ARMYBASSANGLERS BATTLE MORE THAN THE WIND AND THE FISH – HOOAH!
October 8-9. Bass Champs hosted the final regional championship on the world famous Lake Falcon in Zapata, Texas and it was a great finish to an awesome season. The winning team weighed in a limit of 10 fish in the two day event that tested the scales at over 86 pounds. Several ArmyBassAnglers were on hand to fish, enjoy the incredible venue, raise money for Returning Heroes Home, and to hone their NASCAR pit-crew skills.
Cody Roberson, President and Founder of ArmyBassAnglers, fished without long time partner Don Bailey who had a more pressing family commitment. Given the strong winds and lacking much needed assistance from a fishing partner, he stayed fairly close to the ramp and chose to fish in a cove protected somewhat from the 40 mph gusts. In typical Cody fashion, he beat the fish up with a Fury Lures square-billed Tilapia crankbait pattern. He weighed in a very respectable 16.31 pounds at the end of the day but was also unable fish on Sunday due to family commitments. But his fun meter was pegged simply given the fact that this tournament was the break-in period for his 2012 Skeeter ZX20 powered by a Yamaha 250 SHO engine.
The Prostaff team of Randy Sitz and Jason Blackmon finished the two day event with almost 34 pounds, a good showing considering they fish the North and East regions, respectively. Randy also put his 2012 Skeeter ZX250 on the water for the first time during Friday’s official practice day. This is Randy’s first Yamaha SHO engine and he was simply amazed at the power and of course the continued smooth ride of the boat. “The engine growls once and all of a sudden the boat is on plane. I love it,” was Randy’s sentiments Friday evening as the team prepared for the weekend. They spent their weekend pitching trees along creek channels and caught huge numbers of fish, just not the huge bucketmouths that it would obviously take on this lake. The rough water would prove to be a challenge for Jason considering he was still toting crutches from a blown Achilles tendon and surgery to repair it. This will likely be Jason’s last major event in South Texas for some time as he and his family prepares to move to Germany in Decemeber for a 3 year tour. He just had to “suck it up and drive on” one last time and the potential of catching the fish of a lifetime on Lake Falcon was the best physical therapy he could think of.
The weekend would be a blast for the team of Chuck Guthrie and Chad Nelson. They too would pitch the trees lining creek channels using Lake Fork Trophy Lures 10 inch worms and jigs tipped with Lake Fork creatures. They logged a 30 pound sack during Friday’s practice and had high hopes for the weekend. However, as is the case far too many times, practice doesn’t matter to the tournament officials, or the fish for that matter. They weighed in over 17 pounds on Saturday, but considering over 100 teams had more than 20 pounds, they knew it would take a really special day on Sunday to even cash a check. The interesting part of the story is that they were blessed to even weight those fish in. The tournament officials allowed teams to trailer to other ramps due to the high winds. As they made their 30 mile trip towards weigh-in, debris in road caused a flat on their truck. With little time to spare, they scrambled to change the tire in less than five minutes to get back on the road. “It is the fastest I’ve ever seen Chuck move,” Chad teased as they told their story. At the end of Sunday’s fishing, their scales showed close to 23 pounds for their day’s work, so they decided not to stress the fish anymore than what 8 hours in their livewells had already done. They released their fish while still near where they were caught.
AirforceBassAngler Prostaffer Rodney Thompson would also experience challenges off the water. On his way to the ramp Saturday morning, he was just minutes behind an accident that he did not know happened. A boat trailer lay in the middle of the road and was virtually invisible in the blackness of the early morning. He almost missed it with the front of his truck causing a flat front tire but hit it squarely with the trailer wheels. Both tires were blown on the starboard side of the trailer and the front axle was bent. With his partner, Chuck and Chad all working to get him temporarily on the road, they made their first cast just minutes after the official start time. Anyone that has ever fished a tournament knows how hard it is to concentrate all day. That fact is significantly amplified when such a close call happens minutes before launching the boat. So, for Rodney and his partner to catch the 15 pounds they did is a testament to their fortitude and passion for the sport. As a side note, there were no injuries in the accident minutes ahead of Rodney and his partner, Ronnie.
It was an incredible year for the ArmyBassAnglers and Bass Champs. Above all, fun and camaraderie was had by all while taking part in an incredibly professional tournament trail, the wounded Soldier charities benefited immensely by the generosity of sponsors and tournament participants, and memories were made that will last a lifetime. To see these guys together, it is obvious the military causes a bond that is very rare and that bond was personified during this last event. Whether it is sharing fishing techniques that are successful at the time or working on one another’s equipment, the team continues to make positive impressions wherever they go. Look for them as invited guests to more events this fall and again in February as they make their fourth appearance as the ceremonial launch boats at the Bassmasters Classic on the Red River and their first appearance as the ceremonial launch boats for the 2011 Toyota Texas Bass Classic on Conroe.
The ArmyBassAnglers would like to thank all of their sponsors for all they have done and continue to do to support the team and more importantly, Returning Heroes Home, Veterans Outdoors, and Heroes on the Water. For more information on this or any Bass Champs tournament, go to www.BassChamps.com or www.armybassanglers.com.