Pikes Peak Bass Masters: CCC Championship Rnd

Wednesday, October 14
2015 Challenge Cup!-presented by TY-REX Construction

~Derek Phillips~
"Challenge Cup" 

Sunday, October 12
2014 Challenge Cup--presented by TY-REX Construction


Derek Phillips


"Challenge Cup"



This years "Challenge Cup" was full of anglers with the ability to "win it all," right from the beginning.  Although the Top 12 from the Pikes Peak Bass Masters final standings is always a field of great bass anglers, this group was exceptionally scary this year.  With some new members joining the club, and some of them fighting their way into the top spots, it was not sure who would come out on top this year.

A new addition to this years "Challenge Cup" event was the Scoretracker Live scoring ability.  Seeing the fish catches as they happened on the lake was especially exciting for many family and friends that were watching "live" via that site.  If you didn't watch this year, you missed the most exciting "Challenge Cup" to date!  Here is how it all went down this year...... 

After determining who the final 3 were from the Sudden Death Round, (Steve Cubbage, Todd Gentzel, and Derek Phillips), the three of them met at the chosen lake for the finals, Chatfield Reservoir, in Denver.  The lake was higher than we as a club have seen it for some time, and it was October 11th in Colorado.  Crowding was not going to be an issue at all.

Period 1----7:00-9:00am

The guys launched off just before 7:00am.  The weather was to be cooler, windy, and cloud covered for most the day.  The rain was to come in about 2:00pm, right when the event was to end.  We were all hoping to be off the water by the time the storms came in.  The air temp was in the mid 40's at take-off.  Brrrr!  The water temp was barely 60 all day. 

Steve Cubbage, the only contestant that had never been on Chatfield before, decided he would go with his gut and with what he had learned from the maps. He decided he would fish some rip-rappy areas to start, hoping to get a Crank-bait bite going.  He was instantly rewarded with a fish weighing in at 1-lb and another of 14-oz.  He also lost a couple of fish in that flurry, which he feared might come back to haunt him.  I wish there was more to write here, but that was it for the first period.  Todd Gentzel and Derek Phillips did not have a fish to weigh, and perhaps, not even a fish that bit them, in those two hours!  Everyone at home was wondering if the signal was lost and that we were unable to enter the fish weights on the Scoretracker Live....Nope... No other fish to report.  Looks like a great tight finish in the making!

Period 2----9:30-11:30am

The second period found Gentzel getting his bearings and doing what comes natural for him......the ability to figure it out and put pressure on anyone else fishing in any bass tournament.  He went out and started off the second period with a fish weighing in at 1-14.  That put Gentzel into a tie for the lead and placed him back on track to take the Championship away from someone ...again!  The tie breaker for this event is the biggest fish weighed between two anglers that are tied, so you see where this story was headed. 

Cubbage, feeling the pressure, dug a little deeper in an attempt to find an answer to Gentzel's assault on the title.  With his confidence beaming, Cubbage felt he could win this time like no other "Challenge Cup" event he had ever been in.  With the extra confidence pushing him, Cubbage was blessed with a good cast and a 2 lb-1oz fish, giving him a substantial lead on the other two competitors, with 3lb-15oz.  Once again he took grasp of the top spot on this tougher than tough days on Chatfield Reservoir. 

Oh yea.....there were three anglers in this event.  Phillips, very familiar with the lake, found it hard to get a bump.  With half the period gone, Phillips finally hit a spot that yielded a 1-lb 3 oz fish, putting him on the board down in last place.  Although the fish was fairly small, the significance of that fish, and Phillips' perseverance through a very tough, almost embarrassing to him, performance of fishing on this day, was to later be revealed.  The second period ended with Cubbage leading the pack at 3 lb-15 oz, Gentzel at 1 lb-14oz, and Phillips, considered to be "well behind the leader" based on catchability of the fish this day, had a mere 1 lb-3 oz.     

Period 3 (Final)----12:00pm-2:00pm

Cubbage had set the stage for a new Champion to take the reins from Gentzel who has been dominating the titles in this club for some 4 years running.  The title was only 2 hours away and Cubbage could smell the Championship trophy was just over the 2 hour hill in front of him.  Literally one more bite from a 1-lb fish and Cubbage could possibly walk away with this title! 

