The Port Arthur News
The Toyota Texas Bass Classic (TTBC), the world championship of professional bass fishing, had to go into overtime to crown a champion. Keith Combs of Huntington outlasted Mike Iaconelli of Pittsgrove, NJ in an unprecedented sudden death fish-off according to TTBC officials.
TTBC officials reported both anglers caught record-setting three-day totals of 76 lbs. 12 oz. before finding out on stage at the final weigh-in that they were tied.
The anglers were forced to go back onto the water where the first one to catch a legal 14-inch bass, verified by their on-the-water judge and tournament officials listening via cell phone, would be declared the winner.
During sudden death it took Combs 45 minutes to reel in the first catch, a 15-inch bass that was good enough for the title.
“I put everything into this, it’s all I wanted to do,” Combs said.
“If it gets any better than this I will fall down and pass out.”
Combs led the tournament wire-to-wire to earn $100,000 and a brand-new Legend boat powered by Evinrude. His day one five-bass limit total of 28 lbs. 8 oz. set a new tournament single-day record and he followed that with a 27 lb. 4 oz. bag on day two, which was the second-largest one-day total of the tournament.
TTBC reported for the second consecutive year Mike Iaconelli finished the runner-up. The excitable fan-favorite overcame a 4 lb. deficit going into the final day to bag a 25 lb. limit on Sunday that earned him a tie with Combs, but an eventual second-place finish.
The unique professional angling tournament focuses on conservation and features a catch and release program that highlights the efforts of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
A generous donation of $250,000 was given to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department on behalf of the Toyota Texas Bass Classic to fund youth education and outreach programs. Over the past five years, $1.25 million has been donated to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department through the TTBC.
Now onto the report…
North Sabine---Reds and trout are good under the birds throughout the day and taking a variety of soft plastics and spoons. Flounder are fair to good along the Louisiana shoreline on jigs tipped with shrimp and live mullet.
South Sabine---Trout and reds are good along the Louisiana shoreline and on the main lake around the Yacht Basin area on a variety of light colored plastics and Gulp. Flounder are good on finger mullet, mud minnows and curl-tailed grubs tipped with shrimp.
Sabine Pass--The jetties are good for redfish on live mullet. Flounder are fair to good on live bait and Gulp fished around drop-offs in the channel and on points.
Lake Calcasieu (Big Lake)---Hackberry Rod and Gun reports trout and reds are schooling throughout the lake and taking a variety of plastic, spoons and live shrimp. The bite has been on throughout the day and has been strongest on the north end. Flounder are good on live bait fished around the mouths of the bayous and at various points in the channel.
Sabine River--Flounder are fair to good on jigs tipped with shrimp and Gulp shrimp and curltails. Reds are good on dead shrimp and mullet fished along the shorelines from Interstate 10 to East Pass. Trout remain scattered.
Sam Rayburn---Texas Parks & Wildlife Department officials report good on watermelon soft plastic worms with chartreuse tails in 20–30 feet. White bass are fair on minnows and small spinnerbaits. Crappie are fair on live minnows. Bream are good on nightcrawlers. Catfish are fair on trotlines baited with live bait.
Toledo Bend---Holly Park Marina reports bass are very good in the creeks and on main lake points on Rat-L-Traps and spinnerbaits. Catfish are fair to good on cut bait and prepared bait. Very few reports of crappie.
Hunting---Texas Parks & Wildlife Department officials report prospects look excellent if you have access to water. Coastal prairie ponds are black with ducks and specklebellies, and a few snow geese showed with last week's front. Concentrations of dark geese on the ground indicate a good hatch of young specklebellies, which should encourage steady decoying action.
The front forecasted for this week should shove more light geese to the coast. Reports along the bay flats indicate good numbers of pintails, wigeons, gadwalls and redheads. More divers are showing daily with fronts. Bay hunters should enjoy steadier hunting this year with the lack of water on the coastal prairies. Prospects are good.
TOLEDO BEND: Normal Pool Level: 172.0 Current Pool Level: 159.78 Was 159.89
RAYBURN LAKE: Normal Pool Level: 164 Current Pool Level: 150.87 Was: 150.95
B.A. STEIN HAGEN: Normal Pool Level: 85 Current Pool Level: 81.65 Was: 81.76