124 teams fished, 72 teams weighed in and 12 places were paid. Use the scroll bar on the right to view all the results.
The Tuff Man season opener was held Saturday the 19th on Lake Waco. It was a huge turnout for the event, as 124 teams competed on the swollen lake. In fact Lake Waco received approximately 3 feet of new water over the last few weeks. That’s a huge amount for a lowland reservoir, which had a negative impact on the fishing overall, and the anglers who had found fish prior to the rains. It was anybody’s ballgame essentially, and many struggled to catch a keeper or two. The common theme at weigh-in was that the fish were just too spread out.
But Texas Tournament Zone’s own James Roberts and his long time partner Brian Burns came to the scales with a huge sack for conditions at just over 17 pounds, proving fish will always bite somewhere or somehow. We spent some time with James to get the skinny. “The only pattern we had was shallow. We caught ‘em on everything from swimbaits to Senkos!” The team focused on a smaller northern creek, where James had some decent success a few years ago. “I had only been on the lake three times in my life, and due to recent weather we hadn’t had a chance to pre-fish even.”
The team of Roberts and Burns caught 5 keepers total all day, with eight unders. “Our deepest fish was caught in about 7 foot of water on a shad pattern swimbait, the rest were literally on the bank”, James mentioned. “We had a real Iaconelli moment at the end of the day…you know one of those ‘NEVER GIVE UP!!’ deals.” You see, the team was not sure if they had to be checked in by 3:45, or actually in line with their fish, so they went in with about 20 minutes to spare to find out. They had four keepers at that time; the biggest was around 5 pounds and their total sack weighing around 12 pounds. The tournament official advised they just had to be checked in by 3:45, so they opted to hit a little water around the corner with a spinnerbait. Good thing they did, because a solid 5 pounder decided to inhale Brian’s SOB spinnerbait with minutes to spare!
After a quick celebration, the team tooled around the corner thinking they had probably qualified, but James had no idea they were carrying the winning bag. “We had heard of some 20 pound sacks, so we figured we didn’t have a big chance of winning, thank goodness we were wrong.” James would like to thank his sponsors Texas Tournament Zone and Waterloo Rods. Way to go guys, we couldn’t be happier for you!
Finishing in the top 10 and qualifying for the Championship were Jarred Smith and Paul Carman. Jared has fished Waco on several occasions but this was Paul’s first time on the lake. They caught most of their keepers fishing Texas and wacky rigged 5″ Yamamoto Senkos in green pumpkin. Paul mentioned their better fish, which where a couple of three pounders, came off some timber sticking out of a sand bar. With four keepers in the tank, they each proceeded to lose a couple of nice fish when Jarred broke one off on a hook set and Paul lost a three pounder at the boat. Jarred caught their last keeper fishing near the dam to help bring their weight to 11.09 pounds for a 9th place finish. They both would like to thank Baker Triangle and Caply Building Materials for supporting them this season.
We’d also like to mention Army Bass Anglers Mike Garrett and Jarod Shelton for qualifying. Mike spoke with TTZ after the tournament. “We concentrated on rock points in small main lake cuts…most teams passed these up.” They caught most of their fish on Norman original “Big O” cranks, and were rewarded with a nice bass over six pounds. Mike would like to thank the following sponsors: Skeeter, Ardent, CastAway Rods, Tightlines Premium Fishing Tackle, JaROD Jigs and Oakley. Congrats and thanks for your service to our country!
“Tough fishing for TuffMan” is how one fisherman described the conditions on Lake Waco this past weekend. Only 58% of the teams were able to bring fish to the scales and only 6 (5%) of these caught the 5 fish limit. Sixteen (13%) of the teams caught only one fish. There were 188 black bass weighed in for a total weight of 433.78 pounds giving an average fish size of 2.3 pounds. The fish were released back into Lake Waco.
Coming up next on the Tuff Man Trail is Lake Limestone…another lowland reservoir that has a history of fishing pretty shallow as well. Time will tell. Teams may qualify for the Championship by finishing in the top 12 of an individual tournament or by being in the top 12 in points after all teams that have qualified are removed from the points listing. Entry fee is $200 per two person team. We’ll see y’all out there October 24th!