Fishing & Boating News

High winds and big paybacks at Bass Champs on Belton – Hibler & Christian dominate the day

by: Patty Lenderman,

1st- Randy Hibler & Randall Christian
Photo by courtesy Bass Champs
(Apr 10, 2017 - Lake Belton, TX) Lake Belton has been pumping out some big ones this month, and 193 Bass Champs teams were after them April 8th. Excitement was high as a week prior, Belton produced a new lake record nearly 14 pounds! Bass Champs staff and crew were ready with a 102% payback tournament. Randy Hibler & Randy Christian dominated the pack to win over $20,000.

The morning began with cool temperatures and calm breezes. Teams scrambled to their hot spots after being released for take-off hoping to arrive at them first. By mid-morning it wasn’t other anglers getting them to move off their areas, it was high winds in excess of 25 mph and the big waves that followed. Shifting gears to allot for the elements handed to them on their playing field, several solid sacks of bass were brought in and weights were tight all the way down the pay line.

Winners Randy Hibler and Randall Christian were just a little worried about how their day was going to play out, starting with boat #151. “We figured that with such a late draw, we probably wouldn’t be able to fish our spot toward the mouth of the river before anyone else got there.” To their surprise, they got it all to themselves. “We started fishing in 2’-4’ with white spinnerbaits.” On their first pass, they caught three nice chunks! “We switched to small watermelon creature baits on our second pass through. We wrapped up a limit, and caught a few more. We culled three times out of that same hole.” They had a boat load of solid bass in the boat, but were forced to leave when the wind started blowing. “It was around 8:30 when the wind started. At that point, between that and the boat traffic we headed out to try other spots.” They managed to catch a few more fish before the end of the day, but nothing they could cull with. Putting their best five on the scales, their weight tallied 23.48 pounds, dominating the event for a 1st place win! Bass Champs presented the team the coveted $20,000 winning check then Sure Life added to their purse for using the product in their livewell. “We’ve been fishing with Bass Champs since 2002, and this is just our second 1st place win. We’ve taken a little time off of tournaments, and getting back in the saddle wasn’t easy. There’s a lot of really good anglers fishing Bass Champs, and the technology has just gone wild. You just have to get out there and do it!”

Trey Groce and Joe Bill Hale won 2nd place with their 18.24 lb limit. “We had a terrible practice the weekend before,” Joe Bill began. “Basically we eliminated a lot of water.” They decided to start their day fishing shallow water with topwater baits and flukes. “We got an early limit, but it was small. When that bite quit, we headed to deeper water looking for bigger bass with a 10” worm.” They searched for their fish in creek areas at secondary points. “We started culling up our weight, and then we tried the marina area and got lucky. We caught our biggest bass, around six pounds, and culled a two pounder with it!” As tight as the weights were in the lineup, that four pound increase made a huge difference in their final standings. “We were very lucky and blessed today! I have a great partner. Trey Groce is the best fisherman I know. We really appreciate what Bass Champs does. We realize it is a lot of travel and a lot of work for you so we can fish these great tournaments. Thank you Bass Champs!” The team received $4,500 for their 2nd place win.

3rd place winners Gerald and Jarrett Rabroker drew boat #135 and headed north to hunt for their bass. “We were lucky, there wasn’t anybody on our hole.” Starting their day using topwater baits and flukes, they put a limit in the boat early. “The wind came up and blew us off our spot, so we ran to other areas with structure.” Switching to Texas and Carolina rigs, they started upgrading their creel. “We were targeting rocks and brush piles in 6-7’ of water, looking for post-spawn bass.” The bite was better for them in the afternoon, producing their two biggest bass at five and six pounds. Their total weight was 17.46 pounds earning a check for $3,500.

The biggest bass of the day was reeled in by Jared Smith fishing with partner Chris Baker. “We didn’t have any practice, so we just decided to go to a creek we have both done well at in the past,” they explained. Chris caught their first fish, a four pounder. About 20 minutes later Jared got a bite. “We were fishing shallow water. She just picked up the bait and started swimming off with it. I set the hook, and could feel her shaking her head. Then she jumped out of the water! Chris didn’t see it, so I started yelling ‘Get the net! It’s a big one!’ We got her in the livewell, and just kept fishing. We figured it was going to be an early and then late bite, so we just kept fishing.” They put one more fish in the boat, then the bite died. “We hunted for more fish the rest of the day, just couldn’t find any.” Putting their big fish on the scales, she weighed in at 7.72 pounds to win the $500 Big Bass check. Adding their other two, their total weight was 14.28 lbs to win 20th place and another $650 check. They also won the Costa Del Mar bonus! “This was my personal best catch on Belton,” Jared added. “I’d like to thank my wife Lacey and daughter Kinley for their support along with Baker Triangle, Building Specialties, Builders Gypsum Supply, Baker Electric Services and Tina Reagan Realty. Also we’d like to thank Bass Champs for having these tournaments for us to fish!”

Rounding out the top 10:
4th $2,200 17.28 lbs Richard Draper & Phil Marks
4th $2,200 17.28 lbs Kelley Mauldin & Lloyd Ward
6th $1,500+ 16.97 lbs Allen Shelton & Brad Drake
7th $1,300 16.02 lbs Cade Wilson & David Wilson
8th $1,200 16.01 lbs Kenneth Fuller Jr & Curtis Junge
9th $1,100 15.97 lbs Paymon Habib & Justin Fisher
10th $1,040+ 15.86 lbs Daniel Barnes & Adrian Barnes
And last in the money
26th 13.79 lbs $600 Charles Whited & Bill Polkinghorn

Bass Champs sponsors added even more winnings for these qualified teams:
Skeeter Bonus Cash ($1,040) Daniel & Adrian Barnes
Sportsman’s Auto Bonus ($5,000+) Weston Brown & David Doonan
Lowrance Gen3 Bonus – Allen Shelton & Brad Drake
Sure Life Bonus ($200) Randy Hibler & Randall Christian
Costa Del Mar – ($200) Chris Baker & Jared Smith

The Central Region has now completed three out of four events for the 2017 season. There is only one tournament to go to determine Anglers of the Year. The top five points leaders going into the final event are:
551 pts Charles Whited & Bill Polkinghorn
538 pts Jason Buchanan & Terry Kircus
517 pts Adam Clark & Rick Clark
510 pts Randy Hibler & Randall Christian
501 pts Lucas Larson & Bill Rule
Good luck teams at the final Central Region tournament May 20 on Lake LBJ!

There’s just a few tournaments to go – don’t miss your chance to win big in any of these events:
April 22 – South Region - Amistad
April 29 – North Region – Lake Fork
May 13 – East Region – Toledo Bend
May 20 – Central Region - LBJ
June 3 – North Region – Tawakoni
June 9-11 – Skeeter Owner’s Tournament – Fork
June 25 – Techron TX Shootout – Sam Rayburn
Oct 14-15 – 2017 Team Championship – TBA
Oct 21-22 – 12th Annual Berkley Big Bass - Fork

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