Jasper, Tx Jan. 18- After a 2019 that saw record lake levels and crazy weather keeping SETX anglers off the water in the early part of the season, SETX anglers welcomed temperatures in the 60's and unseasonably warm waters this past weekend to kick off the 7th season of the FORD SETX HS Champions Trail presented by Skeeter Boats. "It supposed to rain a bit, but we will take it after what we had to deal with last year. Pre-frontal conditions and a rising lake should make for some excellent fishing this weekend" said SETX President Bryan Thomas.

A couple thousand gathered around Umphrey Pavilion Saturday afternoon as the anglers made their way in to weigh their catches. "We are really proud of what SETX has become and what it means for these kids, captains, and their families as well" said tournament emcee John Salamone. "It really is kind of an organized chaos that goes on for a few hours around here during one of these events. I wish everyone could see the effort that goes on throughout the year to make sure days like today are possible. It takes so much effort to make sure these things go smoothly and I am just proud to play a small part in it and have a little fun with the kids when they come across the stage" concluded Salamone.

As for the fishing on Rayburn, well everyone knows that January and February are big fish months and with water temps in the upper 50's in mid January, who knows what could come across the SETX stage? "Traditionally, it has taken about 17 LBS to win this January tournament and the fishing has been tough in those tourneys. Because we have had some warmer temps, we expect a lot more fish fish to be caught today than in the past" said SETX Board member Tom Selman. 

One fallacy that was broken on Saturday and the top 3 teams proved this.......... you do not exactly have to be from the Sam Rayburn area to be successful in an SETX event, as the top 3 teams schools average 100+ miles from Big Sam. 


Tackle Addict First Place Team- 19.71 LBS- Top Gun Anglers of Atascocita- Maverick Winford and Ian Ratliff - Boat Captain Chris Winford 

Launching in the Attoyac at Jackson Hill, the Freshman-Junior team from just North of Houston (Atascocita) pointed their boat even further North and focused in on a small ditch in 6-12 foot of water to gather their nearly 20 LB sack. "Along that gut, there were a few brush piles and the kids were able to target" said Capt Chris Winford. The team used their Friday practice day to find this stretch of water and were able to gather a quick limit within 20 minutes of the first cast. "Bill Lewis Rat-L-Traps and Lews rods and reels were key for us in gathering that early limit" continued Capt Winford. When asked about any special techniques, Capt. Winford also added that a drop-shot played a critical role in helping the team cull up throughout the day as they picked apart the brush piles along the gut. "We had a pretty smooth day and the kids fished hard and they cant wait to compete again in February and get back on that hot seat" concluded Capt Winford. The team wished to thank the following sponsors: Quentel and Henson Orthodontics, Webster Law Firm, Spurlock and Assoc. Law Firm, Empire Steel, HB Farmers, Bowden Marine, Lomax Dental, LaVilla Mexican Restaurant, BK Electric, Texas Shoreline, Lake Houston Sports and Rec. Foundation, Bahama Bucks, Friends and Family.


Second Place Team- 18.42 LBS- Hamshire Fannett HS- Gabe Constance - Boat Captain John Constance

Launching at Umphrey Public Ramp, Capt John Constance and his son Gabe, a senior at Hamshire Fannett HS, pointed their boat up the Angelina arm of Lake Sam Rayburn early Saturday morning. They settled in around the mid lake area where Gabe was able to grab a limit within 45 minutes of first cast. "We fished last weekend and Friday practice, but we really did not find anything promising, but we did eliminate some water and was able to focus in on 3 or 4 mid lake spots on Saturday" said Capt Constance. Focusing in the 1-5 foot depth range, Gabe used a tried and true technique on Rayburn...a 1/2 oz Bill Lewis Rat-L-Trap in a Sun Perch pattern to gather his 18 LB bag. When asked about any special techniques Gabe may have used, Capt Constance replied, "Gabe did a great job of simply varying his speed with the trap throughout the day until he would find something that would trigger the fish. Often times it is those little things that make a difference between a 10 LB sack and a 18 LB sack". When asked about any specific vegetation or cover Gabe was fishing, Capt Constance was quick to point out that finding a "combination of grasses" was key. "Anytime we found a combination of Haygrass, Hydrilla, or Eel Grass, we knew our chances were good of finding a better fish" concluded Constance. The team wished to thank all of the Hamshire Fannett team sponsors. 


