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Date: March 8, 2014
Region: 2014 Central Region
Tournament: Lake LBJ
Tournament Trail: 2014 Bass Champs Tournament Trail
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Homework was the key to Bass Champs first timer’s win, taking home over $30,000
By: Patty Lenderman

To win, you’ve got to play the game. Tournament bass fishing is not a spectator sport, and you can’t win by sitting on the sidelines. Charlie Gatenbein & Cody Randolf decided to get in on some Bass Champs action for the first time, and went home with over $30,000 in winnings. Over $60,000 was paid to the top teams in a 126% payback event!

Doing their homework on and off the water was they key to big wins for this 1st place team. They started out by researching all the different ways they could win more money with sponsor incentives, and took the necessary action to qualify for them. Then, they hit the water and located the fish they would need to win the tournament.

Their trigger finger had been getting a little itchy, excited to start fishing the Central Region of Bass Champs. “We were a little disappointed when the first tournament was cancelled due to the weather. We were on some good fish.” On March 8, they finally got their chance on Lake LBJ, competing against 175 other teams. “We knew we were fishing against a lot of tough teams, and were just hoping we were on better fish.”

The field of anglers were cut loose the morning of the tournament just hours ahead of a frontal system marching toward them. “We had found some good spots in the Llano River, and had decided to start there.” They had their rods strung with the lures and lines they would need to go after the bass they had found. “On our way to LBJ, my rod with my wacky rig, spooled with 10# test line, unspooled,” Cody explained. “I had to re-tie my wacky rig on a rod with 17# test.” Unbeknownst to him at the time, that would end up being a saving grace.

“We went to our first spot, and caught a lot of fish, but there was no size to them.” They secured an initial limit, but it was quite small. “About 9am, we moved further up the river.” It was a rocky area, with big terrain changes in water 4’ to 8’ deep. “About 30 minutes after we got there, I was using my wacky rig when I got the big bite. Charlie asked me if it was a good fish, and I told him it was – but I didn’t know how big it was until the first time it jumped!” He had latched on to an 11 lb monster bass! “She jumped two more times before we got it in. She was only skin-hooked. I still don’t know how the hook didn’t come out. I’m just really glad Charlie is such a good net man! It’s the biggest bass I’ve ever caught.”

They still had two more small fish they needed to cull. “We ran down to the dam, and within 20 minutes Charlie caught a six pounder, and ten minutes later I caught on that weighed around four pounds.” At that point, the wind started picking up and the rain came in. “It was getting pretty tough out there, and we were concerned for the fish we had in our livewells. We decided to come on in early and get them weighed so they could be released right away. It was really great for me to be able to catch a fish like that, and we wanted to make sure that she got back out there so one day another lucky angler would also have a chance to catch her.”

Weighing in early, their big bass tipped the scales at 11.08 lbs, establishing the bar for Big Bass of the tournament, and their total weight of all three fish weighed 20.36 lbs. It was a long, grueling wait for them until the other teams came to weigh and the scales were finally closed, declaring them as the winners of the tournament.

Bass Champs awarded them the guaranteed 1st place prize of a new Ford F-150 pickup truck valued at over $25,000 – but their winnings did not stop there. They won $5,000 from Skeeter boats, $500 from Talon/MinnKota, $500 for winning Big Bass, $500 BioBor bonus, and $200 from Sure Life. That adds up to nearly $32,000! “We would like to thank the Good Lord for watching over us. This is a major blessing for us. We would also like to thank Bass Champs, as well as Skeeter, BioBor, Talon, MinnKota and Sure Life.” The team also stated that they get all of their tackle from Tight Line Premium Fishing Tackle in Killeen, TX. “We put a lot of importance to do our homework before fishing a tournament. We probably spend 60-80 hours on the water before each tournament. We’re very excited, and looking forward to the next one!”

Brothers Kenny and Rick Valchar came within nine ounces of winning first place, taking 2nd with a 19.78 total. “We had done some pre-fishing before the tournament, and found a main lake hump that were holding some good fish, and decided to start there.” When they were assigned their boat number for sequential take-off, it was high and they were worried that others may beat them to their spot. “We were pretty relieved when we got there. Another boat was nearby, but not on the ‘sweet spot’.” They fished an area of this hump that ranged in depths from 8’ to 20’ with a Carolina rigged watermelon craw worm. They put a four pounder in the boat, then Rick caught their kicker weighing in at just over 9 pounds. They wrapped up a limit with another four pounder by about 10:30. A little later Kenny caught one on a tandem white/chartreuse spinnerbait to make a cull that upgraded their total weight by nearly a pound. “At noon the cold front started moving in. We headed to a protected cove, but the bite had shut completely off.” While each catch is important, that last cull was crucial, winning 2nd place by just over 3 ounces. “We had a great day. It’s been a long time coming, we’ve been fishing Bass Champs for years. We’d like to thank the Good Lord for putting us on our fish and keeping us safe. Also thanks to our wives for their encouragement and support. We’d also like to thank
Bass Champs for consistently putting on an excellent tournament circuit for so many years.”

There were many more teams that went home with winnings. The top 23 teams won checks, and rounding out the top five were: (3rd) Allen Gass and Jason Stafford with 19.56 lbs for a $2,400 check, (4th) Dale Read & Ronny Manyard with 16.72 lbs for $1,900 and (5th) Rick and Adam Clark with 16.09 lbs for $1,400.

Dale Read and Ronny Maynard were also awarded the Ford Bonus, giving them free entries into any Bass Champs tournaments over the next 12 months.

All total, 23 teams were awarded checks and prizes, the last in the money were Matt Hill and Barry Mott with 11.64 lbs.

The next tournament for the Central Region anglers will be April 12 on Belton. In the mean time, Bass Champs staff and crew will head to Lake Amistad for the South Region’s third event of the season March 15.

Make plans now to head to Lake Fork for the 6th Annual Ford Mega Bass event on April 6. This is an hourly Big Bass tournament, where the top 15 fish weighed in each hour will receive checks. It gets even better – the top bass each hour will win a new Ford pickup truck! Can’t get much better than that, right? Wrong! The lucky angler that catches the biggest bass of the tournament will win a new Ford pickup truck AND a new Skeeter boat! You’ve got to fish it to win it!

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