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Curtis nears second TTT Championship victory

Curtis nears second TTT Championship victory
David Curtis caught five bass Saturday that weighed 28 pounds, 3 ounces. With one day remaining on Sam Rayburn, Curtis has over a 10-pound lead.

JASPER, Texas - Sam Rayburn lived up to its reputation as a big fish factory on day one of the Wal-Mart Texas Tournament Trail Championship, churning out a 28-pound limit to David Curtis and a 10-pound, 12-ounce bass to co-angler Mark Oakley.

Even more, 36 of the 49 professionals caught five-bass limits. Still, no other stringer came close to 20 pounds, which means Curtis has perhaps already established an unbeatable lead. Just two weeks ago at the Wal-Mart BFL Super Tournament, it took only 29 pounds, 12 ounces to take top honors over two days.

Curtis' 28-pound, 3-ounce catch looks golden, especially considering his track record in Texas and on Sam Rayburn. Curtis has three victories in his FLW Outdoors career, two on the TTT, including a championship win in 2004. He also won a TTT qualifier in 2004 at Sam Rayburn. His other win was a Stren Series event on nearby Toledo Bend. In 2005, he also won the Stren Series points title as well as the TTT points title.

Pro leader David Curtis smiles after placing his 28-pound limit on the scale."I outdid myself today," said Curtis. "I had no idea I could catch that much. Coming in, I was hoping for 17-20 pounds if everything went right."

The biggest fish in Curtis' limit weighed 7 pounds and the smallest weighed 4 1/2.

"I caught them pretty much all day; the big one came about a half an hour before we had to check in."

The Trinity, Texas, native said he caught a total of between 12 and 15 keepers off of two areas. He started his day by fishing shallow and moved deep as the day progressed.

"My big fish were scattered and that kind of scares me. I could go back and not catch much there."

With over a 10-pound lead, Curtis could probably retreat to one of his many backup areas and scratch out 12 pounds or so.

"I'll admit I have a lot of options."

Despite having over $300,000 in career FLW Outdoors earnings, a $75,000 victory tomorrow would be the biggest payday in his career.

Faske content in second

Marcus Faske of Austin, Texas, sits in second with a five-bass, 17-pound, 12-ounce effort. Faske likely caught more fish than Curtis, but they weren't nearly as heavy. Faske estimated that he and his co-angler caught roughly 40 bass total on the day.

Second-place pro Marcus Faske is all smiles after catching 17 pounds, 12 ounces on day one. "My co-angler caught more fish than I did," Faske said. "They didn't feed for me this morning, but they started biting strong at about 11 a.m. I replaced a 14-incher on the last cast with a 2 1/2-pounder. That really helped me."

During the feeding frenzy in the late morning, Faske caught a 6-pounder and a 5-pounder on back-to-back casts. His primary technique is ripping a crankbait through the grass in 8 feet of water.

"It wasn't a great day for Rayburn, but we caught some quality fish."

Griffin was the 22nd-ranked pro in TTT points this year.

Hodge third

In third place with a 17-pound, 4-ounce limit is pro David Hodge of Nolanville, Texas. His best fish of the day came on his third cast and was quite an ordeal.

"We both had a fish on our third cast," said Hodge, referring to his co-angler partner. "I asked him how big his was and he said it would keep. I said mine is bigger so get the net."

David Hogge is in third place with a five-bass limit weighing 17 pounds, 4 ounces.Both fish were landed successfully, Hodge's going 7 pounds.

"It got tough after 9 this morning and we kind of scrambled the rest of the day."

Hodge's pattern consisted of dragging a Carolina rig through the grass with a centipede.

"I thought I could get 15-17 pounds coming into today. I'm pretty sure I can do it again tomorrow."

Johnston, Herron round out top five

In fourth place is Stephen Johnston of Hemphill, Texas, with a five-bass limit that weighed 16 pounds, 14 ounces. Johnston is the points leader in the Stren Series Texas Division and won earlier this year on Sam Rayburn.

Behind him in fifth is Michael Herron of Paris, Texas, who has enjoyed his fair share of success from both the front and the back of the boat. Herron caught a limit of bass today that weighed 16 pounds, 13 ounces.

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 pros after day one of the TTT Championship:

6th: Randy Millender of Teague, Texas, five bass, 16-7
7th: Charles Reagan of Marquez, Texas, five bass, 16-4
8th: Ricky Campbell of Waxahachie, Texas, five bass, 16-0
9th: Rick Turner of Tyler, Texas, five bass, 15-5
10th: James Bray of Jewett, Texas, five bass, 15-1

Coach Bickham takes co-angler lead

Ronnie Bickham leads the Co-angler Division with 17 pounds, 4 ounces on day one.With a five-bass limit totaling 17 pounds, 4 ounces, co-angler Ronnie Bickham of New Boston, Texas, gave himself a 3-pound, 3-ounce lead heading into the final day of competition. Bickham was one of 12 co-anglers to catch a limit today.

A second-year TTT competitor, Bickham also fishes the Stren Series and the BFL.

"It was time for me to retire and go fishing after 36 years," said Bickham, who was a longtime high school football coach and athletic director.

Bickham caught his fish Saturday with a variety of techniques including a Carolina rig, a Texas rig, a drop shot and a Rat-L-Trap.

"If the guy's around fish tomorrow, I feel like I can catch them. If I get five swimmers I'll have a chance."

Oakley second, Williams thirdSecond-place co-angler Mark Oakley holds up a 10-pound, 12-ounce bass.

With only two keepers, co-angler Mark Oakley is in second place with a total weight of 14 pounds, 1 ounce. His big bass weighed 10 pounds, 12 ounces and was easily the largest fish of the day. The Davis, Okla., native caught the monster by burning a DD-22 crankbait in 9 feet of water around stumps.

Michael Williams is third in the Co-angler Division after day one on Sam Rayburn.Michael Williams of Greenville, Texas, caught 14 pounds with a more conventional five-bass limit. Williams, a TTT rookie, was the 49th-ranked co-angler this year based on points.

"We caught fish from the time we started until the time we came in," he said. "Most of them came in 8 feet of water."

Three tied for fourth

In a three-way tie for fourth place, Billy Eaton of Eddy, Texas, Rich Dalbey of Greenville, Texas, and Matt Rigby of San Antonio, Texas, all caught five bass on day one that weighed 13 pounds, 5 ounces.

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers after day one of the TTT Championship:

7th: Raymond Balcerowicz, Crosby, Texas, five bass, 12-7
8th: Rick Daniell of Horizon City, Texas, five bass, 12-0
9th: Jimmy Ballard of Powderly, Texas, five bass, 11-3
10th: Carl Hibler of Bertram, Texas, four bass, 10-15

The second and final day of TTT Championship competition begins tomorrow at 7 a.m. Central time as the full field takes off from the Umphrey Family Pavilion, located on Rural Road 255 north of Jasper. Tomorrow's weigh-in begins at 3 p.m., also at the Umphrey Family Pavilion. The community is invited to attend all activities.

Tags: brett-carlson  headline-story  2007-10-13-championship-presented-by-abu-garcia 

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