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Kevin VanDam wins "Tuff" Rayburn BassMaster's with 15 bass / 48 lbs.-12 oz.

Ed Snyder

Final day bassin' for the 320 anglers, who were struggling to make the "money cut" for the Central Division Texas Invitational, would be under the gun of changing weather conditions, as the purr-fect "Chamber of Commerce" conditions of the previous two days of high pressure sun shine, would become hidden under a thick blanket of overcasting cloud cover. Today was "pay-day" for the BassMaster's, with $208,000 in cash & prizes scheduled to be paid out after the final bass was weighed-in, and as the hopefull anglers filed out onto Lake Sam Rayburn from Twin Dikes Marina, some would return as hero's, while other's returned as Zero's. But as BassMaster, Robert Tucker, once stated, "Some days Hero's, and some days Zero's, But thats Bass fishing".

You could see it coming, even before the Tournament anglers started in to meet their flite deadlines, and by the time that tournament director, Don Day, started announcing the final day catches, the long awaited cold front had arrived. A slight change in wind direction at first, as the southeast suddenly gaveway to a northwest, then to hard north, and by the time the cold rains began to soak the spectators, it was a "very chilly" north-north easterly, as Winter was making a definite comeback to East Texas.

But the chill of an East Texas Cold Front wouldn't have any effects on the three anglers who had "notched" the first, second, and third place positions for the 1999 BassMaster's Texas Invitational, as Kevin Van Dam, a Kalamazoo Michigan angler took first with final day catch of 5 bass/14 lbs-2 ozs, which gave him a three day total of 15 bass/48 lbs-12 ozs, that earned him a $16,000 BASS-check and a $26,000 RANGER- 488VS/MERCURY-200EFI- BASS BOAT. Six lbs-three ounces under VanDam's winning weight was the 5 bass/42 lbs-9 oz catch of Warrene Ohio, angler, Nick Prvonozac, which gave Nick a 2nd place finish and a BASS-check for $2,000, as well as a RANGER-462VS/MERCURY-175EFI- BASS BOAT valued at $25,000. And only one pound-four ounces below Nicks weight was the 15 bass/41 lb-5 oz catch of Amston Connecticut, angler, Lee Bailey Jr., as he managed to pull the 3rd place finish for a $25,000 RANGER-461VS/MERCURY-175EFI- BASS BOAT.. "Strike King Series X chartreuce Crankbaits," informed Kevin VanDam, as he began to explain how he worked 13'-14' inside grass-lines and secondary points around the Caney Creek and Black Forest areas. "The water temp was holding around 57 degrees, "Kevin pointed out, "but I was able to pull my limit in within 2 hours as an early morning bite put 10 bass in the boat on 10 consecutive casts." Which gave Kevin VanDam the braggin' rights to the 1999 Lake Sam Rayburn Texas Invitational.

"Cranks and carolina rigs," explained Nick Prvonozac, as he informed of flipping, cranking, and dragging, 3'-4' , 10'-12' , and 17'-24' mid-lake creek channel structure and shallow flats with Riverside Craws, 3/8th oz jigs, and Pradco Fat Free Shads in firetiger and shad patterns, which gave him his final day catch of 5 bass/11 lbs-0 ozs in the boat for his 2nd place finish.

"Pradco Fat Free Shads," stated Lee Bailey Jr. , as he told of fishing 12'-14' Veach Basin cuts to the bank for a 9:am to 9:30 a:m: bite that put his final day weight of 5 bass/16 lb-7 ozs on the scale for his 3rd place finish.

Final day Big Bass "almost" made it in with Takahiro Omori, of Japan, who presently resides in Emory TX, on Lake Fork, as he put a 7lb-5 oz "kicker" on the scale, "but", before the rice cakes could be counted, Joplin, Missouri, angler, Randy Blaukat "nudged" Omori's bass out of the running with a 7 lb-15 oz crankbait "kicker" which would pay Randy a $1,000.

But the "overall" tournament big bass was set on the first day of competition as Paducah, Kentucky, angler, Dan Morehead, put a "citrus color" Fat Free Shad catch on the scale for a 9 lb-6 oz Bass-weight worth $1,000.

The BassMaster's managed to catch 748 bass on final day that would weigh 1,508 lbs, for a three day total of 2,284 bass weighing 4,516 lbs which were live released by the BassMaster Live Release Team with only 7 deceased fish.

As the Pro-Bass anglers were "tuffin" it out on the lake, the "future" Pro-Bass anglers were busy pitchin', flippin', and casting their efforts for points at Twin Dikes Marina, as the Southeast Texas B.A.S.S. Federation sponsored and coordinated a K-Mart Casting Kids Contest. The winners for this "worth-while" childrens casting event would have a chance to advance to the Regional finals which could eventually earn them a Casting Kids position at the BassMaster's World Classic in the year 2,000.

Those Children who managed to make the cut were:
(7-10 yrs)
1st-Chris Iles-(8)-Hemphill, TX.
2nd-Cody Wilson-(8)-Lake Jackson, TX.
3rd-Rocky Biscamp Jr.-(7)-Silsbee, TX.
4th-Maddie Smith-(7)-Vidor, TX.
(11-14 yrs)
1st-David Barton-(10)-Livingston, TX.
2nd-Jacob Jones-(11)-Livingston, TX.
3rd-Joseph McCarty-(11)-Moscow, TX.
4th-Cole Snider-(11)-Dallardsville, TX.

As it has always been said before, when the BassMaster's visit our lake area with their prestigious tournament events, they put on one "heck" of a tournament which brings in one "heck" of a positive impact on the economics of our lake area businesses. "And, as a "rather nice" salute to the people of Jasper, TX, as well as to the lake area people as well, the BassMaster's who stepped up on stage to weigh their hard earned catches, gave thanks to "everyone" for being nice and "very helpfull" to their needs. A lot of good fellowship went home with those BassMaster's who were returning to their home ramps in the 30 states and two countries from whence they came.

Folks, their is absolutely "nothing" wrong with Lake Sam Rayburn as it can still draw the quality of anglers that arrive with tournament trails such as the BassMaster's. For more information on the BassMaster events contact Ann Lewis at 334-272-9530 or clic to

1 K. VanDam - Kalamazoo, MI 15/0 48-12 / $42,000
2 N. Prvonozac - Warrene, OH 15/0 42-09 / $27,000
3 L. Bailey, Jr.- Amston, CT 15/0 41-05 / $25,000
4 M. Fourkiller - Cleveland, OK 15/0 38-00 / $9,000
5 D. Wharton - Sam Rayburn, TX 15/0 37-02 / $7,000
6 S. Suggs - Alexander, AR 15/0 36-01 / $5,500
7 L. Vick - Mineola, TX 15/0 35-14 / $5,000
8 S. D. King - Reeds Spring, MO 15/0 35-03 / $4,500
9 G. Klein - Weatherford, TX 15/0 35-02 / $4,000
10 T. Omori - Emory, TX 15/0 34-11 / $3,700

1st 9-06 Dan Morehead - Paducah, KY $1,000
2nd 7-07 Mike Auten - Benton, KY $1,000
3rd 7-15 Randy Blaukat - Joplin, MO $1,000

1 824 3 76 1610-04
2 712 1 58 1396-15
3 748 3 69 1508-14
Totals 2284 7 203 4516- 1

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