By Patty Lenderman
Get outta my seat! That seemed to be the theme chant at the final qualifying round of the Southeast Texas High School Association tournament on Sam Rayburn April 13, 2014. With over 30 schools represented in a tournament average participation per event of 240 teams, the competition was fierce for individual and school representation. Several teams got to sit in the hot seats as leaders of the tournament, only to be told “Get outta my seat!” by others who caught more weight in bass. In the end, it was Lumberton’s Bailey Bridges & Tyler Ford who won the final qualifying tournament with over 19 lbs.
Each team is paired with a boat captain who runs the boat for them throughout the day. Fishing conditions were optimum, with overcast skies and temperatures that rose from the upper 60’s to mid 70’s. By mid afternoon, the wind started picking up as impending storms headed their way. Scads of volunteers were at every station from parking to weigh in to coordinate a smooth weigh in. John Salamone kept everyone entertained with his on stage antics while Ray Beck tallied each sack.
Kade Morgan and Brandon Payne of Silsbee were the first to occupy the Gopher Hot Seats with their weight of 13.49 lbs. They were knocked out by Colton Sonnier & Cayson Beal of Kountze having a 16.12 lb limit. Weights continued to climb, as they had to give up their seats to the Corrigan Camden team of Wyatt Frankens and Clay Nash having 18.13 lbs. Nash and Frankens heard the final orders to get out of those seats when Bailey Bridges and Tyler Ford of Lumberton High School came in with their 19.20 lb limit to win the event.
When it was all said and done, the top 20 teams were:
1st 19.20 lbs $1,500 Lumberton / Bailey Bridges & Tyler Ford
2nd 18.30 lbs $1,100 Corrigan Camden / Wyatt Frankens & Clay Nash
3rd 16.12 lbs $750 Kountze / Colton Sonnier & Cayson Beal
4th 15.99 lbs $275 Bridge City / Evan Champagne & Colton Sterling
4th 15.99 lbs $275 Buna / Tanner Cox & Dalton Askew
6th 15.06 lbs $335 LCM / Bryce Rambo & Trent Manuel
7th 14.95 lbs $270 Lumberton / Tanner Anderson & Hunter Richmond
8th 14.87 lbs $230 Woodlands CP / Tony & Drew Fazzino
9th 14.57 lbs $190 Lumberton / Ryan Koch & Hunter Eddins
10th 14.56 lbs $170 Corrigan Camden / Brendon Reavis & Dillon Harrel
11th 14.41 lbs $150 Deweyville / Nolan Haney & Dalton Marsh
12th 14.15 lbs $140 Huntington / Jacob Knight & Jeremiah Faris
13th 14.01 lbs $130 Splendora / Stephen Davis & Chris Talley
14th 13.77 lbs $120 Brookeland / Stephen McCugh & Jacob Root
15th 13.49 lbs $115 Silsbee / Kade Morgan & Brandon Payne
16th 13.36 lbs $110 Warren / Tate Gore & Andrew Gordon
17th 13.33 lbs $105 Lumberton / Elliot Pipps & Dalton Tomplaint
18th 12.87 lbs $104 PNG / Hunter Haining & Corbin Stephan
19th 12.72 lbs $103 Buna / Shane Standley & Aaron Standley
20th 12.63 lbs $102 Deweyville / Will & John Hughes
Several nice kickers were brought in and weighed for Big Bass. The top three catches were:
1st Big Bass: 8.14 lbs LCM / Trent Manuel & Bryce Rambo
2nd Big Bass: 8.09 lbs Nederland / Shawn Broussard & Jacob Martin
3rd Big Bass: 7.67 lbs Cameron Stanley
All total there were 575 fish weighed in for a total of 1,365.32 lbs of bass.
Bassmaster Elite Pro Kelly Jordan was onsite to support the organization. Speaking to the crowd of several hundred people, he said “This is amazing. Every one of you should be very proud of what you have accomplished here. All of the mothers, fathers, mentors – you have done a great job. This is an awesome deal. I am so glad to see what the kids have accomplished in doing this. The future is very bright!” Kelly talked to several of the participants about the professional side of bass fishing and signed autographs.
Todd Driscoll was also invited to the stage, representing both Lowrance electronics and as Biologist at Texas Parks & Wildlife Inland Fisheries. “It is really good to see all of these kids choosing to have fun in the great outdoors, instead of other forms of entertainment like video games and such. Especially in tournaments, fish care is very important. It starts with each individual angler and their livewells. The two most important factors are water and oxygen for the fish. You will notice that each of the holding tanks here are filled with water and pumped with compressed oxygen. The folks that put these tournaments on for you consulted me about the best fish care they could put together for this. I made them a list of equipment and items they would need for the very best system. The cost would be high. Without hesitation, they stated that it was a high priority to take the best care of these fish that they could and they had the best sponsors that would make it happen, and they did. You guys are doing a great job. Congratulations to everybody.”
Justin Royal of Lamar University addressed the participants, inviting all Seniors who were making college decisions to advance to College Fishing at Lamar University.
This event was hosted by Splendora, Kingwood, The Woodlands-College Park, The Woodlands, Conroe, Oak Ridge, Shephard and Deer Park High Schools.
This was the final qualifying event in this inaugural year for the Southeast Texas High School Association. With over 30 participating schools and an average participation of 240 teams per event, it has instantly become the largest organization of its kind in the country.
Teams who have qualified to fish the two day championship will converge on Sam Rayburn May 17-18. For more information, please visit www.setxhighschoolfishing.com