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Date: June 28, 2015
Region: 2015 TX Shootout
Tournament: 2015 TX Shootout
Tournament Trail: 2015 TX Shootout
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Branum and Dearman win the 1st annual TX Shootout by a narrow margin on Rayburn and won $50,000
By: Patty Lenderman / Lakecaster

The TX Shootout on Sam Rayburn, presented by Bass Champs, was a huge success and the competition was tight. It was the 1st Annual event, and 238 teams signed up for a chance to win a portion of over $100,000 paid to the top teams. The top 29 teams received checks, and the winners enjoyed a whopping $50,000 payday!

The event was open to anyone who wanted a chance to win this kind of big money June 28 at the Umphrey Family Pavilion. Firestone & Robertson Distilling Company paired up with Bass Champs to ‘hook up’ with anglers and have a chance to bring product awareness to their TX Whiskey. Leonard Firestone, one of the founders of the distilling company was onsite to talk to the participants and the crowd. “We’re a new company in the Fort Worth area. Texas and Louisiana have so many people that love the outdoors, cold beer and whiskey. That’s why it made sense to have this tournament. We are just following the lead of our customers!” They began their company in February of 2012, distilling bourbon. “One of our distillers developed a unique yeast to brew with from native pecan trees – the state tree of Texas.” They have patented this wonderful discovery, giving their product a smooth taste with just a hint of a fruity + nutty taste. After settling on what they considered to be the perfect recipe, “We released the blended TX Whiskey in June of 2012. The following year, we entered it into the World Spirits Competition in San Francisco.” They won double gold medals and Best in Class in the category of American Craft Whiskey for their TX blended whiskey, beating out 1,407 entries from 63 countries in 85 different classifications. For the American Whiskey segment, there were 45 entries.

“Our TX Whiskey is a premium blended whiskey, and the youngest whiskey we use is at least 5 years old.” Their bourbon is aging in their barrels, and will be released next year when it reaches 4 years. “Being a fairly new distillery, we wanted to create more awareness of our product. It’s been a great experience working with Bass Champs to have this tournament on Sam Rayburn, and the participants have been really great, very gracious.”

There was a taste testing onsite Friday before the tournament at the registration. Several of the people at the tournament commented about the smooth, great tasting whiskey. “We would like to thank everyone who came out to fish our 1st Annual event. We are definitely planning to do this again!”

238 teams converged on Sam Rayburn June 28 to compete for the cash awards of over $100,000 given out. Mike Harman and Rick Sheen came in a little early, weighing in their 19.92 pound creel that included the Big Bass of the tournament weighing 9.10 pounds. Cody Wise and Cody Benson also weighed their sack in early, establishing initial tournament lead with their 22.46 pounds.

Over the course of the weigh in, a total of fourteen sacks over the 20 pound mark were seen. Jason Hanks and Marc Woolems inched into the lead with 22.63 lbs, then were scantly beaten when Nick Albus and Donnie Robinson brought in their limit weighing 23.07. Later, the biggest sack of the day was seen when Brian Branum and Randy Dearman hefted their sack to their scales weighing 23.90 lbs to win the tournament.

“We just got lucky,” Dearman began. “We were flipping a Rage craw and a watermelon lizard way back in the bushes for our catch.” Branum continued “We fished a lot of stuff no one else was messing with.” They had three nice fish and two 2 pounders in their sack. “We didn’t think we had it with those two 2 pounders.” They did, but only by 83/100ths of a pound! They were presented the guaranteed 1st place check for $50,000, and in addition were presented special etched bottles of TX Whiskey as their trophies. “Those are the only two bottles of their kind in existence right now,” Leanord Firestone told them as he presented the trophies to them.

Nick Albus and Donnie Robinson held onto 2nd place with 23.07 lbs, garnering a $10,000 check. “We were using a drop shot for our fish today,” Robinson stated. “But it wasn’t just any dropshot. It was the ‘Bubba’ power dropshot.” Their Bubba dropshot consisted of 17# line, a 3/8 ounce weight and a 3/0 hook. “We did lose one really good fish that was big enough to make the difference for us.”

Marc Woolems and Jason Hanks won 3rd place with their 22.63 lb limit. Jason gave Marc the credit for discovering their fruitful spot while pre-fishing for the tournament. “We stayed there all day, using Texas rigged Ol’ Monster worms in deep grass.” They won $8,000 for their day.

Rounding out the top ten:
4th $5,000 22.46 lbs Cody Wise & Cody Benson
5th $3,000+ 22.28 lbs Chase Brooks & Cody Cartmel
6th $2,500+ 21.59 lbs Rusty Harvey & Chris Harvey
7th $2,000 21.33 lbs Ricky Collins & Johnny McKee
8th $1,600 20.87 lbs Mark Wilkinson & Clay West
9th $1,300 20.75 lbs Mark Mowery & Joe Mauldin
10th $1,150 20.59 lbs Kris Wilson & Charles Bebber
and last in the money….
29th $1,000 18.53 lbs James Davis Jr & Melvin Dunn

Big Bass - $1,000 9.10 lbs Mike Harman & Rick Scheen

Bass Champs sponsors kicked in for even more winnings.
Ford Truck Bonus ($2,500) Chase Brooks & Cody Cartmel
Talon Cash ($250) Chase Brooks & Cody Cartmel

“Because of the number of participants, we were able to pay out even MORE than was advertised,” stated Chad Potts, President of Bass Champs. “This is the first annual event, and you (the participants) made it an even bigger and better than we had anticipated or hoped for. I believe this is the beginning of a great partnership. We hope everyone had a great time and we really appreciate you coming out and fishing with us!”
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