David Stachowski and Greg Valenzuela weren’t clutching the valued “home lake advantage” but still managed to fish their way to first place in the 2019 Wild West Bass Trail Arizona Team Championship tournament held May 7-9 at Roosevelt Lake.

In winning, the two Tucson anglers weighed a 15-bass, three-day limit that tipped the scales at an impressive 56.96 pounds.

The pair were models of consistency weighing in 19 pounds on the first day, 19.39 the second and 17.60 on the third.

The opening day’s catch included a 4.53-pounder and on the second, a 4.79-pound lunker.

For the win, the duo took home a boatload of prizes including $25,650 in prize money and a fully equipped RT 188 Ranger Bass boat valued at $25,000-plus.

Following the victory, Stachowski and Valenzuela called fishing near submerged green trees sometimes with Whopper Poppers and other times with Brush Hogs the keys to success.

Second place in the annual gold medal shootout was garnered by Johnny Johnson of Lakeside and Andre Napoleon of Mesa.

In the White Mountains, Johnson is considered the guru of fishing and the face of the sport. He grew up in the area, his parents owned a fishing store there and he hosts a TV fishing show that airs each Sunday on Fox Sports Net. The show is said to be watched by five million viewers.

In the Arizona championship tournament, Johnson and Napoleon weighed in three days of five-fish limits totaling 54.99 pounds.

Richard Kerney and Dean Kreuzer, last year’s tournament winners, finished third, boating 41.56 pounds.

How locals fared

For Payson High School standout athletes, Cameron Geske and Kyle Randall, the fray could be best summed up in the Elvis hit “Heartbreak Hotel.”

The pair experienced Elvis’s sorrow after finishing with 29.27 pounds and 11th overall, just one spot out of qualifying for the crucial third day.

Also from Payson, Ron Bowman teamed up with John Whaley to finish 10th, while John Browning and Mike Elliott were 39th in the field of 61 qualifiers.

At the onset of the final weigh-in, Payson Mayor Tom Morrissey addressed the crowd, thanking them for their unwavering support of the tournament and promising the town would do everything possible to keep the championship festivities at Roosevelt Lake and Green Valley Park.

Contact the reporter at kmorris@payson.com

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