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Date: January 21, 2012
Region: 2012 East Region
Tournament: Lake Sam Rayburn #1
Tournament Trail: 2012 Bass Champs Tournament Trail
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Bass Champs starts off with a bang and finishes with a $20,000 win
By: Jodie Warner

Bass Champs held their first Lake Sam Rayburn tournament of the New Year on January 21. They had a total of 234 team entries and paid back 96 percent. There were a total of 675 fish weighed in totaling 1,720 lbs with the average weight being 2.55 lbs. The day was overall good for the teams, with 112 limits coming to the stage.

Not long after the boaters left for a long day of fishing David Gregg of Palestine and Jim Phillips of Greenwood, MS brought in the biggest bass Bass Champs has ever weighed in on Sam Rayburn, registering on the scales at 12.51 lbs.

The guys were allowed to go back out and fish to get the rest of their limit; however, fell short of the weight needed. They only brought in another 6.92 lbs to round out their day, giving them a total of 19.43 lbs and ninth place, earning a total of $2060 and an Abu Garcia Reel Bonus.

Gregg and Phillips seemed to be the projected winners throughout the day; however, Ronald Risenhoover of Lufkin and Charles Ford Jr. of Sam Rayburn ended up taking the $20,000 prize with a five fish limit that weighed 25.70 lbs. They said, “we just fished deep all day long in two spots, we had one just shy of 7 lbs and one a little over 7 lbs but the rest of them were just good quality fish” we fished with the Bass Kandi trick worm and their little Swing Kick in about 25 feet of water. Also, “We went to mid lake drop off's and fished deep water with the following Bass Kandi products: Trick Worms, Brush Busters, Swing Hook Jigs, Football head sliding weights, and Castaway Rods, and Vicious Fluorocarbon line. We would also like to thank The Tackle Monkey store (Sam Rayburn), Bass Kandi lures, Interstate Batteries, Vicious Line, Daiichi, X-Point Hooks and Castaway Rods. We would also like to thank Bass Champs for putting on a fine tournament!

Phillip Crelia and TJ Goodwin, both of Center, came in second with a limit weighing 23.03 lbs and took home $5,000. They fished with a “non-red” Rat-L-Trap in 3-8 feet of water; “we burned a lot of gas, caught about 50 throughout the day, but just a bunch of little fish.”

Robert Byrd Jr. of Dallas and Marvin Ettredge of Shreveport came in third overall with a bag totaling 21.80 lbs and took home $3,000. Byrd and Ettredge fished in 18 feet water and said “yeah, we lost a few that could have bumped us up, but that’s just the nature when you’re deep crankin’, sometimes you just lose some.”

As for the Big Bass of the tournament – this one set all new records for Bass Champs East Region and a new personal catch record as well. “I've been coming to fish Rayburn since 1996 and will always remember this day as my best ever!” stated Jim Phillips of Greenwood, MS. “It was less than 30 minutes into the tournament, and we were less than a mile from our take off point,” Phillips recalled. "My partner David Gregg and I were fishing deep rock and brush on a main lake point.” Fishing in 6’ depths, he had a watermelon red Carolina rigged Grande Bass Rattlesnake. “I was fishing a high speed Abu Garcia Revo reel spooled with 20 lb Vicious Pro Elite Fluorocarbon on the main line and 12 lb Vicious Fluorocarbon on the leader. The rod was a Kistler 7' 3" Carbon Steel Rod. It was rigged with a 3/4 oz. Strike King Tungsten weight and a 4/O Gamakatsu Round Bend hook.” That’s when it happened – the catch of a lifetime! To ensure good care and safekeeping of this humungous catch, they brought it straight to the Bass Champs scales. Registering at 12.51 pounds, the tournament officials took possession of the bass while the team returned to the lake to work on the rest of their five fish limit.

“After I had taken the fish to an early weigh-in and then returned to the spot to continue fishing, it occurred to me that I had caught a 12.51 lb fish on 12 lb Vicious Fluorocarbon that was being dragged across rock after the hook set. Wow, I was so thankful for this great product! It was the largest bass of my life and was made possible by mostly Texas products. I want to thank Chad Potts and the Skeeter Bass Champs team for taking care of us at such an early start of the day. My only regret is that I didn't take measurements to have a replica made. I wanted more than anything to get it returned to Sam Rayburn to continue her spawning activities with as little stress as possible. I also am grateful to Michael Joe Cannon of Cannon Motor Company in Greenwood, MS for making it possible for me to travel and fish in the Texas area lakes and around the country. We were fishing out of David's brand new FX21 Skeeter and his 250 hp Yamaha SHO. Wow, what a ride!!” The team earned $1,000 for their Big Bass catch, and achieved a 9th place overall finish for an additional $1,060. Since they were using an Abu Garcia Revo Reel to catch the Big Bass of the tournament, they qualified to win the Abu Garcia Bonus of two new Revo’s!

Bass Champs said that although re-runs are showing on WFN at the moment, that new episodes will be coming in April and they will also be hosting the biggest one day tournament in the nation on Lake Fork on April 1. They will be giving away seven trucks, one every hour for the biggest bass and the largest overall will take home a truck and a boat. For more information visit basschamps.com.

The next tournament for Bass Champs East Region will be February 18 back on Sam Rayburn at the Umphrey Family Pavilion. In the mean time, Bass Champs staff & crew are heading to Lake LBJ to kick off the Central Region January 28.
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