Jasper, Tx- Feb. 26- A chilly, windy morning greeted nearly 500 registered teams last Sunday as the Ford SETX HS Championship Series presented by Skeeter Boats kicked off its third of five regular season tournaments on Lake Sam Rayburn. "It's hard to believe that after today, we will be over halfway done with our regular season. We are already planning for the Championship in May" said SETX President Clint Fountain of Kirbyville. With the 3rd tournament already in the books, a lot of the anglers are going to be turning their attention to their overall standings after 3 tournaments. With only 2 regular season tournaments left, anglers know time is running out to qualify for the year end championship to be held on May 6th and 7th. The good news to all the anglers is that they automatically qualify for the championship if they register for all the tournaments. SETX VP Tom Selman of PNG said this, "We want to make sure we reward success, but also reward loyalty as well by qualifying those who fish with us in all 5 tournaments. Our 5 regular season tournaments are awesome, but we really put a lot of emphasis on our 2 day championship in May. We pay out 100% of our entry fees at our tournaments and keep nothing for the championship. Our sponsors are the sole reason why we are able to have a year end blowout like we do every year. Without them, it would simply not be possible", concluded Selman.
As for the fishing, "everyone knows the spawn is in full swing" said tournament emcee Tom Webb, who filled in quite nicely for the usual emcee John Salamone. "We had several 6+ LB fish weighed today and we have had some recent tourneys won up here by sight fishing exclusively, so the fish are already there and will continue to move up for the next month or so" concluded Webb.
Tackle Addict First Place Team- 22.78 LBS- PNG- Mason Arnaud and Reed Hudspeth- Boat Captain Mike Arnaud
While there are no rules that say a captain cannot help his team find fish, a very humble Captain Mike Arnaud wanted to make sure he gave credit to his team for doing their homework leading up to the most recent SETX event. "Those boys did all the preliminary work. They had a plan and stuck with it throughout the day. All I did was get them there safely" said Captain Arnaud. After launching their boat at Caney Creek Sunday morning, the team from PNG ran across the lake to Veach Basin and began their day by soaking carolina rigs off of a secondary point in 14 foot of water. "The area was about a 40 x 40 yard stretch. After about an hour and a half, the boys had a solid 20 LB bag, anchored by a 8.67 LB behemoth. The boys fought the urge to beat up the banks and stayed offshore and that takes a lot of discipline, especially this time of year" continued Captain Arnaud. After a bumpy ride back back across to the Caney area, the team realized they had a faulty livewell and their mornings catch was in jeopardy. "After the rough ride back across the lake, I thought it would be wise to check the health of the fish. When we opened the box, we realized we were losing water fast and had to fix the problem. Luckily, the pumps started working again and everything turned out OK." concluded Captain Arnaud. While a captain's day can sometimes be long and arduous, this is just another example of how SETX captain's can help their anglers during the day. Nice job Mike!
Second Place Team- 22.35 LBS- Huntington- Hallie Hanna and Ethan Collins- Boat Captain Randy Hanna
On a lake like Sam Rayburn, it is easy to get caught in the trap of running from place to place in search of that "magical" school of fish. On the other hand, there is something to be said for the simplistic approach. "We may have burned 2 gallons of gas today" said Captain Randy Hanna of Huntington. Launching at Monterrey Park, the team made a short run to a 3 foot flat where they quickly put 3 swimmers in the boat. Realizing that the strategy was not gonna pay off with bigger fish, the team made a quick move to a small ditch with some scattered grass in and around it. Using a light weighted carolina rig, also known as a mojo rig in the bass fishing world, the team quickly caught their largest fish, a 7.78 LB bass. Within 10 minutes, they had boated another one weighing in around 5 LBS. "We knew we had found the spot at that point and we continued to work in about a 100 yard circle in and around the area where the two fish came from" continued Capt. Hanna. Hanna reported that the team was able to cull up throughout the day by focusing on the small points that met the ditch (funnel) area. The team wished to thank Lonnie Stanley of Stanley Lures and Hale lures. They also wanted to thank Skeeter/Yamaha for supporting SETX HS Fishing.
Third Place Team- 21.47 LBS- PNG- Tyler Faulk and Kyle Stegall- Boat Captain Mike Stegall
Wind, wind, wind. Often the curse for many fisherman, but for the team of Faulk and Stegall, it was a blessing. "I told the boys after we launched in the black forest area Sunday morning that the big girls were gonna bite good today if the wind stayed like this" said Captain Mike Stegall of PNG. After making their way up the lake to just above the 147 bridge, the team focused on 3-6 foot drains with moving baits like traps and swim jigs, in areas they had caught fish in during practice. "The boys put 4 fish in the box and we left around 9 am to go check on a bed fish they had found in practice. "They caught the bed fish to fill their limit, but we knew we had some work to do if we wanted to be in serious contention" continued Capt. Stegall. It was between 10:30 and 11:30 when the team from PNG started to really started to make some headway. "The fish really bit good in that one hour period. The boys were able to catch their largest fish, a 6.44 LB'er, and two more in the 5 Lb range to upgrade their stringer. I was very proud of them for sticking to the game plan and staying focused, but I also wanted to congratulate the winning team from PNG as well. I know how hard those kids work to be successful and they are very deserving of the win today" concluded Stegall. Classy Capt. Stegall, sportsmanship at its finest!!
Rounding out the top Ten
4th Place- 19.51 LBS William Garms and Tyler Mcnutt- Porter
5th Place- 18.94 LBS Taylor Dilday and Colton Mosely- Huntington
6th Place- 18.74 LBS Keaton Castilaw and Reagan Marshall- Kountze
7th Place- 18.63 LBS Joe BeeBee and Chad Mrazek- College Park
8th Place- 18.46 LBS Hunter Muncrief and Landen Mccary- West Sabine
9th Place- 17.87 LBS Bailey Broom and Thomas Forsyth- PNG
10th Place- 16.63 LBS Blake Brown and Mason Hudnall- Hardin
Top 3 Big Bass
1st- 8.67 LBS- Mason Arnaud and Reed Hudspeth- PNG
2nd- 7.68 LBS- Hallie Hanna and Ethan Collins- Huintington
3rd- 7.51 LBS- Keaton Castilaw and Reagan Marshall- Kountze
The SETX board wanted to make sure they sent out many THANKS to the all the volunteers who helped last Sunday. Your time and your patience is absolutely necessary for the success of this organization. We simply cannot thank all of you enough for your efforts. THANK YOU ALL.
Lastly, the board wanted to make sure that all of you take the time to go by the many sponsor booth's at the tournaments and say "HI" and "thank you" for supporting the young anglers of Southeast Texas. As always, please remember these companies when it comes time to make your own personal purchases!! They are supporting us, so please support them. When out and about, let these people know you support them because they support SETX HS Fishing.
THANK YOU TO ALL OF THE SETX SPONSORS for helping make SETX the premiere HS Fishing Trail in the country!!!
South Texas Ford Dealers Assn, Skeeter Boats/Yamaha, Tackle Addict, Costa, Lews, Coastal Field Services, Academy, 6th Sense, Livingston Lures, Rat L Trap, Gopher Industries, Culprit, Bass Cash Bash, Winn Grips, Big Bite Baits, V&M Lures, Happy Trails RV's, Stubb's Cycle, Whataburger, Gator Guards, Southeast Texas Starter, A-1 Glass, Crystal Heigley and the Allman Real Estate Team, and Obsessed with Nature Taxidermy.
Story by Jet Donovan