Fishing & Boating News

1998 Tournament Winners Land Big Bucks

by: Barbara Thompson, Fishingworld.com

(Tuesday, December 29,1998 - Lindale, TX)

It is time to put the 1998 accomplishments of competitive freshwater fishermen into the history books and prepare for 1999 which promises to be an exciting end to this century.

No one can deny that 1998 will definitely go down as the year that competitive freshwater fishing made a quantum leap into becoming a serious money sport.

As I researched the past year's tournament results it became apparent that competitive fishing, not only bass, but walleye also has now moved into the big league. It is now possible for anglers to collect $100,000 or more for a win, which certainly makes the sport of tournament fishing a competitive big-timer. And fishermen collecting $100,000 or MORE, happened over and over during 1998.

Without question the Big Winner in 1998 was Missouri angler Denny Brauer. His accomplishments during the past year moved the bar of achievement up the pole several yards.

Denny Brauer of Camdenton, Missouri was seen at the breakfast table of millions of Americans when he joined the ranks of America's other top sports celebrities as the newest attraction on the cover of the Wheaties cereal box. Denny Brauer, the winner of the Wal-Mart FLW Tour's Angler-of-the-Year points title, will be the first fishing champion in history to be featured on the cereal whose name has become synonymous with "Breakfast of Champions."

But Denny didn't stop with this achievement. He went on to claim the title of 1998 Bass Master Classic XXVIII Champion along with three other Bassmaster tournament wins collecting over $400,000 on the Bassmaster tournament trail in 1998 and moving into the elite Million Dollar Club.

Ray Beck of Beaumont, Texas was named the Wal-Mart FLW Co-Angler Spiderwire Angler of the Year and recieved a fully rigged Ranger boat and trailer powered by an Evinrude motor. Ray also won the Coca-Cola Big Bass Award for the largest bass caught on the 1998 tour, receiving an additional $5,000 for his 11 pounder caught on Sam Rayburn Reservoir.

Davey Hite of Prosperity, South Carolina, won first place and $250,000, the largest cash prize in fishing history, in the Wal-Mart FLW Tour Championship, the final tournament of the lucrative third-year tour, held on the Mississippi River. The event featured a $450,000 total purse.

Hite survived three rounds of elimination competition and 49 of the world's top professional anglers enroute to the Wal-Mart FLW Tour victory. Competing in the final round of competition against George Cochran of Hot Springs, AR; Tommy Biffle of Wagoner, OK, Gary Klein of Weatherford, TX and Jerry Williams of Conway, AR. Hite landed five bass weighing 10 lbs 13 oz, to take top honors.

Randall Hutson of Washburn, Missouri, won first place and a record $200,000 in the Forrest Wood Open, the sixth tournament of the Wal-Mart FLW Tour held on the Connecticut River. The event featured a $1 million purse, the largest in fishing history.

Runner-up in the Pro Division was Jim Moynagh of Hopkins, Minnesota, with a weight of 7 lbs 4 oz. Moynagh, who won the event last year, earning $100,000 for second place. Jerry Williams of Conway, Arkansas, landed five bass weighing 7 lbs 3 oz, for third place and $50,000. Rounding out the "Final Five" were: (4) Mike McClelland of Springdale, Arkansas, four bass, 4 lbs 10 oz - $35,000; and (5) Terry Bolton of Paducah, Kentucky, one bass, 2 lbs 5 oz - $30,000.

Chip Harrison of Bremen, IN., took first place in the first event of the new EverStart Series, with a five bass catch weighing 15 pounds, 2 ounces, to capture the $25,000 first prize in the tournament held on Lake Okeechobee. Carl Svebek III of Sam Rayburn, Texas, took first place in the first Central Division event of Operation Bass' new EverStart Series, with a five bass catch weighing 18 pounds, 9 ounces, to capture the $25,000 first prize in the event held on Sam Rayburn Reservoir.

At the conclusion of the EverStart Series, two EverStart Challenge tournaments were held with Gerald Beck of Lexington, North Carolina, taking first place in the $227,550 EverStart Challenge (Eastern Division) with a five bass catch weighing 18 pounds, 15 ounces, to capture the $45,000 first prize. Cody Bird of Granbury, Texas, took first place in the $227,550 EverStart Challenge (Central Division) with a five bass catch weighing 8 pounds, 8 ounces, to capture the $45,000 first prize in the event held on the Arkansas River. Bird survived two earlier elimination rounds and 105 anglers enroute to the EverStart victory, edging out four other finalists competing in the final round of the professional division. He received $20,000 and an Evinrude-powered Ranger boat for the victory.

Kim Carver of Milledgeville, Georgia, took first place and $100,000 in Operation Bass' 15th annual Red Man All-American Bass Fishing Championship held on the Mississippi River with a 5 bass catch weighing 10 pounds even. Carver, competing against 50 of the top bass anglers in the nation, made it through the preliminary round cut to advance to the championship round in the $265,750 tournament.

Marcus Clouse of Henderson, NV, not only held off the field, but increased his margin to 9.05 pounds over second place in winning the top prize of $113,200 in the 1998 WON Bass U.S.Open which was held at Lake Mead. The 24-year old heavy equipment operator finished with a total of 43.09 pounds to win over 67 Pro anglers, with 1985 U.S.Open Champion Mike Fokestad of Yorba Linda, CA, at second place with 34.03 pounds.

