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Date: January 16, 2016
Region: 2016 East region
Tournament: Sam Rayburn #1
Tournament Trail: 2016 Bass Champs Tournament Trail
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Record setting day at Skeeter Bass Champs season Kick-off
By: Patty Lenderman

Skeeter Bass Champs blasted off their 2016 season on Sam Rayburn, with a near record field. $87,750 was awarded to the top 42 teams January 16 at the Umphrey Pavilion. Eleven sacks over 20 pounds were weighed in, and the big bass of the day weighed over ten pounds!

It was a cold, blustery morning as 319 teams were released in flights after the National Anthem was played. A guaranteed 1st place purse of $20,000 was on the line and these teams were ready to catch it. “Because we had so many teams, we offered a conservation bonus for this event,” stated Chad Potts, Bass Champs President. “To decrease the number of bass going through the stress of the weigh in process we offered the contestants a $500 bonus to be drawn from the pool of teams who elected not to weigh in their catch if they did not think they had enough weight to win a check.” In a field of this size, the top 42 teams were awarded checks and ultimately it took over 15 pounds to win. Temperatures started out in the 30’s and only rose to the mid 50’s as a high. Afternoon rain was on the way, and for many, the fish were biting!

Big weights were being registered at the scales as soon as teams began bringing in their catch. Martin Elshout and Mark Price were the first to break the 20 pound mark with their sack weighing 20.27 pounds. Andy and Malcolm Williams nudged into the lead temporarily with their 21.28 pound limit, then the father and son team of Joshua and Dean Sikes from central Louisiana took a commanding lead that held for the win at 25.80 pounds.

“We found all of our fish in one spot,” Joshua Sikes explained. “I had found this location in practice a week ago, catching one good fish there.” It was a ledge about 15’ to 20’ deep with no particularly special characteristics about it. “We caught fish on a lot of different things – Carolina rig, Alabama rig, football jig, crank bait and shaky heads. All total we caught about 15 fish.” They were awarded the guaranteed 1st place purse of $20,000 plus the $200 Sure Life bonus for using the product in their livewell.

Kris Wilson and Charles Bebber won 2nd place with 23.73 pounds. “We jumped around a lot today and fished a lot of places with a lot of different baits. We started out fishing shallow, but the bite was pretty random. We caught fish on everything from Texas rigs to lipless crank baits.” Their diversity paid off with a 2nd place check for $7,000.

3rd place was awarded to Clifford McCarty and Garrett Hilton for their limit weighing in at 22.43 lbs. “We had two spots that we worked all day, going back and forth between them. Most of our fish came off of a Carolina rig, but one of the ones we weighed was caught on an Alabama rig.” Bass Champs presented them a $5,000 check for their finish.

Allen Shelton and Strider Browning finished in 4th place with a 21.47 pound sack, winning a $4,000 check. They doubled their winnings to $8,000 being the highest finishing team in a qualified Skeeter Boat!

Rounding out the top 10:
5th $3,000 21.43 lbs John Iles & Brian Shook
6th $2,500+ 21.28 lbs Malcolm Williams & Andy Williams
7th $2,000 21.05 lbs Justin Buchholz & Cory Tucker
8th $1,800 20.45 lbs Jason Horton & Chad York
9th $1,700 20.27 lbs Martin Elshout & Mark Price
10th $1,600+ 20.23 lbs Jerry Mason & Aaron Sammons
and last in the money:
Two teams tied for 42nd place with 15.76 pounds, winning $300 each. Floyd Page & Dana Mansfield and Kevin Walker Jr & Jeff Bridges.

The Big Bass of the day was caught by Aaron Sammons. This big beauty tipped the scales at 10.08 pounds, anchoring the teams’ tenth place finish. Aaron caught the big one on a 6th Sense 300 DD crank bait. “It was nerve racking! She jumped about 2’ out of the water while I was reeling her in!” They received a $1,000 check for that single catch, plus cashed in on several sponsor incentive bonuses, including $200 Chevron Delo, $200 Costa Del Mar, $200 Under Armor. Their total winnings for the day was $3,200.

The Lowrance Bonus Cash of $250 was awarded to Malcolm and Andy Williams.

Fish Fishburn and his crew filmed all of the action, and the new Bass Champs television shows will air on Fox Sports and the WFN channel beginning in April.

Each region will have a series of four events leading up to the championship, which will be at a new location this year. The East Region will converge on Toledo bend next, on February 13 at Cypress Bend. In the meantime, Bass Champs will be heading to Lake Falcon to kick off the South region January 23.

“This is a great start to our 2016 season, and we’d like to congratulate all of the winners in this first event,” stated Chad Potts. “There is a lot of money to be won at all of our events, and they are open to anyone who would like to fish with us. Happy New Year everyone – we’ll be looking forward to seeing you at the tournaments!”

Also – don’t forget to sign up for this years’ Mega Bass event on Lake Fork March 20. It is the world’s richest one day event, paying back $20,000 Cash every hour. The person who catches the biggest bass of the day will receive $15,000 check plus a Skeeter boat! Check out the details at www.basschamps.com or call 817-439-3274.
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