Lakecaster Online

Juan Perry declared Champion at Toledo Bend McDonald's Big Bass Splash
By Patty & Ray Lenderman

June 4, 5, 6, 2004
Cypress Bend Park

The 2004 Sealy Outdoors Block Party continued for three days of fun and fishing at the Toledo Bend 18th Annual McDonald's Big Bass Splash. Anglers from all over the globe gathered at this world famous event to cash in on the $250,000 being paid back in cash and prizes.

Each day the contestants have a chance to bring in the first 3.00 exact weight bass, winning a brand new Triton163 Sport boat powered by a Mercury motor and equipped with Minn Kota trolling motor and Vexilar electronics valued at $12,500. Each hour, listening to the official radio station KICKS 105 to hear what has been weighed in, the decision is made whether or not to try for a top 10 spot in that hour. $122,400 was paid out in hourly paybacks alone in 240 checks.

Day 1 greeted the anglers with classic early summer conditions. The morning began cool with a light haze across the lake and gradually warmed throughout the day into the 80's. Winds were fairly calm with some occasional gusts.

The leader board was established in the very first hour, with Juan Perry of Elizabeth, LA bringing in the 9.77 pound bass. He didn't catch her in his targeted fishing hole, for on his way to the Texas side of the lake his motor seized. Not being able to get it up past an idle, he began fishing at the nearest main lake point to him on the Louisiana side. With his mechanical problems heavy on his mind, he picked up his Texas rigged watermelon red Zoom Old Monster worm and threw out into deep water, up to about 37'. He was fishing the edge of a ledge, just letting it drop into the deeper water. "I was fixin' to pick up my Carolina rig, and as I lifted my rod tip to reel it in it just felt heavy. I thought I was hung, but I went ahead and set the hook just in case" Juan recalled. "Once I set the hook, the fight was on. She was strong, and pulled drag heading straight down. I'm fishing by myself and it was quite an ordeal getting her in." Juan won 1st place of that hour, worth a check for $1,000. From there, the stress had just begun for him as he watched, waited and listened as other anglers brought in their fish hoping that his top weight would hold for three days of competition.

Johnny Jones of Dry Prong, LA weighed in the first 3.00 exact weight bass during the 10-11:00 hour. He has fished many McDonald's Big Bass Splash events through the years and come close many times to the exact weight. This is the first time he made it and won a brand new Triton / Mercury bass rig.

Later in the day Mike Wilkerson of Gilmer, TX brought in the 7.63 lb big bass that won the top of the 12-1:00 hour and slid into 2nd place overall. "This is the biggest fish I've ever weighed in at a McDonald's event" Mike began. "What did I catch her on? A metal and plastic combination, and I threw 'out thataway' about 100ft. I caught her at 8:45 a.m., but I didn't get in a hurry about weighing her in. I'm fishing alone, so I had to net her myself."

Kenneth Craig weighed in a bass that he had caught, but it wasn't so much for the check. He came to participate in this event because of the fact that the Ronald McDonald house, for which he and his family is very grateful for, is a beneficiary. You see, his daughter Kaylie, now 5 years old was diagnosed with infant leukemia at 5 weeks old. Kenneth and his wife Pam have had to stay in Ronald McDonald houses as much as two to three months at a time while their daughter is hospitalized. Kaylie is the oldest living child with infant leukemia, and if it weren't for the Ronald McDonald house program they would not be able to afford to stay with their daughter during her hospital stays. Kenneth said "I am so grateful to the Ronald McDonald house organization. We have had to utilize their services so much over the past 5 years, and they have never asked for a dime. It is a place to stay, fully furnished, so that we can be near and with our daughter when she needs us most. This tournament is, at least, one way I can try to give a little back" With tears welling in his eyes, Bob Sealy shook his hand and said "This is what it's all about. It is for families like this who need the extra help that the Ronald McDonald house gives to them to be with their hospitalized family members."

Each day, the kids can enter into the Little Anglers division and fish for bass, crappie, catfish and perch. The top three weights in each fish category each day wins gift certificates from Academy Sports and Outdoors.

