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Date: March 7, 2009
Region: 2009 Central Region
Tournament: Lake Belton #1
Tournament Trail: 2009 Bass Champs Tournament Trail
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Craig Gilbert fishes solo and tops record field on Lake Belton at Bass Champs
By: By Patty Lenderman

Craig Gilbert fishes solo and tops record field on Lake Belton at Bass Champs
By Patty Lenderman

New records were set March 7, 2009 as 256 Bass Champs Central Region teams converged on Belton Lake fishing for part of a $62,260 purse paid out to the top 35 teams. This was the largest field in the History of the Bass Champs Central Texas Region, topping the previous record of 255 boats. Lone angler Craig Gilbert topped them all winning 1st place and $20,000.

It was a gorgeous spring day, starting out in the 60’s at take-off topping out near 80 degrees by weigh in. The March winds were a trying factor gusting to more than 20 mph, blowing many off of targeted areas looking for more protected spots. Elevation wise, Belton lake is in good shape at only about 3 ½ feet below normal pool.

Gilbert took a decisive win over the pack weighing in 17.86 pounds – more than a pound and a half ahead of the rest. “It started out really rough for me. I had been catching some on the south side pitchin’, but with the wind I ended up throwing a Carolina rigged watermelon red baby brush hog.” He caught his first fish, his biggest of the day there weighing 7.30 lbs. “The wind was really bad and I needed to move. I saw some seagulls and went over there. It was a rocky, shallow flat – usually a spawning site, about 4 feet deep.” Switching to a jigging spoon, he started catching a lot of white bass. “I didn’t catch any black bass for quite a while. Took about an hour, but I finally wrapped up a limit. It was a real blessing.” Craig normally fishes with his wife, but she wasn’t able to participate this time. “I’d like to thank Cliff Brown at Texas Boat World.” Bass Champs presented Craig with a $20,000 check for 1st place.

Joe Medrano and Sam Jones picked up 2nd place with their 16.18 lb limit. “We went to a couple of spots we found in practice” Joe explained. They fished shallow areas in the backs of creeks with shad patterned crank baits, and also caught some deeper with Carolina rigged watermelon lizards, in depths up to 16’. “They really made us work today. It was after lunch, and we only had four fish in the livewell. We decided to go to a brush pile.” With the bite getting tougher, it was a good decision. They caught their fifth fish there around 2:30 and won $5,000 for their 2nd place finish. “We’d like to thank CC’s Package store in Morgans Point, S & G Contracting in Austin and G & N Trucking.”

There was just 4/100ths of an ounce difference between 2nd and 3rd place. Brothers Ronny and Eddy Maynard weighed in 16.14 pounds for a 3rd place win. “We were boat #104, but we were able to get started in the hole we found pre-fishing.” Throwing Texas rigs and black/blue jigs, all of their fish were in shallow water 1’-4’ deep. “We had to work the baits VERY slow and just keep our mind on what we were doing.” They stayed out of the roughest water, and put a few in the boat. About mid day they decided to make a move. Ronny checked their fish after they arrived and noticed that their fish were lifeless and on their sides at the bottom of the livewell. “I turned the aerator off when we made a move, and had forgotten to turn it back on. Three dead fish would cost us three pounds. We put everything down and started working on them to bring them back.” For the next 30 minutes, they concentrated only on those three fish. “We put Please Release Me in the livewell, held them under the aerator so the oxygen would flow through their gills. Then we prayed.” Their diligence paid off and the fish were revived. They wrapped up their limit and won 3rd place for $3,000. Had they not stopped to revive their fish, it would have cost them over $2,000 in winnings. “It was a good day fishing. We had a lot of fun.”

The Big Bass of the tournament weighed in at 9.12 lbs and was caught by Danny Langley. “Dad (Wallace Langley) and I were in a pocket, and the wind was blowing straight into it. I was fishing with a red-eyed Sexy Shad in 8-10’ of water. Around 8:30, it got hung up next to a log. When I popped it off, the fish just took off with it!” Danny wrangled the big bass to the boat and “Dad was a great net man. It was the only bite we had all day.” The team won $1,000 for having the biggest bass of the event.

It took 11.42 lbs to be in the money, David and Briana Meeks won the 35th place $600 check.

Let’s take a look at the Angler of the Year points race. The team with the most points at the end of the year will earn this prestigious title, and all of their 2010 entry fees in that region will be waived.

Top 5 points teams after 2 of 5 events:
467 pts Ronny & Eddy Maynard
463 pts Jeff Pitrucha & Scott Dyer
450 pts Greg Westall Sr & Greg Westall Jr
442 pts Trevor Romans & Leslie Kennedy
441 pts Lowell Bennett & Charles Reagan

It’s adding up – so far Bass Champs has paid out over $400,000 in cash and prizes to participating anglers in 2009. Skeeter Bass Champs will pay out over $1 MILLION dollars to participants this year. Get your part of it! 817-439-3274, www.BassChamps.com

South Region schedule:
1/17/09 Lake Amistad PAID - $50,750
2/21/09 Lake Amistad PAID - $55,750
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 PAID - $65,110
3/28/09 Sam Rayburn
5/09/09 Toledo Bend
6/13/09 Sam Rayburn

Central Region schedule:
2/07/09 Travis PAID - $60,250
3/07/09 Belton PAID - $62,260
4/04/09 LBJ
5/02/09 Belton
6/06/09 Travis

North Region schedule:
2/14/09 Richland Chambers - PAID $51,600
3/14/09 Cedar Creek NEXT – Don’t miss it!
4/25/09 Lake Fork
5/30/09 Lewisville
6/27/09 Tawakoni
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