COLUMBIA, S.C. - The 2nd Annual Berkley/Sebile Big Bass Challenge on Lake Murray hosted by Fishers of Men took place on October 22nd, 2011 at Billy Dreher Island in South Carolina. The event was a success with over 160 anglers competing for over $18,000 in cash and prizes being awarded.
The temperature was in the low 40's in the morning, warming up to 70 degrees in the afternoon. Post frontal conditions and blue-bird skies made for challenging fishing. Anglers were allowed to bring in fish over 14" for the 6 hourly weigh-ins. A few anglers were able to cash multiple checks, but no one repeated as an hourly winner.
Chad Hastings brought in a 4.77lb. largemouth using a Sebile Crankster during the noon hour to claim the largest overall fish, but Edward Lewis brought in the same size fish at the 1:00 PM weigh-in. In the event of a tie, tournament rules award the overall win to the fish that is weighed in first. Each of these anglers won $1,000 for bringing in the hourly big fish. Additional $1,000 winners were Ben Lee, Chris Brunson, Howard Stephens and Matthew Arms.
Each hour paid 5 places-- $75, $100, $250, $500 and $1,000 top prize. The entry fee to fish the tournament was only $75. All of the prizes including the grand prize of $5,000 were guaranteed to be awarded.
The $5,000 grand prize was awarded in an exciting new format for 2012. A locked box containing $5,000 Berkley/Sebile dollars was onstage and all top hourly winners were awarded a key along with their $1,000 check for the opportunity to unlock the $5,000 grand prize. In addition, every person onsite over the age of 18 was given a ticket and one lucky person was drawn for the 7th and final key for the box. The top hourly anglers and the lucky audience participant lined up and selected their keys from sealed envelopes on the stage. Chad Hasting had the first opportunity to select the first key due to the size of his bass and each hourly winner did the same after him. Chad tried his key and it unlocked the box awarding him another $5,000 to go with his $1,000 winnings. Amazingly the first key worked!
Bob Redfern, host of Bob Redfern's Outdoor Magazine along with Berkley's Sr. Marketing Manager Hunter Cole were onsite and filmed the event which will be aired during 1st quarter 2012 on NBC Sports and Fox Sports South networks.
"This tournament was a great event and will continue to grow as people understand the concept. It provides the opportunity to fish for serious money in a low entry fee tournament and only have to catch one fish" said Andrew Marks, Marketing Director for Berkley Fishing. "This tournament was designed to allow us to expose amateur anglers of all skill levels to all of our baits and have the opportunity to fish without the pressure of the typical tournament angling experience. It is fun and exciting for the entire family. Last year only Berkley baits were allowed, but Sebile baits are now included in the list of approved baits to be used in the tournament and this broadened the bait assortment for many anglers.
"The basis for these tournaments is much like playing poker," said Marks. "The format is fun and strategy plays a vital role in determining each winner. If they caught a fish in the morning they could choose to weigh in the fish during the afternoon when fishing seemed to slow. It is all about strategy and not all reliant on skill."
The Berkley Experience trailer, a 60-foot event center, was on site Friday and Saturday. The Experience trailer staff along with Sportsman's Warehouse assisted the anglers in selecting some of the baits that helped them catch some of their fish.
The planning has already started for the 3rd Annual Berkley/Sebile Big Bass on Lake Murray in October 2012.
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