Lakecaster Online

World's Richest Team Championship, Bass Champs, on Sam Rayburn is in the Books
by Bass Champs staff writer Patty Lenderman

4 Regions - 4 separate paybacks, 8 Skeeter boats awarded, plus 1 Dodge Truck won in the "Flip heard 'round the world".

Skeeter Bass Champs had their state-wide team championship on Sam Rayburn October 16-17, 2004 at the Umphrey Family Pavilion. Anglers gathered from all over Texas and four other states to fish in each of their four divisions - North, South, East and Central Texas totaling 849 Anglers. They hit the lake hard and what they brought to the scales showed their skills as they harvested some hefty bass.

Each region is only competing against itself, giving way to the four separate paybacks in this phenomenal championship. Each region won a 1st place prize of a Skeeter SX200 bass boat with a Yamaha 200 HP motor. 2nd place in each region won a Skeeter SX190 bass boat with a Yamaha 150 HP motor. Grand total of cash and prizes awarded to these anglers was over $300,000 in cash and prizes!

Each day of the tournament found anglers scattered throughout different boat ramps all over Sam Rayburn, as trailering was allowed due to the number of boats in the competition. The morning air was chilly with overcast skies to start out their day. As the day progressed, the temperatures quickly rose to the upper 80's and partly cloudy skies. Evidently, the bass like it that way as indicated by the number of heavy sacks and big bass brought to the scales.

In the North division, Kevin Hatcher and Brad Morris took the lead with their 25.92 lb limit. Their big bass weighed in at 8.74 lbs. Later in the weigh-in their big bass was bested by Bob Gross and Gary Gruber, bringing in a 9.64 lb chunk.
The South division was lead on day 1 by Speedy Collet and Tommy Durham with 19.80 lbs. Big Bass of the day in the South division was caught by Bret Fisher at 8.44 lbs

In the East division, Lee Yowell and Brian Shott brought in the 23.18 lb leading sack and their 7.12 lb kicker was the leading big bass.

The Central division was lead by Matt & Steve Cannon, a father and son team with 18.34 lbs. The big bass of the day was caught by Scott Dyer and Jeff Pitrucha, weighing a whopping 10.16 lbs!

Everyone present had an opportunity to buy tickets for the open drawings. Several great prizes were being given away, such as battery chargers, rods, reels, digital scales, Maui Jim sunglasses and more. 100% of the proceeds went to the Relay for Life American Cancer Society, and Bass Champs contributed in excess of $1,000 on behalf of the tournament.
The Stump Restaurant catered the dinner Saturday for everyone present with chicken, sausage, beans, coleslaw and dessert. As they enjoyed this delicious meal, a live band was there for entertainment. Jeff Stone, President of Skeeter Boats spoke briefly about the continued partnership between Skeeter/Yamaha and Bass Champs. Pro Angler Zell Rowland also made an appearance to talk about a few fishing tips and tricks. After that, a flip-off competition was held. To qualify for this, all they had to do at any time throughout the tournament year was go to any Texas Allen Samuels Dodge Dealership and test drive a Dodge truck then bring in the sales person's business card. At each event throughout the season, anglers had flipping competitions after the weigh-ins. At the Championship, one name was drawn for one try to flip a bait into the bed of a toy remote control truck for a chance to win the real full size truck. Doug Tapley's name was drawn. First, he used a rod and reel that he had never touched before. Next, he was put on a podium 50 feet away from his target. Last, Chad Potts and many others in the crowd did their best to make him nervous - and it worked. "Are you nervous?" Chad Potts, tournament director asked Doug. "VERY!" was Doug's reply. After one last deep breath, "I just whipped it out there. I saw it hit the truck, but didn't see it go on the other side of it. The expression on Chad 's face was priceless. His eyes got real big, he looked at the truck, then looked at me - looked at the truck again, then back at me. I didn't know if I made it or not, but then the crowd went wild. Everybody started screaming and yelling and smiling and high-fiving each other." That one flip (that he said he couldn't make again in another 2 million tries) won him a brand new Dodge Ram 1500 truck valued over $20,000.

Weights were stacked tight all the way down the line in each division going into day 2. Consistency would be the key to win for these teams. Weather wise, they had another perfect day to go into with partly cloudy skies, temps in the 80's and a southern wind at 5-10 mph that steadily picked up through the day.

In the North division, Kevin Hatcher and Brad Morris had lead the first day with 25.92 lb sack. That gave them over a 3 lb lead over 2nd place which they ultimately needed every ounce of only bringing in three fish to the scales on day two. They needed 10.02 lbs to regain the lead and it was going to be close. As they put their sack on the scales the official weight was called out at 11.62 lbs! Their total two day weight tallied to 37.54 lbs. Their catch came from the edge of a creek, fishing frogs in the lily pads both days. "We were nauseated coming to weigh in today with only 3 fish. We really didn't think we'd make it" They took 1st place in the Northern division.

2nd place in the North division was won by brothers Sam & Paul McCollum. "We threw a Texas rig during practice, and it was a working pattern for us so we stuck with it. We don't know these lakes like the East Texas guys do, so we stuck with what we knew" stated Sam. It worked, bringing in a two day weight of 36.02 lbs.

Big Bass in the North division topped them all, weighing in at 11.08 lbs. Charles Reagan and Steve Smith brought in this monster and they roused the crowd as they showed off this healthy hefty bass.

The South division Tommy Durham and Speedy Collett brought in back to back limits for a total of 35.64 lbs and a 1st place win. Tommy had fished another tournament on Sam Rayburn 3 weeks ago, so they went to the same spots and used the same patterns for this event. With a DD-22 being their favorite bait, they chunked it for two days along 12-14' drops and brush piles. "Some of our fish got tangled in brush and stumps and either pulled off or broke off. Some of those fish were pretty large" Tommy stated. Ultimately, they didn't need those fish to win, and drove home a Skeeter 200 / Yamaha 200hp bass rig for their victory. They'd like to thank some of their sponsors including Beacon Lodge on Falcon Lake and Pro Line Industries.

