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Date: February 14, 2009
Region: North
Tournament: Richland Chambers
Tournament Trail: 2009 Bass Champs Tournament Trail
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Draper & Marks weigh almost 30 pounds to win on Richland Chambers
By: Patty Lenderman

Draper & Marks weigh almost 30 pounds to win on Richland Chambers
By Patty Lenderman

Valentine’s Day was a day to love to fish on Richland Chambers as Skeeter Bass Champs North Region began its 2009 season. Three bass were weighed in tickling the 10 pound mark, with a winning stringer just shy of 30 pounds! Richard Draper and Phil Marks topped a field of 183 teams and took home $26,000 in cash for their win!

The lake was wind-blown and murky on this cold, chilly morning. Despite that it was an incredible day. Looking at the statistics in most tournaments, the average per bass weight runs in the two pound range. The average bass of the 329 weighed in was just over three pounds! Several big bass were weighed in, including three just missing the 10 pound mark. Richard Draper and Phil Marks had the biggest weighing 9.82 pounds, a big part of their winning stringer totaling 29.88 pounds.

They went out not looking for numbers of bass, but quality instead. “We fished three specific spots, all in the same area” Phil explained. Concentrating on depressions and drains that led up to flats, “once we found those areas, we looked for the thickest stuff in them to fish.” Heavy wooded areas were the key. “We were pitching Strike King Rage Tail craws with 85# braided line and Power Tackle Flippin Sticks. We needed this line with these stiff rods to pull these bass out of the timber we were fishing.” Immersing their lures in areas 8’-10’ deep, they didn’t get a lot of bites, but they were all the quality they had hoped for. “We only got about one bite per hour.” Thankful for the big bass they managed to the boat, there were a couple more that may have been bigger that was lost. They took a commanding win, five pounds more than the closest competitors with 29.88 pounds and were awarded the guaranteed 1st place purse of $20,000. Their kicker also won Big Bass honors for another $1,000. Being the highest qualifying Skeeter Boat owners, they also received the Skeeter Boat Bonus of $5,000 for a total win of $26,000. Phil works for Strike King, and said “without organizations like Bass Champs promoting fishing at its highest level, competitive opportunities would be greatly diminished. That has a direct impact on everything else – rod, reel, lure companies. Thank you Bass Champs for running a great circuit!”

Thomas Hermann and John Byler won 2nd place with 24.64 pounds. Almost-almost-almost best describes their finish, also having the second largest bass in their creel at 9.46 pounds and being next in line for the Skeeter bonus. “Our plan was to get an early reaction bite, try to pattern the fish and then just stay with it.” They were using medium-shallow diving crank baits at wind blown points and rocky banks. “By 8:30 we had 16 pounds on two fish.” Their big bass was the second catch of the day. They managed a limit, but their fifth fish was just barely 14” when they caught it. “We double checked the measurement before weighing in, and it had bunched up some while it was in the livewell. We had to put it back.” They only brought four to the scales, and said that small one would not have made up the difference for a 1st place win. “My partner put a whoopin’ on me today” Thomas said. “He caught all the big ones!” This was their first Bass Champs tournament together, although John fishes all of the Bass Champs regions. The team enjoyed a $3,000 payday.

3rd place was won by Leslie Kennedy and Trevor Romans with a 22.92 lb limit. “We caught our first one right away, then played a lengthy spell of ‘let’s go find ‘em!” The hunt was successful. “We located a spot that had hard timber and stumps strategically positioned along a creek channel.” Flipping jigs, the bite was slow but fruitful. “We’d get a bite every hundred casts or so. Out of eight bites we pulled in eight keepers – and they were all chunks.” Seasoned Bass Champs anglers, Leslie has participated in the trail since it was formed. The team has fished together for the past five years and also competes in the Central Region events. “I really appreciate Chad” Leslie stated. “Before Bass Champs came along, competitive angling opportunities were very limited. I fished other trails and had to travel to many other states. The cost, time and everything goes with it makes that tough. Fishing Bass Champs, you can fish at the higher levels without having to travel across country. They’re close to home and it’s great.” I’d like to thank the companies and people that help me out. Marine A/C of Texas, Hendrix Rods, Liberty bait, and my wife for letting me fish on Valentines Day. She’s great.”

The Fun-N-Sun $500 bonus went to the 4th place team of Scotty Wenzel and Robert Case Jr. They weighed in 21.52 pounds to win 4th and received $1,200 from Bass Champs.

Tournament Statistics:
Total Entries: 183 boats
Total Collected: $51,240
Total Payback (C&P): $51,600
Payback Percentage: 100%
Total Fish: 329 Bass
Total Weight: 995.22 pounds
Average weight: 3.02 pounds
Number of Limits: 21

The season has only just begun. Don’t miss any of the opportunities to win some big money fishing with Skeeter Bass Champs this year. Four regions, thirteen different lakes and over $1 MILLION dollars in cash and prizes will be given away this year. “We started a new program this year” announced Chad Potts. “We’d like to see more young anglers participating in fishing, so we have a youth program that gives ½ off your entry fee if you are fishing with someone under 16 years old!”

South Region schedule:
1/17/09 Lake Amistad PAID - $50,750
2/21/09 Lake Amistad NEXT – Don’t miss it!
3/21/09 Choke Canyon
4/18/09 Falcon Lake
5/16/09 Choke Canyon

East Region schedule:
1/24/09 Sam Rayburn PAID - $71,410
2/28/09 Sam Rayburn
3/28/09 Sam Rayburn
5/09/09 Toledo Bend
6/13/09 Sam Rayburn

Central Region schedule:
2/07/09 Travis PAID - $60,250
3/07/09 Belton
4/04/09 LBJ
5/02/09 Belton
6/06/09 Travis

North Region schedule:
2/14/09 Richland Chambers - PAID $51,600
3/14/09 Cedar Creek
4/25/09 Lake Fork
5/30/09 Lewisville
6/27/09 Tawakoni
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