Fishing & Boating News
"A "not too early" meetup with Bob Sealy, CEO of Sealy Outdoors and Director of the McDonald Big Bass Tournaments, managed to put me into a pleasent mornings worth of bass fishing on Lake Sam Rayburn, and after loading up his Triton bass-rig with camera, gear, and tackle, we left the Sealy Outdoor's office for the boat ramps and a quick launch into Lake Sam Rayburn. As we cruised past Crash Island Bob throttled up and aimed his bow towards a distant blurr on the lakes horizon, "I've been having some good luck up in the Caney Creek area lately, Bob attempted to yell above the pitch and whine of our smooth run up-lake, and as we settled into the area of Caney that he wanted to fish, I checked my watch to see that it was only 8:15 a:m, a short 15 minutes from the time we left his office until we were grabbin' sticks and making our first casts, and as Bob hooked and landed our first bass of the morning, I checked to see that it was 8:17 a:m..."not bad"...."not bad at all".
Bob Sealy has become one of those rare individuals who dared to follow his dream to become "that dream". "Not long ago, Bob began to inform, "when I was fishing the BassMaster circuits, I often wondered what it would be like to start a bass fishing circuit which could offer the amateur anglers a chance to enjoy the same pomp & ceremony that the pro's were enjoying, that would also pay them some big bucks for their fishing efforts. "Now some 15 years later, "I've been able to do just that as we've just finalized our 15th Annual Rayburn McDonald's Big Bass Splash, where we paid our anglers over $417,000 in cash & prizes,"well-over" the $400,000 guarantee that we pitched for the event.
"We had over 3,000 entries for that event, Bob informed, "which was down a lot from the 4,000 to 5,000 that we usually draw for the Rayburn event, which had set an all-time tournament record in 1993 with over 6,000 Big Bass anglers entered. "We've always had a big draw for our Rayburn events, stated Bob, "that is, until this year, when we struggled to just barely break the 3,000 mark.
"Now, Mr. Sealy responds to my question of why, "I personally feel that the main reason for this drastic drop is because of another tournament organization's decision to run a big bass event, which was actually an image of sorts of the McDonald format. "Now I have absolutely no problem with other groups coming in with their own tournament circuits, Bob advised, "as long as they do exactly what they promote that they're going to do "and" pay exactly what they tell their fishermen that they're going to pay them. "It took us-(Sealy Outdoor's)-15 long, hard years to be able to develope and operate our McDonald Big Bass tournaments to the level that they are now enjoyed, Bob advised, "and it wasn't an overnight success for us, nor was it any kind of a "get rich quick scheme" as we took some rather hefty losses from some of our tournaments. "But, Bob stressed, "we kept right on coming back until we finally got it right.
In "betwixt" all of these "comma-dash-semi colan-dash-commas" Bob and I are consistantly catching and releasing some "rather-nice" bass, not big ones mind you, but some really nice "chunks" which are taking Bob's carolina rigged watermelon/chartreuce centipede, as well as my plum/apple wacky worm, as we work a mainlake inside point that has some grass-clumps in about 8'-12' of water. Although both of us are kept quite busy with catching and releasing the fish, Bob continues to relay his thoughts about what is happening on Lake Sam Rayburn.
"And on the bass-kill!, It's really been a shame that Rayburn is being put through these terrible times of not catching our normal quota's of Lunker Bass, which in these past years had become a normal routine for most anglers. "Man, only a short year ago," Bob happily recalled, "we were catching bunches of 10's, 12's, and good numbers of 13-plus lb bass, as six, of those reported ten, or so, 13 lb fish, which were caught in 1998, were donated into the Lonestar Lunker Bass Program, "heck man, Bob excitedly remembered, "I actually had one 13 lb lunker weighed-in at one of my Rayburn Team tournaments.
"But so far, Bob painfully reviewed, "we haven't had our first 13 lb Lonestar lunker caught or turned in this year, with very few bass over the 10 lb mark. "We really don't know what has actually caused these sudden disruptions of our once superb bass fishery, Bob frustrated, "but as you've seen today, we're still catching bass, and a lot of them. The rumors as to the "why's and what-for's" are as many and often as there are opinions, as most bass anglers have their own ideas as to the causes and reasons. "But, regardless of "what" may have initiated Rayburn's sudden loss of its prime lunker bass populations, our fishery now supports a very healthy bass fishery which will help to reinstate "Big Sam" back to its rightful slot as one of our nations top Bass lakes in the country. "All its going to take now, Bob explains, "is time, patience, and some good ol' individual angler self-conservation. "Please", keep the few legal bass that you may need for your tables, Bob pleaded, "but "live release" those "very important" brood-fish of 4 lbs and up that will become the key for Rayburn's quick recovery.
"Tis true", as Sealy and I have probably caught, landed, and released 18, of the 25 or so healthy bites that we've had during this mornings short time on the water. And with reports of fishing guides and tournament anglers catching from up to 50 to 60 bass in an 8 hour fishing day, its not hard to see that "although" Rayburn is not producing its normal "Rayburn-sized" lunker bass of yore, it is, however, producing some incredible bass fishing adventures for those of us who really enjoy "catching" bass, and lots of them. "But please release them".
"As you are probably aware of, Bob continued, "these past two years we've-(Sealy Outdoors)- initiated and operated a new tournament circuit for the team bass anglers. "Team-Splash" we call it, Bob happily informs, "adding that they've had a tremendous response from the anglers who've signed up to compete in the new team oriented events.
"Its a cash thing this time, Bob responded to my query, "as we offer a "Cash Only" guaranteed payout of $29,750 per event, no matter if there is 30 or 300 who fish them, the payout remains the same, Bob emphasized, "at $29,750 per tournament, which pays the top 25 places with a "Guaranteed" $10,000 cash for 1st place "and" a "Guaranteed" $5,000 cash for 2nd place, as we also pay the top 3 big bass of each tournament event with $1,000-$750-&-$500.
The anglers only have to fish four events on Rayburn and Toledo to qualify for our Team/Championship, which will be held as a dual-lake championship on Sam Rayburn and Toledo Bend. The winning Championship team will receive two "fully rigged" Triton Bass Boats.
"And as for those anglers who haven't fished our team events as yet, "well, Bob invited, "if you are among those of us who likes having some "folding-money" in our pockets, then you still have a chance to win some of the $150,000 that we're paying out this year, as we'll be holding our final Team/Splash event on Toledo Bend at Cypress Bend Resort on June 13, with our final Rayburn event being held at Twin Dikes Marina on August 1st.
And for those of you who like to fish the Big Bass events, our "Big Bass Splash" tournament for Lake Toledo Bend will be at Cypress Bend Resort with $190,000 in "guarantees" for its June 25, 26, 27, event, and Lake Fork's "McSplash" will be held at Lake Fork Marina with $300,000 "guaranteed" for its September 24, 25, 26, tournament.
"We are still here", stated Bob Sealy, adding that "we've been here for over 15 years now and for as long as the anglers want us to keep coming back, "then, we'll keep "right on" coming back.
For more information on Bob Sealy's McDonald "Big Bass Splash" and "Team Splash" events, as well as his "Mega Whitetail Bucks" Hunting contests, and upcoming Salt Water tournament events, contact Sealy Outdoors at 1-888-698-2591; (409)-698-2591;fax-(409)-698-2616 or e-mail
Phone:903-882-8877 or 903-882-8878 — Fax: 972-619-8776