Johnson's Fiberglass; All-Star Marine Electronics; Pro Rule; Martin's Maps; Please Release Me


1st place winners of a Skeeter / Yamaha $28,000 bass rig with 22.60 lbs were brothers from Livingston, TX Michael & Robert Laird

James Elliott and Ron Hendricks were less than a pound from being back to back event winners. They took 2nd place with 21.80 lbs
< photos by Patty Lenderman >

3rd place with 21.20 lbs was Rusty Harvey and Kevin Castilaw

Mr. Charlie McGee caught the biggest bass of the event, tipping the scales to 10.14 lbs

Chad Potts, Tournament Director presents Michael & Robert Laird with their brand new Skeeter / Yamaha bass rig for their 1st place win
 

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