LAKE FORK, TX – Sealy Outdoors 30th Annual Big Bass Splash on Lake Fork was everything anglers expected and more. With $3,000 for 1st place in each hour with two T-shirt hours per day paying double if you had bought a T-shirt, for a total of $6,000 for those hours, anglers responded. There were 15 places paid each hour of the 3-day tournament with fifteenth paying $250 dollars. This was one of the highest paying amateur tournaments and 2,700 anglers representing 28 states entered in hopes of winning some of the $520,000 guaranteed in cash and prizes.
The tournament was not only enjoyed by all of the anglers, but also spectators and family members of the anglers. All of Sealy Outdoors Big Bass Splashes have a festive atmosphere and this being his 30th Anniversary on Lake Fork, it was even more so!
Lake Fork is a Class ‘A’ slot lake in the state of Texas. The slot on this great reservoir is 16” to 24”, which means any bass between those two numbers cannot be brought to the scales. This keeps the lunker population in this great reservoir growing. This also meant that some anglers that caught a 1.72-pound bass up to a 2.56-pound bass took home good money from the tournament.
History was made during the 30th Annual Big Bass Splash on Lake Fork. Never in the Sealy’s history of tournaments had an angler won the exact weight bass during the T-Shirt hour. On Saturday during the 12 to 1 o’clock hour, Paul E. Smith from Marion, Louisiana weighed in an exact 2.50-pound bass winning him $5,000 for his catch. His catch also remained the heaviest for the hour and he had his T-shirt on which netted him an additional $6,000.
During the course of this 3 day tournament there were 959 fish weighed in with a total weight of 1,775.69-pounds. There were 24 bass weighed in during the tournament 24” in length or longer.
On Friday there were seven that came to the scales, (8 but the angler didn’t have a current license); Sidney Smith, from Alba, Texas with a 7.49; Jacob McKee from Leesville, Louisiana with an 8.74; James Teer from Sulphur Springs, Texas with an 8.20; Rodger Edellhauser from Reno, Texas with a 9.72; Steven Hastings from Johnson City, Illinois with a 7.13; Cody Parker from McAlester, Oklahoma with a 6.85; and Jeremy Davis from Jonesboro, Louisiana with a 7.07
On Saturday there were nine that came to the scales; Jeff Hood from Gilmer, Texas with an 8.36; Sammy Bates from Cabot, Arkansas with a 9.08; David Burkholder from Bearden, Arkansas with an 8.02; Michael Yoder from Texarkana, Arkansas with an 8.00; Chad Craddock from Bedford, Texas with an 8.09; Tommy Duncan from Gladewater, Texas with a 10.00; Paul Turner from Granbury, Texas with a 7.75; Matthew Biehl from Bellevue, Texas with a 7.14; and Wesley Pryor from Hopkinsville, Kentucky with a 7.05.
On Sunday there were eight that came to the scales; David Goff from Van, Texas with an 8.25; Levi Green from Killeen, Texas with a 7.80; Marty Thomas from Weatherford, Texas with a 6.76; Ricky Hardy from Graham, Texas with an 8.92; Edward Reavis, Jr from Detroit, Texas with a 9.47; Ken Self from Salem, New Hampshire with an 8.17; Clifford Wyrick from Luling, Texas with an 11.18; and Ricky Thompson from Hawley, Texas with a 7.70.
Winning 1st Place overall heaviest bass in the tournament was Clifford Wyrick from Luling, Texas with his 11.18-pound bass. He took home $6,000 for the hour, a 2016 Triton 19TRX powered by Mercury, a RAM Truck plus an additional $7,000. Second Place overall with a weight of 10-pounds was Tommy Duncan from Gladewater, Texas. He took home $3,000 for the hour, a 2016 Triton 18TRX powered by Mercury, a RAM Truck and an additional $2,000 in cash. Third Place overall weight was Rodger Edellhauser from Reno, Texas with a 9.72-pound bass. For his efforts he won $6,000 for the hour, a 2016 Triton 18TRX powered by Mercury, a RAM Truck plus an additional $1,000 in cash. Fourth Place was Edward Reavis, Jr. with a 9.47-pound bass. He won $3,000 for the hour plus an additional $8,000 in cash. Fifth Place was Sammy Bates from Cabot, Arkansas with a 9.08-pound bass. He took home $6,000 for the hourly plus an additional $6,000 for his catch.
In all of Sealy Outdoors events all the cash and prizes are guaranteed. Because an even 2.50-pound bass was not brought to the weigh-in on Friday or Sunday the $5,000 for each was given away in a random drawing. Taking home this extra money was Teddy Jackson from Burleson, Texas and Kenneth Zacharias from Dayton, Texas. Winning the heaviest bass under the slot with a 2.56-pound bass and an extra $5,000 was Joseph Goldman from Epping, New Hampshire. Jim Stafford from North Little Rock, Arkansas won the Elimination Draw Boat. He took home a 2016 Triton 189TRX powered by Mercury. In the open drawing James Whittington from Quitman, Texas won a $1,000 Academy Shopping Spree.
History was also made at this event in the Little Anglers Division. Little angler Brett Gordy from Longview, Texas brought in a catfish weighing 32.68-pounds that he caught on a crappie jig.
The Lake Fork Sportsman Association Live Release Boat did an excellent job returning all of the bass into the lake in great health to grow bigger and to be caught again another day. This organization truly looks out for the future of Lake Fork!
We hope to see you all again next year on Lake Fork. For more information and the daily hourly weights go to www.sealyoutdoors.com. To learn more about Sealy Outdoors Tournaments and schedules you can contact Nicole Sealy at email@example.com or call 409-382-3876 or 888-698-2591
Don Hampton – “The Fisherman’s Guide News”