2014 Tournament Article

By Bob Groene, The Dispatch and Rock Island Argus

(September 23, 2014) Here is some Children’s Therapy Center Charity Bass Tournament trivia for 2014 — the CTC charity tournament has been running for twice as many years as the age of the oldest member of the two-angler team that won the event last Saturday.

The CTC event celebrated its 40th anniversary and this year’s winners, brothers Cole and Tanner Atkinson, of Camanche, are 20 and 17 years old, respectively. Both numbers, 40 and 20, are amazing — that the CTC event might be the longest running charity bass tournament in the country and that anglers as young as 20 and 17 (one still in high school) won the prestigious event.

Don’t for a second think the Atkinson victory in the biggest area bass tournament of the year was a fluke. Last year, the young brothers were second in the same event, moving up one place this year.

“We stayed in pool 14 and fished around weeds in about three feet of water,” Tanner said. “We used black surface frogs and white swim jigs as our main baits.”

“We caught fish all day, probably somewhere between 20 and 25 largemouth,” Cole added. “And every fish we caught was a legal keeper, over 14 inches.”

For their supurb effort of bringing in a tournament limit of five bass weighing 15.77 pounds, the Atkinsons took home a check for $3,000.

Veteran river bass anglers Bob Walker, of Clinton, and Mike Ottens, of Sterling, were less than two-thirds of a pound behind the champs; their limit of 15.13 pounds included the event big bass weighing 4.35 lb., the only 4-pounder caught Saturday.

“We locked up to pool 13 and fished around (lotus) pads all day,” Walker said. We used a variety of lures — spinnerbaits, surface frogs, swim jigs and the big bass came on a craw.”

The family factor also was apparent in third-place finish, by father and son, Wayne Mitchell, of East Moline, and Mike Mitchell, of Delmar, Iowa. They had a limit of 13.56 pounds.

“it was mid-day and we had one bass of just over 14 inches in the live well,” Wayne said chuckling. “And over about 10 minutes we not only had our limit but also culled the squeaker. And as quick as the barrage started, it ended.”

Considering Mississippi River conditions — several feet above normal level, very rapid current and muddy — and weather conditions (windy, chilly and rainy), fish-catching was fairly good last Saturday. It certainly much better than most anglers reported while pre-fishing. Eighteen of the 88 boats brought in limits.

Matt Stefan, a 34-year-old touring bass professional from Junction City, Wis., and his wife, Sara, were present at the Friday evening tournament get-together and at the weigh-in that Matt helped emcee. An interesting twist is that the Stefans participated by fishing in this event in prior years.

“Before we were married, Sara was a student at Palmer College of Chiropractic and I lived and worked in Chicago,” Matt said. “I’d come here to visit her most weekends, bought a Skeeter boat at Grace Marine and we fished in this tournament four times just for fun.

“Since then, I’ve turned pro competing on the FLW Outdoors Bass Tour and some BASS Opens. I had a good year in 2014, finishing the FLW Tour in 34th place, which got me into the Forest Wood Cup tournament where the winner gets $500,000. I made the first cut and had a fish that would have gotten me into the final cut of 10 anglers, but my lure broke in half and I watched a four-pounder swim away with half of my lure in its mouth. But, that’s fishing.”

The CTC Charity Tournament is the final of four events in the Great River Charity Bass Tournament Trail. Going into this event, the points totals were really tight near the top. Saturday it got even tighter. Two teams tied for the top spot.

Chuck Fiser, of Aledo, and Ted Cole, of Moline, tied with Jim Combs, of Rockford, and Luke Berry, of Machesney Park, so those two teams split the $1,000 first-place prize and the second-place prize of a selection on top-shelf fishing gear. JJ Patton, of Eldridge, and Roger Koopman, of Andalusia, were third and won free entry into all four charity events for 2015.

The reel and real winners of the 40th annual CTC Charity Bass Tournament will be the many youngsters who receive much needed physical, speech, occupational and feeding therapy services at the Children’s Therapy Center of the Quad Cities. That is called “fishing for miracles.”