From the first class Friday night festivities at the Captain’s meeting
to the weigh-in conducted under blistering hot conditions, the initial
Backwater Challenge proved to be even more entertaining than promised.

The seventy-five teams that anted up the $300 entry fee for a shot at a
purse second only to past pro events proved that local fishing was far
better than expected.Their task was magnified by the fact that each team
could weigh in both bass and redfish.A first place finish in either
category was worth a whopping $7500!

As expected, only a few teams opted to target both species.With a three
fish limit for bass and a two fish limit for reds, regardless of how
tough the catching may have been, the right two last minute casts could
change your whole day.

David Burman and Myron Waldrep had to rank among the pre-tournament
favorites to put together the winning three fish stringer in the bass
division and they didn’t disappoint their supporters.The duo has fished
well in the weekly Sabine River Shootouts all year long and they stayed
the course Saturday.

Their winning stringer weight of 11.06-pounds was anchored with a
5.26-pound bass that netted them the Big Bass side pot as well. The team
of Michael Vaughan and Dan Misko finished second less than a third of a
pound off the pace and Trey Smith, representing team Sabine River Ford,
took home second place Big Bass money with a 3.85-pound fish.

Heeee’s back!The same Steven Havard that was consistently at or near the
top in every Tail Chaser Tournament resurfaced for Saturday’s
tournament.Havard teamed up with Jason Stutes to not only win the
redfish division with two fish weighing 17.95-pounds, but the big fish
pot as well with a 9.71 pound red.Their winning weight included a
.50-pound penalty for one dead fish.Jim Morrissey attributed their
success to the new boat rather than any skill or luck!

Brent Jaurez and Austin Angel finished second with 17.60-pounds in the
stringer weight and second in the Big Red pot was well with an
8.94-pound fish. Morrissey, the keeper of all data and numbers of any
importance reported that the final total showed 48 reds and 102 bass
were weighed in.

The Misko/Vaughan team very nearly had a tournament that you only dream
about.They were the only team to finish in the top five in both
categories.While they still cashed two good checks, consider how close
they were to winning a lot more. They were docked a half pound penalty
for a dead fish that bumped them from second to fourth in the redfish
category and finished second to the Burman/Waldrep team in the bass
division by a third of a pound!

The seventy-five team field enabled fourteen teams to cash checks to the
tune of $33,000 not counting side pots.The members of the Golden
Triangle Tournament Association just did a fantastic job in pulling it
off without a single angler protest.The final total raised for
children’s charities in southeast Texas has yet to be announced.

While watching the weigh-in I talked with a number of the teams that
fished and there was a common thread regardless of which fish they
targeted.A large percentage of those chasing redfish said they ran down
small schools of fish feeding on the surface.

Bubba Sparrow said you had to get there quick as they were on the move.A
lot of that has to do with the size of the shad they are currently
chasing.The school is still in the neighborhood, but they can’t keep the
small shad on the surface.The best news was that they found a few of
those schooling reds on the north end of the lake!

I don’t know how many bass fishermen I spoke with that said they lost at
least one four to five pound bass over the course of the day.That will
happen all too frequently, especially under tournament pressure, but the
fact that those larger bass are on the move is exciting.

Almost without exception, they also reported that the goggle-eye and
bream just ate everything they threw at the bass.That is indeed a good
thing.Fried goggle-eye fillets rank second only to crappie at my house!