Day 1 McKids Winners
Bass 1st 2.84 lbs Wesley Norwood
2nd 2.17 lbs Braxton Desormeaux
3rd 1.95 lbs Todd Rash

Crappie 1st 1.71 lbs Jared Fisette
2nd 1.25 lbs Megan Velek
3rd 1.22 lbs Chris Velek

Perch 1st .40 lbs Benjamin Dewill
2nd .34 lbs Jon Thibodeaux
3rd .34 lbs Andrew Rains

Catfish 1st 2.10 lbs Toby Smith
2nd 1.51 lbs Garrett Phillips
3rd .78 lbs Klein Pearce

Day 2 began with cooler temperatures and a stormy situation on the north end of the lake. With the frontal line so close, the wind picked up a little and kept the temperatures down. Shannon Deville of Pineville, LA was the first to weigh in, bringing an 8.63 lb'r to the scales. "I just went to a familiar fishing hole, and on my 3rd cast I got her" he stated. This is the biggest bass he's ever caught, and what a time to do it. She was worth a $1,000 top of the hour check, and also slid him into the 2nd place overall standings. He caught her on a jig with a trailer in a 12' creek channel. She was holding in the structure and lay-downs and latched on to his line at 6:20 a.m. "I've fished in the McDonald's events for 7 years, but this is my 1st time to weigh in" Shannon said, grinning.

That same first hour, 15 year old Graham Meadows of Alexandria, LA weighed in his 3.00 exact weight bass, the second boat winner of the tournament. This is his first tournament ever, and first time to fish the waters of Toledo Bend. "I was throwing to the bank with a Spittin Image top water bait. I was in a pocket area with grass on the south end" Graham reported. Proud dad recalled the morning. "I told him that all we needed to be in the money was about a 4 pounder." Graham smiled and said "then I told him OR a 3 pounder. I caught him right after that!"

The leaderboard shifted again during the 11-12:00 hour when Joseph Dziadosz of Shreveport, LA brought in his 7.72 pounder, temporarily taking a 3rd place overall position. "She was suspended in about 20' of water. I caught her on a Texas rigged crabapple worm, and she hit it on the fall." It wasn't until later in the day when four more bass weighing over 8 lbs each hit the scales. Bobby Barraraz brought in the 8.67 lb bass in the last hour, shifting the leaderboard yet again taking the 2nd place overall lead going into the final day. Other 8's were brought in by Tommy Dickerson (8.24 lbs), Wayne Ebarb (8.35 lbs), and Robert Odom (8.26 lbs).

Day 2 McKids Winners
Bass 1st 3.77 lbs Cole Young
2nd 2.33 lbs Cole Bedgood
3rd 2.25 lbs Chase Hobbs

Crappie 1st 1.36 lbs Tyler Craig
2nd 1.27 lbs Garrett Phillips
3rd 1.25 lbs Larissa Phillips

Perch 1st .45 lbs Kelcie Vercher
2nd .45 lbs Julie Settle
3rd .40 lbs Nick Sanders

Catfish 1st 1.30 lbs Alan Medley
2nd .65 lbs Chris Velek
3rd .45 lbs Allison Grantham

Final Day - With a 50% chance of showers looming overhead, the anglers went out to try one last day to find that monster bite. A heavy haze had settled over the lake and everyone was watching the skies to see what it might do. Thankfully, at least for those of us not fishing, the threat of rain slowly dissipated throughout the morning and by afternoon delivered blue bird skies. The high pressure made it tough on the anglers to induce a big bite, though.

Joey Lester of Zwolle, LA brought in the final boat winning 3.00 exact weight bass in the 9-10:00 hour. "When I caught her, I kept weighing her on my scales. The weight would read 2.15, then 3.1, then 3.4. I decided there was only one thing left to do. Bring her on in and weigh her." It was a good decision, one that won him a Triton 163 Sport powered by Mercury and equipped with Minn Kota trolling Motor and Vexilar electronics valued at $12,500.

Ultimately, the bass weighed in on the previous days won top spots in the final count. Juan Perry of Elizabeth, LA who brought in the first big bass of the event painstakingly waited and watched throughout the final day of weigh in. As each angler brought their bass to the scales, he watched to see if his bass would be bested. Bob Sealy, as the scales were officially closed declared Juan as the Champion of the 18th Annual Toledo Bend McDonald's Big Bass Splash with his 9.77 pound bass. For this honor he received the 1st place Sportsman's Package valued at $35,000. This included a Triton TR163 Sport boat powered by a Mercury motor and equipped with MinnKota trolling motor and Vexilar Electronics as well as a Dodge truck from Weaver Motors.

