Monthly Archives: May 2014

Lake Sam Rayburn 2014 “Big Bass Splash”

By: Donna Chance
Lake Sam Rayburn 2014 "Big Bass Splash" If sitting under a pavilion in an emerald green forest on a gorgeous sapphire lake, watching Josh Turner croon, as the sun settles behind a brilliant burnt orange sky is your ideal of heaven ¬ then you should have been at the Lake Sam Rayburn 2014 “Big Bass Splash.”  In what has become the largest tournament in the world, the annual “Big Bass Splash” and “Lake Jam” concerts have pulled off another extraordinarily successful year. This is the bass fishing season’s heavy-hitter and the 2014 event was chalked full of bass fishing, entertainment and Nascar. There was everything from country music superstars, Bassmaster Elite professional anglers, big money prizes, hourly contests, diverse food, shopping booths and the big bass tank to a variety of other interesting activities. Put on each year by Sealy Outdoors, this year’s tournament was attended by tens of thousands of people. It was held at the Umphrey Pavilion right on the water. The winner will receive over $250,000 in prizes.

Like clockwork, at 3 am, each morning during the tournament they arrive. HundrLake Sam Rayburn 2014 "Big Bass Splash"eds of amateur fishermen (from around the nation) begin to pour into the quiet little cove at the public boat ramps. They are there to converge upon an unsuspecting population of, what is unquestionably, some of the largest bass anywhere in the continental United States. Sam Rayburn Reservoir is one of the best-kept secrets in Texas. It has now been Lake Sam Rayburn 2014 "Big Bass Splash"ranked the “#2 Bass Fishing Lake” in the nation by the Bassmaster’s Classic organization. These guys put on what’s become the “Superbowl Event” of the fishing world, so they should know. Anxious amateurs race to occupy every conceivable honey-hole of the lakes 115,000 acres. This is presumably the top paying amateur event of any sport in the country. It’s a high stakes contest of skill and strategy, but does not require high-risk investments, years of lessons or a career change to participate. The anglers are usually weekend warriors; they fish for fun. They may or may not have expensive equipment and the entry fee isn’t that exorbitant. It is one of the few places where the playing field is truly equal, no matter your status off the water. It wasn’t that long ago, a local fisherman in a small aluminum boat won the tournament. Any little boat, some lake knowledge, fishing skills and familiarity with hotspots goes a very long way for amateur contests.

Josh Turner and CrowdThe winner of the 30th annual Big Bass Splash, last weekend, was Robert Nunley, of Willis, Tx. He took home the $250,000 in prizes for a 9.81lb bass caught on a fluke in 4’ of water!! He drove home a 2014 Motorhome, Ram truck, 21’ boat with motor, Power Pole, Hydrowave, and Tournament Saver Pro. The other winners this round were 2nd place Michael Williams of Woodville for his 9.63lb bass. He won the 2014 boat with motor, Ram truck and $10,000 in cash. The 3rd place winner Brett Self of cHRIS yOUNGDry Prong, Louisiana won a 2014 boat with motor and Ram truck for his 9.27lb bass. Daniel Brooks, 4th place, of Linchburg, TN won a 2014 boat with motor for a 9.25lb bass. Last but not least, 5th place, Herb Lutz of Vidor took home a 2014 Ram 1500 truck for his 9.15 lb. bass.

With hourly weigh-ins occurring, the tournament traffic becomes barely tolerable near ground zero. The automobile traffic is driven by spectators racing to see who is winnin10325726_856649747681772_7584490988466445835_ng the thousands in hourly payouts and legions of country music fans filling the Lake Jam area. They were vying for the closest lawnchair turf at the Josh Turner and Chris Young concerts. Also, during the day they continue coming for the numerous other Lake Jam music concerts in the weekends packed schedule. This years schedule included the music of Drew Haley and Matt Vbra, Luke Dunkin Band and 2nd Place Jake, Casey Ashley, Tim Sealy, the Pegwinders, Pine Hill Review and the Pack of Strays. The lake traffic occurs from all the anglers weighing in their trophy size bass hourly, beginning at 7 am, in the hopes of being in the top 12 fish. These winners were every bit as excited by their wins, as the top 5 overall winners were.

