Stoner's 11th Annual Bass Tournament

April 30th, 2005 --- Lake Fork, TX

Lately I've been holding my tourney in late May - and now I know why. LOL. This year's tourney started off extremely cold and windy. A rather powerful cold front hit the lake the night before the tournament. At start time (6am) it was reportedly 47 degrees and the winds were 20 to 30 miles per hour. It felt more like late January than late April. Needless to say, the early morning boat ride was cold. And with the spray from the waves crashing over the bow of the boat, it was down right chilly (just ask my partner Gary Krumbholz). The weather did eventually warm up - but it took awhile!

And while there wasn't as many fish caught this year, it was certainly a fun tourney anyway. In fact, we found a new wonderful all-you-can-eat crawfish place - sort of an outdoor cajun restaurant. What a gem. It was so good that I think it will be part of the Stoner's Tourney list of traditions. Let's hope that the "Bergstrom Sinking Of The Boat" doesn't make that list. More on that later :) Anyway, I sure had a fun time. What a great group of guys. Trying to fall asleep with the Cotton boys in my room at The Lodge was tough though. Those two should go on tour as a comedy team. I was laughing so hard I was crying. Laughing mainly at them of course.

Thanks to all who came out and fished (26 contestants). I know it's hard for some of you to fit the tourney into your schedules. And many of you even spend the time and money to rent boats for it. I really appreciate your efforts.

Walt Zartman - 2005 Champion
Walt seems to always do well at my tourney. This year he finally won the thing. While a lot of others got stumped (including me), Walt brought in four nice under-slot fish totaling more than six pounds. The weather that day definitely separated the men from the boys. Walt, you da man!

Robert Duren
Robert is another guy who seems to always do well at the tourney. He and his twelve rods and reels won second place and the Big Bass Pot this year. On the left he's holding a couple of nice under-slot fish that helped him win all that money. The picture on the right is of him holding a beautiful 9.5 pounder. That fish was actually over the slot - i.e. it was a perfectly legal fish! Unfortunately it was caught the day before the tourney. Tough break :)

On the left, Matt McCullough brings some fish to the weigh-in. He didn't win anything, but at least he caught something - that's better than most of us did. And he was the only contestant who bought my official tournament T-shirt from That's dad on the right cookin' burgers. He also cut up the onions and tomatos while I was weighing in people's fish. Thanks dad! Dad didn't fish the tourney but there were several father/son teams that fished it this year. I really like that.

The day before the tourney my ol' friend Brian Bergstrom launched his boat at Oakridge's boat ramp and then drove it about a hundred yards to the covered boat slips. He tied it off and began walking away when he noticed that the rear end of his boat was sure sitting low. Then it hit him: he put the plug in one of the livewell holes by accident. Doh! He jumped in the water and put the plug in the correct hole, got the bilge pump to start pumping water out of the boat and somehow drug the boat to a nearby shore. But by that time the boat was half-sunk and water got into the gas tank via the normal gas fill hole. He never could get it to run right after that, so instead of fishing the tourney the next day he and his brother, Michael, drove it to their mechanic on Cedar Creek Lake. Sorry that happened guys! But I bet it never happens again :)

Breakfast at Oakridge
I always enjoying meeting up with everyone for breakfast before the tourney. Normally we eat as fast as we can so we can get on the lake. You can officially begin casting at 6am so you want to be at your favorite spot by 5:45am or so. But as stated above, it was very cold and very windy so many of us were still inside Oakridge's warm restaurant at 6:30!

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