Jack Rinkers, Brad Eccleston Win Megabucks Challenge Despite Bad Weather
The first Angler’s Choice Region 4  Megabucks Challenge tournament was held June 21 and 22 on the Upper Chesapeake Bay out of Anchor Marina. All week long the weather forecasters predicted thunderstorms, heavy rains, flash flooding and more for the Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania territory and for the most part they were correct.

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Six teams cancelled and others that had planned on fishing either withdrew or didn’t show up. A total of 10 teams threw down the big bucks to compete in this tournament. Most like their odds to win a big paycheck.

Saturday morning began cloudy with a red sky on the horizon…almost a sure sign of bad weather ahead. At least it was calm and not raining as blast-off began.

It wasn’t but an hour or so into the tournament that the rain began and remained for most of the fishing day. The intensity levels varied form a gentle shower to periods of torrent downpours that reportedly prevented partners from visually seeing each other at different ends of the boat.

For one team, the fish bit best during the heaviest of the rain.

The skies settled a bit just in time for weigh-in which took place at the lower promenade of the Nauti-Goose Saloon, part of the Anchor Marine complex. A large crowd of spectators were on hand at Day 1 weigh-in as the contestants docked their boats at the restaurant.

All but one team produced a 5-bass limit at weigh-in despite the conditions. Jack Rinkers and Brad Eccleston were the first day leaders with a huge sack of largemouth weighing 22.78 pounds. Right behind them in second place were John Hart and Ed Pribish with 20.12 pounds. Jim Steiner and Charlie Steiner wound up in third place on Day 1 with 18.14 pounds. In fourth place with 15.64 pounds, Joe Thompson and daughter Brittany were well within striking distance.

Rounding out the top five were Bill Gallagher and Diane Apsche. It was nice to see two women competing out there under these conditions, much less in the top five.

Sunday’s weather was to be partly cloudy but windy as the front rolled through.

Those arriving early to Anchor Marine on Day 2 were greeted with windier-than-normal conditions for this early hour. Several teams changed strategy to avoid getting caught in rough water and being unable to get back with so much money on the line.

Perseverance paid off for Darrell Ellis and Corey Ellis. Even though they only had 2 fish on Saturday, they still chose to return on Day 2 and it paid off for them big time. They weighed in a 16.65 stringer on Sunday anchored by a 5.52 largemouth, giving them $200 and plaques for the Day 2 lunker.

Bill McDermott and Mike Gambill finished the tournament with a total of 10 bass weighing 28.57 pounds. These guys have proven to be a formidable team since hooking up a few years ago. Nice job!

Jesse Davis and Walter March had two very consistent days and finished in 4th place with 10 fish totaling 29.97 pounds. Like many of the teams in the Megabucks Challenge, Jesse and Walter are accustomed to fishing in bad weather because they fish the Chesapeake Fall Pro Teams circuit which saw many cold, windy, and snowy days this past season. Way to go!

Joe Thompson and Brittany Thompson were our 3rd place team this weekend despite losing an hour to some on-the-water “creative” surgery. Unfortunately, Brittany imbedded a Bomber Model-A crankbait in her stomach which she had to have removed (less anesthesia, of course) while in the boat. After a brief recovery period she returned to the competition and proceeded to put 2 of the biggest fish in the boat. They were presented with a “tournament bucket” courtesy of Captain Gary’s Marine Products, 2 third place plaques, and Brittany was present a special plaque bearing a custom lure designed by Anchor Marina owner Butch Trainer in honor of her bravery and competitive spirit.

John Hart and Ed Pribish have proven over the years that they have a gift for locating and catching big bass whether it be Oneida Lake, the Potomac River, or the Upper Chesapeake. This was again proven this weekend as they backed up there 20+ pound bag on Saturday with 16.35 pounds on Sunday. Their overall tournament weight of 36.47 pounds kept them in 2nd place and earned them $1000.00 and plaques. Great job!

Jack Rinkers and Brad Eccleston were crowned Megabucks Champions as they put together 2 stellar back-to-back days including 17.64 pounds on Sunday. They also weighed in the big bass on Saturday which weighed 5.40 pounds. They reportedly caught their winning fish on 3 specific baits that ran at different depth levels. They elected to fish the same area on Sunday, but chose to fish the windiest portion of their water. This tactic proved to be a winning strategy for Jack and Brad. They were awarded plaques and a total of $2400 in prize money…$2200 for 1st and $200 for Day 1 lunker. Congratulations!
Thanks to Karl Bunch, Tim Chadwick, and Matt, Freddie and Kay from Anchor Marina.

There is another scheduled Megabucks Challenge set for July 11-12, also out of Anchor Marina

Finish    Team members   
1    Jack Rinkers-Brad Eccleston   
2    John Hart-Ed Pribish   
3    Joe Thompson-Brittany Thompson   
4    Jesse Davis-Walter March  
5    Bill McDermott-Mike Gambill   
6    Jim Steiner-Charlie Steiner   
7    Bill Gallagher-Diane Apsche   
8    Corey Ellis-Darrell Ellis   
9    George Hammer-Gary Henry   
10    Ron Baker-Melvin Smitson