Gentzel, losing his 4th "AOY" title by just a few points this year, was bound and determined not to let the "Challenge Cup" title slip away from him today and his chances of being the only "3 time" consecutive winner of the Cup!  Gentzel knew that Cubbage was finding a bite in every round so far and that Steve would not let up off the gas.  Todd needed to find some kind of pattern to get a bite.  He began a grueling attack on a small section of the lake where he felt he would be able to make his last stand.

Then it started happening.  We "Boat Officials" watched the Scoretracker weights move faster than it had all day, as Gentzel did what he had to do to solidify his spot as the only 3 time "Challenge Cup" Champion.  He found a pattern and a quick flurry of bites.  Before anyone knew it, Gentzel put a few good "back-to-back" fish in the boat, some of which measured.  Those fish added 3 lbs to Todd's total weight giving him a solid 4 lbs-14 oz and putting him in the lead at this event with only an hour and 15 minutes to go!  Based on the rainy weather and the all around terrible fishing conditions on the water, the end of this event was still very unpredictable.  Cubbage, who had been very quiet this final period, only needed a 1-lb fish to bite, which would give him a 1-oz advantage over Gentzel at the very end.  That, my friends, would make for one devastating and/or exciting loss/win situation! 

As good an ending as that would have been, the real ending is even more exciting and was never predicted by any of the guys that were at the event!  Phillips had been very quietly putting together his own pattern from the very few bites he had gotten all day long.  A couple of "short fish" catches firmed up what he thought he might need to do, in this final hour and fifteen minutes, in order to get a fish or two and make a better showing.  At least he could try for 2nd place and make an extra $100 for his energy spent today....right? 

Mr. Phillips gathered his thoughts for this final hour and a last ditch effort to catch some fish.  He started focusing on each cast a bit more than he had all day.  He watched the graph for those shad etchings a little bit more than before.  The intensity he expelled on each cast was different somehow than it had been all day.  It appeared he was actually tying to "make the fish bite" instead of waiting for them to take it on their own.  Suddenly, there was a "tick" and Derek set the hook on a fish that was small and didn't seem to have the weight of a "keeper" fish.  To his amazement, it measured long enough and he added a 1 lb fish to the Scoretracker totals, giving himself  2 lb-3 oz.  Another twenty minutes went by before Derek was able to "will" another fish into biting.  This time he found himself in a battle with what felt like a decent fish.  Once the fish got to the boat, it was obvious that it was the best fish of the day for Derek, as he tensed up at every run the fish was making, and was talking to someone about the fish staying on...."Stay on there.  You want to stay on there!"  With a good timing swing, the fish was in the boat and a 2 minute penalty was taken for hitting the carpet.  A small price to pay for a good 1 lb-11 oz fish that was a long time coming and for a fish that put Derek at 3 lb-14 oz for the day.  Still....How could he catch 2 needed fish in the waning moments of this event, on a day like this, and still be in last place?......Go figure.  

Once the penalty was over, Derek went back to focusing hard on getting a bite.  It only took another minute before "Tick," and he had another fish on.  The excitment was obvious on his face this time.  Even though this is a small event compared to many he had attended, the adrenaline of making a last minute charge at the title ran through him, as it does in all of us at any level, when in this spot.  Two bites in 3 minutes was something to be excited about on this day!  The fish was too short, but it gave him another boost of confidence that was missing in his fishing for a big part of the day. Could he really do this thing in the last hour of the tournament from so far behind?  He would need the fishing gods to keep the other two guys away from a 1 lb fish......What are the odds?......Not good.   

 The other guys had been very quiet with no fish catches appearing on the Scoretracker for the past hour...except for Derek's.  It was getting to be very eerie as all the Boat Officials at the event were dead quiet except for a "no update" about every minute, as they watched and updated the Scoretracker system constantly for their angler to see what was happening.  Any fish caught by any of the anglers was most likely going to be the winning fish of the event.  Todd Gentzel had the lead, Steve Cubbage was a mere 15 ounces out of a tie, and Derek Phillips was 1 lb out of a tie himself.  There has never been a "Challenge Cup" event this close! 