2nd place South division - Greg Perkins and Jeff Richards also brought in back to back limits, their total weight was 32.22 lbs. "We caught some on topwater baits in practice, so we went back to it for our morning bite" Jeff reports. Throwing Zara Spooks in the morning and then Texas rigged Zoom watermelon centipedes after that, they caught their fish in less than 6' of water in the grass. They found a productive point in the back of a big cove. Some of their fish were also caught on Nichols Rattle Shad.

Big Bass in the South division was caught by Jim Parker, fishing with David Herzog. Bringing this sow in on day 2, she weighed in at 8.98 lbs, taking big bass honors for their division.

In the Central division, Jeff Pitrucha and Scott Dyer had been in 2nd place at the end of day 1, but their consistent weights despite the fact that they only brought in 3 fish on the second day put them at the top of the list with a 32.38 lb two day total to seize 1st place honors overall. Their day 1 big bass of 10.16 lbs also took 1st place big bass in their division. They caught her on a Berkley Power worm in 20' of water. For the rest of their catch, they started fishing shallow in the grass each day of competition. Later in the day they would go to deeper water with a blue flake Power Worm. "I didn't think we would win with only three fish today" Jeff began. "We caught our 8 lb kicker right off the bat this morning, and that really helped." In two days, two of their eight fish accounted for over 18 pounds of their total weight.

Being in on time and taking care of the bass made the difference between 2nd and 3rd place. Gerald Goff and Ed Matthews brought in a total of 29.26 lbs to seize 2nd place overall in the Central division, inching above the 3rd place team of Andy Whitehead and Cannon Elkins only by ounces due to a penalty. Goff & Matthews threw Zoom Junebug horny toads over pepper grass, working the bait fast like a buzz bait except over thick grass patches when they would slow the bait down a notch. This was a winning pattern for them, taking 2nd place in the Central division for the Championship.

In the Eastern division, it was a fight to the finish for these guys, having the advantage of fishing their home lake. The father & son team of Donald and Bradley Stringer was sitting in 14th place at the end of day 1. As they brought their huge sack to the scales, they were told that they needed 28.82 lbs to take the lead. Nervously, but excitedly they first weighed their big bass, taking 1st place big bass honors with their 8.84 lb kicker. Then their other four fish were added and their total tally went to a whopping 29.20 lbs, winning the event in the Eastern division. "We went to the same area and used the same routine for both days. We knew our fish were there. We had 8-10 'go to' spots, and we threw white & blue DD-22's as well as some in chartreuse. Some of our fish also came off of 3/4 oz black Stanley Jigs with Zoom chunk trailers. We fished the edges of ledges in 6'-10', and sometimes up to 25'. We ran our crank baits in 8'-12' mostly. Our 2IG Extreme rods were the key to hanging on to these big bass. On the way in, we were thinking about Brian Schott & Lee Yowell. They had a good lead from the first day and we knew it would be close" Stringer said. He was right, but he had all the right fish to take 1st place with a total weight of 44.02 lbs. Some of his sponsors include 2IG Extreme rods, Bill Norman Lures, Stanley Jigs, Rejuvenade, Shimano and Berkley Trilene.

Lee Yowell and Brian Schott took a close 2nd place with 43.68 lbs. They also won the $5,000 Skeeter bonus for fishing out of a qualified Skeeter boat, as well as their 2nd place boat win of a Skeeter 190 / Yamaha 150. They caught their win on DD-22's and Little N's. "We had our stringer early, then we went and tried for our big bass. It just didn't happen" Brian reported. "We had some on that could have made up that ½ lb, but that kind of thing is just gonna happen."

Skeeter Bass Champs would like to give special thanks to Mike Taylor of The Stump Restaurant for all of his hard work and efforts throughout the week and the dinner on Saturday night. Also, to the Jasper Chamber of Commerce and Bryce Reed & John Layton for the AWESOME live entertainment.

More special thanks goes to Doyle and Wes Dawson from Dawson Marine of Jasper and Beaumont . They delivered all 8 beautiful Skeeter / Yamaha Championship boats from their Beaumont store, and set them up on display at the weigh in. They also provided a tractor so that the boats could be moved as needed.

Thank you to the workers from the American Cancer Society Walk for life as well as Harvest Church . They did a great job to help with all that was needed at the tournament.

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 This Championship will be featured as three of the 15 original programs in the upcoming television season. This wraps up the 2004 season, so plan on joining in on all the fun, prizes, trivia games and excitement in 2005.

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 East Division - Bradley & Donald Stringer with a two day weight of 44.02 lbs. Their 8.84 lb kicker also won Big Bass honors

1st place in the South Division was won by Speedy Collett & Tommy Durham. They brought in back to back limits weighing 35.64 lbs
< photos by Patty Lenderman >

Kevin Hatcher and Brad Morris pulled it off to win 1st place in the North Division with 37.54 lbs

1st place in the Central Division was won by Scott Dyer & Jeff Pitrucha with a total of 32.28 lbs. They also won Big Bass honors in their division with a big 10.16 lb bass

Doug Tapley won the Flip-Off challenge, flipping his lure 50 feet into this toy pick-up truck with only one try! He won a brand new Dodge Extended Cab pick-up for his success

Jim Parker brought in the Big Bass for the South division, weighing in at 8.98 lbs. He was fishing with partner David Herzog

Steve Smith won Big Bass honors for the North division with this 11.08 lb hawg. He fished alone in this event

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