Stoner's 12th Annual Bass Tournament

May 20th, 2006 --- Lake Fork, TX

Warm and windy. That's how the day started off for the 12th tourney. But at least it wasn't cold and windy like last year. And, luckily, the wind finally laid down for us around 1pm - allowing us to get on the deep-water fishing holes. Unlike most years, the fishing was actually better in the afternoon than in the morning. Overall, the fishing was pretty good - most contestants caught at least one bass.

For the second year in a row we had 26 contestants. Thank you to all who came out and fished and laughed and drank beer. You know who you are. I sure had a great time. I know that it's hard to fit the tourney into your busy schedules, and many of you shelled out your hard-earned money to rent bass boats again this year. I really appreciate your efforts. Thanks! I already look forward to next year's tourney: The Lucky #13.

Jeff Cotten, Jr. - 2006 Champion
My old buddy (and I do mean old) Jeff Cotten, Jr. finally won the tourney. Alright, Jeff's actually only 6 months older than me - but still. Jeff was fishing from my boat this year and I managed to put him on some really nice under-slot fish. Okay, okay - it was Jeff's idea to fish the deep-water spot where we caught nearly all our fish. But I did work the trolling motor for him beautifully. Doesn't that count for something? I didn't think so. In all seriousness, Jeff brought his A-game that day and he boated a five-fish stringer weighing 6.32 pounds. You da man.

Dallas Mavericks game
The night before the tourney several of us headed to the local restaurant/bar to watch the Dallas Maverick's playoff game. The Maverick's lost the game but a good time was certainly had by all - as indicated by the empty pitchers on the table. I was having so much fun chatting with our waitress that I had a picture taken with her. But then her redneck boyfriend with the arm-band tatoo showed up. I pretty much stayed in my seat from then on :)

Lee Ward (in blue) won the $130 heaviest bass pot. Lake Fork has a rather restrictive "slot" of 16 to 24 inches. Any bass in that range must be thrown back immediately. Since a bass over 24 inches is fairly rare, most fish weighed in at Lake Fork tournaments are fairly small - less than 16 inches. Still, Lee managed to catch a legal 2.12 pounder that was just under the slot. That's his son, Jay, seated next to him. My friend Tim Speck is standing behind Jay. Tim and Stan & Nancy Ferguson drove out for the post-tourney cookout.

The McCulloughs
It's always nice to have Linda McCullough and her kids at the cookout. That's Rachel sitting on Linda's lap with dad, Matt, looking on. Matt and his friends often account for a large percentage of contestants (and empty beer cans). This year the Matt McCullough contingent consisted of eight anglers.

I only had one legal fish at this year's tourney. I did manage to catch a couple of nice slot fish, but those couldn't be weighed in. So all-in-all I didn't fair too well at the ol' tourney. But later I caught several nice fish while night fishing. This 5.2 pounder wouldn't have counted in the tourney (it was in the slot) but she sure was fun to catch - and release.

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