Hewitt, O’Keefe Crowned NBAA National Champions

Gilbertsville, KY—April 12, 2016—Michigan’s Mark Hewitt and Ron O’Keefe led wire to wire to win the 2016 National Bass Anglers Association National Championship April 7-9.

Presented by Ranger Boats and Evinrude, the three-day event pitted the top 45 teams from 2015 NBAA events across the country against one another on the hallowed waters of Kentucky and Barkley lakes in an all-out grassroots bass battle.

Hewitt and O’Keefe topped the hard-fishing field by putting together three consistent catches of 20 pounds, 3 ounces, 21 pounds, 8 ounces and 16 pounds, 9 ounces for an impressive 58-pound, 4-ounce total weight.

For their efforts, they took home a $22,995 prize package that included a 2016 Ranger RT-178 boat complete with 75-horsepower Evinrude outboard, Minn Kota trolling motor and two Humminbird graphs. They also pocketed a pair of $300 bonus checks for sacking the heaviest stringer on days one and two.

After finishing second and fourth in recent NBAA championships, the pair was thankful for the win.

“It’s good to see the events and championships grow again,” said O’Keefe, of Nashville. “ We had a great time while we were here and met a lot of new people. We’re glad we continued to fish the NBAA.”

Hewitt, of Hastings, explained that he and O’Keefe focused on Barkley all three days, and caught most of their fish on ¼-ounce, black and blue flake jigs tipped with craw trailers—although crankbaits were key to catching kicker fish.

“We fished woody cover in three to six feet of water to catch our limit each morning, then cast cranks in eight- to 12-foot depths for bigger bass that were waiting to move up to spawn,” he said.

Rounding out the top five were:

2nd: Lee Wubbles, Chris Wood, 46-2, $2,500 plus Humminbird 899 HD SI and Evinrude Raker prop

3rd: Doug Sullivan, Dave Carpenter, 42-3, $1,000 plus Minn Kota trolling motor and Humminbird 698 HD SI

4th: Mark Rahn, Ryan Ortega, 41-09, $600 plus Humminbird Helix 7

5th: Steve Parker, Herb Rush, 39-11, $500 plus Evinrude Raker prop

A total of 362 bass weighing 976 pounds, 6 ounces crossed the stage during the event. Big bass was a 7-pound, 1-ounce beauty boated by Sullivan and Carpenter.

NBAA sponsors include Cabela’s, Ranger Boats, Evinrude, Humminbird, Stratos, Minn Kota, G-Juice and Poor Boy’s Baits.

Under the umbrella of The Bass Federation, the NBAA is open to bass anglers from all walks of life, with opportunities for local directors to set up a variety of events on lakes and rivers across the U.S. and Canada. For more information visit nbaa-bass.com or call (580) 765-2319.

Wire to Wire Win For Hewitt & Okeefe

Mark Hewitt, Hastings, Michigan, and Ron O’Keefe, Nashville, MI, made it a three day sweep to win the 2016 NBAA National Championship on KY Lake this week.  For their effort they took home a 2016 Ranger RT-178 boat with an Evinrude 75 horse power motor, MinnKota Trolling motor and two Humminbird graphs.  Their total prize package was worth $22,995.00.  They also picked up 2 additional checks of $300 each for having the “Heaviest Stringer” on both of the first two days of competition.  Their three catches consisted of 20.03 pounds, 21.08 pounds and 16.09 pounds for a final weight of 58.04 pounds.

Mark and Ron fished all three days on Lake Barkley and were catching most of their fish on a 1/4 ounce Black and Blue Flake Bitsy Bug, with a Rage Craw as a trailer.  They fished any and all kinds of wood cover in 3-6 feet of water to catch their limit of five each morning.  Then they would move out to roughly 8-12 feet of water and throw a Series 4 Sexy Shad crankbait to catch the bigger fish, which were holding in a little deeper water, waiting to move up for the spawn.

Long time members of NBAA, both Mark and Ron said it was finally good to seal the deal and get a win.  In the last few years they had finished second and fourth at the National Championship events.  Ron said “it is good to see the events and Championships begin to grow again.  We had a great time while we were here and met a lot of new people this week.  We are glad we continued to fish the NBAA.”

Second place was Lee Wubbles and Chris Wood from Nebraska with 46.02 pounds.Their three days consisted of 17.00 pounds, 13.11 pounds and 15.07 pounds. For their efforts they took home a check for $2500 along with a Humminbird 899 SI combo and an Evinrude Raker Prop.  They said it took a variety of baits for them to catch their fish this week.  With the channging weather conditions, each day we had to adjust and try new baits and find new water.  Third place belonged to another Nebraska team consisting of Doug Sullivan and Dave Carpenter.  They gathered up 42.03 pounds over three days, with 12.00 pounds, 12.11 pounds and 17.08 pounds and took home $1000, a 80 pound thrust MinnKota trolling motor and a Humminbird 698 Si unit.  They caught most of their fish on a Shaky Head bait fishing is 5-12 feet of water.  Their comments for the week were that NBAA put on a great event this week and gave a way a ton on great prizes and goody bags.