Third Place Team- 17.56 LBS- Livingston HS -Payton Sturm and Paige Blackmon- Boat Captain Scott David

All bass fisherman have heard the term "fishing history". Simply put, what has worked in the past will work in the future and vice versa. Sometimes it works, sometimes it backfires. Capt Scott David has a little successful history on Rayburn and he put it to work last Saturday as he shuttled his 2 Sophomores from Livingston HS out of the Mill Creek ramp and up into the backwaters and shorelines of he upper Mill Creek basin. "We did not pre fish any, so I had to pretty much go on history. I had a pretty good run over here back in 2007 fishing this area so that is what we did." said David. 8, 9 oclock, nothing! 10 oclock, nothing! Not even a bite! It was looking rather grim!! "Just after 10 oclock, Payton put one in the boat and we immediately noticed a big difference in the water we had come upon, it was much clearer than the surrounding waters we had been fishing and this made all the difference" said Capt. David. The team ended up fishing this 100 yard stretch in 1-4 foot of water (62-63 degrees!!) and caught 15-20 fish from it throwing 3/8 and 1/4 oz bladed jigs in white/chartreuse, buzz baits, and stick baits on Lews rods and reels. "We had the winning stringer. We lost a couple of big fish that I think would have put us over the 20 LB mark, but hey, that's fishing, and the kids did a great job being patient and taking advantage of opportunities when they arose." Concluded Capt. David. The team wished to thank LISD, a thank you to the kids parents for making it easy on the captain, and LEWS for the great equipment. 



4th Place- 16.81 LBS- Kullen King and Trent Korman- Vidor HS

5th Place- 16.25 LBS- Jacob Ballard and Tanner Deshotel- Hamshire Fannett HS 

6th Place- 15.09 LBS- Rylan Ward- Kirbyville HS

7th Place- 14.23 LBS- Bailey Strother and Trent Neal- West Sabine HS

8th Place- 14.15 LBS- Conner Griffin and Cade Griffin- Orangefield HS

9th Place- 14.11 LBS- Bret Mcintyre and Tucker Weeks- Kirbyville HS

10th Place- 13.84 LBS- Braxton Rambo and Cameron Dougharty- LCM HS


 Top 3 Big Fish of Weekend

8.04 LBS- Jaxson Jenkins and Jordan Deknipp- Friendswood HS

6.34 LBS- Maverick Winford and Ian Ratliff- Top Gun Anglers of Atascocita

6.19 LBS- Avery Comeaux and Jake Plante- PNG HS



Farmers Insurance Conservation Prize Winners

After a tough day on the water, Laryssa Pitts of Splendora decided to snap a photo of her small, but legal fish, and release it. She then showed that photo at the FARMERS INSURANCE Conservation Booth and entered herself into the Conservation Prize Drawing and was the lucky winner of $500.00 from FARMERS. Thank you to FARMERS sponsoring this wonderful program!! Please go by the Farmers Tent for information on how your team can win this prize and also enter the FARMERS CONTINGENCY program that rewards teams having FARMERS BOAT INSURANCE POLICIES with CASH PRIZES. For more information on how your team can be the next winner, please contact your advisor or go by the farmers tent. 



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, HUK, GIL, Rat L Trap, Rod Armorz, Seaguar, Farmers Insurance, Jordan Wilson and Church in the Country, Houston Methodist Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, Crystal Heigley and the Allman Real Estate Team 

For full results, or more information about all of our sponsors, please visit www.setxhighschoolfishing.com or visit our facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/setxhighschoolfishing/


Story by Jet Donovan