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Date: March 19, 2017
Tournament: Sportsmans Auto Network Mega Bass 2017
Prize WinnersHourlyStoryPhotos
Newkirk wins Bass Champs Mega Bass event taking home $15K and new Skeeter Boat
By: Patty Lenderman

Mega bass, mega fun, mega wins at the 9th annual Mega Bass tournament on Lake Fork hosted by Bass Champs & the Sportsmans Auto Network on March 19, 2017. Anglers from over 24 states came to fish for their chance to win a portion of over $200,000 given away in cash and prizes at this world’s richest one-day big bass hourly event. Fifteen anglers every hour won a portion of the purse, and the overall Skeeter boat for the heaviest bass of the day were given away! Two big bass over 12 pounds were caught, but the biggest granddaddy of them all was weighed in by Benbrook, TX angler John Newkirk who took home a new Skeeter ZX200 powered by a Yamaha SHO and outfitted with Lowrance electronics and a Power Pole plus $15,000 cash.

The anticipation was high for the participants and Bass Champs staff and crew leading in to this coveted event. Lake Fork is renowned for its big bass, and the weather conditions were ripe to see a lot of them at the scales. Over 1800 participants scoured the lake looking for the right spot, hoping to have the right bait, to set the hook on their big win.

The first hour showed great promise of things to come as Richard Page of Fort Worth, TX set the mark of ‘over the slot’ weight to beat, topping the hour with a 9.09 lb’r and winning the first $15,000 check.

The morning had been fruitful for John Newkirk as well. “I was fishing with my brother Rodney and his best friend Brandon,” Newkirk began. “We had done some scouting a few days before the tournament, and with the weather warming as well as the water temperatures, the bass were on the verge of bedding up. A lot of other people we talked to that were fishing the tournament said they were going to fish shallow. That was great for us, because we were anticipating the bass still being a little deeper.” They made their trek to the north end of the lake in search of warmer water. Fishing in 6’-8’ depths between the bushes and the stumps with a chatter bait, Newkirk got the bite he was looking for. “I called to my brother ‘this is a BIG fish!’ She had picked up the bait and was swimming away from the stump it was on. I just knew she was going to jump, so I kept my rod down to be ready to try to keep her in the water.” John was using a 7’ heavy action rod. His brother was ready with the net. “Rodney missed her with the net, and she lunged under the boat, doubling my rod over. She was incredibly strong!” Wrestling her back out from under the boat, another attempt to net her was missed. “I was already shaking, just trying to keep ahold of her. I got her to the boat again, and she turned on her side. She was too big for the net! Brandon reached down and lipped her in the boat.” Once in the boat, they quickly filled the livewell and got her secured. “We just sat there for a few minutes, and talked about what just happened. We were all so excited. After strapping down all of our gear, we took a nice gentle ride back to the weigh in. We didn’t want to beat her up – after all, we had all day, right?” They got to the landing just four minutes after the first weigh in hour had closed. “I’ve fished tournaments before, but not a big bass event. I had thirty minutes to wait before the scales opened the next hour. The Bass Champs crew was great. They showed me how to take care of my bass while I was waiting to weigh her.”

Once the scales opened, she was lifted to the scales, and her weight locked in at 12.35 pounds! Newkirk won the $15,000 1st place check for that hour, but there were five more weigh in hours to go. “I went out fishing again, but it took me a couple of hours to settle down. I knew someone could bring in a bigger fish, but if they did I couldn’t be upset about it. I already won $15,000!”

As each hour came and went, more big bass over the slot were weighed. It was during the 1:00 hour that another huge one was brought in by Sam McCollum of Corsicana, TX. His big fish tipped the scales to 12.22 pounds, just two ounces behind the leader!

When the scales finally came to a close, John Newkirk was declared the overall winner, and was presented his Skeeter ZX200, powered by a Yamaha SHO and outfitted with Lowrance electronics. “This is really awesome! This tournament was so much fun, I’m so glad we went. Bass Champs is a great organization and they are really good people. I’d also like to thank my brother Rodney and Brandon. Without them I would have never gotten that fish in!” Newkirk is looking forward to fishing the Bass Champs team tournaments in his new ride. “I will qualify for the Skeeter bonuses in my new lucky ride!”

“We look forward to this event every year,” Chad Potts declared. “We appreciate everyone for making the trek to fish with us from so many states. All of you help make this event bigger and better, and we look forward to seeing everyone who has fished with us before and meeting those coming out for the first time. Congratulations to all of the winners in this event – we look forward to seeing you again next year!”

Top hourly $15,000 winners:
8am 9.09 lbs Richard Page, Fort Worth TX
9am 12.35 lbs John Newkirk, Benbrook TX
10am 9.96 lbs Lonny Pierce, Whitney TX
11am 10.97 lbs Letitia Sprayberry, Kemp TX
12pm 9.12 lbs Cody Pratka, Whitney TX
1pm 12.22 lbs Sam McCollum, Corsicana TX
2pm 2.60 lbs Billy Pritchett, Kerens TX

There are still several opportunities to fish and win in Bass Champs events. Check your calendars for your next chance to fish any one of these open events:
March 25 – South Region - Falcon
April 1 – North Region – Ray Roberts
April 8 – 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, visit www.BassChamps.com or call 817-439-3274
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