Local Hourly Weigh-In Winners:
6th $1200 5.55 lbs James Heckemeyer, Conroe TX
9th $800 5.46 lbs John Vining Seabrook, Tx
6th $1200 6.42 lbs Mike Rutledge Silsbee, Tx
12th $500 4.97 lbs Jarrod Meehan Lumberton, Tx
1st $3000 8.53 lbs Mathew Martin Buna, Tx
3rd $1800 6.91 lbs James Arrant Newton, Tx
9th $800 4.46 lbs Cory Rambo Orange, Tx
1st $3000 8.25 lbs Terry Mayer Warren, Tx
8th $900 5.19 lbs Chris Murphy Beaumont, Tx
1st $3000 7.82 lbs James wood Nederland, Tx
5th $1400 6.00 lbs Roger Nash Lumberton, Tx
12th $500 4.82 lbs Randy Havard Diboll, Tx
5th $1400 5.38 lbs Doug Smith Nederland, Tx
2nd $2000 6.78 lbs Orvel Van Winkle Orange, Tx
6th $1200 5.86 lbs Adam Wagner Houston, Tx
2nd $2000 6.70 lbs Hunter Aucoin, Orange TX
4th $1600 6.41 lbs Robert Rape, Vidor TX
12th $500 4.69 lbs James Booth Woodville, TX
3rd $1800 7.93 lbs James Walker Silsbee, TX

1486690_10200873501439695_1056548793909287823_n$10,000 Exact Weight Fish Local Winners
3.00 lbs Sean FillYaw, Beaumont TX
4.00 lbs Colton Sonnier, Kountze TX
5.00 lbs Dustin Wilson, Buna TX

As these things go, every single year it just gets better. This years tournament was no exception. The Sealy organization has got this thing down to a science and they just keep getting better at it. Do yourself a favor and make reservations now for next year or you wont get a room. Everything for miles around fills up months in advance; in some cases its already to late.

To View All The Winners………………..Click Here




Not many people realize that the, little known, Paddlefish is as ancient as the dinosaurs and still survives in Eastern Texas, to this very day. The oldest paddlefish fossil discovered is around 300 million years old. Village Creek Rangers have recently stated that they have been seen in Village Creek, in the last few years. The creek runs through the heart of the “Big Thicket Nat’l Preserve.” This makes perfect sense, its an ancient biodiverse forest for an ancient fish. Their regular habitat here is the  Sulphur River, Big Cypress Bayou, Sabine River, Neches River, Angelina River, Trinity River, and San Jacinto River. To think these creatures have survived for millions of years in nearby creeks, rivers and lakes is mind boggling, to say the least. Here is a record paddle fish caught recently in the Dakotas………….Record Paddlefish Article

The paddlefish are now being restored to Caddo Lake, Texas only natural lake, by Texas Parks and Wildlife. Around 50 of the fish have recently been released into Caddo Lake by TPWD to restore the areas ecosystem back to health. When the nearby dam was built, in the 50’s, it changed the rhythm of the water current and confused the fishes spawning instincts. The fish eventually died out in the lake. The TPWD and the Texas Corp of Engineers have come to an agreement to release water from the dam in a way that more closely resembles the natural patterns of the lake in order to help revitalize the paddlefish population. The fish are illegal to catch in Texas and are considered to be a endangered species.

Fishing’s Illustrious History

Fishing’s Illustrious History

The history surrounding fishing, one of America’s favorite pastimes, is quite an interesting one. More than 33 million adults in the United States are recreational fisherman. They spend, on average, $41.8 billion annually for trips, equipment, licenses and other items. That is an average of $1,262 per angler. With numbers like these, a glimpse into this popular pastime is well worth the effort. This generational tradition actually dates back to around 40,000 years ago. We know this because in the “Hunter-Gatherer” lifestyle of the Upper Paleolithic age there were fishhooks found made from animal bones.

gorge hookThere has actually been an ancient East Asia man discovered that regularly consumed freshwater fish. Seafood during this time period was very significant. Most of the population then stayed on the move. The places where permanent settlements were beginning to pop up are because they centered on fishing for food, such as Lepenski Vir. One of the earliest methods of fishing was a barbed pole, a harpoon. About 8,000 years ago, the modern methods of fishing began to develop in the Neolithic culture. The first hook (gorge hook) and line tackle, we know about, was used in California, 7500 years ago. It originated from Native Americans, indicating the sport of fishing (throwing out a line with hook) is quintessentially American. Some tribes even used plant toxins to paralyze fish making them easier prey.

