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Date: April 29, 2017
Region: 2017 North Region
Tournament: Lake Fork
Tournament Trail: 2017 Bass Champs Tournament Trail
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The Burns brothers win big on Lake Fork at Bass Champs, catching TWO over the slot
By: Patty Lenderman

Bass Champs North Region teams hit Lake Fork for their third event of the season on April 29, 2017. It was a rocking weekend with a whopping 102% payback of over $65,000. Anglers faced many challenges both above and below the water, with mother nature moving in making her presence known. Mike and Rob Burns brought in the only sack weighing over 20 pounds to win over $21,000!

Lake Fork is a slot lake, where only fish measuring under 16” and fish over 24” can be retained. All bass in-between those measurements cannot be kept, and must be released immediately. It is not easy to release 5, 6 and 7-pound bass instead of adding them to your creel but the top three teams each caught kickers over the slot, anchoring their winning finishes.

Brothers Mike & Rob Burns didn’t practice for the tournament, but had found some good areas during the Mega Bass tournament that they were going to go back to. “We targeted shallow water, in areas we thought there would be a shad spawn,” Mike explained. Using shad colored crank baits, they found the fish biting right away. “We caught a lot of fish first thing, several white bass as well as black bass,” he continued. They put two ‘unders’ in the boat, then Mike landed one over the slot. “We decided to try a different spot, and find more decent unders to finish our limit.” Thirty minutes later, Rob caught another bass over the slot even bigger than the one before! “We decided to go ahead and bring those two in so they could be weighed and released.” Their biggest weighed 9.11 pounds, and the weight of their two big bass was 17 pounds. After weighing those two in, they went back out to try to improve the remainder of their limit. “The bite slowed down quite a bit after that, but we stayed with the same pattern for the most part the rest of the day. We did try fishing deep some, and caught one, and we caught one on a frog as well. The rest was off that shad crank bait.” At the end of the day, adding their best three to finish their limit, their total weight was 21.17 lbs, winning the tournament by a big margin. “I’ve been fishing with Bass Champs since they first began. They run great tournaments and I really enjoy fishing with them.” Mike recalls winning the very first championship event. “I had fished the season last year with my son who is 13 years old. This year my brother and I teamed up, but my son is ready to fish it with me again next year!” Bass Champs presented them the guaranteed 1st place $20,000 purse then they won another $1,000 for Big Bass. They also won the Costa Del Mar and Sure Life Bonuses to finish their day.

2nd place winners David Horton & Preston Smith had a starting spot in mind, but when they got there it was just too windy to stay on it. “We headed to another area, a long cove with grass, that was more protected from the wind,” Preston said. “There were already seven other boats in there, but we squeezed on in and started fishing. We started catching bass immediately.” They were using a white Spro popping frog. “We probably caught seven or eight in the slot, and another three that were under first thing off.” Around 8:30, David caught a small bass on a bed. Preston threw right back in the same spot and got a big bite. “She came up out of the water enough where I could see her huge mouth. I told David to get the net! There was a lot of grass wrapped around her, so it probably helped to keep her in the water and not have too much fight.” She weighed in at 8.60 pounds! “The other boats eventually left the area. The bite stayed real good until around 11:00 then slowed way down, but we stayed in there all day.” They culled up three times before their day was done to a final weight of 15.38 lbs. Bass Champs presented them a check for $5,000 and they won the Lowrance Gen3 bonus. “Bass Champs always does a really good job with these tournaments. Bad weather was heading in during the weigh in, and their staff amped it up to keep things rolling quickly to get finished before it hit. We really enjoy fishing with them, and look forward to the next tournament!” They would like to thank a few sponsors who help them out, including Texas Name Plate, Hooper Plumbing and Dobyns Rods.

Rounding out the top 10 teams:
3rd $4,000 14.11 lbs William Thornton & Anthony Smith
4th $3,000+ 14.04 lbs Scott Simpson & Brandon Brewer
5th $2,500 9.84 lbs Gerald Guin & Andy Fearrand
6th $2,000 9.60 lbs Ladd Thompson & Logan Thompson Jr
7th $1,500 9.04 lbs Don Overstreet & Haden Sickles
8th $1,400 9.03 lbs Curt Culbertson & Brent Cantrell
9th $1,300+ 8.96 lbs Jason Riedel & Daniel Herring
10th $1,200 8.82 lbs Jeremy Zmolik & Nick Brown
And last in the money
28th $600 8.00 lbs Mark Biondi Sr & Mark Biondi Jr

Fun & Sun awarded $100 to the first team out of the money, Cody Burdine and Bobby Pointer having 7.96 lbs. Several other teams also enjoyed more winnings from these sponsors:
Sportsmans Auto Network – Scott Simpson & Brandon Brewer were the top finishing team for this bonus, giving them free entries into 2018 events, worth over $5,000!

Jason Riedel and Daniel Herring caught the second Sportsmans Auto Network bonus reeling in another $1,000 to their winnings.

Eric Elder and Tim Wilcoxon cashed in on the Skeeter Double Money bonus, adding another $1,075 to their day, as well as another $500 from the Fun N Sun Bonus.

Going into the final round in the Angler of the Year race for the North Region, the top five teams are:
676 pts Stan Lawing & JD Laughery
663 pts Garrick McPerson & Dusty Spurgin
641 pts Justin Keithley & Josh Keithley
624 pts Jerry Ketcham & Tom McKnight
617 pts Matthew Harrington & Jeff Chaney
Good luck to all teams at the North Region season finale June 3rd on Tawakoni!

There are still a few tournaments left to go with a couple of specialty events as well. Every tournament except the Team Championship is open to anyone who would like to fish. Sign up now for these remaining chances to win:
May 13 – East Region – Toledo Bend
May 20 – Central Region - LBJ
June 3 – North Region – Tawakoni
June 9-11 – Skeeter Owner’s Tournament – Fork
June 25 – Techron TX Shootout – Sam Rayburn
Oct 14-15 – 2017 Team Championship – Location to be announced in July
Oct 21-22 – 12th Annual Berkley Big Bass - Fork
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