Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Christopher Scores Victory on Guntersville

SCOTTSBORO, Ala. – Wayne E. Christopher scored a wire-to-wire victory after two days of intense competition during the American Bass Anglers Top 150 Solo Series, Presented by Caymas Boats, Southeast Division tournament, held April 21-22, 2023, on a wind-swept Lake Guntersville in northern Alabama.

Launching at Goose Pond Ramp in Scottsboro, Ala. Christopher from Huntsville, Ala. landed two consecutive 5-bass daily tournament limits for a total winning weight of 37.09 pounds. That put a check for $17,500 in his bank account.

Christopher finished with a 3.71-pound average, beating his nearest competitor by slightly more than half a pound. On the first day, Christopher led with 21.57 pounds, exactly one pound ahead of the pack. He topped that catch with a 4.87-pounder for a Day 1 average of 4.31 pounds per fish.

“I found some deeper fish in practice, but that pattern went away,” Christopher recalled. “When I didn’t find what I came across in practice on the first day, I had to make some adjustments. I started targeting spawning and post-spawn fish by throwing a Scum Frog Trophy Series in bullfrog color around vegetation. On Day 1, the bass were very receptive to the frog in the morning, but I did do some upgrades on a Senko.”

Christopher stayed with that bullfrog bait for all of the final day. He caught his five keepers and brought in 15.52 pounds on Day 2, good enough to score the victory.

“On Day 2, I fished the frog at the edges of lily pads and caught a quick limit,” Christopher said. “I stayed with that pattern both days of the tournament. I culled, but only increased the total by ounces at a time throughout the day.”

Taking second among the 127 competitors, John A. Paulk from Nashville, Tenn. made a big jump on Day 2 to finish with 10 bass going 36.48 pounds. He capped that catch with a 5.47-pounder that he caught on the first day. He earned $6.000.

Paulk held 10th place on Day 1 with five bass at 18.36 pounds. Fishing consistently, he added another 18.12 pounds the second day. That boosted his standings by eight levels to second place.

“I caught my fish on a Texas rig with a Strike King Game Hog creature bait in blue craw,” Paulk revealed. “I fished it for two whole days. I didn’t have much to go on, so I just started fishing the grass lines on the first day. I fished a grass line for about a half-mile before I started catching anything. Once I started catching fish, it was enough to keep me in that spot for two days.”

Josh M. Butler of Gurley, Ala. finished third with a 10-bass, 2-day limit. He tallied 36.07 pounds and pocketed $5,000. 

Butler barely missed the Top 10 on Day 1, placing 11th with 18.05 pounds. He came back with another solid bag on Day 2, adding 18.02 to his total. He anchored that second-day bag with a 5-pounder, making the 8-spot jump to third place.

“I just dragged baits around little hard-bottom spots,” Butler said. “I really didn’t have a key pattern, except for fishing slowly and staying out of the wind.”

Landing in fourth place, Nathan D. Hutcheson from the hosting town of Scottsboro, Ala. finished with a perfect 10-bass tournament limit going 34.35 pounds. He collected $3,500 for the effort. 

Hutcheson sat in 18th place after Day 1 with 17.49 pounds, topped by a 6.22-pounder, the fourth largest bass caught in the tournament. He added 16.86 pounds on Day 2, vaulting 14 rungs up the ladder.

Rounding out the Top 5, Paul A. Thornton of Laurel, Miss. finished with two straight 5-bass limits totaling 34.16 pounds. He held second on Day 1 with 20.57 pounds including a 4.66-pound kicker. On the second day, he brought in 13.59 pounds, dropping three spots. He went home with a check worth $2,800.

“I caught all my fish on a jig at the edge of the grass,” Thornton stated on the first day. “I couldn’t see them, but I believe they were spawning just outside the grass.”

Bradley K. Kesler from Section, Ala. maintained his lock on sixth place. He finished with 10 bass weighing 33.65 pounds and earned $2,450. He held sixth on Day 1 with 19.07 pounds, including a 5.11-pound kicker. He caught 14.58 pounds on Day 2. 

In the seventh spot, Chad L. Mayfield from Brandon, Miss. caught 10 keepers to finish with 33.62 pounds topped by a 5.52-pounder. Catching 12.67 pounds on Day 1, he sat in 68th place. The only angler to break the 20-pound plateau on the final day, Mayfield brought in the largest sack on Day 2 at 20.95 pounds to rocket up 61 places. He collected $1,900.

Tony Tidwell of Horton, Ala. finished eighth with 10 bass at 32.85 pounds. He held 17th on Day 1 with 17.50 pounds and added 15.35 pounds on the final day, moving up nine levels to earn $1,700.

In ninth, Danny R. Hall from Ellijay, Ga. landed 10 keepers for 32.18 pounds. Hall held 24th place on Day 1 with 17.15 pounds. He brought in 15.03 pounds the final day to move up 13 slots to win $1,525.

Topping off the Top 10, Jonathan R. Barksdale of Armuchee, Ga. finished with 10 bass for 32.10 pounds. He caught 15.10 pounds with a 5.56-pound kicker for 38th place on Day 1.

Barksdale caught 17 pounds capped by a 6.80-pound largemouth the second day to move up 28 spots. He earned $1,500 for 10th place and a $1,000 bonus for the tournament lunker.

