Fishing & Boating News

Eric Blane wins record setting 23rd Annual Skeeter Owners Tournament on Lake Fork

by: Patty Lenderman,

Eric Blane of Montgomery, TX with his new Skeeter FX 20 - rigged with Yamaha SHO 250 - Lowrance- Power Poles - Minn Kota
Photo by courtesy Bass Champs Tournament Trails
Simpson Rushing of Forney, TX with his new Yamaha Viking side X side
Photo by courtesy Bass Champs Tournament Trails
(Jun 15, 2016 - Lake Fork, TX) Eat – Sleep – Fish! The motto for Skeeter Boats pretty much says it all, as their 23rd annual customer appreciation event hosted by Bass Champs on Lake Fork was filled with fun, great food, LOTS of fish and record-setting anglers June 11-12, 2016. In the end, it was the Montgomery, TX angler Eric Blane who took home the crown and a brand new Skeeter boat with a 9.04 lb catch.

Each year, the makers of the world’s first bass boat celebrates the sport of bass fishing and their customers with their annual appreciation event. It is a two day hourly big bass tournament that anyone with a registered Skeeter boat can fish with up to two other participants aboard! This year over 2200 anglers representing nearly half the country made the trek to this legendary lake to fish for hundreds of thousands in cash and prizes setting all new records. The top ten anglers received checks in this hourly event, plus there was a Ladies Division and a Jr Division for even more ways to win. To make it even more fun, fifty yellow rubber duckies were numbered and scattered around the lake for participants to find and bring in for more prizes. Everyone in attendance enjoyed the Texas-sized BBQ on Saturday, and prize winners brought home their winnings at the conclusion of the event on Sunday.

Lake Fork is a slot lake, meaning that only fish under 16” or over 24” are legal. Everything in-between cannot be retained or weighed, and released back into the lake. Skeeter was awarding two grand prizes in addition to the hourly checks for the anglers catching the biggest bass under – and the biggest over the slot.

The first of the many big bass over the slot seen at the scales started coming in by the 11:00 hour on the first day. Jacob Bruener of Douglas, TX caught an 8.42 lb bass that set the bar going into day two.

It was the second hour of the final day when Eric Blane of Montgomery, TX brought in his 9.04 lb catch. “My buddy, Shawn Lehman and I have been fishing together for years, and have fished several of the Skeeter Owners tournaments. Shawn won the boat a few years back and that’'s what we'’ve been fishing out of.” Their plan was to just fish for bass over the slot and try to win another boat. “The first day, we started out fishing shallow water. We didn'’t catch anything to weigh in, so the second day we headed straight to deeper water.” Using large swim baits in depths 15’ – 30’, Eric felt a bump on his line. “I set the hook, and the drag gave. I knew whatever I hooked was going to be good!” As the fish neared the boat and neared the surface of the water, he saw its mouth. “Then I knew it was a monster!” She rolled and dove back down. “I brought her back up to the surface, and Shawn netted her and got her in the boat. I was so relieved, I was shaking. It was really exciting.” They brought her in, taking the lead and keeping it until the scales closed. Eric not only won $700 for the hour, he also won the tournament to win a brand new Skeeter FX 20 powered by a Yamaha 250 SHO! Eric was crowned champion of the 23rd Annual Skeeter Owners event. “”We look forward to the Skeeter Owner’s tournament every year, and would like to thank Skeeter and Bass Champs for putting the tournament on for everyone. We also found one of the yellow ducks, and won a prize for that too! This event is like a vacation for us. Add in winning a boat just makes it that much more awesome. We love our Skeeter boat, and wouldn'’t fish out of anything else.”

The winner for the biggest bass under the slot did not weigh in his fish until the final hour of the tournament. Simpson Rushing of Forney, TX caught a chunky 2.81 lb bass that won 2nd place for the final hour and a $600 check PLUS a Yamaha Viking Side by Side! “My wife and I bought a 1978 Skeeter Wrangler about two and a half years ago. My former boss has fished Skeeter tournaments for years, and suggested that since we were now Skeeter owners that we should fish the Owners tournaments too. My wife and I decided to go have a great weekend fishing the tournament, and just at least weigh in a fish.” The first day, they caught several fish in the slot, and a few ‘unders’ that were too small to bring in. “We started out trying to stick with that same game plan the second day, and weren'’t having any better luck. By around 10-10:30 I had pretty much given up. We weren't catching anything to weigh in, my feet were very sunburned, and I wanted to go to Oak Ridge Marina and dive into their great salad bar.” His wife did not agree. “She said we still had two hours to fish, and we were going to fish!” Simpson switched gears with only two fishing hours left, tying on a 10” Texas rigged worm and heading to deeper water. “I figured if we were going to finish it out, I may as well go for the boat!” He caught a nice slot fish, then boated his next fish. “I measured it. It was really close. I was nervous about bringing it in, I just wanted it to be a legal catch and not get a ticket!” It was the final weigh in hour, and when his weight locked in he found out he just weighed the biggest ‘under’ fish of the tournament. “Both of us are still so excited. I check to see if my Yamaha Viking is still really in my driveway and it wasn'’t a dream!” It just so happens that he also caught the bass on the Limited Edition TFO rod he bought at the tournament. “I have always heard that Bass Champs is great. They really are. We had a great time, met some great people, and I LOVE my Skeeter boat – I'’ll never own anything besides Skeeter!”

In the Ladies Division, the top three winners are:
1st 2.74 lbs Linda Dvorak, Elm Mott TX
2nd 2.58 lbs Candi Edwards, Yantis TX
3rd 2.37 lbs Joyce Schmidt, Grand Bay AL

The Junior Division anglers didn'’t pull any punches either:
1st 2.75 lbs Ryan Crawford, Ardmore OK
2nd 2.15 lbs Kaden Wiedenfeld, Boerne TX
3rd 1.99 lbs Colton Halbert, LaRue TX
4th 1.88 lbs Matthew Glasgow, Kaufman TX

“We look forward to this annual tournament as much or more than all of the participants do,” stated Jeff Stone, VP/General Manager. “We love being able to do what we do – build the BEST bass boats in the world – and really appreciate our customers who drive them. We’d like to thank everyone who made the trip to fish with us again this year and hope everyone had a great time. It was great seeing old friends and meeting new ones. We look forward to seeing everyone again next year!”