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Date: February 25, 2012
Region: 2012 Central Region
Tournament: Lake Belton #1
Tournament Trail: 2012 Bass Champs Tournament Trail
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Lone Angler Craig Gilbert wins 1st place on Belton at Bass Champs for over $20,000
By: Patty Lenderman

Skeeter Bass Champs Central Region anglers converged on Lake Belton February 25, 2012 for their second in a series of five events this year. Bass Champs laid out a whopping 113% payback in cash and prizes to contending teams. Craig Gilbert topped the field taking the guaranteed 1st place $20,000 purse.

It was a tough day on Belton, and every angler worked hard for every fish caught.

Craig Gilbert fished alone for this event, and scrambled for his fish. “It started out pretty slow, but picked up as the day warmed up. I had been on some fish in practice, but the recent cold front had pushed those fish back. I had to go to plan B.” Picking up a Carolina rigged small green pumpkin finesse worm, he started targeting deep points. “I went back and forth across each point that I hit, in about 20-25’ of water.” Fishing deeper water than other boats around him, he managed a small keeper at his first stop. “It took nearly all day to put a limit together, got my fifth fish in the livewell around 1:00. I managed one cull after that before I came in.” His best five fish of the day weighed 16.29 pounds that included a 4.96 lb kicker, winning 1st place and the guaranteed $20,000 check. Sure Life added a $200 bonus to his winnings for using the product in his livewells. Gilbert has been fishing with Bass Champs for eight years, and this is his fourth 1st place win. “I’d like to thank Cliff Brown at Texas Boat World.”

James Hester and Chet Sutton’s day started fast then slowed down to a crawl. “Our plan was to hit bushes and trees close to deep water. We boated our first fish within 10 minutes of fishing on a jig, and then nothing else happened in that spot.” They decided to make a move up the lake to a steep point that dropped of to 30’. Using a Carolina rigged Zoom brush hog, they managed two more keepers by 2:00. “Time was running out on us. We decided to make another move to a point we have caught some big ones before.” This time tying on a crank bait, they boated their fourth fish. “The fish seemed to start biting better as the day warmed up. About 15 minutes before it was time to come in, we finally finished our limit. If we had another 45 minutes to fish, we could have done a lot better!” Their limit weighed 13.30 pounds, anchored by their 4.99 lb kicker. Bass Champs awarded them $3,000 for their 2nd place finish, plus they won the Dodge Ram bonus giving them a free entry into any Bass Champs event. “We’d like to thank Bass Champs for having these tournaments. They have the best tournaments around for the working man.”

The Big Bass of the day was caught by David Ridley, fishing with his dad Dave. “It was a really cool day. It’s the first time dad and I have fished a Bass Champs tournament together. We hadn’t practiced on the lake because it was a last minute decision to fish the tournament.” They headed up the lake in search of a spot that looked good to them. “We found muddy water up there, so we came back down.” With the water temperatures on the rise, they were searching for spawning areas. “We pulled up on a flat with a creek nearby.” Using an X-Calibur square bill crank bait, they put a nice chunk in the boat over 4 pounds plus one other keeper. “We weren’t getting a lot of bites. It was around noon when we caught the big one.” David had quite a fight getting her in. “She jumped twice, but finally we got her in the net. We were so excited, we exchanged high-5’s. She was obviously pulling up to spawn, she was full of eggs. That gave us three fish. We just couldn’t get any others.” Those three fish won the father & son duo 15th place overall for a $600 check. Their Big Bass added another $1,000 to their winnings. They also enjoyed the Costa Del Mar and BioBor EB Bonus. “This is so cool, but what really makes it is to have done it with my dad.” David would also like to thank his sponsors, including Allen Samuels Dodge/Chrisler/Jeep out of Waco, TX, American Bank, Bluebonnet Health Service, American Rodsmiths and Lovett & Assoc.

Bass Champs has a host of sponsors offering bonus money at every tournament. Lance Dillard and Lee Beuershausen doubled their 12th place $600 winnings to a $1,200 day being the highest finishing team in a qualified Skeeter Bass Boat.

A total of $38,220 was collected in entry fees, but Bass Champs paid back $43,200 in cash and prizes to their anglers, a payback percentage of 113%. It took 8.88 pounds to win a check in this event, the last ones in the line were Jack Waldrop Jr and Hub Bechtol who received $500.

The Anglers of the Year points race is underway and already tight. Top five teams after two events are:
300 pts Garrett Hennig & Jeffrey Smith
297 pts Dustin Grice & Johnny Grice
296 pts Lance Dillard & Lee Beuershausen
283 pts James Hester & Chet Sutton
279 pts Ryan Warren & Ryan Crawford

The next Central Region tournament will be held on Lake LBJ March 17th. In the mean time, Bass Champs staff and crew will head to Ray Roberts for North Region #2 on March 3, followed by South Region #3 March 10 on Lake Falcon.

For more information, full schedules, rules and entry information visit www.BassChamps.com or call 817.439.3274.
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