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Local Pros show off at Angler's Choice Pro/Am Championship
by BILL WEBB

 

The 1999 Angler's Choice Pro/Am Championship at Lake Waco in Waco, TX, kicked off with an unseasonably cool morning for the 80 competitors. Blue bird skies and a timid breeze made the fishing conditions more than bearable. If the fish agreed to participate the fishermen would no doubt have a tournament day to remember. The rumors proceeding the competition however, resounded of a tough bite. With over $140,000 on the line - including three fully rigged BassCat boats rigged with Mercury Outboards, Motorguide Trolling Motors and Die Hard Marine Batteries - the stage was set for an exciting two days of fishing.

The weigh-in for the anglers was held at the Heart of Texas Coliseum in conjunction with the first annual sports show for the Waco area. As the anglers were trailered through the crowd on the first day it seemed that the bite was better than expected, but not as big as the fishermen would have liked. A lot of small fish were caught but only five 5-fish limits were to be seen. Pro Bill Calloway of Dallas, TX brought in one of those limits totaling 14.26 pounds of bass, the largest stringer of the day to secure a first day lead in this two-day event. With the second day still to be fished, Calloway remained tight-lipped about the location and baits used to catch his fish. Pro Scott David of Goodrich TX was the second angler to "wow" the crowd with his 13.62 pound limit. David secured second place on day one with his catch.

Although the hefty stringers were impressive, Pro Bill Wilcox brought the crowd to their feet when he two fisted his 7.16 pound hawg to the scales. Wilcox's lunker perched him in the first place position for the big bass lead. Richard Hooter of Natchitoches, LA took the Amateur side big bass lead with a nice 4.62 pounder. The rest of the amateur field seemed to struggle. Richard Patterson of Gainseville, TX found 3 bass totaling 7.51 pounds for the first day lead on the amateur side. Chad Brooks of Houston, TX came in right on his tail with 7.14 pounds.

The few anglers that broke the secrecy stated that early fish were coming off buzzbaits and other topwaters, while later bites were found near structure using soft plastics.

The fishermen only thought the fishing was tough on day one of the 1999 Angler's Choice Pro/Am Championship. Texas' Lake Waco, the playing field of the $140,000 championship, was stingy to the anglers the first day of competition only allowing four 5-fish limits to the 80 competitors. The hopes were that an increased breeze would convince more bass to bite - the wishes were not answered. Only two 5-fish limits graced the scales today!

As the fishermen started pulling their rigs through Waco's Heart of Texas Coliseum - and through a standing room only crowd - it became obvious that the anglers were proud to bring anything with gills to the scales. "The bite was just plain tough!" stated Pro Robbie Taylor. And the rest of the field gave a resounding "ditto!" No matter how tough the bite was, there were still three fully rigged BassCat boats adorned with Mercury Outboards, Motorguide trolling motors and Die Hard Marine batteries to be given away.

First day leader on the Pro side was Dallas Texas' Bill Calloway who brought an impressive 14.26 pounds to the scales. The first angler to put a dent in the lead was Pro Lendell Martin of Nacogdoches, TX. Martin only had 5.26 pounds on day one and was in 20th place. With one of the two limits of bass scoring 10.96 pounds, Martin was able to jump into a momentary lead - and an eventual 3rd place finish. Martin will be taking home a hefty $5,000 check for his comeback.

The next bit of excitement came when Calloway came to the scales with only one fish. He needed a little over two pounds to regain the lead and the fish looked close. With breath held the fish was placed on the scales and the bright green letters flashed 2.82 - enough weight to regain the lead and secure an eventual 2nd place finish. Calloway will be driving home a brand new BassCat Sabre equipped with a 150 Mercury valued at $18,000 for his finish.

The last person to weigh-in was Madisonville, TX Pro Matt Reed. Reed was in fifth place on day one with 9.55 pounds and in striking range at the lead if he had a good bag of fish. As the greenbacks were pulled from his livewell one went in the bag, then two, three - then what looked like a solid three pounder rounded out his four keeper catch. Reed needed over eight pounds to take the lead, and the first place BassCat. As the fish were placed on the scales, President of Angler's Choice, Johnnie Davis brought Calloway to the stage. The two men stood side by side holding their breath as the fish were laid into the weigh basket. As the crowd stood silent the display showed 9.61 pounds - as the cheers subsided Calloway shook the hand of the 1999 Pro Champion - Matt Reed.

The amateurs also had a tough time getting fish in the boat. Richard Patterson of Gainseville, TX was the first day leader with 7.51 pounds. Jeff Simmons of Houston, TX was the first angler to make a stab at the first place position by bringing in two fish - including the big bass of the tournament on the Am side (a 6.24 pounder that put a $500 check into his wallet) - that totaled 7.68 pounds. Simmons ended up in second in the event and added another $3,500 to his winnings. Patterson came in directly afterwards needing only 1.3 pounds to regain the lead and the first place BassCat.

Patterson was only able to boat one fish, so the crowd was again on its feet to know the weight. 2.70 flashed on the display and Richard Patterson was crowned the 1999 Amateur Champion.

Big bass on the pro side was caught on the first day by Bill Wilcox. Wilcox's 7.16 pounder was rewarded with a $1,000 check.

This exciting event was held in conjunction with the first annual Great Texas Outdoor Show which benefited the American Red Cross. Angler's Choice would like to thank everyone who attended the event along with the local sponsors of the show and the National Sponsors of angler's Choice which includes BassCat Boats, Mercury Marine, Motorguide Trolling Motors, Die Hard Marine Batteries, BigFoot Marine, T&H Marine and Please Release Me fish formula.


Nick Albus

Scott David & Partner

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