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Date: October 27, 2007
Region: 2007 South Central Championship
Tournament: 2007 South Central Championship
Tournament Trail: 2007 Bass Champs Tournament Trail
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Collett and Walker hang on to win Rayburn Championship and take home $30,000 Cash!
By: Patty Lenderman

More than 200 teams qualified for the Skeeter Bass Champs 2007 South/Central Region Championship, 169 of them made the long trip to Sam Rayburn October 27-28. Sam Rayburn was chosen as a neutral location for these two regions, making a level playing field for all of the teams. $112,500 was paid in cash and prizes, a whopping 279% payback percentage!

They traveled from across the state of Texas, some as far away as New Mexico. A large number of participating teams had never fished Sam Rayburn before, so with a little bit of luck and a whole lot of talent, they went in search of big sacks. Battling a constant northeasterly wind both days, several teams found hefty kicker bass.

Steve Tschirhart caught the big bass on day 1, fishing with his partner Bill Kirchoff that weighed 8.98 lbs. Putting their other four fish with it, their total weight came to 19.90 lbs, a good start to go into day 2. The weights were stacking pretty tight behind them until Speedy Collett & Jessica Walker brought their sack to the scales. First they weighed their big bass. Missing the top big bass weight by 4/100 of a pound, it tipped the scales at 8.94. Putting their other THREE bass in with it, they took the overall lead with nearly a seven pound margin at 26.68 pounds.

Day 1 leaders:
26.68 lbs Speedy Collett & Jessica Walker
19.90 lbs Steve Tschirhart & Bill Kirchoff
18.84 lbs Jeffrey Richards & Bill Garza
16.54 lbs Kelley Mauldin & Tom Cantwell
16.46 lbs Russell Parrish & Mickey Hamm

Rayburn is known for incredible come-from-behind finishes. Numerous teams were sitting in the cat-bird seat for one of the 25 places paid. Many others needed to make some major adjustments in their strategy going into the final day.

Sunday brought in blue bird skies and more incessant wind. The Bass Champs camera crews were filming teams throughout the day that were high in the rankings from day one. Collett and Walker, day one leaders, were among the first to weigh. They had just under ten pounds to add to their final weight. There were still over 100 teams waiting to weigh in.

It appeared that the top teams’ fish did not hold up as they would have liked for two days in a row. Other teams that didn’t find as many the first day made up a lot of ground on Sunday, drastically shaking up the standings.

Finally, it was official and the scales were closed. Speedy Collett & Jessica Walker won the championship with a two day total of 36.24 pounds! “We stayed in one spot and fished it both days” the team explained. It was a series of underwater points with drop-offs that ranged in depth from 5'-29'. Jessica worked the area with a Carolina rig, while Speedy used a medium diving crank bait. “We lost two good ones today” Speedy recalled. “I’d like to thank Bass Champs for running this trail so professionally. We really enjoy fishing with you, and I’d like to encourage more guys to come fish it with their wives and girlfriends. It’s a lot of fun.” Having fun never paid so good - they were presented with a $30,000 1st place check.

Mike Kernan and David Webber made a big jump from their day one standings to finish 2nd place overall with 30.74 lbs. They were in 19th place with 12.62 lbs, but they made some adjustments to wrap it up with an 18.12 lb stringer on the final day. “All we did was fish shallow creek banks with crank baits” they said. “We were just lucky that there was no pressure from other anglers in these spots.” This is a career Bass Champs team. They have fished every single tournament in every single region for the past two years! They won $5,000 the weekend prior in the North / East Region Championship, and another $15,000 + $5,000 in Skeeter Bonus money in this event taking 2nd place.

There was a tie for 3rd place. Tim Cook and Brian Washburn weighed in exactly 15.10 lbs each day to finish with 30.20 lbs. “I don’t think we’ve ever had a team that weighed in exactly the same weight two days in a row!” commented Chad Potts. They were sitting in 11th place on day 1, but consistency paid off for them to the tune of $7,500. “We didn’t get to practice any. All of our fish were caught on lipless crankbaits. On Saturday, we fished shallow, but today we had to back out to a little deeper water and slow down. We probably caught 8-10 keepers each day.”

The second $7,500 3rd place check was won by Adam Pereira and Arlen Hauschild with 30.20 lbs. They used a variety of baits for their catch, including worms, crank baits, flukes and spinnerbaits. “We got lucky. We found our fish in practice and they held for us.”

The 8.98 lb Big Bass that Steve Tschirhart caught on day 1 held as the biggest bass of both days. Steve and his partner Bill Kirchoff won $2,000 for Big Bass and another $2,000 for their 17th place overall finish. Steve reported catching the bass at about 2:00 Saturday on a Carolina rigged Yum watermelon red senko-style bait in 17'-18' standing timber.

Top 5 teams:
1st $30,000 36.24 lbs Speedy Collett & Jessica Walker
2nd $15,000 30.74 lbs Mike Kernan & David Weber
3rd $ 7,500 30.20 lbs Tim Cook & Brian Washburn
3rd $ 7,500 30.20 lbs Adam Pereira & Arlen Hauschild
5th $ 4,000 28.80 lbs Jeffrey Richards & Bill Garza
.....and last in the money.....
25th $ 2,000 20.82 lbs James Bray & Kevin Spahn

Bonus Money:
Skeeter $5,000 Mike Kernan & David Weber
Sure-Life $ 200 Speedy Collett & Jessica Walker

“We’d like to thank every one of you for fishing with us this year” stated Chad Potts, President of Bass Champs. “It’s been a great season and we look forward to seeing all of you again in 2008! Special thanks to the City of Jasper, we couldn’t ask for a better host city. We look forward to returning to Sam Rayburn several times next season for our East Texas team circuit and the Dodge Mega Bass event in July.”

The 2008 schedules are now posted at www.basschamps.com. For more information call 817-439-3274.

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