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Date: June 13, 2009
Region: 2009 East Region
Tournament: Sam Rayburn #4
Tournament Trail: 2009 Bass Champs Tournament Trail
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Fikes & Weppler dominate the pack at Bass Champs on Rayburn to win $25,000
By: Patty Lenderman

Skeeter Bass Champs East Region wrapped up the 2009 season with their last event on Sam Rayburn June 13. Not only were they fishing for a part of the $50,050 purse in cash and prizes, but it was a battle to the finish in points standings for the year. Larry Weppler & Dennis Fikes claimed a dominating win to take home $25,000.

The day was scorching hot, and anglers had a choice to make in picking their spots. There was a consistent breeze that offered relief from the heat but adding to a work out on the trolling motors. Or they could opt for calm coves, easier fishing and stifling heat. The bigger question was where were the bass?

Fikes and Weppler surmised that the quality bass they were hunting for would be hanging out in deeper, cooler water. They found a hump that came up from 45’ to about 20’. Throwing Carolina rigs, they quickly had a limit. “The fish were hanging around 28’. Once we put an initial limit together we started using jigs.” Estimating catching around 25 weigh fish to cull from, their five keepers just kept getting heavier. They landed their kicker around 10:30, having an official weight of 7.42 pounds. Having caught all of their fish in deep water, they packed it in early and was the first to weigh in. Their official 25.36 lb stringer set the mark for the rest of the pack, with the nearest challenger more than two pounds behind. They won 1st place and $20,000 and being the highest finishing team in a qualified Skeeter boat, the team received an additional $5,000. It pays to own a Skeeter! The team also won an additional $200 for having used the "Catch & Release product by Sure Life in their live wells. “We’d like to thank Skeeter boats, also George Cook of Geneva Tackle. He upgraded a lot of our gear and tackle which really made a difference.” They would also like to thank their other sponsors, Kistler rods, Shooter Flourocarbon, Sebile, Save Phace, Sun Line and Jackall.

Mike Michalec & David Ozio won 2nd place with their 23.16 lb limit. “It started out great,” Mike stated. “Our first three fish were six pounds each. Then (the bite) slowed way down.” They had targeted 10 areas near deep drops just off the river channel in 20-25’ depths. Using the new Rapala DT20 crank baits, they caught a limit and culled six times to their final weight. “We could have done better, but we lost two good ones.” They won $3,000 for their 2nd place finish, but ended up with the most overall points to win the Anglers of the Year race! “We’d like to thank our sponsors – Storm, Rapala, Suffix, MotorGuide and Triton.”

3rd place was won by Jason Wells & Vic Cooper with 22.52 lbs. Their morning started off fast and furious with a limit in the first 45 minutes. “Our first five keepers only weighed around 13 pounds. We had a long way to go.” Using Bomber Fat Free Shad crank baits and dragging Carolina rigs, they found some good fish at ledges dropping from 15’-25’. “After a while, that bite slowed down so around noon we headed to some grass beds, fishing with Booyah jigs and started getting bites again.” Before the end of the day they culled six times. Their biggest weighed 7.16 lbs, anchoring their 3rd place win. “We’d like to thank Hometown Tackle, Tri Lakes Tackle, Neuville Stone, Pradco, Shimano Rods & Reels, Champion and Mercury for their support.”

Stan and Steve Burgay weighed in the biggest bass of the tournament at 8.34 lbs to win $1,000.

Top 10 finishers:
1st $20,000+ 25.36 lbs Larry Weppler & Dennis Fikes
2nd $ 3,000 23.16 lbs Mike Michalec & David Ozio
3rd $ 2,000 22.52 lbs Jason Wells & Vic Cooper
4th $ 1,200 21.48 lbs Randy Millender & Kenneth Nichols
5th $ 1,100 21.16 lbs Scott Dean & Jay Atkinson
6th $ 1,050 20.52 lbs Vincent Neal & Kyle Rowe
7th $ 1,040 19.52 lbs Tommy Dickerson & Chris McCall
8th $ 1,030 18.94 lbs Daniel Chambers & Todd Littleton
9th $ 1,020 18.28 lbs Clint Kirby & Bart Morton
10th $ 1,010 17.92 lbs Kevin Burks & Jason Gates
…..and last in the money….
23rd $ 500 14.78 lbs Allen Shelton & Strider Browning

Big Bass $1,000 8.34 lbs Stan Burgay & Steve Burgay

Sponsor Incentive Bonus Winners:
Skeeter Double Money Bonus $5,000 Larry Weppler & Dennis Fikes
Sure Life Bonus $ 200 Larry Weppler & Dennis Fikes

After all five events, the Anglers of the Year were determined for East Texas Region 2009. Congratulations to Mike Michalec and David Ozio for earning this title. Their entry fees for the 2010 season in this region will be waived and they will have the opportunity to fish the annual International Challenge coming up soon.

The Championship will be a two day event October 10th & 11th on Cedar Creek Lake. $50,000 is guaranteed for 1st place, with an optional 100% cash side pot for additional places! All teams that entered all five events automatically qualify to fish the Championship. The top 10 teams in AOY point standings will receive free side pot entry.

There was a lot of shifting in the final points standings at the final tally. In the end, there was a three way tie for 10th place!
Top 10 AOY teams:
1076 pts Mike Michalec & David Ozio
993 pts Greg McDonald & Gary McDonald
985 pts Harold Allen & Albert Collins
980 pts Keith Caka & Charles Bebber
974 pts Greg Pugh & Bill Dominque
954 pts Nathan Stroup & Eric Adams
942 pts Bill Rogers & Brian Branum
923 pts Steven Moorhead & Joe Moss
921 pts Doug McCain & Mason McCain
919 pts Bill Wilcox & Greg Christian
919 pts Kevin Coleman & Brian Schott
919 pts Kris Wilson & David Harvey, Jr

Bass Champs staff & crew will head to Lake Tawakoni June 27 for the last tournament in the North Region. All events are open for anyone to enter, so don’t miss out – there is still a lot of money to be won!

Other Bass Champs hosted events include:
Skeeter Owners Tournament June 19-21 Lake Fork
Dawson Big Bass Tournament July 25 Sam Rayburn
3rd Annual Anchor Marine Big Bass September 5 & 6 Choke Canyon
Ray Roberts REVO Big Bass September 12 Lake Ray Roberts
Berkley Big Bass October 17-18 Lake Fork

If you would like to enter or get more information on any of these events, click to www.BassChamps.com or call 817-439-3274
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