Rounding out the top five were the teams of Mark Rahn and Ryan Ortega with 41.09 pounds.  Their payday was $600 and a Humminbird Helix 7.  Fifth place was secured by the team of Steve Parker and Herb Rush with 39.11 pounds, landing them $500 and an Evinrude Raker prop.

Sixth thru tenth place also paid money and prizes that went to the teams of

6th – Royce Hershberger & Steve Brinkerhoff 39.06 pounds for $400 and a MinnKota 4 bank charger

7th – Cody Kelley & Jack Dale 38-11 pounds for $300 and a Humminbird Helix 5

8th – Zach Laupp & John Laupp 36.09 and $250  pounds and a MinnKota battery charger

9th – Brent Werries & Chuck Teegardin 36.09 for $200 and a MinnKota battery charger

10th – Kent Stingley and Casey Clark 35.13 and $100 and  MinnKota battery charger

11-25th places each received two Federation Angler Custom Rods

Steve Hess from Michigan received the coveted Angler of the year for 2015, since he racked up the most sponsor points for products used during the 2015 season of events.

Another bonus for the week was the “Heaviest three Stringers” for the first two days of the event.  Here were the winners:

Thursday $300 Mark Hewitt/Ron O’Keefe 20.03, $200 Kent Stingley/Casey Clark 17-15, $100 Stanley Pearson/Aaron Fasel 17.10

Friday $300 Mark Hewitt/Ron O”Keefe 21.08, $200 Mark Rahn/Ryan Ortega 19.03, $100 Wesley Duck/Hutton Leppert 14-14.

Big Bass of each day paid $420 and the winners were, Thursday Stanley Pearson & Aaron Fasel 6.07, Friday was Mark Rahn & Ryan Ortega 7.00 and Saturday was Doug Sullivan & Dave Carpenter 7.01.

Congratulations to all the winners and I want to say a big thank you to all the volunteers and workers from this week.  Without you we could not make this event go as smooth as it did.  A special thanks to Donnie Keeton, Beth Sullivan, Matt Hewitt, Rob Duncan and Eddie Whitehead.  Also a big thanks to the Nebraska Division anglers.  Donnie and I both say a BIG THANK YOU for staying after the event and helping us tear down, it was greatly appreciated!

If you would like to start and NBAA Division for 2016 , it is not too late.  The season is just about to begin and there is still time to get a division organized.  For more information log onto our website at www.nbaa-bass.com.  I hope to see you all, and many more anglers, at next years Championship.

Hewitt & O’Keefe Extend Lead on Day 2 of NBAA Championship

Mark Hewitt & Ron O’Keefe, of Michigan, have figured out something that nobody else in the tournament has been able to do.  Each of the first two days, they were the only team to figure out how to make the bigger bass bite, to bring in more than twenty pounds of bass in their five bass limit.  Today they extended their lead over the 45 boat field by bringing in a limit that weighed 21.08 pounds.  After two days their total now stands at 41.11 pounds.  If they can continue that pattern for tomorrow, they have a good chance of taking home the Ranger Boat, Evinrude Motor package, valued at $22,995.00.

Moving up a couple of spots after Day 1, into the second place position was the team of Lee Wubbels & Chris Wood of Nebraska.  Yesterday they started with 17.00 pounds and today they added another 13.11 pounds.  They begin the final day with 30.11 pounds to their credit.

Third place today belongs to Mark Rahn & Ryan Ortega, from Illinois with 29.13 pounds.  Thursday they began with 10.10 pounds and Friday they added another 19.03 pounds.  That stringer today was the second largest bag of fish on Day 2.  They also claimed the biggest bass on Day 2 with a giant largemouth that tipped the scales at 7.00 pounds.

Rounding out the top 5 was Stanley Pearson & Aaron Fasel with a total of 27.15 pounds and fifth place was secured by the team of Kent Stingley & Casey Clark with 27.08 for two days.

The wind blew again today, rather strongly at times, but not near as relentlessly as it did on Day 1.  The anglers still weighed in plenty of fish with nearly 365 pounds of fish and 15 limits weighed in on Friday.  Hopefully the final day will be calmer so the anglers can get around the lake a little better.  However the temperatures are supposed to drop to nearly freezing tonight and only struggle to climb into the upper forties on Saturday.  Coupled with the increased weekend angling traffic, it should make for an interesting finish to a great week at the NBAA Championship.  Weigh in begins tomorrow at 3:00 pm at KY Dam Marina.

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