The inaugural season for the Pro Am Bass Trails, sponsored by Tightlines Premium Fishing Tackle, concluded with the April 21 championship event at Stillhouse Hollow Lake.
Linwood Cottner and his wife, Lelia Cottner, brought Pro Am Bass Trails to Central Texas basing its format largely on that followed by television’s Major League Fishing show.
Cottner, a 37-year-old sergeant first class in the Army, serves as an air traffic controller at Fort Hood. He has been fishing recreationally for 26 years and competitively for three.
Once caught, fish are measured, and if long enough, scored by weight and immediately released. All competitors and spectators were kept abreast of each angler’s progress in real time via Facebook postings and ScoreTracker Live, a web-based scoring tracker. Each angler is accompanied by an in-boat official who makes sure the angler abides by the rules and measures each qualifying fish.
Out of the 26 qualifying anglers, 14 braved the weather, which included thunderstorms, in a battle to determine the season’s champion.
The anglers and their officials launched on a glassy-calm lake as they rode the length of the lake during their 15-minute ride through.
Solo Cup Champion
Michael Provenzano kept his eye on the $2,000 prize and surged ahead of the pack early in the championship event, then continued that momentum to the end, clinching the title of Solo Cup champion with 43 pounds of qualifying fish landed.
Angler Jason Larson locked in his second-place finish, landing 39 pounds of qualifying fish. Third place went to Lee Beuershausen with 27 pounds; and fourth place went to Rodney Thompson.
Angler of the Year Award
Angler Mike Richardson surged ahead of the 54-angler field over the duration of the entire season with a phenomenal performance on Fayette County Reservoir, catching nearly 100 fish within the final two hours of competition in the Pro Am Bass Trail’s fourth event.
Since then, he maintained his position at the head of the field and was crowned the Angler of the Year.
Big Bass Award
Angler William Dankert landed the championship event’s single largest fish, a 6-pound, 1-ounce bass, to take home the coveted big bass bonus payout.
Lelia Cottner Ministries, the Harker Heights Chamber of Commerce, Tricked Out Marine and Texas Boat World all chipped in to ensure all in-boat officials received a gift bag for their participation in the event.
“We’re blessed to be able to be a part of an organization that brings all manner of people together to enjoy God’s creation,” Pro Am Bass Trail co-founder Lelia Cottner stated after watching Richardson receive the $100 gift card provided by her ministry.
Upon conclusion of the last of the day’s three rounds, each of which was fished on a different segment of the lake, barbecue pitmasters Ron Willhite and Tiffany Bernard of Howling Coyote BBQ laid out a celebratory feast for all to enjoy during the awards ceremony.
Anglers are already looking forward to the second season scheduled to start later this year.
Cottner anticipates increased payouts and a larger competitive field. Adjustments such as a change in scoreable bass limits from 10 inches to 1 pound will likely be implemented to put less stress on small fish.
“I’d like to see the season go to eight events instead of six,” said Larson shortly after the event.
To keep up with the Pro Am Bass Trails online, visit www.proambass.com. For more information on the upcoming season, contact Ron Willhite at 832-935-5101, Greg Boik at 979-492-2057, or Linwood Cottner at 254-432-2577.