CARTERVILLE — The team of Travis Engram, Chris Hill, Chris Haub and Cody Ward came from behind to win the 52nd annual Bill Harkins-Don Sanders Four-Man Tournament at Crab Orchard Lake Sunday.
Engram and teammates were sitting in second place by 3.25 pounds when Sunday's second round started in a steady rain and cold conditions.
“Anything short of lightning this tournament is held,” said tournament director Mike Tompkins. “It has never been cancelled and a matter of fact there has been just one time in its history when it was postponed and that was only for two hours when lightning struck the guardrail on (Route) 13 just over there. Rain, sleet, snow or whatever this tournament is goes on.”
Hill, and Engram,who earned $390 for catching the Big Bass on Saturday, bettered the first day haul by .98 pounds, catching four fish that weighed in at 12.65 to give them a two-day total of 26.42.
“We just stuck with it despite the conditions,” Hill said. “It was a grind and we kept grinding it out and it paid off. We fished our same spot which was still and we were still throwing plastics. Nothing changed from yesterday. We caught the biggest one about 9:30 a.m. and then caught one about every two hours.”
Haub and Ward reeled in three fish that weighed in at 13.65 to up their two-day total to 27.79. That upped the team’s total haul to a whopping 54.21 pounds to claim the first place prize of $4,800 by 8.87 pounds.
The first day leaders of Hunter Grounds, Andy Rametta, Zach and Jake Ziegler managed just 45 percent of its first day haul with a 14.05 pounds to finish with a total weight of 45.21 pounds, dropping them into third place and $1,440.
The team of Mike McKinney and his son Trevor from Benton and Tom Burns and his son Tommy from Carbondale sat in third place heading into the finale. They weighed in 22.75 Sunday and 22.59 on Saturday for a total of 45.34. That edged Grounds and company by just .13 pounds to earn an extra $480 with a total payout of $1,920.
Trevor McKinney picked up another $390 for catching the Big Bass on Sunday. The McKinneys picked up another $200 for winning the Big Stringer plaque with a two-day total of 29.43.
“We caught the big bass mid-lake on a chatterbait in a little pocket we found and it was really a magical pocket with a lot of fish around it,” Trevor McKinney said. “For us fishing was better today in worse weather than it was Saturday when we only caught two fish for six pounds. We just went with an open mind today and went out fished hard and we were lucky, fortunate and blessed to with two really nice bites. Those two seven pounders were really what propelled us up into second place as a team.”
The team of Dave Thompson, Clayton Campanella, Jeremy Sullivan and John LaMaster moved up from fifth to finish fourth with a total haul of 37.56 to claim the prize of $960.
The oldest bass tournament in Illinois donated $1,400 to the Shriners, $200 to Take Pride in America and $200 to the Southern Illinois Hunting and Fishing Days.
“The weekend turned out good,” Tompkins said. “We had 39 teams, which means 78 boats on the lake, up eight from last year, which makes our payouts better. Considering the weather (Sunday had 30 mile an hour winds which made the wind chill 32 degrees) everything went well. Despite mechanical issues that every fishing tournament has rain or shine, hot or cold, we had no issues. We were able to make a really good donation to the Shriners Hospital in addition to the all proceeds they get from the program and their concessions booth.”