Wagnon Opens New Season With Big Win On Big Sam
ZAVALLA, Texas – Richard L. Wagnon started the new season in a big way by winning the Boater Division in the American Bass Anglers Open Series, Presented by Caymas Boats, Texas Southeast Division 10 season opener, held Jan. 14, 2023, on Lake Sam Rayburn near Zavalla.
Launching out of Cassels-Boykin State Park in Zavalla, the angler from Jasper brought in a 5-bass tournament limit weighing 24.48 pounds for a 4.90-pound average. Wagnon beat his nearest competitor by seven pounds. He greatly upped his average by landing the tournament lunker, a 7.80-pound largemouth. He pocketed $2,300 for the win to start the season off the right way. He also collected a $400 bonus for the lunker.
“I fished deep all day long,” the first champ of the new season stated. “I hit isolated stumps in about 25 feet of water. That was the key to my two biggest fish. I had a limit by 8 a.m. and caught about 20 fish total. I stayed in a spot of about 10 acres and just kept working it. Once I caught that first big fish on a stump, I decided to do that the rest of the day.”
In second among the boaters, Keelan J. Manuel came over from Sulphur, La. to finish with a 5-bass limit going 17.48 pounds. He capped that catch with a 5.94-pounder. Fishing just his second ABA Open Series event, he earned $1,000 for second place.
“We started on a hard spot and started catching fish right away, but no size to them,” Manuel remarked. “I caught one of my biggest fish on a square-bill crankbait off that spot. Then, we moved out and fished Carolina rigs near points and slowly made a limit. We fished another spot with some stumps and other hard structure. There, I caught my 5.94-pounder on a football jig. In the last hour, we fished one other spot off the edge of a roadbed just to kill some time and I culled up one fish.”
Right behind in third for the boaters, Aaron M. Freeman of Montgomery, Texas, brought in five bass for 17.10 pounds. He went home with an extra $700 in his pocket.
“I fished the last two days and it was really tough with the wind,” Freeman lamented. “In the tournament, I fished offshore and tried to cover a lot of water. My best bait was a Texas-rigged worm thrown in brush piles and dragged through some hard spots. I lost one good fish that mattered. I don’t think I would have won with that fish, but I probably would have had about 22 pounds. I think it was well over seven pounds.”
Placing fourth, Steve D. Evans from Lufkin found a limit of bass at 15.28 pounds to win $600. Rounding out the top five boaters, Braxton B. Hollenshead of League City landed five keepers for 12.28 pounds and $500.
In the Co-Angler Division, William L. Easley of Pollok swept it all with a 3-bass division limit weighing 9.25 pounds. His largest bass, a 4.12-pounder, took the division big bass title. That gave Easley a 3.08-pound average and a winning check worth $1,000. He also earned a $245 bonus for landing the division lunker.
“All of my fish came on a Rat-L-Trap,” Easley revealed. “I fished grass, but where a deep spot would go up shallow. They seemed to be sitting right there. I caught my first and biggest fish at 7:30 a.m. I had a limit by 9 a.m. I caught 10 keepers and culled a couple times.”
Tacorrie Johnson of Royce City finished in second place among the co-anglers. He found three keepers for 6.96 pounds. That gave him $550 in winnings.
“I worked a Carolina rig all day in about 10 feet of water,” Johnson said. “I tipped it with a Zoom soft-plastic bait. I caught my first fish at about 8:30 a.m. and had my limit by 1 p.m. We found a little spot close to the ramp and culled three fish.”
Taking the third spot for the co-anglers, Gary H. Medley from Vidor brought in three keepers for 6.55 pounds. He earned $350 for the catch.
Charlie L. Watts of the hosting town of Zavalla landed three bass going 6.41 pounds to pick up $275. Capping off the top five co-anglers, Elton D. Brock from Marshall put three keepers on the scale for 6.14 pounds to collect $200.
The division returns to Lake Sam Rayburn on March 11, 2023, for the second season event. Again, the anglers will run out of Cassels-Boykin State Park, located at 500 Cassell Boykin State Road in Zavalla. To register for this event, CLICK HERE.
