Suttles, Van Zandt win Stripe-R-Rama at Lake Mead's South Cove

Charlie Suttles, left, and Mike Van Zandt, middle, captured the Stripe-R-Rama tournament with more than 40 striped bass weighing in at over 91 pounds. Tournament director Johnnie Hoeft presents their trophies. (DON MARTIN/For the Miner)

Charlie Suttles, left, and Mike Van Zandt, middle, captured the Stripe-R-Rama tournament with more than 40 striped bass weighing in at over 91 pounds. Tournament director Johnnie Hoeft presents their trophies. (DON MARTIN/For the Miner)

MEADVIEW - It was one of the hottest evenings of the summer, but that didn't stop the team of Charlie Suttles and Mike Van Zandt from bringing one of the largest bags of striped bass to the scales in the history of Stripe-R-Rama.

Thirty-six teams signed up for what was billed as the largest overnight striper fishing tournament team event of the summer.

The rules of the tournament were simple. A team of two anglers fish all night and may bring in a maximum of 40 striped bass, the most prolific fish found in Lake Mead, to the scales. Anglers fished from 7 p.m. Saturday until 7 a.m. Sunday.

Fish were weighed in at the Fisherman's Landing in Meadview, which has been the official headquarters for this tournament for six years now. These folks always roll out the welcome mat for the anglers.

Johnnie Hoeft has been the director for this tournament for 10 years. Hoeft noted that the tournament has been sponsored by local motel/hotel magnate John Patel since the tournament started 25 years ago. "Mr. Patel wanted a tournament that featured something that no other tournament had and that was EVERY person who participated in the event would win a prize," Hoeft said.

Each year Patel sends Hoeft to the local Walmart where he buys $1,500 to $2,000 in prizes, depending on how many teams are entered. Prizes have included fish finders, rods, reels, lures, chairs, marine batteries and ice chests. And all an angler has to do to win a prize is weigh in their fish, no matter how many they've caught.

According to Arizona law, anglers can catch and keep as many stripers as they want if they are under 20 inches long on Lake Mead. Catch a striper over 20 inches long and there is a limit of 20 per person, per day. In fishing this lake since 1972, I have NEVER caught a limit of fish over 20 inches long.

The Arizona Game & Fish has estimated that there are from two to seven MILLION stripers in the lake at any one time, so the 1,500-plus fish that are caught in this tournament are insignificant.

Fish that are brought to the scales and weighed are either kept by the anglers for personal use, donated to the Meadview Baptist Church or to the tournament sponsor.

No fish go to waste as tournament rules require that the fish be on ice when they are brought to the dock and to the scales.

Carlos Rooks was charged with checking every boat that came to the dock had the fish properly iced down, and then the fish were checked again when presented for the weigh in.

The father-son team of Stacy and Tom Sanderson, who are members of the Nevada Striper Club, brought the tournament's largest striper to the scales. That lunker weighed 6 pounds, 3 ounces.

Second largest striper of the tournament at 4 pounds, 5 ounces was caught by the team of Dan Reed and Dr. Jerry Sullivan.

The largest non-striper brought to the scales was a carp weighting 8 pounds, 2 ounces caught by the team of Chris Madden and Amanda Pinnock. Madden and Pinnock are members of the Nevada Striper Club.

Here are the top 10 teams with their 40-fish weights:

1. Charlie Suttles/Mike Van Zandt, 91.4 pounds. 2. Dan Reed/Dr. Jerry Sullivan, 87.2. 3. Jeff McCans/Cortney McCans, 86.4. 4. Gayron/Diana Hopper, 85.45. 5. Merlyn/David Coffman, 83. 6. Fred Proudfoot/Ed Walker, 82.1. 7. Don Martin/Jay Chan,80.25. 8. Chris Madden/Amanda Pinnock, 80.05. 9. Stacy/Tom Sanderson, 79.7. 10. Troy Nolte/Ryan Asplin, 78.8.

More than 1,200 fish were checked in, and it was estimated that 1,500 were caught by tournament anglers.

Hoeft thanked all of the sponsors, especially John Patel for his continued sponsorship of the event and Fisherman's Landing.

It truly is one of the best tournaments that local anglers can fish. Friendly people, with lots of comaraderi and great sponsors make this a tournament that you don't want to miss.