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Date: January 14, 2017
Region: 2017 East Region
Tournament: Sam Rayburn #1
Tournament Trail: 2017 Bass Champs Tournament Trail
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Iles & Shook top a record field at Bass Champs 2017 season kick-off on Sam Rayburn winning over $20,000
By: By Patty Lenderman

January 14, 2017 marked the season kick-off for Bass Champs, and a record field of 397 teams ponied up to win a portion of the $106,900 paid back to the top 53 teams. Sixteen sacks breached the 20 pound mark, with John Iles and Brian Shook topping them all with a 30.75 pound limit to take home the guaranteed $20,000 1st place check plus even more with sponsor bonuses!

The morning began with temperatures in the upper 60’s and fog blanketing the lake resulting in a slight delay for teams to be released to take off to head to their coveted fishing areas. “Due to the high number of participants, to take the best care possible of the fish and the fishery, we let everyone know that we were offering not one, not two, but three conservation bonuses at the end of the day,” explained Chad Potts, President of Bass Champs. The conservation bonus is for teams who do not have enough weight to garner a check and elect to release their fish in lieu of weighing them in. Those teams were then eligible to win $500 in a drawing for electing to release the fish directly back into the lake. Three teams who would not have otherwise won a check each took home $500 in winnings! The National Anthem was played, with reverence from the field, and the teams took off in numbered flights.

As 3:00 neared, teams began lining up at the stage at the Umphrey Family Pavilion to tally their catch. The grill was lit to fix the traditional hot dogs that are made for everyone in attendance at every event, and the staff and volunteers took their positions, ready to process the record field and their catches. Rayburn didn’t hold back, as limit after limit crossed the scales, with top weights steadily climbing.

Ben Matsubu and Brandon Davidson were the first to bring in a limit over 20 pounds, having five fish weighing 25.57 lbs taking the Big Bass lead with their 7.61 lb kicker. Before the weigh in was said and done, fifteen more teams would bring in over 20 pounds each and three kickers over 8 pounds were registered.

When the scales closed, the team of John Iles and Brian Shook were declared winners with their limit weighing in at 30.75 pounds, their biggest being 7.44 lbs. “We stayed on secondary points outside the grass line using crank baits all day,” the team explained. “We didn’t catch a lot of fish, only seven or eight all day – but they were the ones we were looking for!” Bass Champs presented the team the guaranteed 1st place check for $20,000 then they added to their winnings as they qualified for sponsor bonuses from Lowrance GEN3 and Power Pole. The team would like to thank 6th Sense Lures, Power Tackle, Jordan’s Marine and Phoenix Boats for their support, “and my mom for always being there” Iles added.

The 2nd place winners of Jaret Latta and Brian Lowrance had a hefty sack of 28.31 pounds with a nice 8.20 lb bass to anchor their win. Their fishing success was with Carolina rigs in 10-15’ along a ledge. “We caught about 10 to 15 fish, but the bigger ones bit early.” The team took home $10,000 for their finish.

Matsubu and Davidson hung on to a 3rd place win with their 25.57 lb limit. They looked for grassy areas with big openings outside main lake coves using jigs to secure their catch. “All of our fish were caught in an hour and a half window,” the team reported. They enjoyed a $6,000 payday.

Rounding out the top 10 teams:
4th $5,000 24.37 lbs Clayton Boulware and Albert Collins
5th $3,500+ 23.61 lbs Ronnie Bland and Malcolm Franks
6th $2,500+ 23.26 lbs Brian Schott and Scott Gill
7th $2,000 22.93 lbs Jason Burton and Steve Evans
8th $1,800 22.70 lbs Brent and Whitt Broussard
9th $1,700 22.24 lbs Justin Morton and Randy Turner
10th $1,600 21.28 lbs Dean and Joshua Sikes
and last in the money
53rd $600 15.53 lbs Sean Meche and Rodney Owens

The biggest bass of the day was weighed in by Ronnie Bland and Malcolm Franks. The big sow tipped the scales at 8.48 lbs, adding another $1,000 to their overall 5th place winnings. They also won the Abu Garcia bonus for catching their big fish on an Abu Garcia reel!

The Skeeter Bonus Cash went to Brian Schott and Scott Gill, doubling their winnings to a $5,000 payday.

“With the number of participants, we had at this event, we were able to add substantially to the checks given out, and set a new record to the number of places paid at 53. We’d like to thank everyone for fishing with us, helping to make Bass Champs the #1 team trail in Texas!”

All total, Bass Champs will host 24 events in 2017, and will pay anglers over $2 MILLION in cash and prizes before the end of the year. Mark your calendar to fish as many events as you can for your chance to win!

Jan 14 – East Region – Sam Rayburn PAID $106,900
Jan 21 – South Region – Falcon
Feb 4 – Central Region - Travis
Feb 11 – East Region – Toledo Bend
Feb 18 – North Region – Cedar Creek
Feb 25 – South Region – Amistad
March 4 – Central Region - LBJ
March 11 – East Region – Sam Rayburn
March 19 – Mega Bass – Lake Fork
March 25 – South Region - Falcon
April 1 – North Region – Ray Roberts
April 8 – Central Region - Belton
April 22 – South Region - Amistad
April 29 – North Region – Lake Fork
May 13 – East Region – Toledo Bend
May 20 – Central Region - LBJ
June 3 – North Region – Tawakoni
June 9-11 – Skeeter Owner’s Tournament – Fork
June 25 – Techron TX Shootout – Sam Rayburn
Oct 14-15 – 2017 Team Championship – TBA
Oct 21-22 – 12th Annual Berkley Big Bass - Fork
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