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New BASSMaster ESPN Weekend Series kicks off on Sam Rayburn
By Patty Lenderman

There's a new tournament trail in our area, and the first event kicked off February 20th on Sam Rayburn at the Umphrey Family Pavilion. A total of 198 teams of boaters and co-anglers came to fish this new format offered by the BASSMaster series. There were 40 places paid in each division, with the 1st place boater winning $6,000 cash and the 1st place co-angler winning $3,000.

Anglers came from all over the state of Texas, as well as from Louisiana, Mississippi, Colorado, Arkansas, Iowa, Tennessee, Missouri, Minnesota, Kansas, Nebraska and Kentucky. For many, it was the first time for them to fish these waters.

Mother nature was kind, affording these teams a decent day to fish in weather wise. The skies were overcast with temperatures reaching to 70 degrees, with only a few light occasional sprinkles and calm winds. Despite these seemingly perfect fishing conditions, the bite was tough for many of the anglers.

In the boater division, Phil Addison won 1st place with the only stringer weighing over 20 lbs brought in. His 20-12 lbs 5 fish limit gave way to his $6,000 payday. "I really didn't do anything special. There's no rhyme or reason to it. All my fish were caught out of the bushes on a Lake Fork craw tube bait." Phil also brought in the Big Bass in the boater division, weighing a nice 8-5 lbs.

Glen Freeman took 2nd place in the boater division and said "I did a lot of praying. I had found my bass during pre-fishing in the bushes, but they wouldn't bite there today. Finally, I took out a spinnerbait and started hooking up." He hooked a 5 fish limit that weighed in at 19-13 lbs and a $3,000 win.

In 3rd place boater division with 18-7 lbs and a 5 fish limit was Taylor Griffin. Spinnerbaits were also a successful technique for him, coupled with throwing a rattle trap. "I just had to cover miles and miles of bank to get my fish"

While the boaters are allowed to catch a five fish limit for their weight, the format is a little different for the co-anglers. They are only allowed 3 fish of their own, but they get the added advantage of adding on the full weight of their partner to their catch.

James Hardin came in 1st place on the co-angler side bringing in a three fish limit of 7-6 lbs, then adding in his partner's 17-15 lb catch for a total weight of 25-5 lbs. He fished the inside grass line with finesse worms and Senko's.

2nd place co-angler was Chris Chairs, bringing in 2 fish at 7-13 lbs, plus his partner's 15-14 lb catch to total 23-11 lbs. He caught his fish with rattle traps in the brush.

3rd place in the co-angler division with a 3 fish limit was Deuce Wulf with 10-14 lbs, then his partner's weight of 13-6 for a total weight of 23-10 lbs. He had a great day of fishing, catching a total of 8 keepers to cull from throwing a weightless, straight-rigged Christmas tree colored Senko with a chartreuse tail in the brush at 2-3' depths.

Jeff Crouch caught the Big Bass on the co-angler side, weighing her in at 9-1 lbs. While he enjoyed an all day bite, he caught this monster on a Carolina rigged Lake Fork Tackle blue lizard in 4' of water.

Boaters:
1st 20-12 Phil Addison Baytown, TX
2nd 19-13 Glen Freeman Converse, LA
3rd 18-7 Taylor Griffin Baytown, TX
4th 18-5 Keith Phillips Crosby, TX
5th 17-15 David Ozio Beaumont, TX
Big Bass 8-5 Phil Addison Baytown, TX
Total Fish: 576
Total Lbs: 1431-9
Total Limits: 51

Co-Anglers:
Weight + Partner Total Wt
1st 7-6 + 17-15 25-5 James Harden Porter, TX
2nd 7-13 + 15-14 23-11 Chris Chaires Humble, TX
3rd 10-4 + 13-6 23-10 Deuce Wulf Center, TX
4th 7-10 + 15-5 22-15 Keith Fields Huffman, TX
5th 8-13 + 13-14 22-11 Don Kennon Lafayette, LA
Big Bass 9-1 Jeffrey Crouch Ft Worth, TX
Total Fish: 265
Total Lbs: 671-11
Total Limits: 47

In order to fish these events, you must be a member of BASS. The top 30 boaters and non-boaters in point standings in one division will be eligible to compete in the 3 day regional event. The top 10 boaters and non-boaters from each regional event will qualify to fish in the ESPN Outdoors Bassmaster Series Championship. As an added incentive in fishing this series, boaters have an opportunity to land a spot in the 2006 CITGO Bassmaster Classic. For more information, please contact Tournament Director Jon Stewart at 334-270-8549 or visit www.bassmaster.com. The next event will be on Toledo Bend on March 6th out of Frontier Park.


Phil Addison won 1st place overall in the Boater division with 20-12 lbs. He also won Big Bass honors with this 8-5 lb kicker

Glen Freeman brought in the 2nd place stringer in the Boater division, weighing 19-13 lbs
< photos by Patty Lenderman >

Jeffrey Crouch caught this 9-1 lb bass, winning Big Bass honors in the Co-Angler division
 

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