Gulett & Rivers tops a tough crowd on Toledo Bend at Bass Champs
by: Patty Lenderman,
Winners Benjamin Gulett and Dustin Rivers
Photo by Patty Lenderman
(Feb 19, 2018 - Toledo Bed, TX/LA)
Tough crowds, savvy anglers, Mother Nature and ticking clocks were just a few of the elements in the air February 17, 2018 at Cypress Bend Marina on Toledo Bend. Bass Champs held the second East Region event with over 500 anglers, making 279 teams and a total tournament purse of more than $76,000. Weather delays helped some and hindered others, but in the end Benjamin Gulett and Dustin Rivers came out on top to win the guaranteed 1st place purse of $20,000.
As morning began to dawn, a thick blanket of fog enveloped the area, preventing a safe launch for the contenders. “It was hard to make out anything, just feet away,” Chad Potts recalled. “The safety of everyone is paramount. In a situation like this, especially with so many boats and people involved, it is imperative that it is at least reasonably safe to navigate.” Boats are numbered and released in flights of 25 with a slight wait in between. Each flight is assigned a check in time that correlates with their release time. On this morning, the fog remained for more than three hours from the normal start time. “We know it is hard for everyone to be patient and wait until conditions are safe,” Potts continued. “We will always put safety as top priority.” The fog finally lifted, and teams were released to head to their spots. The first flight was not due in until 4:30.
Jason Hanks and Marc Woolems christened the scales with a limit weighing in at 17.34 pounds. Soon after, Yarri Schreibvogel and his youth partner Hailey Robertson initiated the Big Bass race with their catch of 6.59 lbs. The sacks of bass kept getting heavier and the kickers coming in kept getting bigger.
Shannon Wingate and Cole Moore were the first to weigh in excess of twenty pounds, having a 25.85 lb sack. More and more teams brought in great catches in the twenty pound range under them and it looked like they were going to take the win. Mere minutes before the scales closed, Benjamin Gulett and Dustin Rivers brought in their catch, tipping the scales to 28.58 lbs to champion the event.
The winners Benjamin Gulett and Dustin Rivers reported predominantly using a rattle trap for their catches, and had found the bite to be difficult to find. “We only had one fish in the boat at 3:00.” The extra time allotted due to the morning delay paid off for them. Between 3-4:00 they put their winning creel together, cashing in on the guaranteed 1st place $20,000 check!
2nd place winners Wingate and Moore also reported using rattle traps, fishing in 4’-8’ depths. They had all of the fish they weighed in by 1pm using Rayburn Red and Toledo Gold color patterns. They were awarded $6,000 plus the Lowrance bonus.
Sean Kennon and Jordan Hollingsworth pulled out a 3rd place finish focusing on brush piles in 25’ of water using ¾ ounce Santone football head jigs. They caught a limit weighing 24.78 lbs to win $4,500.
There were a lot of big bass weighed at the scales. The biggest of them all was weighed in by the team of Brannon Mire and Eric Arnold. Their big brute was 10.65 lbs, caught on a football jig, winning a $1,000 check for biggest fish of the day.
Thirty seven teams won checks, with the last $600 going to Martin Elshout and Mark Price with 16.42 pounds.
“When we have a large field of participants, we offer a $500 Conservation Bonus if you elect to pre-release your fish in lieu of weighing them in. It gives teams who would not have had enough weight to win a check an opportunity to cash in for their conservation efforts,” said Potts. All teams who elected not to weigh any fish were put into the drawing. David Czudek Sr and Emmett Dixon were the winners of the Conservation Bonus.
Each region has a total of four regular season events. Participants gain points in each, and the team with the most points at the conclusion of the fourth regular season event in their region earn the Anglers of the Year award. Along with the prestigious title, the entry fees for the next season in that region are waived for the winners. The points race is tight with only two events to go. Currently the top five points leaders are: 583 pts. Clayton Boulware & Albert Collins 575 pts. Jason Hanks & Marc Woolems 575 pts. Brian Lowrance & Jaret Latta 570 pts. Wyatt Frankens & Alec Castonguay 570 pts. Michael Newman & Justin Seeton
The final two East region events will occur March 10th on Sam Rayburn and then May 12th back on Toledo Bend. In the meantime Bass Champs staff and crew are headed to Lake Fork February 24th. Remember – all Bass Champs regular season events are open to anyone who would like to compete!
The next specialty tournament is coming up next month on Lake Fork on March 17. The annual Mega Bass tournament is the world’s richest one day hourly big bass event. $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!
2/24 – Lake Fork 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
Bass Champs also hosts these great specialty tournaments: March 17 – Sportsman’s Auto Network Mega Bass on Lake Fork June 8 – Skeeter Owner’s Tournament on Lake Fork June 23 – Techron TX Shootout on Sam Rayburn Oct 20 – 13th Annual Berkeley Big Bass on Lake Fork
For more information please visit www.BassChamps.com or call 817-439-3274