The three-day bass fishing tournament wrapped up Sunday with hundreds of fishermen leaving with part of the $100,000 of prize money.
Over 2300 fishermen participated in the 2014 Big Bass Bonanza. The anglers had the option of fishing at five different holes along over 300 miles of the Arkansas River. Every hour three fishermen received prize money for the first, second and third heaviest fish. The money ranged from $200-$500. At each of the five pools, one man took home the $10,000 prize for the biggest fish at that hole for the weekend.
Karry Dedmon fished at the Alma pool Friday and brought in a fish that won him thousands of dollars. Dedmon has been fishing in the Big Bass Bonanza for 12 years, and has never been able to cash in the lucky ticket.
“I’ve doubted it every day,” Dedmon said, “I just can’t believe it.”
He said he was splitting the $10,000 with his partner, and told his competition to keep on fishing.
“Just keep fishing hard,” Dedmon said, “It’s going to happen for everybody sometime…it just did for me.”
Bill Raggio won the biggest fish at the noon hour at pool one, and said while he is excited to have the $600 back in his pocket, he said it’s more about having fun.
“If you fish three days, you just about have to win an hour to break even,” Raggio said.
To keep the fishermen from telling tall tales, Weigh Master Keith Millsap said the men have to pass a lie detector test to take home the money.
“They might stretch that big one, but when we put it on the scale it tells the tale, and then we hook him up to a polygraph, and he’ll determine whether he’s telling the truth,” Millsap said.
He said every year the tournament keeps getting bigger, and more fishermen means more prize money.
“Because the entries are up, they’re going to pay more, so not only do they take back sometimes, but they are going to give it to you if they have that turnout,” Millsap said.
Amateur fisherman Kerry Satterfield also got a small chunk of change for winning for the hour at Alma Sunday afternoon. He said it was well worth the $80 daily entry fee to take home $600.
“I’m not a professional fisherman, and anybody can win here,” Satterfield said, ” And you don’t have to have a $50,000 boat, I mean anybody can win this type of tournament here.”