Many, LA- Feb. 22nd- The FORD SETX Championship Series presented by SKEETER BOATS packed up and traveled a little further east this past weekend to Toledo Bend as the series nears the midpoint of the season. "We really enjoy coming over here to Toledo Bend. It is one of the few facilities in the area that can handle our numbers and it provides a welcome change of scenery during the season", said SETX Tournament Coordinator Rachel Scott. We caught up with tournament director/emcee John Salamone on Friday night and he had this to say about the Toledo visit. "When we looked at scheduling this tourney a few years back, we had several options, but perhaps the biggest factor in scheduling a late February tournament on Toledo was simply getting off Rayburn for those 5-6 weeks in February and March. Of course at the time Toledo was ranked as the #1 bass lake in America so that helped as well!!" concluded Salamone.
Even though the old lake is not fishing like it was 4-5 years ago, Toledo is still recognized as one of the top bass fishing destinations in the country. Recent floods and constantly fluctuating lake levels have taken away just about all of the hydrilla the old lake was once famous for and with that, the once abundant schools of 4-6 pound fish have disappeared as well. "It might not take a huge bag to win this weekend" said SETX Board Member Mark Grissom of Vidor. "We have had a few chilly nights leading up to this tournament so the shallow bite may be off a bit, but the deeper fish should still bite pretty good if you can find them" concluded Grissom.
Tackle Addict First Place Team- Logan O'Dell and Colt Kibodeaux- Buna HS- 17.87 LBS- Kirk Leleux
Every Captain has certain rules in his/her boat that his team must follow during the day. This Sophomore/Senior team from Buna is no exception as they are faced with quite the dilemma each time they get into Mr Leleux's boat. "Anglers are not allowed to eat until 5 fish have been put in the live well" said Capt Leleux. For some of us, that may not be to big of a deal, but for 2 growing teenagers, that kind of incentive may be just enough to win an SETX event and that is exactly what happened on Saturday. "We got to practice for 4-5 hours on Friday and it definitely helped us out on Saturday. The boys ate an early breakfast and by 8:30, they were free to eat again if they wanted to" continued Leleux. Launching at the 6 mile ramp, the team keyed in on flooded timber on the lower end of the lake with square bills and Carolina rigs in the 5-6 foot range. The team reported getting a good reaction bite up until around 8:30 am. After that, the team slowed down quite a bit by dragging Carolina rigs very very slowly and even dead sticking them. The team wished to send special thanks to John Vandevender, Brandon and Tonya Marks, Christine Sitton and Laree Bosier. Thank you as well to Buna HS Team Sponsors: Yuline, Eastex FCU, Biskamp Electric, Branch Ranch, Hatch Construction, Weaver Motors, Lelux Home Builders, LIThandlers, Watts Outdoor, Coastal Welding, Jasper Newton Electric, Buna Electric Motors, Like New Automotive, All Dressed Up, Rhyme Industries, FNB-Buna, Community Bank, BBVA Bank, Brundage-Bone Concrete Pumping, War House, ASII, AOK RV Park, Ultra-Con, OCBM, Olson Engineering, KGR Inspection, Beasley's Smokehouse, Metco.
Second Place Team- Lanceton Price and Tyler Roberts- Silsbee HS- 17.30LBS- Captain Bo Standley
Every team has a story at the end of the fishing day, some good, some bad, and some that must be shared with everyone. "We had located some fish and so did a team from Kountze (Cole Trick and Hayden Holland- Captain Paul Trick). I just want to say thanks to Capt Trick and his team for letting us fish and not moving in on us when they saw we were catching quality fish. There was also another SETX team very close by and they gave us plenty space as well, but I did not get their names" said Captain Bo Standley. Too often is this sport, we hear so many of the negatives when it comes to giving anglers their space. Thank you to the those two Captains and their teams for setting great examples for all of us and thank you Capt Standley for sharing.
