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Date: September 8, 2012
Region: 2012 Bass Champs Championships
Tournament: East Championship 2012
Tournament Trail: 2012 Bass Champs Tournament Trail
StatsResultsBig BassStoryPhotosPoints
Fight to the finish at Bass Champs Championship on Toledo Bend
By: Patty Lenderman

Skeeter Bass Champs Texas Tournament Trail held its first of four region championships September 8-9, 2012 on Toledo Bend. A Skeeter ZX20 powered by a Yamaha 225SHO was on the line as the top prize for the champions. More than one double digit bass was brought to the scales over the course of two days, one of which anchored a win for Shonn Blassingame and Cody Burdine.

Drastic weather changes from practice to tournament days had the championship qualifiers scrambling, many not able to fish targeted areas due to the high winds that came with a cold front Saturday morning. The first significant cold front of the season sent temperatures down into the 50’s overnight only warming to the mid 80’s each day. Teams were allowed to trailer to boat launches closer to their fishing areas both days of the tournament, with the weigh in hosted at Paradise Point Marina.

The scales were christened by Steven Singleton and Bo Fea having one shy of a limit with 11.38 lbs. After a few more teams came in with similar weights, Gerald Granger and Jimmy Sorter broke the twenty pound barrier with their 23.77 lb limit, anchored by an initial big bass leader at 7.85 lbs.

Participants had until 4:45 pm to bring their catch to the scales, and more solid kickers were registered in the 7 pound range vying for Big Bass honors. Lee Yowell and Brian Schott raised the Big Bass bar with an 8.02 lb’r that helped secure their day one 3rd place position with 19.78 lbs.

East Texas Region Anglers of the Year Rusty Clark and Cory Rambo brought in a light limit at 12.07 lbs, but had an experience on the water that impacted their day. “We were fishing a somewhat protected shoreline on the south end, and saw a small 12’ boat out by the island with four people in it, including a six year old.” It was around 8am when the front came through, bringing with it high winds causing big waves on the lake. “We kept a pretty close eye on them, there was more people than boat. We knew something bad was about to happen.” The boat they were watching tried to make a move from the side of the island protected from the wind to cross a cut. “As soon as they did, they took a wave over the side of the boat that capsized them.” Rusty and Cory immediately went to help, as did another team of competitors that were nearby. “We each put two passengers in our boats and took them to the shore. That took about 45 minutes out of our day. No one had life jackets, not even the kid.” Thank goodness no one was hurt or injured and they were close enough to see what happened to lend aid.

Shonn Blassingame and Cody Burdine challenged the leaders having a 23.16 lb limit anchored by a 10.52 lb Big Bass, putting them in a strong 2nd place position going into the final day.

Top 5 leaderboard day 1:
23.77 lbs Jimmy Sorter & Gerald Granger
23.16 lbs Shonn Blassingame & Cody Burdine
19.78 lbs Lee Yowell & Brian Schott
19.69 lbs Glenn Freeman & Jeff Rice
18.42 lbs Greg & Gary McDonald

At daybreak the final morning, temperatures had dipped to 58 degrees, only to be followed by high pressure bluebird skies, warming to the mid 80’s. The wind was a lot calmer, allowing anglers to get to the open water spots they couldn’t stay on the day prior.

Joe Joslin and David Brown brought in their catch hours early. Among their creel was the Big Bass of the weekend weighing in at 10.98 pounds. “We could tell she was stressed, and we wanted to get her weighed in and taken care of as quickly as we could.” The team had been fishing the south end of Toledo with Texas rigged soft plastics along deep ridges, about 20’ in depth. David, a General Surgeon by trade, got the big bite around 9am. “It was just a strong pull when she got it. Once I set the hook, the fight was on!” Joe, a professional angler by trade, put his rod down to get ready to net the catch. “At one point she came straight up out of the water, and we got a real good look at her.” She was not going to give up easily, and made a run around a stump. “I just kept hold of her and worked her back around it to the boat. Joe netted her right in.” After fishing just a little while longer, they made the decision to bring their catch on in, adding a total of 16.30 lbs to their two day total of 27.56 lbs, bringing them up from 29th place on day one to a 16th place finish. “The fish were more aggressive Saturday, so we used bigger baits and caught some on Stanley Jigs. (Sunday) we had to downsize our lures and were able to put together a better sack.” Since the Big Bass was caught using a Revo reel, the team received the Revo bonus of two more reels. They were also wearing Costa Del Mar sunglasses, adding that bonus to their winnings. For the big catch itself, the team received $500 plus $200 for the Costa Bonus and two new Abu Garcia REVO reels for the REVO Bonus. They would like to thank Revo reels, Costa Del Mar, Skeeter, Yamaha, Red River Marine, Lake Charles Toyota, Berkley, Stanley Jigs and Jeane’s Tackle.

