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Date: January 24, 2009
Region: 2009 East Region
Tournament: Sam Rayburn #1
Tournament Trail: 2009 Bass Champs Tournament Trail
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Rick Scott & Roy Ellison top a tough field of 283 teams to win Bass Champs East Texas Region kick-off on Sam Rayburn
By: Patty Lenderman

Yes, it was cold – nearly 20 degrees colder at weigh in than it was at take-off January 24. Bass Champs kicked off their East Texas Region with 11 more teams than last year out of the Umphrey Family Pavilion. It was a reported 59 degrees in the morning as boats scattered to various launch points. Trailering was allowed due to pending weather conditions. More than $70,000 was on the line in cash and prizes, including the guaranteed $20,000 1st place purse.

As 3:00 approached and contenders began bringing in their catch, it appeared that it had been a tough day to find quality bites. For a long time 16 pounds held the lead. The scales would stay open until 4:30 to give time for everyone to make it in. Art Garza and Larry Lewis pulled an 8.46 bass out of their bag to win 1st place Big Bass honors. Behind them were the teams with heavier limits.

Keith Caka and Charles Bebber overtook the lead with 22.04 pounds, more than a five pound jump than anything that had been weighed before them. Several more heavy sacks were heaved to the scales behind them – 18, 19, 21 pounds. Greg Christian and Bill Wilcox closely challenged the leaders with a limit weighing 21.98, just 6/100 of a pound behind. Caka & Bebber retained the lead until Rick Scott & Roy Ellison nosed ahead of them with their 22.36 lb weight.

Several more 20+ pound sacks were weighed, but Rick Scott & Roy Ellison held the top weight to win 1st place. Having won the tournament, they were the top team in line for the Skeeter Bonus. Chad Potts, President of Bass Champs had a little talk with the winners on stage. “Well guys – you’ve been fishing with us for a while now, and this isn’t the first time you’ve missed out on the Skeeter Bonus.” Doing some quick figuring, Chad surmised that they had now missed out on about $20,000 in Skeeter Bonuses over the course of their Bass Champs career. “Don’t you think it’s about time you bought a Skeeter boat?” Maybe so – it pays to ride in a Skeeter with Bass Champs. Never the less, they were presented with the $20,000 1st place purse as champions of the tournament.

“We had a contest between us for the first fish of the day” Roy explained. Rick won their contest, catching their first using a rattle trap. “We were also throwing spinnerbaits, and had an early limit.” Throughout the day they estimate catching a total of 18 keepers. “At the end of the day, we had a couple of three pounders in the livewell that we needed to cull. We caught a couple of four pounders to replace them.” Those last culls made all the difference as only ounces separated the top teams.

Keith Caka and Charles Bebber won 2nd place with their 22.04 lb limit. Throwing rattle traps all day, they made a milk run back and forth between three chosen spots. “We spent half the day in the wind, until our trolling motor gave out.” They won $5,000 for 2nd place then doubled their money to $10,000 with Skeeter Bonus money. “We’d like to thank God for taking care of us today.” They would also like to thank Skeeter Boats and gave credit to Power Tackle Rods and Dirty Jigs Tackle Company.

Final culls were integral to the 3rd place winners Bill Wilcox & Greg Christian. “We went to the north end of the lake and threw Carolina rigged baby brush hogs in 12-15 foot depths” the team explained. “We caught two keepers with our first two casts!” At 7:30, they put their 6 pound kicker in the livewell. By mid-day they had five fish that would weigh around 18 pounds. Before packing in, they caught two 5-pound fish to replace a couple of three pounders, bringing their weight to 21.98 pounds. They targeted six different spots, drains with scattered grass and caught more than 20 keepers throughout the day.

Top Teams:
1st $20,000+ 22.36 Rick Scott & Roy Ellison
2nd $ 5,000+ 22.04 Keith Caka & Charles Bebber
3rd $ 3,500 21.98 Bill Wilcox & Greg Christian
4th $ 2,500 21.90 Martin Elshout & Mark Price
5th $ 2,000 21.42 Randy Millender & Kenneth Nichols
6th $ 1,190 21.06 Greg Pugh & Bill Dominque
6th (tie) $ 1,190 21.06 Nathan Stroup & Eric Adams
8th $ 1,070 20.30 Doug McCain & Mason McCain
9th $ 1,060 19.68 Mike Michalec & David Ozio
10th $ 1,060 19.64 James Stricklin Jr & TW Hardy Jr
……..and last in the money…….
40th $ 600 15.76 Harold Allen & Albert Collins

Big Bass $1,000 8.46 Art Garza & Larry Lewis

Sponsor Incentive Bonus Winners:
Skeeter $1,000 Keith Caka & Charles Bebber
All-Star Bonus Rod Art Garza & Larry Lewis
Sure Life $ 200 Rick Scott & Roy Ellison

The biggest fish of the tournament was caught by Harold Allen and Albert Collins. They arrived at the pavilion with their bass, but also a flathead catfish way too big to fit in their livewell. Estimated at 70 pounds, they took it with them after the tournament to be officially weighed for a possible new rod & reel flathead catfish record on Sam Rayburn.

“We started a new program this year” announced Chad Potts. “We’d like to see more young anglers participating in fishing, so we have a youth program that gives ½ off your entry fee if you are fishing with someone 15 years or younger!” There were approximately 20 youth anglers at this tournament, the youngest being a girl only 5 years old.

Tournament Statistics:
Total Entries: 283 Boats
Total Collected: $79,240
Total Payback (C&P) $71,410
Payback Percentage: 91%
Total Fish: 723
Total Weight: 2,050.76 lbs
Average Weight: 2.84 lbs
Number of Limits: 109

The season has only just begun. Don’t miss any of the opportunities to win some big money fishing with Skeeter Bass Champs this year. Four regions, thirteen different lakes and over $1 MILLION dollars in cash and prizes will be given away this year.

South Region schedule:
1/17/09 Lake Amistad PAID - $50,750
2/21/09 Lake Amistad
3/21/09 Choke Canyon
4/18/09 Falcon Lake
5/16/09 Choke Canyon

East Region schedule:
1/24/09 Sam Rayburn PAID - $71,410
2/28/09 Sam Rayburn
3/28/09 Sam Rayburn
5/09/09 Toledo Bend
6/13/09 Sam Rayburn

Central Region schedule:
2/07/09 Travis NEXT – Don’t miss it!
3/07/09 Belton
4/04/09 LBJ
5/02/09 Belton
6/06/09 Travis

North Region schedule:
2/14/09 Richland Chambers
3/14/09 Cedar Creek
4/25/09 Lake Fork
5/30/09 Lewisville
6/27/09 Tawakoni

Special thanks to Skeeter Bass Champs 2009 sponsors for helping to make this another great tournament season: Skeeter – Yamaha – Berkley – MinnKota – Outdoor Channel – Academy – Humminbird – Progressive – Sure Life – Costa Del Mar – Continental Batteries – Navionics – Billy Bob’s Texas Honky Tonk – Abu Garcia – All Star Rods
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