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Date: June 11, 2011
Region: 2011 Central Region
Tournament: Lake Belton #2
Tournament Trail: 2011 Bass Champs Tournament Trail
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Craig Gilbert dominates Bass Champs on Lake Belton again and takes home over $20,000
By: Patty Lenderman

Bass Champs Central Region held their 2011 finale event on Lake Belton June 11. No stranger to the winners circle, Craig Gilbert dominated the tournament winning over $20,000. Anglers of the Year and Championship qualifiers have been determined. Top teams received over $42,000 in this 110% payback event.

“It was a little hot – I’m just glad everything went well,” Gilbert stated at the end of the day. He started fishing with a crank bait at a deep rock wall. That yielded him three small bass. He knew he had to do something different to get better quality fish. “I decided to go to the river and use Carolina rigs and spoons in about 18’. The shad hadn’t moved in to that area yet, but I managed to catch three keepers. After a little while I tried moving out a little deeper, about 30’, still using spoons, and caught four more keepers.” Where were the bait fish? Moving again, this time to a main lake flat, he found them. “Once I found the bait fish, I stayed there just trying for bigger bass.” It worked, he landed his kicker weighing nearly six pounds. Putting his entire creel on the scales, they locked in at 19.44 lbs to win 1st place and the guaranteed $20,000 purse. He also won the $200 Sure Life Live Release Bonus. “I’d like to thank my wife. She’s my partner, but couldn’t fish with me today. She encouraged me to go ahead and fish without her.” He would also like to thank Cliff Brown and his staff at Texas Boat World for their support.

2nd place was won by the team of John Guerra and Daren Sebek with 14.79 lbs. “It was a strange day,” Daren recalled. “We caught our first fish on a spinnerbait – but it was just luck, and probably shouldn’t have happened.” The four pound bass busted the lure, and when they landed the fish it was just barely dangling from it. “That was the only one we got from that spot, so we headed up river with a Carolina rigged brush hog and caught two more small ones.” Still moving, searching for the elusive bass, they hit a point with a rattle trap and John landed a five pounder. Their last keeper came off of the Carolina rig. “We got six bites and landed five fish. Really didn’t do anything fancy, we just got lucky and it all worked out.” Bass Champs presented them with a $3,000 check. “We would like to thank Texas Boat World in Killeen, TX for keeping us running.”

The official weights started stacking up tight at this point, 3rd place being won with 14.77 lbs by David Ridley III and David Schwertner. “We started out in a main lake area with top water baits,” Schwertner explained. “That’s where we caught our first three keepers of the day including our 6.66 lb kicker. We had those by 7:30, and with this hot weather we decided to bring the big one on in and get her weighed so it could be released. Summertime is typically tough on Belton, and today was no exception. We had a lull for a while, only catching a few small ones. We decided to shift gears and headed up to the Leon end of the lake.” They pulled up to a point and added a 4.12 lb smallmouth to their creel, but still needed one more for their limit. “We crossed over to the other side of the lake and hit another point catching a two pounder there. After that, we tried Cedar Ridge, but only found little ones. I told my partner I wanted to hit a spot near the weigh in. We had one in our livewell that was barely a keeper that was looking a little weak at that point. When we got to that last spot, he nursed the fish while I threw a spinnerbait a few times.” He landed a 2 ½ pounder, but the weak fish didn’t make it. “The penalty cost us 2nd place, but we tried to save the fish.” They still came out well, winning $1,800 for 3rd place, $1,000 for Big Bass, the Dodge Bonus giving them free entries into any Bass Champs tournament for the next 12 months, the Costa and the Revo bonuses. “This is the first tournament that we did not fish in my 2011 Skeeter,” Ridley said. “That made us miss out on the Skeeter bonus. We’ll be fishing the championship in it!” The team would like to thank Lovett & Associates, Allen Samuels Dodge, Texas Boat World, Line-X, Allstar Auto Insurance, Airport Auto Sales, American Bank of Waco, American Rodsmiths “but especially our families. They give us a lot of support and encouragement and we really appreciate them.”

Twenty places were paid in this event, the last $500 check going to Charles Gerhart and David Shuster for their 8.67 lb limit.

Now that all five tournaments for the Central Region are in the books, the points have been tallied and the Anglers of the Year determined. Congratulations to Melvin and John Yezak for achieving this prestigious status. Their reward is to have all of their entry fees for the 2012 Central Region tournaments waived.

The Championship will be held on Lake Belton September 10-11, 2011. The 1st place winner will receive a new Skeeter ZX 225 powered by a Yamaha 225 SHO. Each region will have its own championship, but anyone who has entered all five events in any region qualifies to fish in all four championships!

Bass Champs staff and crew will head to Sam Rayburn to wrap up the East Texas region. Even if you have never fished a Bass Champs event before, you can sign up and fish for your cut of the money. All regular season tournaments are open for any one to enter.
For more information click to www.BassChamps.com or call 817-439-3274
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