PLAnglerFishPenaltyBig BassTotalPointsPayout
1Wayne E. Christopher10 4.8737.0925017500
2John A. Paulk10 5.4736.482496000
3Joshua Josh M. Butler101.005.0036.072485000
4Nathan D. Hutcheson10 6.2234.352473500
5Paul A. Thornton10 4.6634.162462800
6Bradley K. Kesler10 5.1133.652452450
7Chad L. Mayfield10 5.5233.622441900
8Paul Tony A. Tidwell10  32.852431700
9Danny R. Hall10  32.182421525
10Jonathan R. Barksdale10 6.8032.102411500
11Christopher T. Hensley10 4.3731.752401450
12Gil G. Summerlin10  31.192391300
13Dale M. Tomazin10 5.3431.022381200
14Randall R. Hillyer10  30.992371175
15Kay KC Choosakul10  30.452361150
16Daniel F. White100.50 30.442351100
17James Jimmy H. Wilson10  30.3023410500
18Cody W. Branstetter101.00 30.242331000
19James Chipper M. Gainnie100.50 30.04232950
20Jeffrey A. Prisza9 5.7829.76231850
21Bailey Dukes10  29.01230800
22Jimmy Millsaps8 5.1928.95229800
23Thomas Kyle K. Pridgen10  28.89228800
24Hayden L. OBarr10  28.85227800
25Jeff Walker D. Walker10  28.80226800
26Tim L. Huddleston10  28.50225 
27Hensley C. Powell10  28.45224 
28Frank J. Fisher90.50 28.43223 
29John Biffle9 5.5428.32222 
30Steven Harrison91.00 27.63221 
31Gene C. Brooks10  27.61220 
32Henry Kevin K. Snyder8 6.1027.55219 
33Ronald Chip L. Rockhill9 5.6227.39218 
34Russell Russ W. Hazelton10 3.9027.13217 
35Scott T. Baker8 5.2627.12216 
36Riley B. Johnson100.50 27.11215 
37Baylor K. Pless10  26.93214 
38Alan W. Hyde10  26.64213 
39Jeff Knight10  26.57212 
40Clifford M. Avery101.00 26.53211 
41Cooper CJ J. Lockamy10  26.29210 
42Harl Hank H. Romine8  26.21209 
43Thomas Tom H. Womack8  26.13208 
44Jesse L. Rigsby7 5.5125.97207 
45Robert Bobby A. Wilson100.504.2325.85206 
46Tony Couch8 5.8325.83205 
47Robert Matt M. Baty8 5.0025.76204 
48Dale Rowland9  25.63203 
49Larry Tankersley10  25.47202 
50Tom OBryant10 5.0025.32201 

The Southeast Division concludes its regular season on June 2-3, 2023, at Lake Eufaula, Ala. The event runs out of Lakepoint Resort State Park, located at 104 Lakepoint Drive near Eufaula, Ala. CLICK TO REGISTER.

For information on the Southeast Division, call Tournament Director Floyd Vaughn at (256) 230-5633 or see www.americanbassanglers.com/Division.php?Circuit=Top150Solo&Season=2023&Division=1&RegionName=S1.

The ABA Top 150 Solo Series, Presented by Caymas Boats, features two regional divisions. The Southeast and Southwest Divisions each hold three 2-day tournaments for the season. Both divisions offer big cash payouts and chances for anglers to advance to higher levels of competition.

Each angler pays $600 to enter each divisional tournament and everyone fishes alone both days. No more than 150 anglers can participate in any divisional event. If 150 anglers participate, the winner will take home a guaranteed $20,000. If fewer competitors register, the top 20 percent of the field will each earn a portion of the prize money, based upon the number of entries.

Anglers could also qualify for one of two post-season tournaments. The top 15 points holders in each division at the end of the regular season will qualify to fish the ABA Top 150 Solo Series Championship, providing they fished all three of their divisional events. The Tour Championship will take place Oct. 6-7, 2023, at a venue to be announced later.

Conducted like the divisional events, the Tour Championship will involve two days of intense competition with the winner taking home $25,000. In addition, every angler in the field will receive a payout. 

Anglers who did not qualify by points for the Tour Championship, but who fished all three of the qualifiers in their division, will be invited to fish a 2-day Wild Card event, slated for Lake Neely Henry. That event will run out of Coosa Landing, located at 200 Lake Street in Gadsden, Ala. on July 14-15, 2023.

From this Wild Card tournament, the top five anglers will advance to the ABA Top 150 Solo Series Championship. Qualifying through their divisions by points and additionally from the Wild Card, the Tour Championship field will total 35 competitors. 

Moreover, the top five anglers by points from each division after the Tour Championship will be eligible to fish the 2024 Ray Scott Championship. The 2024 Ray Scott Championship, Presented by Caymas Boats, will be held on Lake Chickamauga near Dayton, Tenn. during the week of March 30-April 6, 2024. 

In addition, anglers may qualify for bonus money offered by such tournament sponsors as Caymas Boats, Mercury Marine, the T-H Marine Atlas Awards program and Power Pole. See each manufacturer’s website for details, rules and qualifications for more information on their contingency programs.

Anyone who wishes to fish an ABA event, must become an ABA member. ABA members can receive discounts from some sponsors. For example, Optima Batteries will give ABA members 25 percent off and free shipping on any battery. Membership costs $35 a year, but anglers can save money by signing up for multiple years. A life membership costs $450.

For more information or to register for any ABA Solo 150 event, see www.americanbassanglers.com/Top150

American Bass Anglers is sponsored by Caymas Boats, Mercury Marine, MotorGuide, 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.

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