February 29, 2004 by Gary Mortenson
JASPER, Texas - For four consecutive days, local favorite David Truax of Beaumont, Texas, battled through rain, wind and mist as well as temperatures ranging from the mid-30s to the high 60s. But in the end, his hard work, concentration and consistency paid off. Using a final-day catch of 14 pounds, 13 ounces, Truax captured the tournament title on Sam Rayburn, netting a check for $25,500 as well as a brand new, fully rigged Ranger boat valued at another $40,000. But until the final angler had weighed in, Truax had no idea his dream of winning the first tournament title of his career would become a reality. "I had 14 pounds today, but the way the fishing was all week, I thought there was no way I could win," said Truax, who ultimately recorded a two-day winning weight of 30 pounds, 5 ounces. "I'm still in shock. I thought I'd finish around fourth place. But I've needed a shot in the arm for awhile now. And everything just worked out. Thank God. "This is the biggest win of my career," Truax continued. "I've been pretty consistent on this lake, but I was never able to win here until today. I started fishing full-time about four years ago and I've been trying for a win for a long time. It feels great." During the finals, Truax said that he targeted staging bass just inside the grass line with Carolina rigs tipped with a Zoom Lizard. He also flipped buck bushes with a Zoom Ultra Vibe 3-inch Speed Craw. "I ran all over the place today," said Truax, who estimated that he tested at least 10 different areas as part of his "milk run" strategy. "I wound up catching a limit early and I was able to cull some fish as the day went on." When all was said and done and with trophy in hand, Truax said that his victory was one of the most memorable fishing moments of his career. "It was a miracle," said Truax. "I still can't believe I won." Martin comes up short Using a two-day catch of 28 pounds, 5 ounces, Lendell Martin, Jr., of Nacogdoches, Texas, managed a second-place finish in the finals. "I really felt like it was going to take a 20-pound bag to win in the finals and that's the way I fished today," said Martin, who took home a check for $10,000. "The problem was that I really needed the sun to come out. But this lake is just phenomenal. I had a lot of fun." Lovell thankful for finish Larry Lovell of Emory, Texas, had possibly the best time of any angler at Sam Rayburn all week. And it showed. Using a catch two-day catch of 27 pounds, 14 ounces, Lovell - who joked and kidded around with his fellow competitors all week - took home third place overall as well as a check for $9,000. "I've had the time of my life," said Lovell, smiling from ear to ear. "Everyday I'd go back to the very same spot and catch five fish. Then I'd go back the next day and it was like the fish were waiting for me. I've just had a fantastic time." Best of the rest Bobby Curtis of Siloam Springs, Ark., used a total catch of 27 pounds, 13 ounces to grab fourth place. "I'll tell you what," said Curtis, who ultimately walked away with $8,000 in prize money. "I've struggled pretty hard over the last two years. It seemed like I could never put two good days of fishing together. But this week, I was able to catch fish all four days. I've had a great time here. I'll take whatever I can get and be happy." Day-three leader Lloyd Pickett Jr. of Bartlett, Tenn., used a 26-pound catch to finish the finals in fifth place, netting a $7,500 check. Rounding out the top-10 pro finalists are Gerrit Tepastte (sixth) of Allendale, Mich., with a catch of 24 pounds, 14 ounces; Chad Griffin (seventh) of Cresson, Texas, with a catch of 23 pounds, 4 ounces; Bradley Stringer (eighth) of Huntington, Texas, with a catch of 22 pounds, 11 ounces; Chris Luedtke (ninth) of Chisago City, Minn., with a catch of 16 pounds, 4 ounces; and Slade Dearman (10th) of Sam Rayburn, Texas, with a catch of 13 pounds, 14 ounces. EverStart Central Division action continues March 3 at Pickwick Lake in Eufaula, Ala.