Top 25 Boaters
PL Angler Fish Big Bass Total Points Payout 1 Richard L. Wagnon 5 7.80 24.48 250 2700 2 Keelan J. Manuel 5 5.94 17.48 249 1000 3 Aaron M. Freeman 5 17.10 248 700 4 Steve D. Evans 5 15.28 247 600 5 Braxton B. Hollenshead 5 12.28 246 500 6 Robert W. Laird Jr 5 11.34 245 400 7 Wesley W. Dawson 5 11.18 244 300 8 James M. Laramore 5 4.28 10.52 243 200 9 Phil Addison 5 10.22 242 10 David E. Beason 5 3.27 10.21 241 11 Sig Kilby 5 9.99 240 12 Danny J. Cherry 5 9.89 239 13 Michael T. Driscoll 5 9.76 238 14 Walt L. Roberts 5 9.39 237 15 Trey F. Hollenshead 5 9.10 236 16 Don R. Dickerson 5 9.08 235 17 Ricky C. Collins 5 8.52 234 18 Bryan P. Trahan 5 7.62 233 19 James Brad B. Milam 5 7.61 232 20 Mark C. Lanham 4 7.45 231 21 Scott Dean 3 7.20 230 22 Robert Sparks 3 6.74 229 23 William Bill P. Watts 3 6.09 228 24 Bill E. Lee 3 5.30 227 25 Mike K. Richard 2 4.76 226
Top 25 Co-Anglers
1 William Lovin L. Easley 3 4.12 9.25 250 1245 2 Tacorrie Johnson 3 6.96 249 550 3 Gary H. Medley 3 6.55 248 350 4 Charles Charlie L. Watts 3 6.41 247 275 5 Elton D. Brock 3 6.14 246 200 6 Karim Anabtawi 3 5.84 245 150 7 Cedric Jackson 2 5.61 244 100 8 Donny G. Davis 2 4.87 243 9 Brandon T. Pent 3 4.77 242 10 Barrett L. Bennefield 3 4.43 241 11 Pamela Pam S. Holwerda 3 4.32 240 12 Victor L. Saunders 3 4.20 239 13 Ladarius Carpenter 2 4.10 238 14 Mason T. Ouzts 2 3.93 237 15 Dustin R. Hazelton 2 3.42 236 17 James Tanner T. Butler 1 3.19 3.19 234 16 Ramon H. Raines 2 3.19 235 18 James Jay A. Frels 2 3.11 233 19 Brian W. Tolley 2 2.83 232 20 Eddy J. Gilder 2 2.76 231 21 Durae l. Broughton 2 2.58 230 22 Duane W. Hill 1 2.08 2.08 229 23 Eric B. Pearce 1 1.79 1.79 228 24 Christopher Tink J. Brown 1 1.75 1.75 227 25 Greg Chase 1 1.73 1.73 226
Each ABA Open Series division offers four one-day qualifying events in a boater/co-angler format. Boaters pay an entry fee of $210 for each event while co-anglers pay $105. The top 20 percent of registered anglers in each tournament will receive cash payouts based on the total number of entries. If at least 60 boaters enter the tournament, the Boater Division winner will receive a minimum of $5,000.
In addition, anglers could qualify for bonus money offered by such tournament sponsors as Caymas Boats, Mercury Marine, the T-H Marine Atlas Awards program and Power Pole. Anyone who qualifies for Caymas Cash rewards could receive up to $7,000 for winning any ABA Open Series event. If the winning boat carries a Mercury motor, the angler could receive an extra $1,000 in cash from Mercury Marine. See each manufacturer’s website for details, rules, and qualifications for more information on their contingency programs.
American Bass Anglers is sponsored by Caymas Boats, Mercury Marine, T-H Marine, Power Pole, RT Outdoors, Optima Batteries, Hotel Planner.com, and LurePartsOnline.com.
About American Bass Anglers: American Bass Anglers is committed to providing low-cost, close-to-home tournaments for the weekend angler and, at the same time, offering each competitor an upward path for individual angler progression.
For more information about American Bass Anglers, the Open Series, the American Fishing Tour, the American Couples Series, the annual Military Team Bass Tournament, and the Top 150 Solo Tour, all presented by Caymas Boats, visit www.americanbassanglers.com or call (256) 232-0406
This story was written by ABA staff writer John N. Felsher. To submit articles of interest email email@example.com.
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