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Fishing: Harleton's Whatley lands top prize at Big Bass Bonanza

From Staff Reports
May 8, 2017 at 10:23 p.m.

Harleton's Blake Whatley is presented a check for winning the KYKX Big Bass Bonanza at Lake O' the Pines. He's joined by his brother, Brad, right, who won the event in 2013.

Blake Whatley of Harleton earned top honors with a lunker that tipped the scales at 9.72 pounds, wrapping up the annual KYKX Big Bass Bonanza at Lake O' the Pines.

Whatley walked away with more than $62,000 in cash and prizes, including a new Jayco Jayflight SLX camper from Hayes RV of Longview. He will also be presented with a champion's ring as the winner of an event hosted since 2002 by radio stations KYKX (105.7) and 104.1 The Ranch.

Whatley made it a family affair in the Big Bass Bonanza Champion's fraternity; he joined his brother Brad Whatley who won the tournament in 2013.

It seemed this was Harleton's year on Lake O' The Pines, as not only did Whatley cash in the grand prize, but Harleton High School successfully defended its title in the high school competition. Wildcat Anglers Brody Metcalf, Jason Wallace, Caleb Baxter, and Clay Gleason combined to weigh in bass weighing 14.95 pounds. They each won $250, and retained the traveling bass trophy that will return to Harleton High School for another year.

Two other Harleton residents also won prize money.

Riley McKinney of Hughes Springs High School won the individual high school competition with a 7.22 pounder that pocketed him an additional $1,000. Riley pocketed $1,600 for his weekend on the lake.

Other specialty category winners included: Top Female Angler Michelle Carmichael, 5.73, Top Junior Angler Dalton McKee of Tatum, 3.87, Top Senior Angler Bubba Sadler of Gladewater, 7.56, and Top U.S. Veteran Angler Ronnie Kelly of Tyler, 6.76. Each of these won $500 in addition to any other winnings.

"The weather was incredible, but the competition was fierce this year" said Tournament Director Harlen Lobley. "We're all so proud of this tournament, it's a lot of work, but we have a great team of employees."

The KYKX Big Bass Bonanza paid the top 10 overall bass as well as $1,000 an hour for the top three fish from 7am – 3pm both Saturday and Sunday. ($600 – 1st, $300 – 2nd, $100 – 3rd).

Top 10 overall winners were:

Michael Whatley, Harleton (9.72 pounds; $62,499); Robert Parkinson, Marshall (9.08 pounds; $12,600); Brandon Johnson, Longview (8.37 pounds; $10,300); Dustin Ashworth, Tyler (8.0 pounds; $9,200); Warren Wyndham, Benton, Louisiana (7.85 pounds; $7,100); David Perryman, Gilmer (7.71 pounds; $4,600); Jerry Smith, Marshall (7.66 pounds; $4,100); Mike Ratcliff, Marshall (7.62 pounds; $3,200); Bubba Sadler, Gladewater (7.56 pounds; $2,100); Martin Thomas, Fouke, Arkansas (7.42 pounds, $1.100).

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