The ancient Egyptians are known to have fished the Nile River extensively. They dried most of their fish and it was a substantial part of their diets. This much demand for fish caused tremendous innovation on their part. According to papyrus documents and tomb drawings they Plimoth-Plantation-mural-nightfishSMwere using reed boats, woven nets, weir baskets made from willow, harpoons and hooks. By their 12th dynasty, the hooks began to be made of metal with barbs, similar to ours. The fish once caught were clubbed to death after capture. There is even evidence that they may have fished for recreation (any fisherman could have told them that). As one of ancient literature’s most informative sources, the Bible mentions fishing numerous times. In what many scholars consider to be the oldest book in the bible, Job 41:7 states “Canst thou fill his skin with barbed irons? Or, his head with fish spears?” when speaking of Leviathan (some sort of huge sea creature). In Habakkuk 1:15 it mentions a hook, net and seine are used. In ancient Greece, a wine cup from 500 BC has been discovered. It has a picture of a boy perched down on a rock with a fishing rod. There is a basket on his left and in the water a round object made of the basket material with an opening at the top. It is either a fish-cage, for keeping live fish in, or fish-trap.

In the 1st century, Jesus constantly preached utilizing the fishing culture of his day. He choose fisherman for his disciples. All through the gospels, the disciples were depicted as fisherman and fishing was a mainstream career. ancient boat to chirst timesThe disciples fished commercially with nets, as we see in John 21:6. In 170 AD, Oppian, a Greek author described an episode in the life of Rome’s fisherman during the rule of Marcus Aurelius. He wrote “The fishers set up very light nets of buoyant flax and wheel in a circle round about while they violently strike the surface of the sea with their oars and make a din with sweeping blow of poles. At the flashing of the swift oars and the noise the fish bound in terror and rush into the bosom of the net which stands at rest, thinking it to be a shelter: foolish fishes which, frightened by a noise, enter the gates of doom. Then the fishers on either side hasten with the ropes to draw the net ashore.” In medieval times, the Tacuinum, a widely distributed handbook on health and well being depicts fisherman with nets. During the 17th-19th centuries, we have a mass amount of information concerning fishing. In much of the American Pacific Northwest, the fishing that took place in the 19th century was due to the experiences that fisherman had with the gillnet industry in Norway, Sweden, Wales and England before they immigrated. Gillnetting technology was extremely popular in Colonial America.

gilneting over drum (Small)After this period, the innovations in fishing have mainly been to tweak the methods already available. Nothing new in the way of methodology has come about in ages, its always involves hands (current version: noodling), nets, lines or harpoons (since dynamite fishing is illegal). In the 19th century, Mediterranean immigrants brought better boat technology with them when they came, such as the 25’ row-sail boat, which was mainly powered by oars. At the beginnings of the 20th century, the steam powered ships would haul these boats way off shore to fish and then retrieve them in the evening. However, about this time the gas powered boats begin making their appearance and the row-sail fishing boat would soon be gone forever. In 1931 the drum was developed to help pull up the nets when fishing. When added to the faster gas powered fishing boat, it revolutionize fishing. Fishing now became much more lucrative as fisherman were able to reach places they had never been able to before.

Since the time of WWII, fishing has become highly competitive. Hook and LineThe new navigation and communication devices forced fisherman to invest more heavily in their boats to keep up. The introduction of synthetic nets in the 60’s caused an explosion in growth to the fishing industry because it was cheaper, easier to handle, lasted longer and required little maintenance. In addition to this, monofilaments become almost invisible in the water and fisherman were able to catch more fish. Today the world enjoys a healthy thriving fishing community due to the efforts of many fisherman, through the ages, who have dared to try and fail countless times, until success was achieved. Fisherman today have so many tools at their disposal that if they are not careful they will lose the time honored traditions of just throwing a line in the water and matching their own instincts against that of the fish. After all, isn’t that what it is really all about.