Many, LA Feb. 24- After canceling two tournaments at Rayburn to start the 2019 season, the FORD SETX Championship Series presented by Skeeter Boats season was finally able to get underway this past Sunday at Cypress Bend Park on Toledo Bend Reservoir. "Weather and high water have really thrown us some early season curve balls" said SETX President Bryan Thomas of Lumberton. "Even this weekend, we had to bump to Sunday because of forecasted winds on Saturday. The weatherman has not been a friend to any of us this year" concluded Thomas. Seasonal temps and moderate north winds greeted over 500 registered teams early Sunday morning as the tournament day got underway on the legendary Toledo Bend Reservoir.
As for the fishing on Toledo, well, lets just say that the old lake has seen its better days. SETX Vice President Byron Duriac of Silsbee had this to say, "We got here on Friday during the Bassmaster Central Open weigh in and we saw just how hard the lake was fishing. There were a couple of good bags, but overall, they were not the bags of fish that Toledo is famous for giving up. We knew Sunday was gonna be a tough day for our kids", concluded Duriac. The tough fishing continued through Sunday, as only 4 teams crossed the stage with a full 5 fish limit and only 7 were able to bust the 10 Lb mark. "We only had 218 fish cross the stage today, that is a record low for us" said SETX Board member Tom Selman of PNG, who was instrumental in helping debut the new custom built SETX Live Release Tank. "SETX has always made conservation a high priority and we are committed to the conservation of our resources here in Southeast Texas. This tank will help us to keep those fish as healthy as possible between the stage and release. We just wish we would have had a few more to put in it today" concluded Selman.
During weigh in on Sunday, Skeeter/MLF Pro Brandon Palaniuk and recent Bassmaster Central Open Champion Darold Gleason shared some stories with the crowd and the young anglers of SETX. Brandon was kind enough to relieve emcees John Salamone and Kirk Williams of their jobs and do a little emceeing himself as he greeted the young anglers crossing the stage. Darold even helped out a bit on the live release trailer. Thanks to both of these gentlemen for sharing their time with SETX, we really appreciated you being there on Sunday to share your experiences. SETX wishes both of you the best.
Tackle Addict First Place Team- 16.51 LBS- Livingston High School- Kaden Mueck and Breckett Long- Boat Captain Mark Mueck
One time could be just luck. Second time, that is a pattern. Third time, well that's a trend as Kaden Mueck and Breckett Long became the first ever duo to capture three SETX events. The bad news for the rest of the field, the duo from Livingston are just 8th and 9th graders!! Launching in the mid lake area on Sunday morning, the team found the fishing tough and made a move up north around 10 am to areas of the lake with even more stained water. Known for their deep water pre spawn tactics in their first two SETX wins, the team proved their versatility as they fished shallow muddier areas with "clean streaks" in it. "We were in some stained water, but within that stained water, we were able to find some cleaner water and that was the key to finding some of the better quality fish. We found this out during practice, and the experience of fishing a muddy lake like Lake Livingston also payed dividends for us. The fish are there, but it scares a lot of anglers off, it's just a matter of finding something different inside those places that was the key for us" said Mueck. Capt Mueck reported using 3/8 oz spinner baits with Indiana blades to help keep the baits up in the water column and slow rolling them through 3 foot of water or less. "The kids only caught 7-8 fish all day and culled only a couple of times, but it was enough" concluded Mueck. The team wished to thank their Mother's for letting them do what love to do.
Second Place Team- 14.98 LBS- Woodville High School- Braden Clifton- Boat Captain Kay Clifton Lowe
Sometimes you just have to fishing. With very little recent experience on the water and no time for practice at Toledo, Braden and his Mother Kay launched at Solans Camp and fished upper lake bushes, flats, primary, and secondary points in the 2-5 foot range to gather their 15 LB sack. "Braden did a great job finding some staging areas and caught a couple to give him an idea of how the fish were positioned. From that point, he was able to simply dial in on some specific lures and spots where he knew he had confidence and could catch them" said his Mother Kay. Stanley jigs with bruiser trailers and black and blue senko's were the lures of choice. "The wind kicked up a bit and made some of the area's tougher to fish, but Braden did a great job positioning his boat to get to some of the tougher locations where fish were at" concluded Ms Lowe. Much like the 1st place team from Livingston, only 7-8 fish were caught and Braden was only able to cull up a couple of times. Braden wished to thank his Mother Kay Lowe and to Mr Clint Richardson for the use of his boat. Thank you to my grandparents, Thomas and Janice Clifton, Mr Joey Mottu, Mccain Rods and Mr Russell Pasket, Clifford Wiedman and Stanley Jigs, Woo Tungsten, and Tackle Addict for being close by and having long hours to get the baits I need.