Overall Winners:
1st Juan Perry Elizabeth, LA 9.77 $35,000
2nd Bobby Barreraz Center, TX 8.67 Cherokee Travel Trailer
3rd Shannon Deville Pineville, LA 8.63 Honda ATV
4th Wayne Ebarb Zwolle, LA 8.35 Honda ATV
5th Robert Odom Livingston, TX 8.26 Honda ATV

Johnny Stewart, the champion of the 2003 event was presented with a replica of his last year's winning bass at 9.09 lbs.

Day 3 McKids Winners
Bass 1st 2.69 lbs Colby Meadows
2nd 2.63 lbs Austin Driver
3rd 1.69 lbs Derek Getz

Crappie 1st 1.15 lbs Chris Velek
2nd .98 lbs Jared Fisette
3rd .84 lbs Kasey Fisette

Perch 1st .52 lbs Fisher Phaup
2nd .50 lbs Coree Bullock
3rd .49 lbs Julia Settle

Catfish 1st 2.34 lbs Michael Sanders
2nd 1.73 lbs Jonathan May
3rd .91 lbs Chandra Smith

Toledo Town and Tackle presented 28 replicas of the lunkers over 10 lbs that had been caught and turned in to them since the last McDonald's Big Bass Splash. Since the program began with the Louisiana Sabine River Authority in 1993, this is the largest number ever in a single year to be turned in. At last year's event there were 13 replicas presented. This program was started and funded by the LA SRA until 2000. Beginning in 2001 Toledo Town and Tackle took this responsibility and privilege of accepting, recording, tagging and releasing these monster bass back into Toledo Bend. The replicas were beautiful and built by Lake Fork Taxidermy. The anglers are not charged for them at all, and all any angler has to do to participate in the program is 1) catch a lunker 10 lbs or more, 2) turn it into Toledo Town and Tackle alive, 3) have a valid Texas or Louisiana fishing licence. Beginning this year, the Toledo Bend Lake Association has helped fund the cost of the program, and Louisiana Game and Fish has also stepped forward to fund all lunkers over 12 lbs. This year there was 1 over 13 lbs, 4 over 12 lbs, 7 over 11 lbs and 16 over 10 lbs. Interestingly, there were a couple of these lunkers that were caught and entered twice this year, tracked by their tags. All total throughout the years of the program, there have been 194 replicas presented. Congratulations to all the recipients of their replicas and thank you to all who make it possible.

Biggest / Smallest Top Weight Biggest / Smallest Bottom Weight
Day 1 9.77 lbs / 4.74 lbs 3.88 lbs / 3.25 lbs
Day 2 8.67 lbs / 5.93 lbs 4.52 lbs / 2.78 lbs
Day 3 7.45 lbs / 4.86 lbs 3.39 lbs / 2.63 lbs

With "Block Party"style, at every 2004 Sealy Outdoors event there are Sponsor Displays, Outdoor attractions and exhibits, a vendor trade show, games, concessions and activities for everyone to enjoy.

The next McDonald's event will be the Lake Fork Big Bass Splash on September 24-25-26th. For more information on the Big Bass Splash and other Sealy Outdoors events, please contact them at 409-698-2591 or visit

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.

Toledo Town and Tackle presented 28 lunker bass replicas to the anglers who have caught them this past year

(L-R) Champion - Juan Perry, 2nd - Bobby Barreraz, 3rd - Shannon Deville, 4th - Wayne Ebarb, 5th - Robert Odom

Juan Perry weighed in this 9.77 Champion big bass the first hour of the first day of the event

Johnny Jones brought in the first 3.00 exact weight bass on day 1, winning a brand new Triton bass rig
< photos by Patty Lenderman >

Fishing his very first tournament ever, 15 year old Graham Meadows caught the 3.00 exact bass on day 2 also winning a brand new Triton Bass rig

The final 3.00 boat winning exact bass was caught by Joey Lester

Even the kids got to have fun competing in their own division, catching bream, catfish, bass and crappie

Brothers and sisters, moms & dads all came to have fun at this great family event

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