The husband and wife team of Tim and Judy Reneau brought in a hefty 23.44 lb sack on the final day, and were the first to exceed the 40 pound mark in the tournament. While Tim has fished Toledo Bend before, this was Judy’s first experience with the lake. “We got out here, and the first thing I thought was that it is the prettiest lake I’ve ever seen! We fish Amistad, and I had always thought it was the prettiest.” These South Region anglers are no strangers to big sacks of fish, having their fair share of tournament wins in the Bass Champs trail. Owners of Power Tackle fishing equipment, they spend a lot of time on the water. “We fished grass in 12’ – 20’ all weekend. At one point, when the bite was getting slow, I wanted to try something else but Tim is a die hard deep grass fisherman,” Judy explained. They were using a Power Tackle 1 ¾ oz Lateral Perch for some of their catch, and a jig tipped with a Strike King Rage Craw trailer for others on PG104.5 Power Tackle Rods spooled with Gamma Line. “From practice to tournament we went from hot weather to blustery North winds. We had practiced on the North banks in anticipation of the front that was forecasted.” They were consistent both days, catching around 20 keepers each day. “We had our limit by around 9am each day. (The fish) would bite well until 10am, then quit until about 1pm and pick up again.” On the final day they hit two spots that they were not able to fish due to the wind the first day. Their two day total weight was 40.35 lbs, setting the mark to beat. They would like to thank Power Tackle, Strike King, Vexilar Electronics, Oldham Lures, Lowrance electronics, Ranger boats, Yamaha, Gamma Line, “and Amstead Marine in Del Rio, TX. Our lower unit went out just before this tournament and they loaned us one to keep us on the water.” Ultimately the Reneau’s won 2nd place, coming up from 7th on day 1, and was awarded a check for $2,000.

Anticipation was still high as spectators continued to watch for the Day 1 top teams to weigh in. Camera boats were with the top two teams to catch all of the action, which will be aired on the Bass Champs TV show on the WFN Network in April.

Shonn Blassingame and Cody Burdine, second place leaders from day 1, came in with their catch. The Reneau’s along with many others gathered near their boat as they began to take their fish from the livewell. Their strong sack was evident, but no one would know for sure if they had enough to take the win until they were put on the scales. They needed 17.19 lbs to take the lead, and when the scales locked in they had 19.21 lbs to win the tournament with a two day total of 42.37 lbs. These oil field anglers hit ‘em hard with crank baits over the course of both days. “Saturday we had about a 15 pound limit within the first hour. After the front hit, the bite slowed way down, and we didn’t cull until the last hour.” They made three culls upgrading their weight during that last hour of day, one which was their 10.52 lb kicker. “We stayed out on windy points and were catching four and five foot swells coming into the boat.” They knew the fish were there, so they tied off and kept swinging. “The second day we had the camera guys with us and it was a slow bite.” They didn’t have a single keeper in the boat until 10:45. “We were getting a little worried there for a while, but had our limit by 12:30.” They were only able to cull one time before packing it in, but every ounce counts. They were crowned champions of the Toledo Bend Championship and awarded the Skeeter ZX20 powered by a Yamaha 225SHO. They also recently purchased a Dodge Ram truck, giving them the Ram Bonus worth a free entry into any Bass Champs tournament in the next 12 months. For using Sure Life in their livewell, they received that bonus as well. “I would really like to thank my wife Karmon for all of her support.” The team would also like to acknowledge Triton and Mercury.

The Day 1 leaders Jimmy Sorter and Gerald Granger came in with their final sack of fish, only adding 7.85 lbs to their final weight. They finished 11th place overall for a $700 payday.

Glen Freeman and Jeff Rice brought in a 20.91 lb sack on day two landing them in 3rd place overall with 39.60 lbs. “We fished out in the wind Saturday along ridges in the main lake and back in coves, depths ranging from 8’ to 15’. By 8am we had a limit and continued to cull all day using jigs, Bomber crank baits and Texas rigged Yum plastics.” They brought in 19.69 lbs on day 1, so they didn’t change anything in their game plan the final day. “We hit all the same spots and fished them the same way, but it took a little longer to put a limit together Sunday.” They had a limit at 10am, and culled several times to their final weight. “The Lord blessed us with a great tournament.” They would like to thank Ranger, Yamaha, Nichols Marine, Lews Reels, 13 Rods, Seaguar and Lowrance.

Final Top 10 Championship Tournament Winners:
1st 42.37 lbs Skeeter/Yamaha Shonn Blassingame & Cody Burdine
2nd 40.35 lbs $2,000 Tim & Judy Reneau
3rd 39.60 lbs $1,750 Glen Freeman & Jeff Rice
4th 36.81 lbs $1,500 Willie Fabre & Shannon Price
5th 35.85 lbs $1,250+ Lee Yowell & Brian Schott
6th 35.63 lbs $1,100 Bret Stafford & Phil Marks
7th 35.13 lbs $1,000 Alan Moore & Robert Davis
8th 34.01 lbs $1,000 Greg & Gary McDonald
9th 33.96 lbs $ 750 Scooter Clark & Ryan Pinkston
10th 32.39 lbs $ 700 Ky Martin & Spike Stoker

Lee Yowell and Brian Schott doubled their winnings to a $2,500 payday being the highest finishers in a qualified Skeeter boat.

“Everyone at Bass Champs would like to thank each and every one of you who came out and fished with us this year,” stated Chad Potts, President of Bass Champs. “We are proud to have paid out well over 2 million dollars to our participants in 2012, and it just keeps getting better. There are some exciting changes coming for you in the 2013 season that will be announced at the conclusion of all four championships. We would like to say good luck to all of the championship qualifiers heading to the remainder of the 2012 championship events!”

A full 2013 Bass Champs schedule is now available online at www.basschamps.com
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