Third Place Team- 14.49 LBS- Evadale- Holden Ashworth- Boat Captain Thomas Ashworth
When the rules say five fish, why catch more? That is exactly what Holden did on Sunday. "We didnt catch a whole lot of fish, but the five fish we caught did the job today" said the team from Evadale. Launching at the public ramp at hwy 255, the father-son duo targeted ridges near the dam in the 30 foot range and mid lake coves with scattered grass in the 1-12 foot range to gather their limit. The team reported having put the 5th fish in the boat at around 1 o'clock and caught them on deep cranks, carolina rigs, drop shots, and even a spoon. "The wind was brutal and if it were not for our Ultrex troll motor, it would have been impossible to stay positioned, it truly is a game changer" said Captain Ashworth. The team wished to thank the Evadale Bass Assassins and SETX for the giving them the opportunity to fish for them. "We are looking forward to the upcoming tournaments" concluded Captain Ashworth.
Rest of Top Ten
4th Place- 13.73 LBS- Cade Latiolais and Grant Humphrey- PNG HS
5th Place- 12.52 LBS- Casey Beard and Clay Jenkins- Lumberton HS
6th Place- 11.95 LBS- Brayden Mercer and Ryan Young- Lumberton HS
7th Place- 10.23 LBS- Tyler Meredith and Kyndal Eddins- Lumberton HS
8th Place- 9.61 LBS- Preston Johnson and Joey Comstock- Friendswood HS
9th Place- 9.56 LBS- Logan Bonura and Bryce Jewell- Hardin Jefferson HS
10th Place- 9.36 LBS- Mark Balderas and Hunter Murray- Deer Park HS
Top 3 Big Bass
1st Place- 9.78 LBS- Cade Latiolais and Grant Humphrey- PNG HS
2nd Place- 7.64 LBS- Brayden Mercer and Ryan Young- Lumberton HS
3rd Place- 7.48 LBS- Tyler Meredith and Kyndal Evans- Lumberton HS
V&M Baits/Leak Sealers Conservation Prize Winners
After a tough day on the water, the team of Colton Mosely and Tyler Dilday decided to snap a photo of their small fish and release it. They then showed that photo at the LEAKSEALERS Conservation Booth and entered their team # into the Conservation Prize Drawing and were the lucky winners of $500.00 from LEAK SEALERS. Thank you to LEAK SEALERS sponsoring this wonderful program!! For more information on how your team can be the next winner, please contact your advisor for details!!
The SETX board wanted to make sure they sent out many THANKS to the all the volunteers who helped last Sunday. Your time and your patience is absolutely necessary for the success of this organization. We simply cannot thank all of you enough for your efforts. THANK YOU ALL.
Lastly, the board wanted to make sure that all of you take the time to go by the many sponsor booth's at the tournaments and say "HI" and "thank you" for supporting the young anglers of Southeast Texas. As always, please remember these companies when it comes time to make your own personal purchases!! They are supporting us, so please support them. When out and about, let these people know you support them because they support SETX HS Fishing.
THANK YOU TO ALL OF THE SETX SPONSORS for helping make SETX the premiere HS Fishing Trail in the country!!!
South Texas Ford Dealers Assn, Skeeter Boats/Yamaha, Tackle Addict, Costa, Lews, Leak Sealers Inc., Rat L Trap, Rod Armorz, Houston Methodist Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, Vicious Fishing Line, Culprit Lures, Big Bite Baits, Crystal Heigley and the Allman Real Estate Team.
Story by Jet Donovan