By Marisa Dye
Some hard lessons were learned and some personal records made at the final Oklahoma Bass Federation Qualifier. The competitors experienced numerous ups and downs during the tournament at Lake Ray Roberts near Sanger, Texas.
Saturday’s Boat Woes
The biggest news Saturday wasn’t the fish, but the boats. Two boats took on water and a third, Gene Vogt’s, spun a hub after prop chopping through a stump field. Justin Clark of the Bedlam Bass Club ran out of fuel, apparently smack dab in the middle of the lake near the dam, according to partner Jake Beam of Ponca City Bassmasters.
Clark had caught a four-fish stringer that, had he weighed them in, might have taken thetop spot on Saturday. However, things weren’t going as planned as they started taking on water due to the 4-5 foot waves.
Meanwhile, Curtis Bryan of the Bedlam Bass Club heard that Gene Vogt and non-boater Ian McNeice were stranded, so he picked them up and brought them to weigh in. Then, as word got out about Clark and Beam’s predicament, Bryan high-tailed it in their direction. The local park ranger heard of the sinking boat and hauled her big boat to the scene soon after.
Bryan said that while he was headed toward Clark’s boat, he “speared a wave and got soaked head to toe.” He said that while both bilge pumps in his Ranger were working, theyapparently got a workout once he tied onto Clark’s boat. The drag from Clark’s Hawk pulled down the back of Bryan’s boat so that water from the waves splashed all the way up into the seats. Mike Zachary, who was with Bryan, suggested that since the park ranger had pulled up in her boat, they should cut ties and save themselves.
Beam, in the boat being towed, said, “When most of his (Bryan’s) boat’s deck was dark grey instead of light grey, I knew it was bad. I wasn’t scared until we had to level the boat with our own weight up by the trolling motor to keep it from sinking. It was scary.”
Finally, after a big wave that had Bryan and Zachary up to their necks in water, Zachary cut the rope. The Ranger’s bilge pumps were getting clogged with muck, but it stayed true to the legendary promise that Rangers keep upright level floatation. However, Bryan echoed Beam’s sentiments: “I got a little bit concerned.”
Once safely on dry land, Zachary exclaimed, “I’ve got drama. Tomorrow’s do or die for me.” Zachary’s worries were put to rest Sunday when he did make the state team. He added about his experience on Bryan’s rescue boat while it towed Clark’s boat, “I was spooked. You go up and go down the waves, but there’s not enough boat for the next wave.”
Thankfully, no boats or boaters were lost on Saturday. Though no one caught a limit, John Becerra of The Bedlam Bass Club weighed in three fish totaling 7.93 lbs. Stewart Ryan of Ada Bassmasters took 2nd with three fish weighing 8.17 pounds.
Ryan’s club mate, Brandon Beck, came out on top with 12.62 lbs for 3 fish. He was penalized a half-pound deduction for his 4th fish, which was dead.
The anglers were glad to put Saturday’s fishing behind them as they aired out their soaked drawers in preparation for Day 2.
Day 2’s sunny skies were a welcome change for the fishermen. The curse of the broken boats lifted for the day, so everyone was able to arrive on time and mostly dry for weigh-in. Four anglers even caught a limit, which was no small feat considering Saturday’s numbers.
Mike Zachary of Ada Bassmasters took third place with four fish weighing 15.07 pounds total. Bedlam Bass Club member Matt Crawford’s limit totaled 17.12 lbs. Darrel Dye was Sunday’s big winner with a personal record (as well as the day’s Big Bass) hog weighing 8.25 pounds, which he caught while rigging. His four-fish stringer of 18.73 pounds also won him the biggest stringer of the weekend prize.
State Team Roster Named
OBF President Don Linder announced the results of the combined points from three weekend qualifiers over the past three months. The anglers and point totals he announced are as follows:
- Stewart Ryan, State Champion, 398
- Curtis Bryan, 388
- Dan Wallace, 386
- Jody Linder, 382
- Brandon Beck, 381
- Mike Zachary, 380
- Matt Crawford, 379
- Mike Morgan, 378
- Justin Clark, 375
- Johnny Babb, 373
- Ron Boyd, 372
- John Garcia, 367