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COLUMBIA, S.C. - The 3rd Annual Berkley Big Bass Challenge on the Delta had a field of nearly 200 anglers and awarded over $40,000 in cash and prizes. The fun and unique hourly big bass format challenges anglers not only on their fishing skills, but also employing strategy on when to weigh in their fish and ONLY Berkley baits can be used.
Fishing appeared to be tough with a cold front, strong winds and rain predicted for the two-day event, which was ran out of Russo’s Marina on Bethel Island, Calif. While conditions were less than ideal, it appeared to be no problem for Russ Myers who weighed in a 13.15-pound Delta hog to easily win the first hour using a Berkley Hollow Belly. The second hour weights dropped dramatically as Zack Thompson used a PowerBait Chigger Craw and won the hour with a 4.90 bass and only six anglers brought a fish to the scales. The weights increased during the 3rd and 4th hours as Lemaj Plaza and Brian Carpenter brought in a 8.57 and 9.47 pound fish to the scales.
While the big fish are always the story, the hourly format that pays 7 places every hour awarded anglers with $50 for fish ranging from 4.14 pounds to 2.08 pounds. All eleven hourly angler winners passed the polygraphs as Doug Romano won 2 hours, but the rules state you only can win 1 key. As the “Super 11” anglers lined up for photos and selected an envelope with a key that they hoped would start the truck excitement began to build.
Zack Thomas was the 10th angler that selected a key and was lucky enough to have the engine fire up. “Catching the fish was skill, ending up with the right key – luck,” said Thomas. “I’d rather be lucky than good most of the time. I already loved Berkley Chigger Craws, but now they won me a truck, unbelievable.”
A Junior Division was added this year and 6 youth anglers that paid the $25 entry fee. Each was rewarded with a Shakespeare Catch More Fish combo that retails for $29.99, a hat along with some additional line and bait. All of the money collected was awarded to the 2 anglers that weighed fish. Tal Chamdi won $100 along with a day on the water with Randy Pringle. Hunter Cook was the other angler that cashed in with a $50 check.
The fun filled activities included the Berkley trailer team interacting with the anglers and local guides Randy Pringle and Jeff Huth emceeing the tournament. An early registration raffle had several prizes, but the grand prize of a day on the water with Berkley Pro Skeet Reese, which was won by Gregory Shreeve of Discovery Bay, Calif. The Berkley raffle, where tickets are given for all of the empty bags of Gulp! and PowerBait that are turned in, had prizes from Abu Garcia, Fenwick and Cocoons.
The Berkley Big Fish tournaments are always fun and are looking to expand them beyond California and Texas. The Texas event is set for October 22nd – 23rd on Lake Fork, Texas,” said Andrew Marks, Berkley Marketing Director. “The anglers are learning about the full spectrum of Berkley baits in a fun and rewarding way. Many of the fish were caught on our family of PowerBait Chigger Craws and Hollow Belly swim baits, but we had several fish brought in on Hand Poured Finesse Worms, jigs and the new Thump Worm that is just hitting the stores now.”