During an event in which changing conditions forced anglers to adapt on the fly, Daniel Busch and Ted Carter brought 10 Beaver Lake bass to the scales that weighed a cumulative 31.86 pounds to claim the title at 2019 Bass Cat Owners Invitational. They held off the 2nd-place team of T Le and Billy Littleton by 0.57 pounds to take home a Bass Cat Margay as the grand prize.
“My partner and I found a spot yesterday afternoon that produced a limit,” said Carter. “We went back there first thing this morning and caught a limit. We had two 4-pounders and a 5 1/2 and we caught 16-17 inch fish all day. It was a great day for fishing.”
While many top finishers on day 1 relied on sight-fishing strategies, the heavy winds of day 2 largely precluded that technique, or at least made it more difficult. That played right into Busch and Carter’s hands. “We’re not bed-fishermen,” Busch said.
Every fish they brought to the scales came on Optimum Baits Boom Boom Swimbaits they’d bought at a local tackle store earlier in the week. They fished them on Favorite Fishing Big Sexy casting rods. Most were post-spawn, but the 5 1/2-pounder was still waiting to drop her eggs.
Carter had fished more than a dozen Owners Invitationals out of friends’ boats, but this was his first as an owner, since he bought his 2007 Pantera Classic last year. “It’s the perfect boat for fishing,” he said. “It has a big deck, lots of storage and it keeps up with the 225s and 250s.”
T Le said that he and Littleton had a good practice, with weights between 14 and 19 pounds each day, focusing on heavier pre-spawn bass that were holding on the outside of the deep docks. “We’d been told it was a 10- to 12-pound lake, so we were a little bit surprised by those weights,” but it persisted into the tournament as they tallied 31.29 with finesse jigs and shaky-heads, falling just short of the win.
Le and Littleton fished out of Le’s 2016 Puma, which he purchased after selling his prior Cougar. “As long as Rick (Pierce) still runs the company, I’ll still run a Bass Cat,” he explained.
The father-son team of Gordon Harriman and Travis Harriman experienced the full gamut of emotions during the event. After weighing in over 16 pounds on Friday, they struggled to end up 8th overall at the end of the day on Saturday.
“On day 1 everything went right,” Travis said. “We had two in the boat at 9:45 and then had all of our weight at 10:38. Day 2 was a slower day, but we had the same opportunities. We just lost fish and we missed fish. We left it all on the line and we were at a low point heading in.” They caught their fifth fish on the way back to the ramp but it wasn’t enough to get the job done and earn the win.
“We’ve never found a duck or won a random prize,” he added. That bad luck turned around in a hurry when they were announced as the random winner of a fully-rigged Puma FTD. “If we’d caught the fish to win we wouldn’t have been able to do that, so we kind of joked that it was a good thing.” Travis fished out of his dad’s 1995 Pantera Classic when he was in diapers, and now he’ll have a lake-ready professional tournament rig at his disposal.
In addition to the top team’s prize of a new Margay and the Harriman’s fully-rigged Puma FTD/Mercury package, prizes were awarded for a variety of other categories, as well as for other species. Total payout exceeded 300 percen thanks to sponsor support from organizations and companies including 23-year partner Strike King.
The 5.97 pound day-1 largemouth weighed in by Greg and Brad Berlatsky held on for big bass, as did the 0.48 pound Ozark bass that Bradly Kocher and Matt Wallis weighed in.
For full results, click here.