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11.83 lbs is Top Bass at the 20th Annual McDonald's Big Bass Splash
By Patty Lenderman

One bite. One fish. That's all it takes to win in a big bass tournament. If that one bite, that one bass, is bigger than everyone else's that is going for the top prize. The 20th annual McDonald's Big Bass Splash on Sam Rayburn was a fantastic three day block party event, welcoming several thousand anglers and a mega huge crowd at the Umphrey Family Pavilion. Live entertainment, a variety of food vendors, tackle manufacturers and more were all part of this colossal occasion. Country singer Neil McCoy performed the final day of this three day event after the weigh in was concluded. This event is dedicated to our Armed Forces, past & present who we are indebted to for the freedom we enjoy today, without whom events such as these and participation in them would not be possible.

With a guaranteed payout of $500,000 in cash and prizes, this amateur anglers tournament drew contestants from 37 states and 4 countries. The very first fish brought to the scales weighed in at 10.89 lbs. Eddie McCracker of Graham, TX brought this monster to the scales. It took a little while for Eddie to catch his breath and calm down a little from the excitement. "I caught her at 6:20 in the Needmore area. I was sitting in 12-15' and throwing shallow with a Carolina rigged watermelon lizard, dragging through a lot of cover when she latched on." This is his second time to fish the Sam Rayburn McDonald's Big Bass Splash. The first was 20 years ago at the very first event. He also enjoys participating in the Big Bass Splash tournaments on Lake Fork. This lunker stayed on top of the overall rankings until the 9-10:00 hour on day two, when Michael Frederick weighed in his big bass at 11.83 lbs. Eddie won the 2nd place overall prize package of a Dodge Pickup Truck hitched to a Triton 165/Mercury bass-rig valued at $40,000.

"This is the biggest bass I've ever caught" Michael Frederick of Mauriceville, TX said excitedly. Fishing with his dad, they went to the Five Fingers area and threw a Carolina rig in an 11' creek bed off of a secondary point. "The hook fell out of her mouth in the net" he reflected as it was a close call getting her secured to the boat. He caught her at 8:40 a.m. and brought her right in, taking top honors on day 2 in the 9-10:00 hour. Too excited and nervous to go back out on the water to try to catch any more, it was a long day and a half for him to watch as more double digit bass were brought to the scales.

Next in line to the scales right behind the 11.83 lb lunker was Michael Duff of Liberty, TX who weighed in the 3rd place overall bass of the tournament at 10.52 lbs. He caught her on a floating christmas tree colored Senko in 4' depths in front of the brush, also in the Five Fingers area. Michael received $1,600 for his 2nd place hourly big bass, as well as the 3rd place overall prize of a Cherokee Travel Trailer valued at $15,000.
When the scales were officially closed at 2:00 pm on Sunday, Michael Frederick was declared the winner of the 20th Annual Sam Rayburn Big Bass Splash. This top honor made him the recipient of the grand prize Sportsman's Package which consisted of a Hummer H-2, with a matching brand new Triton Bass boat rig valued at $105,000, as well as $2,000 for 1st place of the hour that he weighed in.

Top-5 Overall
1st place 11.83 lbs Michael Frederick of Mauriceville TX,
2nd place 10.89 lbs Eddie McCraken of Graham TX
3rd place 10.52 lbs Michael Duff of Liberty TX
4th place 10.02 lbs Otha Brown of Koontz TX
5th place 9.67 lbs Danny Dulude of Como TX

Daily exact 3, 4 & 5 lb bass:
Friday 3.00 Jason Wells, San Augustine, TX
4.00 Unclaimed
5.00 Unclaimed
Saturday 3.00 James Jones, Calhoun, La
4.00 Leighton Lloyd, Stockton, TX
5.00 Glenn Granger, Sulphur, LA
Sunday 3.00 Andrea Berry, Pencil Bluff, Ark
4.00 Shayne Kemp, Purvis, MS
5.00 Todd Longron, Orangefield, TX

The kids have their own children's division at all McDonald's Big Bass Splash events where they can compete in three age groups to catch bass, perch or catfish. The kids have a great time and it is a wonderful way to spend family time teaching them the joys of fishing.

Over the past 20 years, over $30 million has been paid out to amateur anglers who have participated in this event from all over the world. Benefitting the Ronald McDonald House and select charities, it is not only a worthwhile event, but also an opportunity for every day anglers to compete for professional dollar amounts. Bob Sealy promised "You ain't seen nothin' yet!", as he is looking forward not only to the Toledo Bend and Lake Fork Big Bass Splash 2004 block parties, but also to the future. He announced that the 25th annual Sam Rayburn McDonald's Big Bass Splash will have a guaranteed payout of $1 million dollars.

For more information on the Big Bass Splash and other Sealy Outdoors events, please contact them at 409-698-2591.

Tournament Sponsors include: Triton Boats, Mercury Outboards, Shimano, Academy, Bass Medics Reguvenade, Ron Carter Chevrolet, Cowboy Honda, Vixilar Electronics, Texas Fish and Game & McDonald's.

Michael Frederick is declared Champion of the 20th Annual McDonald's Big Bass Splash, weighing in his biggest bass ever on day 2 at 11.83 lbs

Eddie McCracker took 2nd place honors with 10.89 lbs. He weighed in the very first fish of the tournament
< photos by Patty Lenderman >

The kids get to compete in the children's division, weighing in bass, perch and catfish. 9 yr old Sable Gunter proudly weighed in her catfish and went back out for more

Neil McCoy pulled out all the stops as he played for the estimated crowd of 18,000 people

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