Roger Cook and his son Corey claimed first prize at the third annual Bass Cat National Team Championship, presented by Mercury Marine, with 14 bass for 26.90 pounds over two days, four sessions of fishing and three different lakes – Taneycomo, Bull Shoals (twice) and Norfork. For their efforts, the pair was awarded an all-expenses paid trip to Lake Picachos in Mexico.
“It was a great event and we are really glad to see the Cook family do well,” said Bass Cat President Rick Pierce, who dreamed up the novel tournament format. “Seeing fathers and sons together is part of what we live for. Time on the water with family is a part of our tradition.”
Winning this even has become something of a tradition for Roger, who won last year’s Championship fishing out of his friend Stan Green’s boat. Green graciously offered his seat on the first place trip to the Amazon to Corey and refused to take no for an answer.
The Cooks desperately wanted to fish this event together this year, but there was one problem standing in the way – neither owned a Bass Cat. Fifteen year old Corey solved that dilemma by purchasing a 1999 Pantera III from a seller in Alabama in March.
“He worked hard to purchase the boat just to have a chance of qualifying,” Roger said. “That makes the whole progression extra special.” In October they won the Lake of the Ozarks Bass Cat Owners Tournament (LOZBCOT) to qualify for this week’s event.
Corey isn’t old enough to tow the boat anywhere, so for the time being his mom drives him to the lake to compete, but despite that apparent disadvantage he’s rapidly becoming known in Ozarks-region competitive circles as a stick to watch out for and this week just reinforced that reputation.
The Cooks moved up gradually, from 3rd place after Monday morning’s fishing session on Taneycomo, to second that afternoon. They claimed the lead Tuesday morning at Bull Shoals and then slammed the door shut with a limit that weighed 11.65 pounds Tuesday afternoon. That limit was the single best catch of the tournament, and kept them four pounds ahead of their closest competitors, Lee Morris and Josh Priest of Texas, who’d held the lead at the conclusion of Monday’s competition.
Last year Cook and Green also caught the best limit of the tournament at Norfork. Once again, the victory came on the strength of ½ and ¾ ounce green pumpkin jigs, but the winning team had to adjust their sights to different types of cover and structure to claim the win. At Taneycomo, they fished isolated grass patches. In Monday’s session on Bull Shoals their most productive areas were brush piles in 15 to 20 feet of water off main lake points, but when they returned on Tuesday they did better in boat slips over 8 to 15 feet of water with adjacent shade patches. That same pattern prevailed at Norfork.
Further details of their winning strategy and the other competitors’ experiences will be available later this week on the Bass Cat Boats Message Board. As Rick Pierce dreams up another challenging format for next year’s event, the Cooks will look forward to their Mexican adventure and to the possibility of defending their title once again in 2016.