Record-Setting Bass Catches In Texas Finale
Monster bass were weighed in at this Texas finale, including 13 bass over 10 pounds.
The plan was simple and the execution was clean at the final Bass Champs Championship
on Lake Falcon October 8-9. There could not have been a bigger or better grand finale than what was seen here, both with the sacks brought in and individual bass caught. Thirteen double digit bass were weighed in, five of them over 11 pounds. Ballard and Vaughn set all new records with a two-day winning sack totaling nearly 90 pounds, winning the new Skeeter ZX 20 powered by a Yamaha 225 grand prize as crowned champions of the Bass Champs South Region tournament trail.Falcon, along with all of the other lakes in the state of Texas is way below normal pool. A deep water lake, being over 20? low is still considered ?normal? fluctuation. Trailering was allowed so contenders could launch closer to their chosen fishing areas and to avoid high winds.In the weeks prior, several heavy sacks had been reported from Falcon. Chad Potts, President of Bass Champs had made a prediction a week before the championship that it would take 90 pounds to win. He wasn?t far off.While they have been touted as the ?old guys? by their younger competitors, Bob Ballard (70) and Clarence Vaughn (63) really showed where experience pays off.?Those ?young flat bellies? are a bunch of really good anglers,? Bob chuckled. ?Tough guys to beat. We didn?t come here to beat anyone, though. We came to Falcon to beat the fish.?Ballard was able to do a little pre-fishing, trying to locate the big bass. ?I knew a 30+ pound limit could be caught on a Lateral Perch, but what we really needed was a Hammer Hole.?Searching the lake, he found that big fish were schooling with big fish, and smaller ones were staying in packs of their size. ?I found some large grated rocks at the south end of the lake near the dam on the Mexico side. Fishing each one, finding the size and quality on each rock, I had two picked out. The bass were feeding on the big crawfish and shad that were on them.?Then tragedy hit. ?After I finished pre-fishing, I got a call that my mom had died.?Very thankful that he had been able to spend five straight days with her just before, he headed home to put his mother to rest. ?I came back Thursday before the tournament and just felt mom was with me. She has always supported and encouraged me, and I dedicated the tournament to her.?Clarence joined Bob Friday to scout out the area he had chosen, then Saturday morning it was 'Hammer time.' ?High winds were in the forecast, so we were very grateful that Bass Champs decided to let everyone trailer. We had to go 35 miles to launch near our spot.?The first cast could not be made until 7:15, so they eased to their spot and dropped a buoy on the first rock. ?We marked the second one too, but ended up never going to it.?The area was small and fishing it had to be precise. ?It was as big as about 3 or 4 bass boats put together. You had to fish right on top of it. If you casted 5 yards either side of it, you wouldn?t get a bite.?Using nothing but Power Tackle Paragon Series 104.5 rods, they had two lures of choice: Lateral Perch and Jewel Jigs. At 7:15 they made their first cast. By 8:30 they had 40 pounds in the boat. By 9am they had two 10 pounders and were culling 8 pound bass. ?We decided to go on in at that point. Didn?t want to wear out that spot and milk that hole. Besides that, we were worried about the fish getting stressed in the live wells.?Word spread fast that a big sack was coming in early, so Bass Champs film crew rushed to the scene. Weighing in at 10:30am on day 1, Ballard and Vaughn took a decisive lead with 43.97 lbs.A camera man accompanied Ballard and Vaughn on the final day to capture the possible winners on film. ?It was kind of neat having him with us that morning. We aren?t used to that.?As soon as they started fishing, the action was on. ?On my second cast, I caught our first 10 pounder of the day. We were all pretty excited about it.?They quickly put a limit in the boat, and again by 9:30 they were culling eight-pound bass. ?We broke off two times, and missed a giant fish.?For the second day in a row, two 10 pounders were in their live wells. At 10:00 they again had over 40 pounds in the boat so they headed in. News traveled fast and everyone was ready at the weigh-in to capture the team coming in with a back to back phenomenal creel. The scales tipped at 42.19 lbs giving them a two day total of 86.18 lbs.?It was hard after that. We sat the rest of the day and waited for everyone else to bring in their fish. Scads of big bass were brought in, and several very respectable bags. You can?t count on anything until those scales are closed!?Finally they did, and their weight held for a 1st place Championship win. Bass Champs presented the duo with the new Skeeter ZX 20 powered by a Yamaha 225 SHO, Minn-Kota Trolling Motor and Humminbird electronics. ?We?ve been fishing tournaments for a long time. I got my first trophy in 1975. Of all the trails and all the tournaments, I have to take my hat off to Bass Champs. Where else in the United States can a couple of weekend anglers spend $280 on an entry fee for a chance to win $20,000 in the regular season tournaments or win a $55,000 boat in a championship? I am also tremendously proud of how they conduct their tournaments. Always fair, honest, and very professionally run. They take great care of the fish brought in, but more importantly encourage all of their participants to do everything they can to keep their bass alive, including giving each one Sure Life for their live wells. Bass Champs also donates to other foundations to help preserve our resource. They are ?caregivers?. And as far as the guys that fish with Bass Champs ? you just can?t find any better.?They were congratulated by the rest of the teams, all very proud for them. ?Then our phones started lighting up with a bunch of calls from other guys who had heard about it. That is just really great, and we appreciate each one of them. We were