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Date: October 11, 2008
Tournament: Berkley Big Bass Lake Fork 2008
Prize WinnersHourlyStoryPhotos
Ronnie Echols Jr uses Berkley “Jays Flippin Jig” to top over 700 Anglers at 3rd Annual Berkley Big Bass on Lake Fork. Takes home new Skeeter ZX 200-Yamaha 200
By: Bass Champs Staff

The 3rd annual Berkley Big Bass Tournament hosted by Bass Champs on lake Fork is now complete. More than 700 anglers from all over the United States converged on Lake Fork this past weekend to try their luck in getting one of 168 hourly checks given away at Lake Fork Marina. This is an “amateur’s only” tournament with a twist - only Berkley lures could be used to catch eligible fish! Since there were so many anglers participating this year, the number of hourly checks increased from 10 to 12 places per hour. The total payback in cash and prizes increased to more than $125,000.

There was more to be won than the hourly checks. Lake Fork is a slot lake, meaning only bass less than 16" or more than 24" can be put in the boat. All bass between those lengths are ineligible and must be released immediately. Two boats were given away - one to the angler with the biggest bass over the slot limit, the other to the angler with the biggest bass under the slot.

The weather for this event couldn’t have been more perfect. Cool and calm in the mornings with temperatures around the 60 degree mark. Then warming up in the afternoons to around 84 degrees. Light winds all weekend allowed the anglers to run from one end of Lake Fork to the other end without any problems.

Congratulations to Ronnie Echols Jr. of Dallas, TX. Ronnie caught the biggest bass of the tournament weighing 9.62 pounds on day one. When asked if he got any sleep the night before day 2 of the tournament he replied, “very little”. His Berkley bait of choice was the new Pumpkin seed Berkley “Jays Jig”. “I fished the same area all day. Just one stretch of grass on a tapering point. I was in about 12 feet of water. I worked the jig real slow, and was just hoping to get one big bite. As it turned out, it was the only bite I had, but it was the right one.” Ronnie was fishing by himself, and said, “I have never caught a fish this big in a tournament before, this is incredible.” Ronnie won $500 for the hour and took home the Skeeter ZX200/Yamaha 200 equipped with a Minnkota trolling motor and Humminbird Electronics valued at $45,000.

On the other end of the spectrum were anglers competing to have the biggest bass under the slot limit. The lead changed hands over 10 times between the first hour on Saturday and the last hour on Sunday. In fact, the lead changed 3 times in the last hour. In the end it was Paul Walls of Tyler, TX who won the second Skeeter boat (SX 190/Yamaha 150/Minn-Kota) given away with his 2.94 lb catch. He was throwing a new 4 inch Berkley Gulp Saltwater baitfish. Paul was fishing with his brother Robert Walls. They both weighed in a fish the final hour. His brother weighed in his fish first; a 2.06 lb largemouth. He said, “well I don’t know if mine will get in the money or not, but my brother has one that is going to go close to three pounds.” Tournament emcee, Chad Potts, replied, “depending on how close to three pounds he is, you and your brother may be taking home a new boat.” With a large crowd on hand, everyone waited to see if there was going to be another lead change in the under category. The lead was currently held by Eugene Sustaita who had just weighed in a 2.88 pounder about 5 minutes earlier. Pauls fish was on the scales, the crowd erupted as soon as the weight flashed on the display. 2.94 pounds. The team of brothers had just taken the lead for the Skeeter SX 190/Yamaha 150, and only had 15 minutes to go in the final hour to wait. “It was a long 15 minutes. I can promise you that” stated Paul when interviewed during the award ceremonies.

“It was a perfect weekend” stated Chad Potts, President of Bass Champs. “This is our third year presenting the Berkley Big Bass tournament, and we are already looking forward to the next one. I’d like to thank everyone for coming out and fishing with us, and for the spectators who came to watch. With the increase in participation, we were also able to increase the payback to the hourly winners. Lake Fork Marina is a great location for our tournament, and we appreciate them for hosting it for us. We are excited about coming down to Lake Fork next year for our North Team trail as well. I’d also like to thank Andrew Marks, Marketing Manager for Berkley. He was at the tournament the entire time, helping with every aspect. The Berkley interactive trailer was brought in for everyone to enjoy. Andrew was able to enlighten everyone about all of the Berkley products and where to find them. The area tackle stores increased their Berkley products stock for the participants in the tournament.”

During the awards ceremony, Mr. Marks of Berkley addressed the crowd and thanked for coming out and supporting the event and Berkley products. He stated, “It is great over 700 participants this year. We have really enjoyed being a part of these events over the last few years. In fact, we are now doing three of these across the country, in Texas, Missouri, and California. We sincerely enjoy being involved in this event, it is a great way for us a company to get to know some of you, and we appreciate all of the feedback that we have received. We are looking forward to seeing all of you here again next year.”

For complete results from the 3rd Annual Berkley Big Bass on Lake Fork, please visit: www.basschamps.com.
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