Blustery conditions on Belton give way to big wins for Ryan Warren and Jason Derrick at Bass Champs

By: Patty Lenderman/Bass Champs
Lake Belton is a favorite stop for many anglers fishing the Central Region of Bass Champs. Having their fourth event of the season on April 14, over $54,000 was up for grabs and 172 teams had their work cut out for them to get a portion of it. Ryan Warren and Jason Derrick weighed in the only sack in excess of twenty pounds to win over $20,000!

Blustery just doesn’t quite describe the windy conditions on Belton during the tournament. Sustained winds of 25 mph plus higher gusts had boaters searching for the best cover they could find while still hunting for good places to fish. Adding to their challenges was to find areas not already covered up by other contenders. These skilled anglers didn’t shy away, finding solid bites throughout the day, with checks awarded to the top 23 teams.

Winners Ryan Warren and Jason Derrick had their work cut out for them coming into the tournament. “We hadn’t done any pre-fishing, and really didn’t have a game plan. When we got on the water, we just drove, looking for a spot to fish with no other boats in it.” They started out catching fish, but they weren’t what they were looking for. “We caught white bass, stripers – we had to change it up.” They decided to try another area, and caught a three pounder plus another keeper. “It was getting close to 10:00, and we finally started putting it together.” They fished everything from windy main lake areas to backs of pockets in search of the fish they needed, using flukes, jerk baits, crank baits and Alabama rigs. “It was the end of the day, and we didn’t have a lot of time left. We needed to make one more big cull. We went to this spot, and caught a small fish on the A-rig. As I was reeling it in, we noticed a big fish following the bait.” Pausing the lure to see what the big fish would do, it darted underneath the boat. Then, all of a sudden, it grabbed the bait and they landed a six pounder, increasing their overall weight by about three pounds! When they got to the scales, their total was 21.30 lbs to win the event and the guaranteed $20,000 1st place check plus bonuses from Lowrance and Sure Life. “Normally Jason and I fish against each other in tournaments, but got together and decided to team up and fish Bass Champs. I guess that was a good decision, it turned out to be our day. We’re looking forward to fishing LBJ!”

2nd place was won by Garrett Hennig and Brandon McQueen. They had just enough to hold the spot with 19.30 lbs, just 3/100ths of a pound ahead of the third place team. “It was hard earned, I promise you!” Garrett stated. “Between the wind and the cold, it shut our fish down.” They started out fishing areas protected from the wind with 3/8 and ½ ounce spinnerbaits, but didn’t yield any bites. On top of that, Garrett was not feeling well and had a fever. “We normally come in with a game plan and stick to it no matter what. We weren’t getting any bites, then Brandon got hung up.” Garrett stopped reeling in his spinnerbait, and while Brandon was working on retrieving his lure, a three pounder latched onto Garrett’s spinnerbait. “That was our clue. From that I got the idea to move deeper, using 1 ounce spinnerbaits.” They focused on ledges in 15-20 depths close to river bends, out in the open wind. “We just slow rolled the spinnerbaits, and it started producing. The fish were spread out, but when one bit, it was a quality fish. If Brandon didn’t get hung, we wouldn’t have keyed in to where we needed to be! They won $3,500 for their finish, then Skeeter Boats doubled their winnings for being the highest finishing team in a qualified Skeeter boat. “It just went flawless for us. We didn’t miss any fish, and we are so grateful. We’ve been fishing Bass Champs since 2008, and this is our best finish yet!

For Ryan Crawford and his step son Elliott Latham, they had a tough start but lined it out as the day wore on. “We really didn’t have a for sure starting spot, just looked for an open spot to fish with no boats. The wind made a lot of areas un-fishable,” Ryan recalled. “We caught a 3# early, then missed one soon after that.” Their main baits were flukes and spinnerbaits, and they stayed on the move covering about six miles of water. “After we caught the first fish, the bite just died until around 10:30. By noon we had a limit in the boat, and were able to cull three times after that, adding around two pounds to our total.” Their biggest fish was between 5 and 6 pounds, with their smallest being around 3. “We had a really good day, and got lucky getting a lot of bites. It was great fishing it with Elliott, he had a great time and it was a good experience. We’re looking forward to the next tournament!” Bass Champs awarded the duo a check for $2,500 for their 3rd place finish.

The 4th place and Big Bass winners were Todd Irvin’s and Billy McCrary II. “We started out using spinnerbaits,” Todd began. “There was a good fish on a bed in 18’-20’, and we boated the male first. Billy kept pitching to it, and the female would hit it and let go. About the fourth time he hooked her, and the fight was on.” She wasn’t going to make it easy on them to get her in, wrapping around the prop of the motor as he wrestled her closer to the boat. “She finally came up and made a jump, and I netted her on the first try!” She weighed 7.60 lbs, and by 7:30 the team had fourteen pounds in the boat. “We were pretty pumped, everything was going really good. We caught another on a top water bait, then the bite slowed down to a crawl until about 1:00. We caught one more on a Texas rigged craw worm, and spent the rest of the time trying to cull our last two pounder.” While they weren’t able to make that last cull, they wound up with 18.44 lbs to win 4th place and $2,000. They won an additional $500 for Big Bass, and the Abu Garcia bonus, plus the Sportsman’s Auto Bonus worth over $5,000!

Bass Champs paid the top 23 teams, with the last check going to Cris Tatum and Justin Tatum having 14.15 pounds.


Three out of four tournaments for the Central Region are now in the books. The points for Anglers of the Year are racking up. Lee Beuershausen and Randy Grounds were the points leaders coming into this event, and stayed on top going into the final tournament. The rest of the top five line up got shook up pretty good, with the top five teams all in sights of taking the Anglers of the Year title. Who will come out on top after the final tournament for the Central Region on May 5th at LBJ? Good luck to all teams!
Top 5 points leaders:
544 pts. Lee Beuershausen & Randy Grounds
539 pts. Adam Clark & Rick Clark
527 pts. Ryan Warren & Jason Derrick
524 pts. Daniel Barnes and Adrian Barnes
517 pts. Todd Irvin’s and Billy McCrary

There are just a few regular season events left, and they are open to anyone who would like to fish – so don’t miss out!
April 21 – Lake Amistad
May 5 – Lake LBJ
May 12 – Toledo Bend
May 19 – Lake Tawakoni
June 16 – Cedar Creek
Championship – October 13-14, Location to be announced soon!