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Date: March 22, 2014
Region: 2014 East Region
Tournament: Lake Sam Rayburn #3
Tournament Trail: 2014 Bass Champs Tournament Trail
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Matsubu & Davidson take 1st Place and lead in AOY Race at Bass Champs
By: Patty Lenderman

The paybacks just keep getting better at Skeeter Bass Champs! The East Region division fished their third event of the season, enjoying a whopping 120% payback, which included a new Ford F150 for the winners of the tournament. Ben Matsubu and Brandon Davidson came out on top to win 1st place overall and surge into the lead in the Anglers of the Year race.

We’re enjoying some changing in the weather in East Texas as more warmer days come our way. Temperature wise, 188 East Texas Region Bass Champs teams had it made, but foggy conditions created nearly a two hour delay at blast off. Once they got to fish, all they had to do was find, catch and weigh in their best three fish.

Due to the delay, anglers were allowed an extra hour to fish, with the first flight due back in by 4pm on Saturday, March 22 at the Umphrey Family Pavilion. It did not take long when anglers began to arrive to see that many of them had found some nice chunks to include in their creel. There were several teams that included Junior Anglers under 16 years old. Bass Champs encourages everyone to take a kid fishing, and offers free entry for Junior Anglers (with a paid adult partner). Some of these kids have been participating since they were only four years old!

As more teams continued to cross the scales, top weights continually climbed by increments. When Ben Matsubu and Brandon Davidson brought their three fish limit in, they weighed their first and nearly took what was then Big Bass lead with their 7.32 lb kicker. Adding their other two, their total went to 19.96 lbs, taking overall tournament lead. Shortly thereafter, Norman Land & Travis Moore brought their sack in, catching the attention of all, and nearly caught up to Matsubu & Davidson with a 19.17 lb sack.

At 5:20 when the scales officially closed, 126 teams had brought in limits with an average per fish weight of 3.14 lbs. None of them were able to take the win from Matsubu & Davidson, while twenty five teams still enjoyed a payday.

“We didn’t get to do any pre-fishing,” Davidson began. “We have had some good spots producing for us this year, and coming into this tournament we were skeptical as to whether or not they would still hold up for us.” Rolling the dice, they headed to their first spot – a ridge next to a drain in 20’-25’ of water. “On Ben’s second cast, he yelled ‘Get the net!’ At that point we knew they were still there.” Ben had made a long cast using a Talon jig with a Yamamoto trailer. “She came out of the water right away trying to shake that jig off. She must have jumped four or five times before we got her in!” That would be their biggest bass of the day (7.32 lbs). “A few casts later, Ben set the hook again on another good one!” It didn’t take long to zip up a limit in that spot, then they made a move to another. “Ben made his first cast in our second spot and caught another to cull our smallest fish. We caught a few more small fish, and then one that weighed around four pounds that didn’t help us any. I guess it’s a pretty good day when you’re culling out four pounders!” Within just an hour of fishing, they had all the fish they would weigh. “We just kept looking for that elusive ten pounder, but never found it!” After finishing in third place in the previous Bass Champs tournaments this year, they now put a 1st place win under their belt. They were awarded the Ford F-150 pickup truck, but opted for the cash for a $17,500 check. Sure Life added another $200 to their winnings for using the product in their livewell. They would like to thank Yamamoto Custom Baits, Talon Lures and MidLake Kampground for their support.

2nd place winners Norman Land and Travis Moore had not spent any time fishing Sam Rayburn since the last Bass Champs tournament, so spent the first part of their morning patterning the fish. “It took us about two hours to figure the bass out, and then it took about 10 minutes to catch a limit.” They targeted shallow grass along deep guts in 4’-6’ with a white/chartreuse double gold Colorado blade spinnerbait. “The mid-day bite was best for us. We probably caught about 25 keepers, and Travis caught our biggest (8.85 lbs) on a Senko.” They won $4,500 for their 2nd place finish, then Skeeter doubled their winnings for being in a qualified boat. “We really like our Skeeter! We would like to thank Skeeter boats, Yamaha, Power Pole and Atlas Jack Plates.”

Jaret Latta and Brian Lowrance had planned to site fish for their catch. “We were worried about the fog delay. Once we got to get out there, the first hour and a half was a really slow bite. Once the sun came out it got better.” They stayed on the go, looking for warm, clear water. “We found water temperatures ranging from 62 to 65 degrees in pockets protected from the north wind.” Going to several spots they have had previous luck in, they used a combination of creature baits, baby brush hogs and Sweet Beavers for their catch. “We had a limit within two hours, and pretty much had our weight at that point.” Their best three fish weighed 17.25 lbs for a 3rd place win and a check for $2,700.

The Big Bass of the day was caught by Army Bass Angler Joseph Budzinski, fishing with Scott Deaton. They had been having a tough day, and at 12:29 only had one small fish in their livewell. “At that point we decided to change locations, and on the way to that location we made a last minute decision to cut into this cove. We started at the point in 8’ of water using a Strike King crankbait, and on the first cast got the bite,” Budzinski explained. He yelled to his partner “Big fish! Big fish!” but apparently has said that before on not so big fish. Deaton, not in a big hurry to get the net, just said “Really? Is it really a big fish?” Right about then it broke water, coming to the surface. “OMG, it’s a ten pounder!” At that point Deaton nearly fell out of the boat, hustling to get the net ready. They secured the fish, measured her, and she was 5” longer than any other that Budzinski had ever caught – but he refused to let himself believe she was over 10 pounds. “I didn’t want to be disappointed if she wasn’t. This is my personal best catch!” She exceeded the 10 pound mark, weighing in at 10.27 lbs winning Big Bass of the tournament and anchoring the 14th place overall win. They won $500 for the single catch, and another $1,000 for winning14th place. “We are really proud to represent the Army Bass Anglers as we fish these tournaments,” the pair agreed. “It is a top notch organization comprised only of military personnel who fish to raise awareness for Returning Heroes Home and Fishing for Freedom, Take a Soldier Fishing and Take a Wounded Soldier Fishing projects among others.”

It took 11.79 lbs to win a check in twenty five places paid. The last $500 check was won by Pete and Alan Shivers.

With three out of five tournaments now on the books, the Angler of the Year race is running hot. The current top five are:
551 pts Brandon Davidson & Ben Matsubu
499 pts Rusty Harvey & Chris Harvey
498 pts Brian Shook & Danny Iles
498 pts Oscar Langele Jr & Philip Jardell
485 pts Rusty Clark & Cory Rambo

The next East Region tournament will be May 3, then wrapping up the season on Sam Rayburn June 21. All regular season events are open to anyone who would like to fish. For more information click to www.BassChamps.com or call 817-439-3274.
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