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Date: February 18, 2012
Region: 2012 East Region
Tournament: Lake Sam Rayburn #2
Tournament Trail: 2012 Bass Champs Tournament Trail
StatsResultsBig BassStoryPhotosPoints
Nearly 30 pound stringer caught in tumultuous rains on Rayburn for $20,000 win
By: Patty Lenderman

How hard are you willing to work for a $20,000 check? Bass Champs East Texas anglers vying for that 1st place payday faced many challenges in that quest, not only competing against each other, but fishing through torrential rains and continuously rising water levels. Six teams brought in sacks breaching the twenty pound mark, but Jerry Silman and Brett Hortman were untouchable with their limit nearly reaching 30 pounds!

Torrential flooding rains set the stage February 18 as Bass Champs anglers grit their teeth and headed out on Sam Rayburn trying to catch a check in $56,750 being paid back to the top teams. In less than 24 hours, Sam Rayburn rose nearly six inches, constantly changing the playing field as the contenders fished. It wasn’t until around noon when they finally caught a break in the extreme weather to have just a few more hours to find the fish they needed.

The stage was set at the Umphrey Family Pavilion, ready for anglers to come in. The crowd began to gather early, in anticipation for what was going to come in. Bass Champs staff had the grill nice and hot, grilling hot dogs for everyone present to enjoy. Due to the weather conditions, teams were allowed to trailer their boats to launches nearer to their fishing holes. At 3:00, the contenders began arriving at the weigh in site.

Among the first to come to the scales were Jerry Silmon & Brett Hortman. Their bag of fish was massive, and when the scales locked in at 29.61 pounds, they secured a massive lead for the rest of the pack to try to catch. They had to watch for nearly an hour and a half while the remaining teams brought in their catch until the scales closed at 4:30 and their decisive win was official. Bass Champs awarded them the guaranteed 1st place purse of $20,000, and they shared the story of their day. “It started out rough this morning with the weather, but once we finally made it to our spot, we power poled down.” Using Rayburn Red rattle traps along the inside grasslines, they landed three ‘decent’ ones pretty early. “We never left that spot, the fish were there.” In the pounding rain they continued to catch – then cull, until 11:30. “Our last cull was at 11:30. At that point we had all of our weight.” In the final tally, they won by more than a six pound lead! They would like to thank their sponsors, including Basscat, EK’s Marine, Santone Lures and Mercury.

Jonathan Garrie and Keith Morris brought in 23.33 lbs that won 2nd place. “We started out with spinnerbaits, looking for good spawning areas. We weren’t on any fish, our deep fish were gone.” They put a limit together pretty quick, but it was small – only about 8 pounds total. “Once we had a limit in the boat, we switched to a 6th Sense square bill crank bait called Crush 50X and used both Blue Gill and Threadfin Shad color patterns.” They were able to cull all of their initial limit to the 23.33 pounds they came in with. Then they had some boat trouble. “Our cranking battery died at 1:30. Luckily, we were able to jump it from the trolling battery and get back in.” Thankful for their years of experience, “we were just able to make the right decisions today.” Bass Champs awarded them $5,000 for their 2nd place win, and they would like to thank 6th Sense Lures, Hometown Tackle, Hale Tackle and Custom Angle Rods for their support.

Wade Ellis and Joe Martin said their day was wet, cold and uneventful until 12:30 when the rain stopped. “We had three small ones in the livewell at that point, and we knew we had to change tactics and locations.” Tying on a Santone swim jig and a Santone football head jig, they headed to a spot between 6 and 8ft deep. “That’s when we caught our kicker (8.63#) and five minutes later caught our 5th fish, finishing a limit.” They continued catching a few more after that, “we were finally able to cull some.” They culled to a final weight of 22.36 lbs for a 3rd place win and a $3,000 check. They would like to thank Santone Lures and Buster McNutty’s for their support.

They were nearly the first to the scales, but at one point wondered if they would even be able to arrive. Jarod Shelton and partner Mike Garret brought in the Big Bass of the day weighing 9.09 lbs, garnering a check for $1,000 plus the $200 Biobor bonus. “We had put in at Twin Dikes, but waited to leave until 8:00 due to the lightening. Once we finally made it to Five Fingers, I threw a Lake Fork Tackle Carolina rigged ring fry,” Jarod explained. He got the bite, she put up a pretty good fight. “I finally got her in, and Mike netted her and put her in the livewell. We didn’t realize how big she was at that point.” Great start to the day, then tragedy hit. “At our next stop, we lost our lower unit.” Defenseless against the rain, wind, waves, with nothing to power them but their trolling motor, a fellow Bass Champs competitor saw them and came to help. “He towed us back to five fingers, and I caught a ride with another Bass Champs team to get the truck while Mike stayed with the boat. I wish I could remember the names of all the guys who helped us. They really saved us out there and we are so grateful to them. We would also like to thank Bass Champs for putting these tournaments on for all of us.” This Army Bass Anglers teams’ sponsors include Skeeter, Lake Fork Trophy Lures, Dobynbs Rods and Biobor. “We would also like to encourage everyone to visit ReturningHeroesHome.org.

Top Teams:
1st $20,000 29.61 lbs Jerry Silmon & Brett Hortman
2nd $ 5,000 23.33 lbs Jonathan Garrie & Keith Morris
3rd $ 3,000 22.36 lbs Wade Ellis & Joey Martin III
4th $ 4,000 22.01 lbs Ryan O’Neal & Riki Pike
($2000 Skeeter $$)
5th $ 1,200 20.82 lbs Rusty Clark & Cory Rambo
6th $ 1,090 20.01 lbs Jason Bonds & William Howell
7th $ 1,080 19.97 lbs Keith Green & Rusty Rogers
8th $ 1,070 19.84 lbs Lani Ordone & Morris Hymel
9th $ 1,060 19.36 lbs Jonathan Simon & AP Castino
10th $ 1,050 19.27 lbs Brian Shook & Cody Goodman
and last in the money
29th $ 500 14.26 lbs Chris Harvey & Rusty Harvey

The points race is another aspect of competition that results in a shuffling in the standings throughout each season. Each time competitors sign up to fish an event, they receive points. How many points they receive is directly correlated to how much weight they bring in. The team with the highest points at the end of the regular season is declared Anglers of the Year. The reward for this accomplishment is free entries into the next season for the division they won the title in.

Here are the top points leaders after two Bass Champs East Region tournaments:
442 pts Rusty Clark & Cory Rambo
441 pts Jerry Silmon & Brett Hortman
438 pts Jason Bonds & William Howell
436 pts Wade Ellis & Joey Martin III
435 pts Glenn Robertson & Chad Cole

The next East Region tournament will take place March 24th on Sam Rayburn at the Umphrey Family Pavilion. In the mean time, Bass Champs staff and crew are headed to Lake Belton for the Central Region event #2. Whether you can fish one or all of Bass Champs tournaments, each one is open to anyone who would like to compete for a part of the big payouts at each event. For more information, click to www.BassChamps.com or call 817-439-3274.
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