490 registered HS teams from as far as Rains HS to the north and Friendswood HS to the south collided on the Fall chilled waters of Sam Rayburn this past weekend to open up the the 2015-2016 Ford SETX HS Fishing Championship series presented by Skeeter boats. Setting attendance records has been nothing new for the SETX group since their start in 2013 and the season opener for 2015-2016 would prove no different. "We think this might be the single largest stringer tournament ever, HS or otherwise" said SETX President Clint Fountain of Kirbyville. "Our staff welcomes the challenge and with the tremendous amount of volunteer help, we really think we can pull this off" Fountain continued. When asked about the tremendous growth of the organization over the past few years, SETX Vice President Tom Selman of PNG replied simply, "We have provided a very unique opportunity for young kids be successful in something other than the usual school activities that have kids have been offered in the past, and they have obviously responded". SETX Treasurer Ted O'Dell from Buna attributes the groups success to a lot of hard work behind the scenes, great volunteer help, and something as simple as "good family time". "We have a lot of families who make this an entire weekend together, spend a couple nights at the lake and just get away as a family. There are not a lot of school activities that can offer that and we are proud to provide that opportunity in these people's lives" O'Dell concluded. With 490 teams competing, someone was bound to find the right combination for a winning stringer and at 6:30 am Saturday, after many chilly boat rides, that quest began as nearly 1000 anglers made their first casts into the rapidly cooling waters of Sam Rayburn.
1st Place Team- 20.39 LBS- Buna HS- Trace O'Dell and Matthew Martin- Boat Captain Ted O'Dell
Focusing on small ditches and drains in the 3-6 foot depths with green grass proved to be the winning combination for this pair of anglers from Buna. "We knew where the small drains were at, but the key was finding what little green grass we could in those areas" said Capt O'Dell. The team rotated 3 or 4 similar areas throughout the day in the mid lake area to accumulate their 5 fish. Throwing fast moving Livingston "pro rippers" into those grass filled drains with their Mccain custom rods and Lews reels spooled with Sunline fluorocarbon. The team also attributes their success to the "frenzy shad" setting on their hydrowave. "It really seemed to get the fish going and active in the early morning hours" continued O'Dell. The teams creel was anchored by an 8.10 LB Rayburn lunker. It was the first fish they caught in the early morning hours and that always makes for a relaxing day, knowing that your "kicker" is in the livewell. The team filled their limit around 8 am and culled a few more times before the bite slowed down for the day. The team would like to thank all of their team sponsors as well as the SETX sponsors for all of their support of HS Fishing. A big thanks also to the SETX crew and volunteers for all of their hard work.
2nd Place Team- 19.45 LBS- Buna HS- Devin Prine and Blaine Marks- Boat Captain Brandon Marks
Concentrating their efforts in the mid lake area of Big Sam, the team of Prine and Marks, from Buna as well, also rotated 3 or 4 spots to accumulate their 19.45 LBS of Rayburn bass. "We had about 3 or 4 spots in the 10-20 foot range that we felt pretty good about" said Capt Marks. "The day went smooth and the kids fished pretty clean" he continued. The team did not have a lot of bites throughout the day, but the ones that did bite were all solid fish. "We only culled one time" said Marks. When asked about techniques, the team was pretty tight lipped, but did say that that a carolina rigged soft plastic played a big role in their success on Saturday. The team wished to thank the Good Lord, the Buna team sponsors and all of the SETX sponsors for their support of HS fishing. The team also wished to thank all of the volunteers that help at the tournaments.
3rd Place Team- 18.26 LBS- College Park HS (Woodlands)- Joe BeeBee and Chad Mrazek- Boat Captain Neil BeeBee
The big stage is not unfamiliar to 1/2 of this team as Joe captured a TBF state championship on Lake LBJ in March of 2013 with a 30+ LB stringer, which still stands as a HS record!! Capt BeeBee was also along for the ride that day at LBJ. With this kind of experience on the water, the team of BeeBee and Mrazek are poised to make a run at AOY with SETX this year and with a 3rd place finish Saturday, they are off to a great start. Fishing with Bill Lewis Rat L Traps, the team from College Park started the day slowly in shallow water. Then fate intervened, "We had a boat near us who needed assistance with some jumper cables and we were close by so we offered our assistance by loaning them some cables to get them going. When we were done, someone had moved in on our area that we were fishing, so we left and headed out to deeper water" said BeeBee. Call it Karma or whatever you would like, but the team was rewarded for their on the water etiquette with a 7.54 lb fish almost immediately. Using Carolina rigged excite soft plastics and excite squarebills with trokar hooks along with Castaway rods and Lews reels in the mid lake area, the team quickly managed a nice limit and even culled a couple times to fill their stringer. The team wished to thank their sponsors and SETX sponsors along with all of the volunteers who help make HS fishing possible.
Rest of Top Ten
4th place- Jacob Root and Chase Mcadams- Brookeland- 16.96 LBS
5th place- Jacob Thompson- Warren- 16.46 LBS
6th Place- Tristyn Terry and Allison Blank- Brookeland- 15.82 LBS
7th Place- Hunter Haining and Corbin Stepan- PNG- 15.79 LBS
8th Place- Hunter Goodrum and Trey Kinard- Splendora- 15.64 LBS
9th Place- Jeff Scifres and Joel Sitton- 15.62 LBS
10th Place- Hunter Muncrief and Landen Mccary- West Sabine- 14.94 LBS
Top 3 Big Bass
8.84 LBS- Chase Adkins and Macay Maddox- Central Pollok
8.10 LBS- Trace O'Dell and Matthew Martin- Buna
7.66 LBS- Chance Mackenzie and Cullen Dale- Hardin Jefferson
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 fishing trail in the country. A huge thank you goes to all SETX sponsors for 2015-2016. These are the companies that make all of this possible for the kids of Southeast Texas.
Lews, Costa Del Mar, Tackle Addict, Coastal Field Services, Academy, Lowrance, Minn Kota, 6th Sense, Rat L Trap, Gopher Industries, Kick N Bass Scents, Clark Reehm and the Elite Angler Academy, Lake Fork Tackle/Rod Sox, Gator Guards, Culprit, A-1 Glass, Crystal Heigley and Allman Real Estate.
Story by Jet Donovan