Lakecaster Online

By: Frank Evans
Senior Writer

10/30/04, Columbus, MS… The forth stop in the five Region Championship tournaments, along the $250,000.00 Fishers Of Men 2004 Championship Series, began with the 5:15pm registration, meal, and pre-tournament meeting, conducted at the Trotter Convention Center, in Columbus, MS, thanks to Michael McCalla, Executive Director for the Columbus Convention & Visitors Bureau, and his assistant, Leslie McCain (Marketing and Project Manager). We want to express our deepest appreciation to them for sponsoring our event, by bringing the Fishers Of Men to the Columbus Pool and the pleasant, historical, and inviting city of Columbus, MS.

After opening prayer, Michael and Leslie provided the famished anglers with a very delicious meal of Beans and Rice, plus Jumbali. While enjoying their meal, competitors and their family members were treated with the viewing of the first episode of our television series, "Fishers Of Men Outdoors".

Following the meal, Al Odom, our gifted National Director, recognized all the people responsible for this incomparable event, then awarded plaques and jackets to the "Points Champions" who were present from the South Central Divisions.

The music for the evening was provided by the very special and talented, Ashley English. Ashley, daughter of Mississippi North's assistant Director, Billy English, presented us three songs that were unquestionably some of the best "vocals" that we have ever experienced. God has truly blessed Miss English with an angelic voice. Our speaker, Chris Wells (, as always, presented another powerful message which was well received by all who were present; for, when the response forms were tallied, 19 people made first-time professions of faith, by trusting Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, with another 42 individuals recommitting all areas of their lives to Christ.

The Tenn-Tom Waterway flows from Pickwick Lake, along the northern border, to the Gulf of Mexico, in Mobile, Alabama. Columbus Lake, inundated with hydrilla, coontail, water hyacinth, and several other types of emergent and submerged vegetation, also, cypress trees, stumps, channels, flats, gravel pits, old ponds, drop-offs, wood structure and bridge pilings, are known to produce some impressive weights, at times. Water temperatures on Day-1 along this well-known portion (in Central Mississippi) of the Tenn-Tom, were ideal for producing a good bite by hovering around 65 degrees in the stained water.

At safelight, most of the 167 registered teams with their sleek, colorful, and specialized fishing crafts were ready to blast off, under mostly sunny skies with air and water temperatures in the mid 60's. Excited anglers, anxious to earn a share of the over $38,000.00 tournament purse, were very optimistic about the coming day. Spirits were very high and all anglers are to be commended for their friendly and courteous attitudes as they came to the ramp for their boat-checks and launch.

To earn a spot to the South Central Regional, anglers from North Louisiana and South Louisiana Divisions, North, Central and South Mississippi Divisions, the Oklahoma Division, Texas Central, North Central, East, and Texas Northeast Divisions, had to battle their way to the top in their respective divisions, through five qualifying events. Points are awarded to the competitors according to how they place in the tournaments. Anglers, also, are awarded 50 extra points for attending our special Friday-night meetings. The top seven finishers, by weight, in this forth Region Championship of 2004, along with the highest finishing team from each of the 10 divisions, will join all year-end Division Points Champions in the "No Entry Fee" 2005, $50,000.00 Kentucky Lake Fishers Of Men National Championship, scheduled for May 9th through the 14th of 2005. These anglers will compete for cash and prizes that will include a fully rigged Triton TR-20, powered by a 200hp Mercury motor.

Leading the tournament after the first day of competition is the Mississippi South team of Joshua Hackler and Steven Tanner, with a five fish limit weighing in at 14.40lbs. Their catch included the 4.56lbs Day-1 second big fish that is worth $350.00 to the anglers. The Day-1 tournament big fish, weighing 5.50lbs. (And worth $550.00) was included with the limit of bass weighed in by Bobby Fowler and Will Courtney, who qualified to fish the event out of Greg Schlembrecht's Louisiana South Div. Their 12.07lbs catch is now holding them in the second place spot after today's weighin. Following behind them in third place are Central Mississippi's Tommy McKnight and Bobby Croe, with another limit crossing the scales at 11.87lbs. Defending the forth spot on Saturday will be, Central Texas' Mike Hastings and Joey Wilson, with 11.83. Joey and Mike's limit also includes a 4.50 Lbs. kicker fish that will help keep them in contention for the top spot, after Saturday's check in, if they can continue to have success on Day-2.

Another Louisiana South team is now in the fifth place position, with 11.11 lbs for the five fish they brought in this afternoon. Following close behind Joey and Mike, with another limit at 10.94lbs, is the forth of five Mississippi teams in the top seven places at the Region Championship. Mississippi South's Marc Gatwood and Eddie Soberoski, sitting in the sixth place position at the present, will be attempting to move up and take over first place on Saturday, thus earning for themselves the beautiful Triton TR-186 and Mercury 150hp XR6. Rounding out the top seven places on Day-1 of the FOM South Central Region Championship, whose first seven finishing teams will earn a no-fee berth to the Kentucky Lake National Championship next May, is Robbie Myers and Ricky Blakney with 5 fish at 10.82, which also includes a 4.43lbs. kicker fish.