That feeling of fishing hard and still being in last place only sat around on Derek's boat for about another couple of minutes.  With just short of 35 minutes to go....it happened!  Derek Phillips, the guy that had struggled to get a frigging bite for 5 hours of the 6 hour event, got another bite around a pod of shad he had found on the graph.  Being the seasoned tournament competitor that he is, he knew what the importance of this one little bitty fish, that was now on its way to his boat, could be.  He carefully executed a timed swing and it was in with no penalty.  Derek smiled as he removed the hook from the fish's mouth, knowing in his heart it was going to be long enough to keep.  Until the fish was actually dragged across the measuring board, and its length verified as a "keeper," the nerves were tense.  Derek's hands, shaking as he measured the fish, was hard to decipher as being cold or being so excited about his position in the event.  He was definitely more of one than than the other, and being there live, it was easy to tell which he was.  The fish weighed in at a cool 1 lb-5 oz sending Derek from "worst to first" with only a short time left on the clock!  

 The weight was sent on the Scoretracker Live system letting the competitors, family, friends, and everyone in the state able to follow along because of Scoretracker, know that there was a new leader with not much time to go!  Based on the text messages from many watching the Scoretracker system, it was obvious that many wished they were there and all were as excited as Derek was in that moment.  Now....could he hold off the other guys needing only the smallest of fish to surpass his scant 5 ounce lead?  Could he catch another fish to stretch the lead and put some much needed distance between him and the other two?  All were watching the Scoretracker for updates.  Tick-tock, tick-tock!  "Is that clock even moving any more?", Derek asked more than once in the final 30 minutes....lol

Gentzel, unable to help himself, had to make a final attempt to steal the win from Derek.  With under 2 minutes to go, Todd hooked up on a big 2 lb plus Smallie that jumped beside his bait and attacked his Pop-R from the top. The fish foul hooked himself on its side, which counts if Todd can get him in the boat.  With time running out, Todd horsed the fish a little too much in his haste to beat the clock. He and his Boat Official (Bob Zyer), watched in horror as the fish jumped himself free of the hooks just out of reach.  Once again, this sport brought a great angler to his knees and his hands to his face, on the deck of his boat, in total disbelief.  Cubbage, finding fish all day, went blank, fishing without a bite for the entire last period.  Not sure of how that can happen to him, he shook his head and bowed down on the deck of his boat as to say, "You are the king," as Derek idled past him on the way to the loading ramp. 

All three of the anglers had the Championship win in their hands at some point in the day, but only Derek was able to get the timing right when he took the lead.  Perhaps, with the skilled anglers on the water this day, Derek was "saved by the bell," so to speak.  Derek Phillips ended with 5 lb-3 oz, Todd Gentzel just 5 ounces back at 4 lb-14 oz, and Steve Cubbage ended with the 3 lb-15 oz he had when he started the 3 period.  It was anyone's title all day long....until it was only Derek's!

Congrats to Derek, Todd, and Steve in making the 2014 "$1000 Challenge Cup" the most exciting ending ever!  This was definitely one for the PPBM record books! 



Saturday, October 19
2013 Challenge Cup-Championship Round!


Todd Gentzel 

holds on to repeat as 

"Challenge Cup" Champion!

This years championship round of the "Challenge Cup" presented by Ferguson Buick-GMC, was more than most expected earlier in the year.  Most of the members in the Pikes Peak Bass Masters club are becoming better than average bass fishermen and are being taught to do so by the experienced members in this club, as well as the newer guys that are just learning techniques.

Todd Gentzel has been in the running's and at the top of his game in most of the club's events over the past few years.  This 2013 season, Todd was forced to work much harder than usual to attain any of the top finishes he accomplished.  The tides that are changing was evident with the fact that this year there were "no repeat winners" in 10 events held by this club.  Domination is no longer as easy a possibility as in the past years.  With the competition in this club as high as it has ever been, Todd knew he had to be back at the top of his game to accomplish a repeat performance this year of winning the "Challenge Cup" Championship.