As for the fishing day itself, the Sophomore/Senior team from Silsbee took advantage of a productive practice day on Friday and parlayed it into a 2nd place finish on Saturday with 17.30 LBS. Launching at the Six Mile Ramp, the team reported fishing in the Sandy Creek area where they were able to find some scattered hydrilla and stumps in 7-14 foot of water, but very close to deeper water. The team reported having a limit by 9:30 and culling up a couple times during the day. "We experimented fishing up shallower and caught some fish, but they were not near the quality that we found out deeper. The Lews Combos the boys were using really helped them feel the subtle bites on the brush hogs and trick worms and helped land those fish as well when they hit the Rat L Trap." concluded Standley. The team wished to thank Tackle Addict for having everything we needed for the trip, Bill Lewis for making an awesome bait, Costa for helping us find those stumps, Skeeter and Yamaha for getting us out there and back safely, Rod Armorz for keeping the rod box nice and neat, and Gill for keeping us warm on that 30 degree boat ride Saturday morning.
Third Place Team- Paden Dugat and Blake Sheffield- Barbers Hill HS- 16.79 LBS- Captain Jim Dugat
Rare is the occasion when a team can finish in the top 3 in any tournament with only 4 fish, but such was the case on Saturday for these two Sophomore's from Barbers Hill. Launching at Prates Cove, the team from Barbers Hill focused in on Main Lake and Secondary points in the 8-12 foot range with scattered wood. The bites were few and far between, but the quality of fish made up for the quantity. "It was a tough day of fishing and the cold morning made it even tougher, but the boys did a great job of staying focused despite the less than favorable conditions" said Captain Jim Dugat. "We got to spend 1/2 the day Friday practicing and that time definitely helped us key in on a few things on tournament day. We had a chance to get fish number 5, but we are quite thankful for the ones we got, especially the 8.58 LB monster that anchored the bag" concluded Dugat. The team reported dragging Carolina rigged baby brush hogs with Lews rods and reels to gather their 16.5 LB bag. The team wished to thank Lews, Mercury, Triton, hot hands, team advisor Lance Murphy and his wife Amy for all they do for the BH team, and everyone at SETX for providing the opportunity for our kids to fish and for making sure each tournament runs flawlessly.
REST OF TOP 10
4th Place- 16.48 LBS- Garrison Byerly and Will Henson- LCM HS
5th Place- 15.13 LBS- Hunter Bellanger and Jake Carlin - Bridge City HS
6th Place- 15.01 LBS- Logan Duffee and Robert Moore- Orangefield HS
7th Place- 14.78 LBS- Dylan Colvin and Tristan Stites- Silsbee HS
8th Place- 14.63 LBS- Collin Freeman-Vidor HS
9th Place- 13.91 LBS- Ethen Rogers and Alexis Hale- Brookeland HS
10th Place- 13.79 LBS- Braxton Rambo and Cameron Dougharty- LCM HS
Top 3 Big Fish of Weekend
8.17 LBS- Paden Dugat and Blake Sheffield- Barbers Hill HS (LEWS COMBO)
7.20 LBS- Jacob Grammer and Carter Lulue- Hamshire Fannett HS (LEWS Reel)
6.17 LBS- Garrison Byerly and Will Henson- LCM HS (LEWS Rod)
Farmers Insurance Conservation Prize Winners
After a tough day on the water, Caleb Waters and Austin Bradley of LCM decided to snap a photo of their small, but legal fish, and released it. They then showed that photo at the FARMERS INSURANCE Conservation Booth and entered himself into the Conservation Prize Drawing and was the lucky winner of $500.00 from FARMERS. Thank you to FARMERS sponsoring this wonderful program!! Please go by the Farmers Tent for information on how your team can win this prize and also enter the FARMERS CONTINGENCY program that rewards teams having FARMERS BOAT INSURANCE POLICIES with CASH PRIZES. For more information on how your team can be the next winner, please contact your advisor or go by the FARMERS tent.
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, HUK, GIL, Rat L Trap, Rod Armorz, Seaguar, Farmers Insurance, Jordan Wilson and Church in the Country, Houston Methodist Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, Crystal Heigley and the Allman Real Estate Team
Story by Jet Donovan