Awesome! It was what Odenville fisherman Jason McCullars kept saying over and over and over again after he finished fifth in the inaugural PAA fishing tournament at Neely Henry Lake.
“It was just an awesome feeling, and like a dream come true for me,” McCullars said. “Going up against professional fishermen I have watched on television through the years was just amazing.”
McCullars has been fishing in tournaments since he was 10 years old. Now, with victory so close at hand, the 25-year-old looks to continue his mastery of bass fishing.
After the first day of competition, McCullars was in second place after catching the five fish per day limit weighing 14.54 pounds.
Day two of the event saw McCullars bring in five fish that weighed 11.17 pounds, causing him to slip to seventh place overall.
On the final day of the event, McCullars weighed his fish in at 11.97 pounds, giving him a three-day total of 37.68 pounds.
He finished 1.03 pounds from first place.
By finishing fifth in the tournament, McCullars earned $4,300 in cash, the most he has ever won at a tournament.
“This is all just so awesome,” he said. “To go to Bass Pro Shop in Leeds every day for the weigh-in, and see family and friends rooting you on is just an amazing feeling.”
McCullars hopes to get invited to the Texas Bass Classic, which will be held in October.
The tournament winner was Fred Roumbanis of Bixby, Okla.
Roumbanis edged out Mississippi’s Paul Elias by a mere .24 pounds a the final weigh-in to hoist the PAA Tournament Series trophy with a final weight of 38.71 pounds.
Along with the trophy and the title, Roumbanis collected a Nitro Z8 boat, equipped with a Mercury 225 OptiMax engine with a retail value of over $40,000. He also earned $1,250 in cash and picked up an additional $300 for the Big Bass of the day, a 4.41-pound largemouth.
“It’s pretty amazing to win a tournament with the PAA,” said Roumbanis. “It’s a unique tournament because you have a combination of Elite Series pros, FLW Tour pros and local heroes who really know the lake.
“Honestly, I had never even seen a map of this lake before this week. All of my fish came within 10 miles of where we launched.”
Third place went to Virginia’s John Crews, who boosted his three-day total weight to 37.93 pounds after bringing a 12.84-pound limit of Neely Henry Lake bass to the scales on Saturday afternoon. Greg Hackney finished in fourth place with a total weight of 37.69.
The overall Humminbird/Minn Kota Big Bass Award went to Alabama’s Steve Kennedy, who boated a 5.61-pound largemouth on Friday. The fish earned Kennedy a Humminbird 898c si sonar unit.
Overall, 14 out of the 15 professionals competing on Saturday brought a five-bass limit to the scales.