Jasper, Tx- A relatively mild Winter in SE Texas gave way to a wintry mix early Saturday morning as 470 HS Teams were greeted with near freezing temperatures and and early morning showers. The weather may have slowed some of the teams up a bit, but by 6:30 am, most were ready to make that first cast of the day as the second of 5 qualifying tournaments began on the Ford SETX HS Tournament Trail presented by Skeeter Boats. SETX Tournament Director and Emcee John Salamone expected good numbers of fish to cross the stage in an interview on Friday night. "February is typically a month on Rayburn when you really start to see the fish start to get more predictable and with the surface temps in the mid 50's, these fish are getting ready to eat anything that moves. We really expect to see a lot of limits cross the stage tomorrow". Like John, SETX weighmaster Ray Beck has plenty of experience on Rayburn as well and he took it a step further and added, "we not only expect to see a lot of fish, but a lot of quality fish tomorrow. Big Sam is in great shape and the the mild winter already has some of the big females staging near prime spawn locations, we will see some big ones tomorrow".
SETX tournament coordinator Bryan Thomas of Lumberton was asked about the growing popularity of the sport, especially here in SE Texas. "We have created a perfect storm here in SE Texas. We have a jewel of a resource in Sam Rayburn. We have kids and captains who have spent their entire lives fishing this lake. We have had enormous sponsor support through Ford, Skeeter, Lews, Tackle Addict, Costa and numerous others. Our crowds grow at every tournament, rain or shine. We also have had some awesome people step up as volunteers for this organization and they are truly the heart and soul of what we do, but ultimately, it all comes back to those kids. We are extremely proud to offer them something that would not otherwise be available to them."
Tackle Addict First Place Team- 22.55 LBS- Danny Mullins and Robert Noel- Huntington HS- Boat Captain- Danny Mullins
Launching at St Augustine Park in Ayish Bayou, the team from Huntington did not go very far to collect their first place trophy. "We fished a couple coves not far from St. Augustine Park" said Capt Mullins. Concentrating on the 10-12 foot range and 55 degree water with a multitude of baits, the team from Huntington rotated 3 primary spots to collect their winning stringer. "At 9:30, we only had 3 fish in the livewell and they were not giants by no means" said Mullins. The team was patient and did not waiver from the plan of rotating through those 3 primary spots. The team continued to catch fish and upgrade throughout the day, but it was not until the end of the day, when the wind died a little, that the team was able to really concentrate on one of their areas with more precision. "We were able to get out on a point when the wind died a little and those boys were really able to pick it apart. In the final hour of the tourney, they were able to cull a 2 and 3 lb fish with a 4 and 5 lb fish and that is what put them over the top. Those boys fished hard and they fished clean today, I was very proud of them" said Mullins. Captain Mullins and his team wish to thank HISD for their support of the fishing team, SETX and the many volunteers who make this possible, and most of all, the good lord for his blessings. "We give it up to him at every tournament and it makes all the difference for our team" concluded Mullins.
2nd Place Team- 22.21 LBS- Kaden Duncan and Randy Abate- Bridge City HS- Boat Captain- Randy Turner
Interview not available
3rd Place Team- Baylee Flowers and Natalie Doucet- Lumberton HS- Boat Captain- Rusty Clark
Launching from Sandy Creek on the mid-south lake area, the team of Flowers and Doucet were not in a huge hurry to get on the water Saturday morning. "Those girls were ready, but the weather did nothing to speed them up that morning" said boat captain Rusty Clark. Focusing on Secondary points in the mid lake area was the plan for the day. The bait of choice, a carolina rigged Big Bite lizard soaked in 8 to 12 foot of water. "We had 3 spots we were focused on and we rotated those throughout the day" said Clark. Clark went on to say that working the baits very slowly was a factor in the teams success. "We were close to a limit several times, but that 5th fish eluded us 4 or 5 times as they came unbuttoned on the way to the boat". Eventually, that 5th fish came aboard and the team completed a small limit. It was not until the two hour period between 12 and 2 o clock, that the team really started to add to their weight. "Those girls found them and culled 4 times during that period of time. They caught between 20-30 fish during that time." When asked about about how his day went, Clark replied "Girls are a little different. It isn't everyday I hear about toenail polish and hair do's while on the lake, but they fished hard and executed the plan, I really enjoyed myself and I have to tip my cap to those girls because they can flat out fish". The team wished to thank Lew's reels, Falcon Rods, Sunline, and Big Bite Baits for their excellent products. A big thank you also to SETX and their volunteers, and Lumberton ISD.
Rest of Top Ten
4th Place- Diboll HS- Seth Scarborough and Austen Hernandez 20.97 LBS
5th Place- Brookeland HS- Jacob Root and Chase Mcadams 20.80 LBS
6th Place- Orangefield HS- Wyatt Willoughby and Macie Adrio 19.02 LBS
7th Place- Nederland HS- Jace Mattingly and Randy Wistner 18.52 LBS
8th Place- Deer Park HS- Michael Grimes and Colin Ward 17.88 LBS
9th Place- Brookeland HS- Mason Loving and Tanner West 17.84 LBS
10th Place- Livingston HS- Garrett Goodson and Braden Clifton 17.63 LBS
Top 3 Big Bass
Jacob Root and Chase Mcadams- Brookeland HS- 9.74 LBS
Tyler Okonski and William Gardiner- Splendora HS- 8.90 LBS
River Lee and Chance Cobb- Rains HS- 8.45 LBS
With the backing and support of sponsors like the South Texas Ford Dealers Association and Skeeter Boats, the SETX HS Fishing Association has emerged as the premiere HS fishing trail in the country.
A huge thank you goes out to all of our SETX sponsors for the 2015-2016 season. The following companies are the reason SETX exists and we cant thank them enough:
Lews, Costa Del Mar, Tackle Addict, Coastal Field Services, Academy, Lowrance, 6th Sense, Livingston Lures, Minn Kota, Rat L Trap, Gopher Industries, Kick N Bass Scents, Clark Reehm and the Elite Angler Academy, Lake Fork Tackle/Rod Sox, Culprit, Big Bite Baits, Ultra Pro X Cameras, Happy Trails RV's, Gator Guards, A-1 Glass, Crystal Heigley and the Allman Real Estate Team.
Story by Jet Donovan