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Date: March 12, 2016
Region: 2016 East region
Tournament: Sam Rayburn #2
Tournament Trail: 2016 Bass Champs Tournament Trail
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Thibodeaux and Bacon top a field of 307 teams to win on Sam Rayburn at Bass Champs
By: Patty Lenderman

Thibodeaux and Bacon top a field of 307 teams to win on Sam Rayburn at Bass Champs

Skeeter Bass Champs East Region held their third tournament of the year at Sam Rayburn on March 12, 2016. Challenging conditions on and off the lake did not daunt 307 teams to fish for a portion of the total purse worth more than $83,000. Richard Bacon of Basile, LA and Shannon Thibodeaux of Diboll, TX topped the field taking home over $20,000.

Just days prior to the tournament, Texas had been inundated with record setting flooding rains. While many lakes in Texas have been closed due to the high water, Rayburn is in good shape less than two feet over full pool at tournament time. On tournament day, the water was still rising at a rate of ¾” per hour. Initial take-off was delayed by an hour due to heavy fog. Isolated thunderstorms made their way across the lake around midday, soaking anglers as they searched for the fish they needed to garner a check. By afternoon, the rains were gone and the sun was a welcome sight to wrap up the day. The scales stayed open until 6pm giving all flights time to weigh in.

“With only one event to go, we also offered a $500 bonus drawing for everyone who elected not to weigh in their fish to help with conservation,” Chad Potts, Bass Champs President announced. “With this many teams, we have our staff down by the water letting everyone coming in what weight it is taking to be in the money. Unless they are in the running for Anglers of the Year with only one event to go, they can elect not to weigh their catch and putting their fish through the stress of the weigh in process, and still have a chance to win $500.”

As teams brought their fish in, a wide variety of catch methods were reported. Many flipped jigs in newly flooded areas, others went deeper with Carolina rigs. Weightless soft plastics were also working for some, among other lures.

Cody Conkle & Ty Tomplait started the Big Bass race with their 7.83 lb kicker. Then Danny Bennett and Chad Hoke took over the Big Bass lead with their 8.00 lb sow. Kevin Walker Jr with Jeff Bridges caught an 8.70, then the biggest of them all was weighed in when Chad and Brent Kemp brought in a giant weighing 9.82 lbs.

In the meantime, the 20+ pound sacks started trickling in. Martin Elshout and Mark Price brought in the first weighing 20.40 lbs. Before the scales closed, their weight would be beat three times giving them a 4th place overall finish.

When it was all said and done, Richard Bacon and Shannon Thibodeaux took the win with 21.39 pounds. “We flipped bushes all day in about 6’ of water,” the team explained. They used black & blue jigs catching about 12 keepers throughout the day. “We figured it would take about 28 pounds to win. Would have never thought we won it!” They were presented with the $20,000 check for 1st place plus another $400 from Power pole and $250 for the Lowrance GEN3 bonus.

Nick Lebrun from Bossier City, LA and Clint Lipham of Conroe, TX won 2nd place with their 20.63 lb limit. “We fished shallow water in the bushes all day and just covered a lot of water. We know the lake well, and had five areas picked out. Three of them were primary areas and produced a lot of bites. We had about 15 pounds in the boat by 9am, and 18 pounds by noon. Our last cull was at 4:00.” Bass Champs presented the team $6,500 for their 2nd place win, and they would like to thank H & W Marine, Skeeter Boats, Yamaha, Bass Pro Shops, Elite Tungsten, V&M Baits, Quantum and Balangee Sports.

3rd place was won by Trenton Vardeman of Huntington, TX and Cole Stewart of Hemphill. They had a 20.63 lb sack and found their fish in water up to 20’ deep. “We started fishing in the deeper water, then headed to shallow water and flipped. We just went back and forth throughout the day.” It was a winning tactic, paying the team $5,000 for their day.

The Big Bass of the day was brought in by Chad and Brent Kemp. “We flipped hay grass and bushes all day in the mid lake area. We caught our big one at 11:00.” Their big fish weighed in at 9.82 lbs, winning a check for $1,000. It helped to anchor their 10th place overall win for another check for $1,600. They were also the highest finishing team in a qualified Skeeter boat, doubling their money with another check for $2,600 then they won the Costa Cash for another $200. What a day!

All total 40 teams were paid, the last $600 check going to the team of Chris Huebel of Nederland, TX and Kurt Estes of Orange, TX with 16.52 lbs.

The top five teams in the Anglers of the Year race for the East Region with only one event to go are:
903 pts Martin Elshout & Mark Price
878 pts Kris Wilson & Charles Bebber
874 pts Ralph Dear & Colt Dear
858 pts John Canerday & Trey Morgan
843 pts Philip Crelia & TJ Goodwin

The East Region will wrap up their season May 7th on Toledo Bend at Cypress Bend. In the meantime, Bass Champs staff and crew are headed to Lake Fork for the world’s richest one day hourly bass tournament, the Sportsmans Auto Network Mega Bass event. “We are guaranteeing a payout of $20,000 EVERY hour, regardless of entries!” stated Potts. “The angler who catches the biggest bass of the day will also win a Skeeter ZX 200 powered by Yamaha.” And the entry fee? Only $160!

For more information click to www.BassChamps.com or call 817-439-3274
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