Pate and Rowe dominate TXTT Championship out deep

ONALASKA, Texas – Of all the fisheries in the Lone Star state, Lake Livingston does not possess the greatest reputation as a black bass destination. While there’s a fair amount of 3- and 4-pound largemouths, fishable acreage is limited as the bass tend to congregate in the shallow creek arms. In addition, there’s a void of truly big bass, those 7- and 8-pounders so frequently found on Sam Rayburn and Toledo Bend. This week at the 2017 Texas Team Trail Championship, Ted Pate and Kyle Rowe completely disproved those notions – catching a two-day total of over 44 pounds in water 12 to 14 feet deep.
Coming into the championship, most competitors felt the winning weight would be somewhere in the low 30s. In addition, it was unanimous that the tournament would be won shallow.
“You’re generally running and gunning on this lake, hitting a rotation of shallow spots,” said Rowe.
A noted offshore angler, Pate located the winning fish with his Lowrance StructureScan about a month ago. While idling, he noticed an influx of bait and stopped to take a closer look.
“I told myself I was going to fish deep and eventually find them,” said Pate. “I didn’t think I would find them right away. In the first five minutes, I caught two 4-pounders and a 5-pounder. Then I didn’t touch it again until right before the cutoff. I made one cast and caught a 3-pounder and that told me all I needed to know.”
Ironically, Rowe had fished this same general 20 years ago. Without the benefit of modern electronics, he hardly recognized it at first.


“The spot is about a 3-acre area on the south end,” Pate explained. “It’s a little ridge in about 12 to 14 feet that has trash on the bottom. It looked like a combination of tires, metal, rock and dilapidated piers. The key was that it had a hard bottom.”
On day one, Pate and Rowe boxed a five-fish limit of 4-pounders by 11 a.m. and decided to let the spot rest. Today, they fished it hard and improved their catch to nearly 25 pounds. At 1:45 today, Rowe boated a 5 1/2-pounder that erased all doubts.
“I told Ted that I think it’s over, but it would be nice if we got one more,” recalled Rowe. “Right after that it, I caught the big one. And he had an even bigger one that broke him off. We could have had over 27 pounds.”
Pate explained that the area had three sweet spots that they would rotate between. The early morning bite was good and it would pick up again around 1:30 p.m. All their fish were caught on a 10 1/2-inch Zoom Ol’ Monster in red bug color. In windy conditions, they fished it Texas-rigged with a 1/2-ounce tungsten weight. In calm conditions, they employed a 3/16-ounce weight.
“We’re old and we caught them old school,” quipped the 59-year-old Pate. “I like fishing deep; it’s what I do. Yesterday we were hopping the worm and today we had to drag it on the bottom.”
On day one, Pate and Rowe caught six keepers and today they managed eight.
“We didn’t catch a whole bunch of fish; they were just quality fish,” Pate said. “Yesterday we caught all 4-pounders and today we had three that were over 5 pounds. We were just being really patient and waiting for those bites to come.”
With an official weight of 44.50 pounds, Pate and Rowe claimed a Ranger Z519c with a 225-horsepower Evinrude G2, plus $1,605 of Anglers Advantage cash.
“Anytime you win, it’s a great feeling, especially against the caliber that’s out here today,” said Pate. “This is a special one.”
“I’ve won on this lake a few times,” said Rowe. “But it’s always been with 30 or 32 pounds. This was pretty unusual. Sometimes the good Lord smiles on you. This morning I knew the only thing that would prevent us from catching them was wind and storms. We had storms around us all day but they went north and south. Sometimes things are meant to be.”
Dunn and Ware slip to second
After a 22-pound opening day, Josh Ware and Adam Dunn never dreamed another 15 pounds wouldn’t be enough to take home the title.
“When the scale read 15.72, I thought we sealed the deal,” said Ware. “Before that, to be honest, we thought we only had about 12 or 13 pounds.”
Ware and Dunn caught most of their day-one weight in a deep, clean cove located on the south end of the lake. They arrived there this morning and discovered there was zero visibility.
“It must have been pounded with rain because the current was ripping. We had to get out of there and make an adjustment. It was chocolate milk.”
Instead, Ware and Dunn spent the day sitting on one dock with a deep drop that leads to 12 feet at the end.
“We pretty much sat there for almost seven hours. It’s a dock that holds quality fish. Almost everything you catch is 3 pounds or better. That’s where we caught the kicker on day one. It’s a magic dock man.”
Ware used a shaky head with a Zoom Trick worm (watermelon) while Dunn threw a wacky-rigged Senko (red shad laminate).
“We grinded out five keepers. We lost two other fish, but they wouldn’t have been enough. I’m proud of us for making the adjustment and grinding out five. If we would have come in with another 21 pounds today and still lost I would have been devastated.”
Ware and Dunn claimed the second boat-motor package, this one a Ranger Z518C with a 200-horsepower Mercury outboard. They also earned $1,177 of Anglers Advantage cash, plus $655 for Big Bass, a 7 1/2-pounder. Their two-day total for 10 bass weighed 37.86 pounds.
Thornton and Luker third
Richie Thornton and Kurt Luker took third with a total weight of 35.90 pounds. On day one, they caught a limit worth 17.75 pounds and today they demonstrated remarkable consistency by boating over 18 pounds. With Anglers Advantage cash, the two earned $3,035.
“I never would have thought 36 pounds would take third place on Lake Livingston,” said Thornton. “The weights were impressive; they sure surprised me.”
Heading into the championship, Thornton and Luker had been putting in extensive practice.
“The bite was tough. All of a sudden, everything turned on this weekend.”
Thornton said they caught all their fish shallow around lay-downs. On day one, everything came on a buzzbait. Today, they mainly used a Texas-rigged Zoom Super Speed Craw. Thornton recalled that he did catch one good one on a Rapala DT 6.
“I guess when it’s your time, it’s your time.”
Wendler-Justus fourth, Wilson-Moore fifth
Mark Wendler and Jim Justus finished fourth with a two-day total of nine bass weighing 34.91 pounds. With Anglers Advantage cash, the two earned $2,273. Behind them was Kris Wilson and Harold Moore, who caught limits both days for a total of 34.48 pounds. For fifth place, they earned $1,838.50
Rest of the best
Rounding out the top 10 teams at the 2017 Texas Team Trail Championship on Lake Livingston:
6th: Russell Cecil and Todd Castledine, 34.35
7th: David Curtis and Mark Mueck, 33.34
8th: Brandon Flowers and Curtis Jordan, 29.60
9th: Matthew McArdle and Josh Bensema, 29.47
10th: Jeremy Francis and Justin Lackey, 29.43