Standing in Todd's way of "the Cup" win this year were Mike Rathe and Steve Cubbage, two finalists that were more than happy to assist Todd in "not getting that repeat title" notch in his belt.  Both were considered underdogs, yet both were amped up and mentally ready to prove guys wrong at this event taking place on this fine, fine morning in mid October!  Mother Nature was helping to set things up for an upset and these guys were ready to oblige!

The weather started off at a chilly 23 degrees at take off.  The cool air hitting the much warmer 56 degree water created a very heavy and thick fog across the entire lake.  Visibility was at about 5o yards, if that.  The 3 competitors decided to launch and ban together to head west slowly to the unit they were to compete in.  With the GPS mapping, it was easy to avoid the bank, but what about other boats?  Oh yea...there are no other boats at this time in the morning as nobody is as crazy to be out on the water in these temperatures as this group.  It was decided that none of the anglers were to put their boats on plane for safety reasons and they all eased down the lake as one entity into the spooky, thick fog.

Reaching the start of the unit they were assigned, the competitors realized the normal start time would be unrealistic with the fog delay and they agreed to start 30 minutes later than usual, giving all of them time to ease to their starting points within the unit.  At 7:30 the reels were "clicking," the rods were "swooshing" and the lures were in the air!  The 2013 "Challenge Cup" was under way!

Period 1

Very early into the first period, Mike Rathe was well on his way to making some guys very sad.  He placed two fish on the scales at only 20 minutes into this game.  Both the other anglers were struggling to get out of the short fish almost an hour into the competition.  Finally, Steve Cubbage found one of the pesky critters he was searching for and sent Todd Gentzel into a place that he had never been before....Last Place for the first time ever in six times being in one of these events!  The feeling didn't last long as Todd made a move and began his trek to the top of the leader board.  By the end of the 1st period, Todd had moved far away from that scary place he started, and was in the lead by over a pound.

Period 2

The second period had Gentzel heading back to the area he had finished in prior.  Cubbage went to the same basic area and Rathe went to a new area out of sight of the others.  This period is usually where guys solidify their pattern, or find out the pattern they thought they had is a bust.  Gentzel solidified his pattern, catching 8 lbs+, while the other two struggled getting only one of their bites into the boat in the period.  The end of the second period found Gentzel (8+lbs) ahead of the other two guys as it appeared to be another runaway win for Gentzel......appeared to be!

Period 3

The third period found Gentzel going all the way back to the area he started in again.  Rathe, trailing behind the others by at least 2 decent fish, decided to go back to places he caught fish in and keep his bait in the water.  Unfortunately for Rathe, those areas had already been pounded by Gentzel just earlier.  Cubbage, disgusted with his second period performance, pulled himself off the mat and made a drastic move to start fresh someplace and shake off the "blahs."   His choice produced a fish almost immediately, but Gentzel returned the favor just seconds later.  Not at all detoured by Gentzel's return punch that was slightly smaller than his own, Cubbage produced another, and another, and another to make a giant charge in only 40 minutes at what seemed like Gentzel's "comfortable lead!"  Gentzel had to watch his lead crumble down to only a mere 3 lbs ahead of Cubbage with 1 hr and 20 minutes to go!  Oh no!

To Gentzel's excitement, he was able to counter the onslaught with only one fish, but to Gentzel, that fish was worth tons of weight........off his back that is!  The giant mental advantage it gave to him was well beyond the advantage the actual weight the fish gave to him.  Cubbage, knowing he was 2 good fish or 3 average fish away from a surprise victory, had to control his nerves and regain control of the pressure by putting another fish in the boat.  Just a few cast into the final hour, Cubbage hooked a 2+ lb fish and got him to the boat......but not in the boat!  With one final tug, the fish made his escape and took his chances for the win along with him.  Deflated, but not flat, Cubbage gave it all in the final minutes, only to be disappointed again, as another 2+lb fish waved his fin at Cubbage as he tossed the crankbait on his way out of town.

In the end, Gentzel never got another fish to cooperate and survived one of the best come back performances he has ever had to face in a "Challenge Cup" event!  Was Gentzel nervous at the end......like you had never seen him before!

 Congrats to Todd Gentzel, Steve Cubbage, and Mike Rathe for making this 2013 event one for the record books all the way around!