Ted Takasaki was crowned the 1998 PWT (Professional Walleye Tournament) Champion when his catch for the day was a 5 fish limit that weighed 10.35 pounds, which was the heaviest daily weight for the tournament, but more importantly, the winning weight that brought him the Championship trophy plus a $100,000 payday. Ted's final weight was 23.92 pounds. Takasaki, with his wife and daughter at his side, said "I've always dreamed of how it would be to win the Championship, but in reality it is 10 times better than my dream.

Kenyon Hill claimed the Kmart Bassmaster Top 150 held on the Mississippi River Delta with a whopping 61 lbs 5 oz to collect $74,000 in cash plus a fully rigged Ranger Boat valued at $26,000. Jay Yelas earned the second place finish with 52 lbs 14 oz to receive an award of $38,000.

Many more fishermen received valuable awards of top brand fishing boats powered by 150 to 225 hp outboard motors, many which are valued at over $25,000.

Dean Rojas of Ramona, California was crowned the 1998 DieHard/Angler's Choice Pro Am, Pro Division Champion receiving a fully rigged Bass Cat Jaguar with a 225 hp Mercury outboard engine. Stan Gerzsenyi of Mineola, Texas kept the pressure on Dean throughout this two day event held on the Red River at Shreveport, Louisiana with a total weight of 27.07 pounds. Stan's second place win put him in the drivers seat of a Bass Cat Pantera fully rigged with a Mercury engine. Bobby Henricks of Hockessin, Delaware claimed the Amateur Divison title and took home a new Bass Cat Jaguar with a 225 hp Mercury Engine.

Gary Dobyns of Yuba City topped the field of 50 elite qualifiers for the Western Classic on the California Delta, as he posted a 2-day score of 39.63 pounds for 12 bass and his 7th overall WON BASS tournament victory. The Classic was staged on the Delta, out of Big Break Marina, where the top 50 Pros and top 50 AAA anglers on the 1998 WON BASS tournament had qualified to participate in the $120,000-plus championship fish-off. Dobyns took the top prize in the Pro ranks - a $35,000 value of a 492VS Ranger boat and trailer, Mercury 200 outboard, Exide batteries, MotorGuide trolling motor, Raytheon/Apelco marine electronics and Teleflex SeaStar hydraulic steering.

Forrest Brown and Kevin Vida held the big Tri State Bass crowd in suspense and anticipation as they opted to weigh-in last. Their 21.26 pound second day sack not only locked the victory in Classic XI, but their combined two day total of 54.44 pounds eclipsed the former all-time record by nearly six pounds! The 1998 National Champions were presented the keys to a 1998 Champion 191 Elite with 200 EFi Mercury Outboard, Custom Trailmaster Trailer, Motorguide Bow Electric, with Lowrance Electronics by Ken Ellis, Regional Sales Manager of Champion Boats and Dave VandeGrift, Zone Sales Manager of Mercury Marine.

The Coldwater-Marble Chain-of-Lakes in Coldwater, MI., proved to be a formidable challenge for the 50 Tri State Bass 90 H.P. and Under qualifiers who competed in the two-day Classic Championship on September 18-19, 1998. Confronted with the ultimate dilemmas of a super tough bite and little or no wind, this would be a true "test of the best!" These factors put the win within the grasp of any of the 25 teams - a perfect scenario for a shoot-out for the $35,000.00 National Championship!

Opting to stay with their shallow water jig and centipede pattern, Steve Burns of Homer, Mi. and Marc Snyder of Albion, Mi. held off their challengers with a 10.82 pound seven fish second day sack. Their two day combined total of 25.92 pounds was not only good enough to win, but established a new all-time Classic weight record! The winners were presented the keys to a $17,500.00 1998 Champion 171, 90 H.P. Mercury Outboard,Custom Trailmaster Trailer, Motorguide Bow Electric Trolling Motor, with Lowance Electronics. Burns and Snyder also had the big bass on day one good for another $350.00 and were awarded $500.00 worth of Quantum equipment for winning the 1998 Season Point Championship Team-of-the-Year Award!

The second Tri State Bass Super Team tournament was held on Lake St. Clair on Sunday August 9, 1998. The team of Clark Wolfe and Ron Tonn of Columbus, OH drove home the 1998 fully rigged 181 Champion Boat with 150 Mercury Motor, Lowrance Electronics and Motorguide trolling motor, which was custom rigged at D&R Sports Center. They used the "Lake Erie" drag a tube jig to come in with 24.19 lbs.

This is just a brief overview of the past year, many other winning anglers receiving boats, cash awards and valuable prizes. But one can plainly see that the big dollars are beginning to become a part of the tournament fishing scene and with the proper promotion and reporting of these wins the sport of competitive freshwater tournament fishing will only increase.

We congratulate all the fishermen who have achieved wins during 1998 and hope that we have reported your success. We at fishingworld.com and Tournament Angler News are extremely proud to be a part of the sport of competitive fishing and we are dedicated to helping move the sport on to higher levels of recognition.

As we look forward to 1999 it is our sincere wish that each of you will have at least one great day on the lake, and that we can report your success to the rest of the world.