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Two Days of 22-pound Limits Captures 10th Annual LOBI Tournament
By Contributing Writer Donald Gervais

Fishing partners Mike Mahan and James Kiser brought in back-to-back 22-pound limits at the 10th Annual Louisiana Oilmen's Bass Invitational (LOBI) tournament on Toledo Bend Reservoir, to claim the championship and bragging rights for 2004. Jeff Wells earned the big fish boasting rights with a 10.48-pound largemouth. The winners however, were not just the anglers; the tournament donated $30,000 to the St. Jude Children's Hospital, pushing the tournament's eight-year total to over $200,000.

The 10th Annual LOBI drew 650 oil-related fishing teams to the Big Bend on April 2-3. Over the years the LOBI organizers have developed effective ways for registration and weigh-in for one of the largest tournaments held on Toledo Bend. They proved that effectiveness as anglers brought in 1,889 fish weighing 4,253 pounds.

David Bonin and Bruce Rogers took the lead on Day 1 with a 5-fish limit that tipped the scales at 23.68 pounds. Their creel included the largest fish of each of the angler's lives. New Orleans angler Bonin's fish tipped the scales at 8.18 pounds and earned big bass honors for Day 1. Houston angler Rogers' fish weighed in at 7.34 pounds. Bonin's bass earned him the $500 big bass check and an additional Lagniappe bonus check of $500.

The first day leaders fished in Palo Gaucho Creek, concentrating their efforts in 5-9 feet of water, where there were grass patches. They enticed their fish to bite Zoom Flukes, in watermelon/red color, rigged Texas style. They caught a 5-fish limit by 10 o'clock, when they "left the fish biting."

Not far behind the leaders was the angling team of Mahan and Kiser with their Day 1 limit of 22.08 pounds, anchored by a 6.54 largemouth. Third place in Day 1 standing was the team of George R. Herr and Bob Laroux with 21.82 pounds, anchored by a 7.82 largemouth.

Zwolle angler Tim Downs claimed the second big bass honors of Day 1 with an 8.04 pounder, taken on a Senko-type bait in watermelon/red color. The Grey Wolf Drilling employee used the 10th Anniversary Kisler fishing rod, which all contestants received at registration. Downs combined the rod with a Lewe's BB1 reel, which he received from his grandfather in 1991. He was fishing in shallow water, in the North part of the lake and said he found the spot late in the day.

Teams were closed-lipped about their fishing spots and tactics at Friday evening's festivities. Many, La angler, Roy Beasley, fishing in his first-ever Oilmen's tournament, was the winner of the first of the two bass boat door prizes.
"I just made the last payment on my boat yesterday," said Beasley, a Noble Drilling employee. "It's for sale." Beasley had not done well catching fish and would not comment on his team's standings.

Day 2 fishing began without the fog that had blanketed the water during the early hours on Friday. Blue skies, intermittent high clouds and near calm winds provided a gorgeous day. The temperature began at 56 and climbed to near 80 degrees as the final weigh-in began at 2 p.m.

Mahan and Kiser weighed in 22.1 pounds at the early weigh-in. An 8.36-ounce "kicker" fish anchored their catch. The duo held their breaths and waited for the Day 1 leaders to weigh-in at the late weigh-in. Their victory was clinched when Bonin and Rogers managed but 10.1 pounds for Day 2 and slipped to 4th place.

The 2004 champions fished in the northern part of the lake and used several patterns. Early they used a Berkeley Floating Power Lizards, black with a blue tail, in 2-foot depths in grass. It resulted in a limit each day by 9 a.m.
They then moved into 3-5-foot underwater ridges and used a ¾-ounce Stanley spinnerbait, double willow blades -gold and silver, with a white skirt, to improve on their catch. The duo got to their fishing hole in a Blazer/Mercury bass rig from Smith Marine of Mendon, La. The anglers used Loomis rods/ Shimano reels spooled with 15-pound Berkley Big Game line to catch three limits each day. The winners took home the $3,000 winners check plus the gold tournament champion rings.

Herr and Laroux weighed in 15.3 pounds on Day 2 and moved from third to second place and took home $2,000. They got to their fishing hole on the northern end of the lake by an Express boat powered by a Yamaha motor. They used Zoom Flukes and lizards- watermelon/red, and a bullfrog pattern Chugbug in 2-3 foot depths to catch 10-15 keepers each day.

