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Reynolds and Fissette dominate the finale of the season at the Sealy Outdoors Team Splash Super Combo
By Patty Lenderman

Sealy Outdoors, Inc. put a little twist into the final events of the season and called it a Super Combo April 24 & 25, one day on Sam Rayburn and the final day on Toledo Bend. What this amounts to is a two day event, in which day one is the 4th and final qualifying event of the season, as well as day 1 of the championship. The weights and points were tallied at the end of day 1, and the places were paid. The top 30 teams, based on points and participation are established to continue into day 2 of the championship as well as 10 wild card teams, drawn from those who have participated in all events. The championship is a two day total weight event, with no entry fees for the qualifiers.

Day 1:
140 teams went out on a stormy morning, fighting wind and rain to fish the final event of the season. $62,000 in guaranteed prize money was paid in thirty overall places plus three big bass places.

Scotty Reynolds and Curtis Fissette was at the right place, the right time, with the right baits. Weighing in a limit of 23.28 lbs, they had their first limit of about 18 lbs in the boat in the first 20 minutes of the morning. Enjoying an all day bite, they caught around twenty keepers throughout the day throwing green pumpkin 1/4 oz Lake Fork and Rite Bite tube baits. They pitched the outside edges of scattered brush in 3'-6' depths. In their first two pitches, they brought in a 4 and a 3 pounder. This team is sponsored by Reaction baits.

James Ausmus and Harry Thomas brought in the 2nd place stringer totaling 21.75 lbs. James had just gotten out of the hospital yesterday, but was determined to get out on the water. "Might as well make the best of it" James said. This team of 40 years never seems to get in a hurry for much, but yet consistently brings in great weights. When asked how their day went, they said "We just fished hard and caught fish", chuckling. They caught their fish on secondary points in scattered grass in 10' depths throwing a carolina rigged watermelon red fluke. Catching 12-14 keepers throughout the day, they boated their first limit by 9 a.m.

The big bass of the tournament literally tipped the scales over and was brought in by Todd Driscoll at 9.28 lbs. "I was throwing a kudzu carolina rigged lizard on a grassy main lake flat. My partner and I hadn't had a bite in 4-5 hours, and when she bit it felt like a small bass. She swam right to the boat, and I didn't really know what I might have until she jumped, and she looked like a 12 pounder."

1st 23.28 lbs $12,000 Curtis Fissette & Scotty Reynolds
2nd 21.75 lbs $ 6,000 James Ausmus & Harry Thomas
3rd 19.90 lbs $ 4,000 John Salamone & Billy Skweres
4th 19.31 lbs $ 3,500 Bobby Barreraz & Phil Hennigan
5th 19.20 lbs $ 3,000 Robert Davis & Clint Teutsch
Top 3 big bass include:
1st 9.28 lbs $ 1,000 Todd Driscoll & Larry Byrd
2nd 9.12 lbs $ 700 Jesse Moody & Mike Jordan
3rd 7.71 lbs $ 500 Chad Penney & Walter Ward

Tournament statistics day 1:
Total weight - 1494.48 lbs
Total Bass - 550
Total Limits - 89

At the conclusion of the weigh in, the championship qualifiers were announced. 30 teams who qualified through points and participation, plus 10 wildcard teams to make up the field of 40 teams fishing for the crowned glory of being the 2004 champions of the Sealy Outdoors Team Splash.

The Anglers of the Year award was presented to Martin Elshout and Mark Price. As part of this honor, they will also receive free entries into all of the 2005 Sealy Outdoors Team Splash events.

Day 2: Conclusion of the championship
At take-off, conditions were dry. When, not if, the rain was going to start was on the mind of all who was putting their boat in the water. It was anyone's guess as to how bad it would be, which played a part in the strategies for each of these teams. Where to go, how far to run with the impending bad weather. It started coming down in sheets around 9:30 a.m., with lightening so bad that many teams took for cover. Under docks, back to the weigh in site, wherever they could find it for safety reasons. This is not the first rodeo for any of these anglers and they are all well aware of what lightening coupled with fishing rods can mean. Only two overall places would be paid, and 3 big bass places, this could be anyone's game.

As the teams came in with their day two catch, which would be added to their day 1 weight, the final placements began to shuffle. James Ausmus and Harry Thomas, who had been in 2nd place at the end of day one brought in a 14.90 lb limit and temporarily held top spot. More teams came to the scales, but next to take the lead was John Gunnels and Dicky Newberry adding 19.03 lbs to their day one weight of 18.37 lbs. As more teams brought their catch to the scales, no one came close to beating these two teams until the leaders from day 1, Fissette and Reynolds, who needed just over 14 lbs to take the championship away from Gunnels and Newberry brought in their sack. All eyes were on the scales when their official weight was announced at 15.59 lbs, launching them into 1st place and securing their titles as 2004 Champions.

1st place - 38.87 lbs - Triton TR175, Mercury Motor, Vexlar Electronics, MinnKota trolling motor valued at $20,000 - Scotty Reynolds & Curtis Fissette

2nd place - 37.40 lbs - Triton TR165, Mercury Motor, Vexlar Electronics, MinnKota trolling motor valued at $17,000 - John Gunnels and Dicky Newberry

Big Bass:
1st - 5.86 lbs Craig May & Garry Wilson
2nd - 5.04 lbs George Kelley & Marty Kelley
3rd - 5.02 lbs Steve Miller & Ted Pate

Tournament sponsors include: Triton, Mercury, Vexlar, MinnKota, Berkley, Wave Worms, Acadamy, Easy View Tackle Systems, Costa Del Mar, Shimano, Pure Fishing, Port-A-Cool, Polar Eyes, Bass Medics Rejuvenade, Dawson Marine, Toledo Town USA, Needmore Tackle & Latch Oil Inc.

Scotty Reynolds and Curtis Fissette dominated both days of the event, winning 1st place on day 1 for the final regular event of the season, as well as seizing the honor of Champions of the 2004 season on day 2

James Ausmus and Harry Thomas took 2nd place on day 1 with their 21.85 lb stringer
< photos by Patty Lenderman >

The Anglers of the Year award was presented to Martin Elshout and Mark Price, who will additionally receive all entries paid into the 2005 Sealy Team season

Honors for overall 2nd place Champions of the 2004 season was taken by John Gunnels and Dicky Newberry

Todd Driscoll brought in the Big Bass of the tournament on day 1 with this whopping 9.28 lb bass

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