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Date: January 19, 2008
Region: 2008 East Region
Tournament: Sam Rayburn #1
Tournament Trail: 2008 Bass Champs Tournament Trail
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20 sacks over 20 pounds, nearly 30 pounds to win!
By: Patty Lenderman

20 sacks over 20 pounds, nearly 30 pounds to win!
Birchfield & Ponder win Bass Champs East Region Opener
By Patty Lenderman

Bass Champs East Region anglers had their first 2008 event on Sam Rayburn at the Umphrey Family Pavilion January 19. Freezing temperatures gave way to hot action, as twenty teams pulled in limits weighing more than 20 pounds! Dusty Birchfield and Chris Ponder topped them all, with nearly a 30 pound sack to win $25,000!

The morning started off with what many described as the heaviest snow they had seen in these parts in many years. “The flakes were huge, and it was thick!” stated Jeff Welch, vice-president of Bass Champs. The short-lived snow was not the only factor that morning, as it quickly changed to sleet and freezing rain with plenty of wind. Despite these conditions, 272 teams took off in search of big bass. Many teams found them.

As the 3:00 hour approached, a few cold and weary teams began trickling to the scales. Among them were Dusty Birchfield and Chris Ponder from Zavalla, TX with a very large sack. First their big bass was weighed, coming in at 8.18 lbs. When the rest of their catch was added, their total weight was 29.04 pounds! “It was cold and rough – bad” the team concluded. “We stayed out on main lake points throwing crawfish crank baits and red rattle traps.” They focused in areas with isolated hydrilla in 4’-6’. “We only hit three spots. We’ve been catching in these spots for the past three months, and they all produced for us again today.” By 10:30 they had a small limit put together, estimated weight of about 13 pounds. “We caught the bigger fish in the afternoon.” Dusty caught their biggest bass, and they were able to cull two times before the end of the day. “We really gave our Skeeter a good work-out.” They have a 2006 Skeeter I-Class, which qualified them for the Skeeter boat bonus of $5,000 in addition to their 1st place winnings of $20,000! “We’d like to say thank you to Bass Strike Tackle in Zavalla, and also John Presley and his staff at Dawson Marine in Jasper.”

The weigh in continued, with both their total weight and their big bass staying on top. James Moore brought in the first even weight of the tournament at 9.00 lbs, qualifying him for the Skeeter Dealer bonus of $250. “Do you have a Skeeter Dealer business card with you?” asked Chad Potts. James shook his head no, but will more than likely go to a Skeeter Dealer before the next tournament and be ready to cash in next month!

Several teams weighed in, with sack after sack tipping the scales exceeding the 20 pound mark. Shawn Williamson weighed in their sack that included a 9.80 lb big bass, taking the Big Bas claim from Birchfield and Ponder. Right behind him came Ricky Potts, weighing in a double digit monster! Laying her on the scales, it settled in at 10.34 lbs! “I caught her on a Carolina rigged green pumpkin lizard.” Ricky stated. “She was sitting in 12’-14’ right next to deep water.” He latched on to her around noon, and when he set the hook “I knew it was either a big bass or a big log!” Ricky and his partner Bill Hudspeth weighed in a total weight of 22.14 lbs, taking 7th place overall. “We had to force feed them today. Really had to let (our baits) soak.” They enjoyed a $1,000 check for their big bass and another $1,080 for their 7th place finish.

As more teams weighed in, the leader board continued to shuffle. The father & son team of Pete and Allan Shivers brought in 24.66 lbs to secure 2nd place. “We were able to do some pre-fishing” Pete explained. “Today we hit about 10 spots, and probably 8 of them produced for us.” They were fishing hydrilla in 3’-5’ with chrome/blue rattle traps. “We started catching at 8:00, and had a limit in the boat by 8:30 that probably weighed about 14 pounds. There was a lull between 11-2:00, then we started catching again. I had two five pounders that came off right at the boat.” Overall, they said the bite was really good and their biggest cull of the day was a 3 ¾ pounder. Bass Champs presented them with $5,000 for their 2nd place finish.

John Lynch and Bill Rogers came in 3rd place with 24.36 lbs. “Trap-trap-trap!” Rogers stated as to what they caught their fish on. “We threw red rattle traps on windy points in 2’ of water.” They didn’t have to move around much, having three producing spots. “Around 10:00, they started hitting and we had a big limit in the boat in 20 minutes” Bill continued. Their two best fish weighed about 7 pounds apiece. They received $3,000 for their 3rd place win.

Top 10 teams:
1st $20,000 29.04 lbs Dusty Birchfield & Chris Ponder
2nd $5,000 24.66 lbs Pete & Allan Shivers
3rd $3,000 24.36 lbs John Lynch & Bill Rogers
4th $2,000 22.78 lbs Allen Shelton & Strider Browning
5th $1,600 22.68 lbs Kris Wilson & David Harvey
6th $1,300 22.16 lbs James Coleman & Ted Kinard
7th $1,080 22.14 lbs Bill Hudspeth & Ricky Potts
8th $1,070 21.74 lbs Selvin & Frankie Cartwright
9th $1,060 21.58 lbs Keith & Travis White
10th $1,050 21.50 lbs Rusty Clark & Shelby Shaw
……and last in the money……
37th $600 16.92 lbs Clayton & Roger Boulware

Big Bass $1,000 10.34 lbs Ricky Potts
Skeeter Bonus $5,000 Dusty Birchfield & Chris Ponder

Special Thanks to City of Jasper, TX for supporting this event.

There were 745 fish weighed in for total weight of 2,224.18 lbs, an average per fish weight of 2.99 lbs. Over 100 teams had limits! Bass Champs paid out $68,010 in cash and prizes in this event. The next East Region tournament will be February 16 at the Umphrey Family Pavilion on Sam Rayburn. For more information, click to www.basschamps.com or call 817-439-3274.

Besides the lucrative guaranteed payouts at every event, Bass Champs sponsors are ready to pay even more!
Skeeter Bonus – Double your money bonus up to $5,000 for the highest finisher in a qualified Skeeter Boat at every tournament
Abu Garcia REVO - If your team wins Big Bass and you have an Abu Garcia REVO in your boat, you will win two new REVO’s
Sure-Live Please Release Me – If your team wins a Bass Champs Team Event with 5 live fish and you have either – Catch and Release or Please Release Me in your live well – you will receive an additional $200

2008 Bass Champs Sponsors:
Skeeter Boats, Yamaha Outboards, Dodge Trucks, The Outdoor Channel, Academy Sports and Outdoors, Minn Kota Trolling Motors, Humminbird Electronics, Berkley, Progressive Insurance, Please Release Me Fish Formula, Keelguard Protectors, Hamby's Protector, Fenwick Rods, Abu Garcia Reels, Costa Del Mar Sunglasses, Line-X Bedliners, Continental Batteries, Navionics, Yamaha ATV's & Side X Sides, Billy Bobs Texas
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