Claiming third spot, climbing from the 45th spot on Day 1, was the team of Blair Sampey and Richard Bird. They brought 21.4 pounds to the scales, the second largest stringer of Day 2. They fished the Tenaha area of the lake, throwing 3/8-ounce spinnerbaits, willow and Colorado blades-with chartreuse skirts, to the edge of bushes.
A spinnerbait also accounted for the Day 2 big bass, caught by Jeff Wells and Christopher Lopez, in Bison Bay. The 10.48-pound largemouth was the first fish of the day for Wells, of Columbia, La. The fish, the largest of Well's life, fell for a ½-ounce, double willow blade Bulldog spinnerbait in 8-feet of water, in a grass patch. "It hit close to the boat," said Wells, "and didn't give much of a fight when I get her head up."

Wells was using an All-Star rod/ Shimano reel combination; spooled with Berkeley Big Game, 15-pound test, green-colored line. The fish earned him: $500 for big Bass Day 2, a $500 Lagniappe big bass bonus, overall tournament big bass and the big bass gold ring for the tournament. The fish also helped to add to the team's Day 1 weight of 13.68 pounds. Wells and Christopher's Day 2 total of 19.04 pounds moved them into 8th place.

Finishing off the top six places were Brad Ware and Harold Deleon with 33.78 pounds in 5th place with Bucky Crowson and Jude Taylor claiming sixth place with 33.44 pounds. For complete tournament standings visit the LOBI website at:

Saturday night's finale included the award of the checks as well as door prizes, including the second Skeeter ZX200 bass rig, provided by tournament sponsor Dawson Marine, of Addison, La. Each of the identically equipped bass boat prizes was valued at over $27,000. The first angler called was not present to claim his boat. However Gary Meche was there when his name was called. The Opelousas angler, director of communications for the 2004 tournament, said it was the first thing he had ever won.

"This was a very successful tournament," said tournament president Billy Ebarb. "There were lots of fish caught, the weather was great." Ebarb, elected to the president position, has been with the LOBI since the first year.
"The tournament would not be possible without the sponsors, volunteers and anglers who support us, thanks to all of them."

Katherine Cox, St. Jude Children's Hospital event marketing representative, received a $30,000 donation from the LOBI organization. It was the tournament's largest donation in the eight years since adoption of the foundation and brought the accumulated donation to over $200,000.

Major sponsors for the 2004 LOBI tournament were: Gulf Offshore Logistics, Skeeter Boats, Inc., Mercury Outboards, Inc., Dawson Marine, Timco Services, Wood Group Production services, Coastal Chemical Company, Island Operating Company, Cherokee Services, and Pathfinder Energy Services.

Bruce Rogers (left) and David Bonin show part of their 23-pound limit that claimed the lead on day 1 of the 2004 LOBI tournament. In addition to taking the lead, Bonin's fish claimed big bass for the day. Rogers' fish weighed in at 7.34 pounds.
Photo by Donald Gervais

Mike Mahan displays part of his and partner James Kiser's Day 2 catch at the 10th Annual LOBI tournament. The fish in the left weighed 8.36 pounds and claimed 4th big fish for Day 2. The duo brought in 22 pounds to the scales each day to take the championship for 2004. Photo by Donald Gervais


Jeff Wells shows the 10.48-pound largemouth that he caught to claim big bass honors for Day 2 and overall tournament big bass. It was the largest catch of the Columbia, La. angler. Photo by Donald Gervais

Bob Laroux (left) and partner George R. Herr display their second place trophies for the 2004 LOBI tournament. The duo held third place after Day 1 with 21.82 pounds. They added 15.3 pounds on Day 2 to take second place bragging rights for the tournament.
Photo by Donald Gervais

Roy Beasley sits in the driver's seat of his new Skeeter 200ZX bass boat that he won Friday at the Oilmen's 10th Annual Bass tournament on Toledo Bend. It was the first Oilmen's tournament for the Noble Drilling employee. The angler's luck on the water was not so good, He and teammate Keith Strickland did not place in the money in the final standings. Photo Donald Gervais

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