Written by Conor Harrison, Lone Star Outdoor News
Lake LBJ has been on an upswing recently, and that trend continued Saturday when 173 teams battled it out in the third Bass Champs Central Region event of 2015.
When the final fish had been weighed, Matt Hill and Berry Mott had outslugged the competition and won the tournament with an impressive 27.36 pounds.
The duo, from Cedar Park and Liberty Hill, respectively, took home a check for more than $20,000 of the 103-percent total paid back to the anglers.
Thirty-two teams brought sacks to the scales weighing more than 15 pounds
The winning pair chased schools of shad in the shallows during the afternoon, targeting their fish with an assortment of shad imitations.
“We didn’t really use one particular bait,” Hill said. “The shad were really shallow later in the day and we were throwing moving baits at bass following them. We could see the black clouds of shad; actually thought it was grass for a while. Then it moved. We started the day fishing about 10 feet, and later in the day we were fishing in 2 to 3 feet.
“The bass were really pushing them shallow.”
The two anglers targeted the fish with crankbaits, swimbaits, an Alabama rig and Flukes.
“Anything shaddy,” Hill said.
Their big bass, around 8 pounds, came at midday. The anglers saw fish on their beds and said many other teams caught a lot of fish on beds.
Hill said he had some important people to thank after the tournament.
“I want to thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,” he said. “I also want to thank my dad, for always taking the time and having the patience to teach me to be a fisherman.”
Mott echoed those sentiments.
“I also want to thank Jesus,” he said, “and my wife for letting me go fishing.”
The second place check for $3,500 went to San Marcos angler Charles Whited and Canyon Lake angler Bill Polkinghorn, who caught a 5-bass limit for 22.04 pounds.
The pair targeted grasslines with big plastics.
“We were throwing swimbaits and 10-inch Ol’ Monster worms off the edge of the grass,” Whited said. “We started off shallow but worked our way out. We had a limit 30 minutes into it. We caught 22 keepers. It was a good day – LBJ is fishing good.”
Whited said he and his longtime partner fish the lake often, and said everything for them today related to grass.
“I’d like to thank my partner, Bill Polkinghorn, who has been together with me since Bass Champs started. He puts up with me and that isn’t always easy. I’d also like to thank Samaniego Custom Tackle, Texas Bass Tackle, Texas Tournament Zone, Texas Boat World, Titan Boats, Picasso Lures, Grande Bass Lures and Power Tackle Rods.”
The third place team of Jeff Pitrucha, Copperas Cove, and Ronnie Trower, Harker Heights, only managed four fish. But two of those were over 8 pounds, earning the duo a check for $2,500 with a total weight of 20.95 pounds.
The pair hadn’t had found many big fish leading into the tournament, but got the bites when it mattered.
“Our strategy was scattered,” Pitrucha said. “We hadn’t had good practices. We struggled, but fortunately, we caught the ones we did. There was a lot of bait, a lot of fry. We fished a little shallower grass than most; about 2 to 4 feet.”
Pitrucha said he and Trower worked hard to catch a limit.
“We worked extremely hard,” he said chuckling. “We tried to come up with a good story, like we were sitting on a 12-pound fish on a bed all day. But those two fish went 8 and 9 pounds and it just happened to be the right time.”
Trower said he watched his partner catch all of the fish, but it was still the biggest weight he’s ever had in a tournament.
“He caught all four!” Trower said. “I didn’t catch any. That’s the biggest sack I’ve ever been a part of, and it was only four fish.”
Trower said he wanted to thank Texas Boat World, Livingston Lures and Triton Boats.
Pitrucha said he wanted to give a nod to Triton Boats, Texas Boat World, Linex and Tournament Saver Pro.
The big bass of the tournament was caught by Spicewood angler Joe Bill Hale, who, along with partner Trey Groce, targeted a specific grassline most of the day to catch a 10.18-pound lunker. The pair finished in fifth overall, earning $2,200.
“Basically, my partner found a grassline and he caught a big fish on it last weekend,” Hale said. “We spent half our day sitting on that grassline looking for a big fish. We’d leave, come back, leave, come back. Around 1 p.m., I threw a Carolina rig and she was there.”