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Results
TEAM TOURNAMENT
Date: April 1, 2017
Region: 2017 North Region
Tournament: Ray Roberts
Tournament Trail: 2017 Bass Champs Tournament Trail
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Weights were tight on Ray Roberts at Bass Champs – Rome & McBride take the win and $20,000
By: Patty Lenderman

Bass Champs’ North Region teams competed in their second event of the 2017 season on Ray Roberts April 1st. There was no fooling around, as top weights were only separated by ounces. 237 teams were vying for a portion of this 101% payback tournament, with the top 33 teams cashing in. Joe Rome and Joel McBride topped them all with over 24 pounds to win the coveted $20,000 prize.

March winds were on deck adding to everyone’s challenge of not only finding fish, but the right fish to beat this massive field of contenders. As water temperatures continue to rise, chasing down big spawning bass on the move was a big challenge. Eight teams brought in sacks over the 20-pound mark, and several teams had huge kickers in their bag. Weights were tight all the way down the pay line. There were only nine pounds separating 1st – 33rd!

It was a slow, worrisome morning for Joe Rome and Joel McBride. “We went to our starting spot, and didn’t catch anything,” McBride recalled. “We made a move to another area of the lake, throwing Texas rigged green pumpkin lizards.” The bite was slow. At 11:30 they only had one fish in the livewell. “We stayed in the same area, but moved to the windblown side.” There was some flooded timber in the area, and Joel casted at one of the stick-ups. “I caught a nice one off of it, so we started targeting the wood.” Before long, they boated three nice fish, along with three other keepers. Their day was turning around for the better. “We kept moving in that area, and tried the calmer side a few times but the bigger fish just weren’t there.” Their best five weighed just over twenty pounds at that point and the day was winding to a close. “We moved again closer to the weigh in. We didn’t have much longer until we had to pack it up.” Switching to a soft plastic jerk-bait, with only 15 minutes to go, they caught a four pounder, bumping their weight up by another three pounds. Putting their final limit on the scales, their weight tallied 24.05 pounds, taking 1st place and winning the guaranteed $20,000 check. “Timber was the key for us today. That last cull made all the difference for us!”

2nd place was won by Lee Livesay and Warren Sprague with 23.32 lbs. They garnered a check for $5,000 plus the Lowrance Gen3 Bonus for an additional $250.

Just ounces apart in the standings, brothers Steve and Ronnie Sims finished 3rd with a 22.97 lb. limit. “We had a good day, everything went well,” Steve reported. Starting out their day they felt like there were still some big fish in pre-spawn mode. “We had found some fish in practice, and even though we drew a high boat number, there was no one in our spot yet when we got there.” It was a windblown bank that lead to a spawning flat. “The bite was really slow at first, then we had a good flurry between 9-10:00. (The bite) shut down again until around 1:00.” They were using a split shot rig and dragging it on bottom really slow. “We stayed in the same area all day, about a 100 yard stretch.” They positioned their boat in 5-6’ of water and threw their baits in shallow 1-2’. “They were holding on sticks. We had seen some of the other boats fishing the calm side and we tried it a few times, but we really needed the windy side for our fish.” All total they caught nine keepers and were able to cull one time before the end of the day. Ronnie boated their kicker, a nice 9 lb’r to anchor their win. Bass Champs presented them a check for $4,000. “We’d like to thank Bass Champs for putting on awesome tournaments for all of us to fish,” Steve continued. “There’s no riffraff, just good family fun. I encourage everyone to come on out and fish! I’d also like to thank every member of the Bass Champs team. You guys do a great job.”

Rounding out the top 10:
4th $3,000+ 22.85 lbs Donnie Moore & Danny Moore
5th $2,500+ 22.43 lbs Stan Lawing & JD Laughery
6th $2,000 22.33 lbs Barrett McClendon & Zeb Strickland
7th $1,600+ 21.01 lbs Corey & Craig Waldrop
8th $1,500+ 20.82 lbs Eric Elder & Tim Wilcoxson
9th $1,400 19.88 lbs Keith Taylor & James Weir
10th $1,300+ 19.82 lbs. Willie Bensley & Randy Hulsey
And last in the money
32nd $600 15.30 lbs. Warren Kepke & Rich Lewis

There were so many nice kickers brought to the scales, but again the biggest was a double digit 10.22 lb. sow. Willie Bensley caught the brute fishing with partner Randy Hulsey. “Our day started out really slow. We managed to put one fish in the livewell, then made a few moves trying other areas.” They went into a small pocket just off the main lake with timber and bushes. “I threw my bait out, and my line just started twitching. Then it was moving as the fish just started swimming out. I never felt anything.” He set the hook and the fight was on. “She made one jump, right at the boat, right into the net!” That was their second fish of the day at 10:45, and the biggest fish he has caught yet - what a time to do it! Bass Champs paid $1,000 for the biggest fish of the day plus it anchored their 10th place overall finish for another $1,300 check.

Several teams qualified for even more in sponsor bonuses!
Skeeter Bonus Cash ($1,600) Corey Waldrop & Craig Waldrop
Lowrance Gen3 Bonus ($250) Lee Livesay & Warren Sprague
Sportsmans Auto Network Bonus ($5,000 value/entries ) Donnie Moore & Danny Moore
Sportsmans Auto Network Bonus ($1,000 cash) Stan Lawing & JD Laughery
Fun-N-Sun Bonus ($500) Eric Elder & Tim Wilcoxson
Fun-N-Sun First Out of the Money Bonus – Michael Swallow & Charles Rhoden

Two down, two events to go, and the points are racking up in the Anglers of the Year race. So far the top five teams are:
472 pts Stan Lawing & JD Laughery
464 pts Garrick McPherson & Dusty Spurgin
443 pts Justin Keithley & Josh Keithley
441 pts Kevin Hathaway & Shawn Garrison
428 pts Jerry Ketcham & Tom McKnight

All total, Bass Champs and their sponsors paid back a whopping $70,580 in cash and prizes in this tournament. Before the 2017 season is over, anglers will receive more than $2.5 MILLION in cash and prizes! It’s not too late – you can still catch a portion of it:
April 8 (This Weekend) – Central Region - Belton
April 22 – South Region - Amistad
April 29 – North Region – Lake Fork
May 13 – East Region – Toledo Bend
May 20 – Central Region - LBJ
June 3 – North Region – Tawakoni
June 9-11 – Skeeter Owner’s Tournament – Fork
June 25 – Techron TX Shootout – Sam Rayburn
Oct 14-15 – 2017 Team Championship – TBA
Oct 21-22 – 12th Annual Berkley Big Bass - Fork

For more information, click to www.BassChamps.com or call 817-439-3274
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