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Date: April 25, 2009
Region: 2009 North Region
Tournament: Lake Fork
Tournament Trail: 2009 Bass Champs Tournament Trail
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Rossman & Clemens blew past the pack on a windy Lake Fork to win Bass Champs
By: Patty Lenderman

Lake Fork set the stage for the third Bass Champs North Region tournament April 25. Over 400 anglers teamed up to fish the world class fishery well known for its trophy bass. Top teams enjoyed part of a 105% payback – nearly $56,000 in cash and prizes. Only minuscule increments separated the top teams, with Troy Rossman & Troy Clemens claiming 1st place to win over $20,000.

Lake Fork is located on the Sabine River near Quitman, Texas. Unique in its stipulations, Lake Fork is a slot lake. Anglers can only keep bass less than 16” or more than 24”. All others within that slot range must be put back as non-keepers. That means bass weighing 5, 6, even 7 pounds are not eligible to go into a livewell!

Troy Rossman & Troy Clemens have fished this lake quite a bit and knew it well. “We came into this tournament with a game plan,” Troy explained. Putting together their knowledge of the lake, the launch location and the weather forecast, they picked a pocket nearby. “It was an old pond area with a creek running through it. We figured it would be a good spawning area.” Their hunch was right, and they caught several slot fish. “We caught a lot of good ‘unders’ too. We just kept fishing the beds over and over – really worked hard for a limit.” Around 10:00 they spotted a fish on a bed about 50 feet away. There was a matt of hydrilla separating them from the bed. Pitching over to it, the bass bit right away and they got it to the boat. It measured just under the slot. While culling, it wiggled right out of his hand! “I practically dove after it – but it was gone.” Leaving it alone for a while and letting it get settled, they returned and tried to get it to bite. “It was the same fish, it had two distinct spots on it. She just wouldn’t bite.” They worked on her for the next 45 minutes to no avail. Finally, Troy rigged a chartreuse fry and caught her a second time! It weighed 2 ½ pounds. “At that point we had just under 10 pounds in the livewell.” Time was ticking. They needed one more good cull before heading in. With only one minute left to fish, he pitched his drop shot rig. There was a tug and he set the hook. Seeing the flash of her belly he knew it was a good one. She came up, jumping out of the water and threw the hook! Teamwork was crucial with this catch. Troy was ready with the net and got it under her as she was 2’ in the air. Measuring it, it was right on the 16” line. They figured they had a heavy 10 lb limit and would get a check. The scales racked up to 11.62 lbs and put them in the lead. They had to endure the next hour and 15 minutes until the scales closed before being declared the winners. “It was exciting – and nerve racking. It seems like we were meant to win today. Bass Champs is the largest and best trail in Texas. To win a tournament fishing against this league of anglers, it gives you the confidence to go pro.” The team was awarded $20,000 for 1st place and an additional $200 from Sure Life for using the product in their livewell. They would like to thank their wives and children for their encouragement and support.

Rob Feagin & “The Kid” Eric Wright secured a 2nd place win with 11.12 lbs. “It was so windy today. We went to the back of a cove to try to get out of the wind” Feagin recalled. Targeting bedding bass with Okachobee Paca Craws, on the third pitch the action started. “We kept pulling in doubles they were so stacked in there. We just stayed in that one area all day.” This was the teams’ first Bass Champs tournament. “I met Jeff (Owner of Bass Champs) at a Skeeter Owners tournament. Outstanding guy. That’s when Eric and I decided to try out Bass Champs.” A lucrative decision, the team won $5,000 for their 2nd place finish.

There was only 14/100 of a pound separating 2nd and 3rd places. Johnny Gonzalez Jr fishing with Dan Trevino Jr secured their finish with 10.98 lbs. “We started out up Brush Creek. It took a long time to catch any keepers.” They were fishing shallow grass lines with wacky and finesse worms. “Didn’t have any until 9:00, then by 10:30 we had a limit. We wanted to win so bad.” Fishing with Bass Champs for over five years now, this is Johnny’s best finish yet. This is his second year to fish with his partner Dan. Johnny’s 19 year old daughter has cancer and he is dedicating this tournament to her. “She is having chemo treatments. Please keep her in your prayers.”

Henry Gentle & Donald Lane landed in 4th place with 10.78 lbs, winning $2,000 plus the Fun n Sun $500 cash bonus.

Allen Shelton & Scott Dean won 5th place with 10.70 lbs and were the highest finishing qualified team in a Skeeter boat to double their winnings to $2,400.

There are only two tournaments left to determine who will be Anglers of the Year for the North Region. Here’s an update on the top five in points standings:
536 pts Scotty Wenzel & Robert Case Jr
516 pts Leslie Kennedy & Trevor Romans
510 pts Steve & Phillip Hope
496 pts Shonn Blassingame & Shane Elmore
495 pts Tommy Climer Jr. & Tony Climer

The North Region has two events left to go. May 30 at Lake Lewisville and June 27 on Tawakoni. For more information please click to www.BassChamps.com or call 817-439-3274.
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