Day-2 of the Fishers Of Men South Central Region Championship blast-off began with a small amount of clouds scattered across the west. The deep blue sky was complimented with a brilliant sunrise along the eastern horizon that was illuminating, with a golden glow, the stunning beauty of Columbus Lake and the surrounding landscape.

Anglers were eager to get out and supplement their previous day's catch with a heavy limit of the huge largemouths and spots that inhabit this productive pool along the Tenn-Tom Waterway, located near Columbus, along the eastern border in central Mississippi. The daytime temperatures gradually rose from the mid 60's up to the mid 80's, with wind speeds increasing as the day unfolded.

As the final weighin began at 3:00pm, every team who caught fish was apprehensive about how the day would wind up. Holding on to the seventh place spot, with 8.02lbs added to Day one's 10.82, were Rickey Blakeney and Robbie Myers of the Mississippi South Division, for a total of 9 fish weighing 18.89lbs. Dropping from forth on Day-1 to finish in sixth place is Texas Central's Mike Hastings and Joey Wilson, bringing in 5 fish at 7.08lbs, to combine with Friday's 11.83. This brought their total of 10 bass up to 18.91lbs. Fifth place belongs to Marc Gatwood and Eddie Soberoski (Mississippi South) for 8.07lbs to add with Day one's 10.94, giving them a total catch of 19.01lbs. Moving up from 6th to finish 4th overall with 20.22 lbs is Bobby Fowler and Will Courtney. Will and Bobby brought in 5 additional fish at 8.15 to go with their previous day's 12.07lbs.

Dropping to third place at the final weighin was another Mississippi South team. Joshua Hackler and Steve Tanner (the Day-1 leaders), caught only 4.56lbs to go with their 14.40 to give them a 20.56lbs finish. Moving up from ninth place on Day-1 for an overall second place finish and earning $2000.00, Doug McArthur and Mark Johnson (Mississippi South) consistently caught over ten pounds of fish each day, (10.58 and 10.05) for their remarkable move up in the final standings, finishing with 20.63lbs.

The Fishers Of Men South Central Region Tournament Champions, Paul Hodnett and Jeremy Aaron, from Picayne, MS and fishing out of Greg Schlembreth's South Louisiana Division, used a 12' jon boat to reach the shallow water up in Kibbee Creek. The pair landed over 60 fish during the two days of competition. Tossing ¼ oz. white Lunker Lure® buzzbaits and white ½ oz. Terminater® gold indiana bladed spinnerbaits around cypress trees and stumps, Jeremy and Paul were able to cull enough fish to weigh in 11.11 on Day-1 and an impressive, 14.41lbs on Day-2 to finish in first place with 10 bass at 25.52lbs. In addition to claiming the top prize, a brand new Triton TR-186, powered by the legendary Mercury 150hp EFI; the two earned $638.00 from the new voluntary "Bonus Bucks" program.

The top seven finishers, by weight, in this forth Region Championship of 2004, along with the highest finishing team from each of the divisions, will join all year-end Division Points Champions in the "No Entry Fee" 2005, $50,000.00 Kentucky Lake Fishers Of Men National Championship, scheduled for May 9th through the 14th of 2005. These anglers will compete for cash and prizes that will include a fully rigged Triton TR-20, powered by a 200hp Mercury motor.

We want to thank Michael McCalla, Executive Director of the Columbus Convention & Visitors Bureau and Leslie McCain, Marketing and Project Manager, for sponsoring our event. We also would like to thank Connie Gunter and Dana Register, of the US Army Corps Of Engineers, for their willingness to work with the competitors, in locking through the dam. Thanks, also, goes out to Cindy Putman, General Manager of Comfort Inn (1210 US Highway 45 North, Columbus, MS, 662-329-2422), the official housing headquarters (and Days Inn, located just across the highway) for the forth stop of the 2004 Fishers Of Men National Tournament Trail's Regional Championship Series. Last of all, we don't want to forget Frank Goodman, Director of the Trotter Convention Center.

We also want to thank our national sponsors: Without our great line of sponsors, the Fishers Of Men would not be possible. Many thanks to: Earl Bentz @ Triton Boats, Mercury, Alan Ranson @ Strike King Lure Co., Mike of Spike-It Bait Co., Marshall's Marine, V&M, Trey and Kistler Custom Fishing Rods, Castrol, Jones Chevrolet, Motor Guide, Solar Bat, Sufix Fishing Line, Lonnie Stanley and Stanley Jigs, Deka Marine Master Batteries, Lowrance, Bass Pro Shops, Jacob's Glass, Bass Rx, Keep Alive Oxygen Infusor, Marshal's Marine, The Original Fish Formula, and

1st place - 25.51 lbs

2nd Place

3rd Place

4th Place

5th Place

Day 2 - 6.15 lbs Big Fish

Day 2 - 6.02 lbs. Big Fish

Back to Lakecaster Online contents