Amateur fishing buddies James Wayne and Creston Harrel claimed first place at the regional qualifying event for the Bass Pro Shops US Open National Bass Fishing Amateur Team Championships – a first-of-its-kind amateur fishing tournament offering the biggest payout in freshwater fishing history – on Saturday, October 16, on Grand Lake.
Wayne from Vinita, Okla., and Harrel from Claremore, Okla., fished from a Ranger boat and hauled in a five-fish catch weighing in at 17.06 pounds to top the 250-team field. They collect a first-place prize of $50,000 and are one of 40 teams to qualify for the National Championship on Nov. 19-21 at Big Cedar Lodge on Missouri’s famed Table Rock Lake. The National Championship will be broadcast internationally on NBC and carries a $1 million cash prize to the winning team.
“We are thankful to everyone at Bass Pro Shops for putting this on,” first-place winner James Wayne said. “We look forward to seeing everyone on Table Rock.”
The top 40 teams received a payout and qualified for the National Championship. Additional prizes were awarded for catching the biggest bass within the following categories:
- Biggest Bass: The biggest bass (5.46 pounds) was caught by longtime fishing buddies Steve Ortiz and Scott Melton from Lawrence, Kan., and Lake of the Ozarks, Mo., respectively. Ortiz and Melton earned $5,460 for the massive catch ($1,000 per pound), will receive a replica mount of the bass with a duplicate going on display at Bass Pro Shops in Broken Arrow, Okla., and was entered into a drawing for a Nitro Z20 boat.
- Youth Angler: Diesel Everest, a 10-year-old angler from Hobbs, N.M., fished with dad Richard Everest and earned a $1,000 Bass Pro Shops gift card for catching the biggest bass (3.02 pounds) among anglers ages 0-10.
- Junior Angler: Brody Hardaway, a 17-year-old angler from Broken Bow, Okla., fished with dad Eric Hardaway and earned a $1,000 Bass Pro Shops gift card for catching the biggest bass (3.07 pounds) among anglers ages 11-17.
- Veteran Angler: Marine veteran Allen Matlaock and his best friend and longtime fishing buddy James Brock both from Tulsa, Okla., earned a $1,000 Bass Pro Shops gift card for catching the biggest bass (5 pounds) by a Veteran team.
Benefiting the Future of Fishing
The Grand Lake qualifying event benefits conservation with proceeds supporting The National Fish Habitat Partnership. Thanks to Bass Pro Shops and Toyota, 100 percent of all entry fees – over $1 million throughout the tournament – will fund critical fisheries conservation and habitat projects nationwide.
In keeping with a longstanding commitment to conservation, Johnny Morris and Bass Pro Shops partnered with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation to help ensure all fish caught during the Bass Pro Shops US Open regional qualifying event on Grand Lake were released responsibly following a fish-friendly weigh-in.
Remaining Regional Qualifying Event
Nov. 17 – Bull Shoals Lake, Arkansas (registration closed)
To learn more about the Bass Pro Shops US Open, visit www.basspro.com/usopen.