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Date: July 13, 2013
Region: 2013 North Region
Tournament: Lake Cedar Creek
Tournament Trail: 2013 Bass Champs Tournament Trail
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Browning & Zmolik Jackpots Bass Champs 2013 season finale on Cedar Creek winning over $20,000
By: Patty Lenderman

With paybacks continuously exceeding the 100% ratio, would it surprise anyone that Bass Champs has paid back well over $1 MILLION dollars to participating teams in 2013? The last tournament, wrapping up the last of four regions was held on Cedar Creek on July 13. Winners Strider Browning and Jeremy Zmolik fished their first Bass Champs tournament of the season and won over $20,000 in cash and prizes weighing in 14.86 lbs.

One hundred forty three teams participated in this finale event that paid back 117% in 20 places paid. The North Region Anglers of the Year were determined as the final points were tallied as well as the last 75 teams to qualify to fish the Bass Champs Championship later this year.

All regular season events are open to anyone who would like to compete, which worked out extremely well for Strider Browning and Jeremy Zmolik. This was the first Bass Champs tournament they fished this year, and came out on top of the pack to win 1st place and over $20,000 in cash and prizes. “We’ve been having some luck in some other local tournaments, so we decided to go ahead and fish this event. We needed to draw a good boat number and get to our spots. We drew boat 101.” The first area they chose was a brush pile. “We didn’t catch anything off of it, so we headed to a shallow dock, about 3’ deep with brush around it.” Using a shaky head, they boated their first keeper. “We ran a lot, hitting about 30 spots and just junk fished all day. Our other two keepers came out of deeper water, about 10-15’ brush piles with drop shots.” They did not have a keeper in their bag, but they were all chunks weighing nearly five pounds apiece. “We figured we had a good chance for a check, but didn’t think we would win.” Jeremy even called his wife and told her not to worry about coming to the weigh in. Their three fish tallied 14.86 lbs, winning the tournament by mere ounces! Bass Champs presented them with the guaranteed 1st place check for $15,000 then Sure Life added another $200 bonus for using the product in their livewell. They also purchased a new Dodge Ram pickup truck that put them in the winners seat to win the Ram Truck Bonus, giving them free entries into any Bass Champs tournaments for the next 12 months – a $7,500 value! All total they went home winning well over $22,000.

Skeeter Fowler and Dustin Hobbs was in the lead to win the tournament with their 14.66 lb limit until the last 11 minutes of the scales being open. “Then my buddy Strider comes in and beats us!” Skeeter has fished Bass Champs tournaments for the past 10 years, but has taken a new partner under his wing this season. “Dustin is a really good partner, and I’m really glad to be fishing with him.” They had done some scouting for this tournament, and while they did not locate the quality fish they were hoping for, they did find a few spots holding numbers of bass. “We drew boat #132, and we were pretty nervous about someone finding or beating us to our spot. It is in the mid-lake area and a lot of people fish it.” As luck would have it, when they arrived no one else was there. The fish-catching action was on immediately. “On my second cast I caught our keeper, just under seven pounds. Within 10 casts we had three fish in the boat!” Using nothing but crank baits, Dustin and Skeeter enjoyed some fast action right away. The next fish Skeeter had on was a three pounder. “We netted it, and I had it in the bottom of the boat trying to get the crank bait out of its mouth. Before I could get it undone and out of the net, Dustin yelled ‘Fish on!’, and I had to take the net, fish in it and all, and net his four pounder!” Now that they had a limit in the boat, they moved to a spot they had marked that was a rock pile next to a dock. “I casted to the left side of the dock and caught a 3.09#, culling the 3# in the livewell.” Among the fish they caught was a big drum Dustin latched onto. “I thought we had a whale! It weighed over 30 pounds – wouldn’t even fit in the net!” They took extreme good care of their fish all day, watching the water temp in the livewell, adding ice regularly. “We didn’t have to be in until 3:30, but came on in at 3pm.” Holding lead position until nearly the end of the weigh in, the team enjoyed a 2nd place win for a $5,000 payday. “I’ve cashed in several checks with Bass Champs over the years, but this 2nd place win is my best yet. I’d like to thank Dustin for being a great partner, and his Godfather Ken Addington for sponsoring our entry fees this year. It is a big help, and allows us more time and money to practice for these tournaments. I would also like to thank my wife for allowing me to be gone to fish. Without a supportive spouse it can be really tough to compete in these tournaments. I would also like to thank Dobyn’s rods and God.”

Wrapping up the top five, 3rd place went to James Hiser and Bruce Springs with 13.75 lbs winning $3,000. Randy Hurt and Jeff Culbreath won $2,000 for 4th place.

Corey and Craig Waldrop had the Big Bass of the day at 8.75 lbs, anchoring their 5th place overall win. For that they won $1,000 for Big Bass, $1,500 for 5th place, then Skeeter boats doubled their money to a $5,000 day for being the top finishing team in a qualified Skeeter boat.

Tim Wilcoxson and Eric Elder enjoyed a $500 Fun N Sun bonus to add to their $1,000 6th place winnings.

It took 10.73 lbs to win a check in this tournament, and the last $600 payday went to Lee Livesay and Chad Bailey.

The North Region Angler of the Year race has been in a constant shuffle throughout this season, keeping it anyone’s guess as to who would win this prestigious award. Coming into this final tournament, Stan Lawing and JD Laughery was in lead position with 645 pts, closely followed by Kevin Dritschler & Tim Brockway with 642 pts. Evan O’Brian and James Henderson held 3rd with 639 pts, followed by Lee Livesay & Chad Bailey with 637 pts. After the final points were tallied, Lee Livesay and Chad Bailey won Anglers of the Year with 761 points, followed by Evan O’Brien and James Henderson with 755 points.

Congratulations to North Region 2013 AOY winners Livesay & Bailey! Their entry fees for the 2014 season will be waived as they carry this prestigious honor.

A minimum of 75 teams from each region qualified to fish the Bass Champs 2013 Championship. Some regions boasted more than 75 qualifiers because of ties. A brand new FX Skeeter boat will be awarded to the Championship winners and over $130,000 is guaranteed in cash and prizes. Tournament dates are October 5 & 6, and the location will be announced by August 10th. For a full listing of Championship Qualifiers, go to www.BassChamps.com

There are still more chances to fish to win! Sign up now for the 8th Annual Berkley Big Bass tournament on Lake Fork. This two day event October 19-20 pays ten places each hour, has exact weight bonus cash winnings plus the biggest fish over and the biggest fish under the slot will each win a brand new Skeeter boat!
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