Van Zant/Suttles wins Stripe-R-Rama 19

Mike Van Zant with his fish weighing 18.10 pounds, which is the largest fish ever checked in during a Stripe-R-Rama tournament

Mike Van Zant with his fish weighing 18.10 pounds, which is the largest fish ever checked in during a Stripe-R-Rama tournament

Anchored by the largest fish ever checked into a Stripe-R-Rama tournament this past weekend, the team of Mike Van Zant and Charles Suttles easily won the 2010 tournament at Lake Mead with a 40-fish limit that weighed 67.35 pounds.

But the big news of the tournament was the lunker that Van Zant checked in that tournament director Johnnie Hoeft weighed at 18.10 pounds, which is the largest fish ever checked in during a Stripe-R-Rama tournament.

Van Zant said he caught the fish around 1 a.m. during the overnight tournament, which started at 7 p.m. on Saturday night and ended at 7 a.m. Sunday morning. Van Zant reportedly caught the fish on a piece of anchovy.

Second place was won by Merlyn and David Coffman, whose 40-fish limit of striped bass weighed 62.85 pounds. Their big fish weighed 3.55.

Other top-10 winners included: third, Fred Proudfoot and Ed Walker, 58.65 pounds; fourth, Ryan Chan and John Howell, 57.2 pounds; fifth, Tim Flatt and Jack Ginkins, 56.65 pounds; sixth, Michael O'Donnell and Ken Cliadakas, 55 pounds; seventh, Rick Olivas and Nikolas Olivas, 53.15 pounds; eighth, Ron Benson and Mike Blanton, 53 pounds; ninth, Ted Proudfoot and Mark Proudfoot, 52.7 pounds; tenth, Robert Borker and Matt Wolsey, 51.90 pounds.

Hoeft said the tournament had 46 two-person teams, which was slightly down from 2009 when 49 teams participated in the largest local striped bass tournament of the year. The event is sponsored by local motel mogul John Patel.

The second big fish of the tournament was caught by Mike Baxter. That fish weighed 4.2 pounds.

The largest odd fish or non-striper caught was a channel catfish that weighed 2.55 pounds. The whisker fish was caught by a team of anglers from Las Vegas.

Hoeft noted that in his opinion, this was the best event ever. "We had perfect weather - no storms, no incidents or accidents, and everyone had a great time. Plus with the help of the volunteers, the checkout and check-in went very smooth."

Hoeft noted that the volunteers who assisted on the tournament included Jennifer Hoeft, Cathy Hoeft, Barb Hall, Page McDonald and Dan Winder.

Over 1,600 stripers were caught during the tournament, up from the 1,200 that were caught by anglers in 2009.

While some may wonder if this tournament hurts the striper fishery on Lake Mead, just the opposite occurs.

The lake has an estimated population of stripers from two to seven million, and anglers noted that a large number of the stripers are skinny, and showing signs of starving.

In the past, Region III fishery supervisor Andy Clark has stated that if anything, the tournament actually helps out the fishery by taking out a number of the stripers.

There is no limit on stripers under 20 inches long on the lake, and a daily limit of 20 stripers over 20 inches long. No team has ever brought in a limit of stripers over 20 inches long in the 19 years that the tournament has been in existence.

Most of the tournament anglers chose to keep their catch of the good eating fish, but some of the anglers decided to donate their catch to Stripe-R-Rama sponsor John Patel.