Fishing & Boating News

Duff & Costlow top a record 277 teams on Toledo Bend and win over $20,000.

by: Patty Lenderman,

Toledo Bend Winners
Photo by Patty Lenderman
(Feb 17, 2015 - Toledo Bend, TX) For the first time in several years, Bass Champs returned for competition on Toledo Bend February 14th, enjoying record attendance on Toledo with 277 teams – forty more than ever before! Temperatures heated up right along with the competition, and first time winners Lance Duff with partner Cole Costlow took the victory and over $20,000!

The day couldn'’t have been more perfect for contenders as they launched out in flights from Cypress Bend Marina. The lake was smooth with only an occasional breath of wind throughout the day, and temperatures rose to the mid 70’'s.

The scales were christened mid-morning when Ray Beck and Shane Hilton brought in a big bruiser that just wouldn'’t quite fit in their livewell comfortably. They wanted to get her weighed and back into her home waters as quickly as possible. Weighing in that one fish at 11.39 lbs, they went back out to finish their day.

As official weigh in time of 3:00 rolled around, the crowds began to gather and the aroma of fresh grilled hotdogs filled the air. Thomas Tripp and James Littleford were the first to break the 20 lb mark with their limit weighing in at 20.74 lbs. That would be the first of fourteen teams to bring in weights over 20 pounds.

Fish Fishburn’s camera crew caught all of the action throughout the day and the weigh-in, and the Bass Champs TV Show is set to air beginning in April on the World Fishing Network (WFN) as well as Fox Sports SW on Sunday mornings.

The total weights just continued to climb, and several nice kickers crossed the scales. In the end, Ray Beck and Shane Hilton'’s big bass held for largest of the day, but Lance Duff and Cole Costlow took 1st place in the event, topping 276 other teams, with their 26.64 lb limit.

“We just knew it was going to take 30 pounds to win this tournament,” Duff and Costlow agreed. They have fished tournaments for several years, and this event marked their first big win. “We live three hours from here, and have also fished in Bass Champs Central Division.” On this day, they started their day with a prayer. “Right then, I just had a funny feeling”, Duff stated. They decided to go to a spot they had fished the year before. When they got there, they said they were just ‘calmed’. “We gave it all we had, and trusted the Big Man upstairs!” When they were declared the winners, the duo was markedly emotional. “Winning the money is awesome, but this (the trophy) is what we were fishing for!” Bass Champs awarded them $20,000 for their win, then Sure Life kicked in another $200 for using the product in their livewell. “We would like to thank Jesus Christ first and foremost. We would also like to thank Castaway rods, Xcite baits, Bill Lewis Lures, Daley’s Hunt ‘N Fish, Owner hooks, and our family and friends for always being there and supporting us.”

The 11.39 lb bass anchored a 2nd place finish for Ray Beck and Shane Hilton. Adding their other four bass to their total weight, they came in with 24.73 lbs. “We had practiced a week before the tournament,” Shane began. Toledo Bend is his ‘home lake’, and he knows it well. “We had gone North in practice and picked out a spot to fish when the water temperature warmed up. In this area, the temperature is key.” The day of the tournament, they made a calculated decision to start in a completely different area. “We were trying for a kicker first, then spend the rest of the day finishing a limit.” They didn’t go far from Cypress Bend to a deep drop. “It was about 18’ deep, at the end of an underwater ledge point with lots of natural cover.” Ray had a Stanley Football head jig tied on with a Swamp Hog trailer. Shane hooked the first fish, and before he got it reeled in Ray said “I think I need a little help here!” The big sow was at the end of his line. When they got it to the boat, they snapped a couple of pictures and tried to ease her into the livewell. “She was just too big, and couldn'’t get comfortable. We called Chad to see if we could bring her straight in to be weighed, so she could be released as quickly as possible. He agreed, and we came on in.” When they went back out, they went to their other spot. Shallow water, back in a pocket, with spinnerbaits, jigs and lipless crankbaits. “Ray caught one as soon as we got there, and before we left we had culled three times.” Their win included $6,000 for 2nd place, $1,000 for Big Bass, $5,000 from Skeeter boats, plus the Biobor, UnderArmor and Costa Del Mar bonuses! “We took chances. This spot had not been touched in a while. We just took an educated guess and it worked out well for us.” They would like to thank Skeeter, Yamaha, Lew's Rods & Reels, Sun Flourocarbon Line, Stanley Spinnerbaits & Jigs and Bill Lewis’ Rat-L-Trap.

Troy Reed and Gary Martin enjoyed a 3rd place win with their 24.06 lb limit. “We just went fishing,” the team explained. “We had found some fish last weekend, and today we started catching them right away on a spinnerbait.” They were concentrating on ditches with stumps 6’-9’ deep. “Later in the day we switched to Rat-L-Traps, and caught our last weigh fish at 1:00.” They stayed in one area all day, and never started their big motor until it was time to come in. They were awarded a check for $4,500.

Rounding out the top 10 includes:
4th $3,700 23.81 lbs Jason Bonds & James Mitchell
5th $2,700 22.83 lbs Billy Beasley & Lee Brown
6th $2,200+ 22.09 lbs Chris Lewis & Keith Jones
7th $1,800 21.39 lbs Scott Bailey & Russ Carter
8th $1,700 21.31 lbs Bill Cook & Lane McGaha
9th $1,600 20.74 lbs Thomas Tripp & James Littleford
10th $ 1,500 20.68 lbs Larry Weppler & Dennis Fikes
and last in the money
36th $ 600 17.37 lbs Chad Dyess & Michael Crawford.

All total Bass Champs paid back $81,430 to winning teams in cash and prizes. 885 fish crossed the scales for a total tournament weight of 2,590.66 lbs, averaging 2.93 lbs per fish.

The next event for the East Region will be March 7, back on Sam Rayburn at the Umphrey Pavilion.

Set your DVR's for Bass Champs Television on The World Fishing Network and Fox Sports Net Southwest!
Skeeter Bass Champs
3-5 times per week

Bass Champs Tournament Report
Sundays @ 5:30 AM