truly blessed to be able to catch those fish in a few short hours, and thank God and Jesus Christ for being with us.? As a former military man who has spent his life serving his country, Bob also wants to thank all military personnel past and present who has safeguarded the freedoms we enjoy today.The South region team of Chris Snyder and Patrick Starnes held tough both days of the tournament. Patrick practically grew up on the lake, with his grandfather having owned a boat shop in Zapata.?Since I was about 15 years old, he?d have me run the boats he fixed out on the lake. I?d always have to do a little fishing while I was out,? he chuckled. ?Chris and I practiced 23 days before the championship and had seven places picked out that we had a lot of confidence in.?Because of the strong winds and storms, they had to narrow their choice down to one area. ?It was a spot about a mile long. The first day, things started out pretty terrible. We were catching fish, but they were all small. It wasn?t until 10:00 that we boated our first ?decent? fish.?The bite exploded at that point, and before 11:00 they had 34 pounds in the boat. Then Patrick got a big one on the end of his line. ?It bit, I set the hook, and then it was a virtual tug of war! I?d pull, then the fish would pull ? I finally looked at Chris and said ?HELP!? Chris said ?What do you want me to do?? I told him I didn?t know, so I just kept wrestling with it until I got her in.?That fish weighed 10.78 lbs, anchoring their first days creel. ?The rest of the day we were able to fish with confidence and take our time.?They ended up the day with 39 pounds and in 3rd place going into day 2. The weather wasn?t any better the final day, with wind gusting to 40 mph. ?We decided to go right back to the same spot Sunday, and again it started out bad.?Having fished all morning, at 9:00 they had nothing in the live wells. Then, just as it had happened the day before, the bite exploded. ?Within 20 minutes we had 32 pounds in the boat.? Patrick had caught all five of them. ?I looked at Chris and told him he needed to get busy!? Chris got busy, and after 1:00, in the middle of the storm, he caught their biggest bass of the day. ?That catch made all the difference for us.?Adding another 40 pounds to their overall weight, they won 2nd place with 79.18 pounds. Bass Champs presented them with a check for $3,000. ?We would like to let our wives (Joanne and Maria) know how much we appreciate them for all of their support while we fish Bass Champs, the best of the best circuits in Texas!?An East Texas team grabbed 3rd place honors, having a two day weight of 74.26 lbs. Jonathan Garrie and Keith Morris had only been on Falcon one other time in their lives coming into the championship. ?The fishing has been so good here, we figured anyone could fish down the banks and get a 20+ pound stringer.? They had to figure out what to do differently to find the bigger bass. ?We had picked out three spots to fish,? Jonathan began. ?They all had rock and isolated trees. It seemed like the bigger bass were among the trees in schools.?Using 6th Sense crank baits in water 7?-10? deep, they caught a good stringer the first day, putting them in a strong position going into day 2. ?We hit those spots again, and on Sunday Keith latched onto a 7 pounder. I was reeling in my bait so I could get the net for him.? Suddenly, Jonathan had a fish on the end of his line.?For a little bit we thought we were both fighting the same fish.? Keith (still fighting his fish) netted Jonathan?s 9 lb catch, then Jonathan quickly netted Keith?s. ?We lost a few over the weekend, but none that hurt us. We?re pretty happy with how we ended up.? Bass Champs presented them with a check for $2,500.There were a lot of big bass brought to the scales over the course of two days. Among them were 13 in the double-digit range. Of the five brought in over 11 pounds, Scott Barnet, fishing with Brandon Baker, caught the biggest. Proprietor of an air conditioning company during the week, Scott fishes the North region of Bass Champs. ?My partner and I have not been on Falcon in over a year,? Scott explained.They only had one day to practice and picked three spots to fish. ?It was Saturday, and we were at our third spot. I was fishing a green pumpkin ½ ounce jig with a Zoom Super Speed Craw trailer along a windy bank in water 7? deep. I felt just a small ?tick?, and set the hook. Within 30 seconds Brandon had it netted in the boat. I didn?t have time to get nervous or excited before then. Probably a good thing!?The catch weighed in at 11.57 lbs, the biggest catch of the tournament. They won $500 for that one fish, which anchored their 16th place overall finish for an additional $650. Since he wore his Costa Del Mar sunglasses while weighing the fish that won Big Bass, he also received the Costa Bonus. ?I?d like to thank my wife Lisa for all of her support and encouragement for me to fish!?The Bass Champs 2012 season will start with the South Region January 14th back on Lake Falcon. Check the full schedule on BassChamps.com and don?t miss the Bass Champs TV show on WFN
.?It?s been a great year, thanks to everyone that fished with us in each region and our great sponsors.," said Chad Potts, President of Bass Champs. "Everyone at Bass Champs would like to thank you and we look forward to seeing you again next year. We can already tell you that 2012 will prove to be an exciting season as we strive to continue to be the best team tournament trail in Texas. Our sponsors offer a lot of great incentives at each event, so be sure and read up on how to cash in on all of them before next season! Enjoy the holidays with your family and friends, and we?ll see you next year.?This weekend is the final Bass Champs event of the season. It is open to all competitors. The 6th Annual Berkley Big Bass event on Lake Fork. Two Skeeter Boats will be awarded. One for the heaviest "over" the slot and one for the heaviest "under" the slot. Visit www.basschamps.com for more details.For a schedule of other upcoming tournaments, click here