A Hardin County man has won the 35th Annual Sealy Outdoors Big Bass Splash on the waters of Lake Sam Rayburn. 43-year-old Michael Fesco of Sour Lake, left Jasper on Sunday with over $300,00.00 in cash and prizes; which included an $80,000.00 Dodge Ram dually pickup truck, a $100,000.00 Montana 39 foot, 5th wheel travel trailer, and a $40,000.00 19 foot Triton TRX bass boat with trailer and engine.
Fesco, who works as a welder, won the tournament with a 10.4 pound bass that he hauled in on the opening day, using a frog for bait.
The second place angler was Jim Penny, of Waverly, Alabama. Penny , who brought in a 10.2 pound lunker, won $102,000.00 in cash and prizes, which included a Dodge Ram pickup truck and a Triton bass boat.
Coming in third place was Cody Williams, of Conroe. He hauled in a 9.53 catch bringing the angler $80,000.00 in cash and prizes, including a Dodge Ram pickup truck and a Triton bass boat.
The fourth place fisherman was James Hammond, of Rockwall. He pulled in a 9.53 pound bass and he won $55,00.00 in cash and prizes, which included a Triton bass boat.
Coming in fifth place was Tommy Bowen, of Marshall, who went home with $25,000 in cash and prizes.
Meanwhile, two drawings for very elaborate prizes was held by tournament director Bob Sealy during the closing awards ceremony on Sunday. Scott Mitchell, of Dallas, Georgia, won a Triton bass boat, and Troy Zummer, of McAlester, Oklahoma, won an Odes utility vehicle.
Sealy said that this year's event had the largest guaranteed payout ever - over $1 million in cash and prizes, said it wasn't the largest tournament as far as entries. He said there were just under 6,000 fisherman this year as compared to a record number of about 8,000 entries a few years ago.
Sealy said this year there were anglers from 41 different states and 7 foreign countries, the farthest away being Australia.
Sealy recognized a very young angler, Brianna Gibson, of Saratoga, who was fishing from the public boat ramp and pulled in a 7.36 pound bass. Sealy noted that the young child couldn't reel it in, so she walked and pulled it onto the bank.
A portion of the proceeds from the event went to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Hospital representative Annie Smith was on hand and she graciously accepted a $25,000.00 check from Sealy.
Also benefiting from the event was Champion Oaks Ranch in northwest Jasper County. Sealy presented a $2,500.00 check to that organization.