Fun for a good cause

Ryan Newman (center) with the wining team, local anglers Jody Wright (left) and Lester Elton. Their five-bass limit weighed 16 pounds, 13 ounces. 

Professional anglers, NASCAR drivers, Nashville stars and 128 two-angler teams gathered at North Carolina's Lake Norman to compete in the 5th Annual Ryan Newman Foundation Bass Tournament on Dec. 11. When it was over, Jody Wright and Lester Elton bested Christopher and Matt Haywood by 3 pounds to take the title and a fully rigged Nitro Z9 bass boat and other prizes worth a combined $50,000.

"We got beat by the Haywoods last year," Wright said, "and I was holding my breath when they got in line for the weigh-in. But we had enough to beat them this time." The winners' 16 pound, 13 ounce-limit included big bass of the day, a largemouth weighing 5 pounds, 8 ounces.

NASCAR driver Martin Truex Jr. took the big bass trophy among celebrities with a 4-11 lunker.

Overall, it was a tough day of fishing. Just 65 teams weighed in a fish. In all, 285 fish were brought to the scales, weighing 553-4.

Crankbaits, drop shot rigs and jigs were the most popular baits. Even some of the pros struggled. Late in the competition day, Tim Horton and his partner still didn't have a limit, and Jason Quinn reported catching 50 to 60 bass, but most of them were too short to keep.

The tournament was run by B.A.S.S. tournament personnel and sponsored by Bass Pro Shops. Eric Winter, manager of the Concord, N.C., Bass Pro Shops, commented: "Bass Pro is very excited to be a part of the tournament, and we're really happy to be able to donate the Nitro Z9 boat for the grand prize."