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Date: February 25, 2018
Region: 2018 North Region
Tournament: Lake Fork
Tournament Trail: 2018 Bass Champs Tournament Trail
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Chris Ford & Billy Deacon take on over 300 teams on Fork at Bass Champs to win over $26K!
By: Patty Lenderman

Originally scheduled to take place on Saturday, February 24, the North region 2018 kick-off was delayed until Sunday February 25 due to extreme weather delays. Chomping at the bit, 309 teams converged on Lake Fork to try to catch a portion of more than $90,000 to be won. Four kickers over the slot limit were brought in anchoring big wins for top teams, but in the end it was Chris Ford and Billy Deacon who took home the mother load.

Texas has been experiencing a lot of extreme weather and more than ample rains this season. Forecasters predicted not only rain but high winds and hail for Saturday, forcing the decision to delay the tournament one day for safer, calmer conditions for the contenders to compete in. The lake had risen measurably and muddied up in the wake of the storms, sending anglers on the scramble to find moving fish in changing conditions. Remember that Lake Fork is a slot lake. Anglers may only retain fish measuring under 16”or over 24”. All bass in-between those measurements must be released immediately and not counted in their creel. That is a lot of 5 to 8 pounders that must be put back into the lake and not their livewells!

Winners Chris Ford and Billy Deacon not only had the top overall weight, but the biggest single bass caught as well. “Our day started out slow,” Chris began. “Our first spot was a shallow area, and we didn’t catch anything there. We hadn’t been able to practice for the tournament, so we were just trying different things. We decided to try deeper water and found a secondary point in 20’ of water.” Throwing watermelon red baby brush hogs, Billy got their first bite, and it was big! “This is the biggest bass that Billy has ever caught, and we are really thankful that he did it in this tournament!” She measured well over the slot size, and was a phenomenal start to their day. “After a little while we moved again to the other side of the lake. We found a mouth of a creek that was shallow with clear water.” Still using baby brush hogs, they wrapped up a limit by noon. “We only got six bites all day, and didn’t catch any in the slot. We just had a great day!” Their 11.17 lb sow earned a $1,000 check and anchored their 1st place win with 16.88 lbs to cash in on the guaranteed $20,000 top prize. They were fishing out of a qualified Skeeter boat giving them an additional $5,000. Their winnings didn’t stop there – Power Pole and Amphibia also added to their winnings, bringing the team total to well over $26,000!

Anthony Jones and Craig Brown was on the heels of the winners, taking a 2nd place win with 16.41 pounds. “We had a great practice, and found some fish to target. With all the rain the week prior, we were concerned whether or not they would hold where we found them,” Anthony explained. “When we got there Sunday morning, there were a lot of bait fish in the area. We were fishing in milfoil, some slime, with ditches running through it. The lake had risen over two feet since practice and I think that helped us, keeping the fish there. We put our Power Poles down and stayed there all day.” Having no luck on soft plastics, they switched to chatter baits and rattle traps, going for a reaction bite. “We were catching several good fish, but they were in the slot. Craig got another good bite, and when Anthony saw it he said “I think I’ll net this one!” She measured 24-1/4”, his first catch over the slot limit and weighed 9.40 lbs. “That was our second fish of the day to put in the live well. They were biting slow, but steady and we stayed in that one area all day.” By days end they had 16.41 lbs to catch a 2nd place win and a $6,500 payday. “It really was a great day. If we could keep our best five of the day, we would have had a 35 pound stringer!”

3rd place winners Mike Schultz and Barry Borcherding didn’t have many good opportunities to scout for fish before the tournament. “The few times we could get out to look for spots, it was always very windy and cold,” Mike stated. On tournament day, they found a couple of areas but they were quite muddied up and they only had three keepers by noon using chatter baits and senko’s. “We decided to try a deeper water pattern. We started looking for spots, and stopped to try anything that looked ‘fishy’. We came up on a secondary point in 20’ of water that had concrete blocks on the bottom.” Tying on an Alabama rig, they slow rolled the lure letting it tick the bottom. With only thirty minutes to go, Mike caught their big fish weighing in at 9.56lbs. “Those were the only four fish we weighed.” Their sack weighed 12.78 lbs and they won $5,000 for their finish.

Rounding out the top ten:
(4th) 11.81 lbs with their 10.02 lb kicker – Danny Bennett and Brian Roman took home $4,000 plus the Lowrance bonus
(5th) 11.47 lbs – Henry Gentle & Taylor Bivins won $3,000
(6th) 10.67 lbs – Branden Hollingshead & Jeremy’s Lambert took home $2,500 plus the Sportsman’s Auto Bonus, worth over $5,000
(7th) 10.59 lbs – Chris McClain & Richard Osborn won $2,000 plus another $1,000 from the Sportsman’s Auto Bonus
(8th) 10.14 lbs – Scott Barnett & Brian Clark, $1800
(9th) 10.06 lbs – Steve Hodge & Shawn O’Malley, $1700
(10th) 9.83 lbs – Timothy Weaver & Wesley Weaver, $1600
All total 41 teams earned checks, and the last $600 went to Ty Burns and Bart May having 8.62lbs,

Two teams caught additional winning from Fun & Sun – Jimmy Harrison Jr & Sr, and Tim Wilcoxon & Eric Elder.

The second tournament for the North Region will take place April 7 on Ray Roberts. In the meantime Bass Champs staff and crew are headed to Lake LBJ for the next Central Region event.

Here is the remaining Bass Champs 2018 team tournament schedule:

3/3 – Lake LBJ
3/10 – Sam Rayburn
3/24 – Amistad
4/7 – Ray Roberts
4/14 – Belton
3/21 – Amistad
5/5 – Lake LBJ
5/12 – Toledo Bend
5/19 – Lake Tawakoni
6/16 – Cedar Creek

Tell all your friends that the annual Sportsmans Auto Network Mega Bass tournament, the world’s richest one day hourly big bass event, and is just around the corner! Plan to head to Lake Fork March 17 for your chance to win big. $20,000 is guaranteed EVERY hour, plus the lucky angler who catches the biggest bass of the day will win a brand new Skeeter boat powered by a Yamaha motor. You don’t want to miss it!
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