Community comes together to help fisherman in need

Published on Monday, 22 August 2016 06:43 - Written by

Forget the three bass weighing 13.83 Bryan Collard and Gary Preston weighed in last Saturday on Lake Palestine to win the pass tournament. That is not what was important.

Neither was their 8.09-pound tournament big bass.

What was important is that 88 teams showed up, paid the entry fee and raised $23,550 for many of theirs friend, Keith Bradshaw.

There are a lot of reasons for bass tournaments, including benefits such as this one. And they always seem to raise a little money for the cause. But do the math on this one: 88 teams entered at $100 and seventy percent of the entry money, $6,160, was designated for the payout.

The Keith Bradshaw Fight for Life event ended up raising nearly four times the entry fee total, most coming from the sale of raffle tickets before and during the tournament.

“I can tell you this, we sold about $12,000 of raffle tickets at the tournament on Saturday. A lot of that came from the fishermen,” said Tom Mayne, tournament organizer.

Mayne, a local fishing guide and long-time tournament competitor, came up with the idea for the tournament after Bradshaw got sick.

“He is a good guy. He would do anything for me and I would do the same for him,” Mayne said. “Keith is a fisherman. I met him 20 years ago through East Texas Bass Association. He was kind of avid in that, then got out and did Media tournaments and some open tournaments here and there.”

Mayne said the New Chapel Hill resident had been bedridden in Christus Trinity Mother Frances Hospital for three months at the time of the tournament with complications from pancreatitis.

“It was a near-death experience. I don’t know how he came out of it. I guess it just wasn’t his time,” Mayne said.

Mayne said although the tournament was his idea, the end result came about from the efforts of people within the fishing community and his and Bradshaw’s friends. Mayne said he new he would need a tournament director and equipment for the weigh-in. He approached Danny Smith of Fishers of Men who jumped at the chance. Then came Tommy Morton with Media Bass.

He approached local businesses in and out of the sporting goods business, and they all offered to help.

Then came individuals offering cash for raffle prizes or the prizes themselves. Some offered to sell tickets and took them to businesses they called on. Others bought them, possibly whether they needed the prize or not. Some offered their time at the event.

Mayne said their help was invaluable.

“It was an awesome deal to be honest. It went so smooth with all the help from all the people in the community. It was a matter of putting the right people in the right place,” he explained.

The night before the tournament 47 teams had registered. Forty-one more showed up the morning of the event, including one who had heard about the event and cause and drove from Oklahoma to participate.

Mayne estimated maybe 50 percent of the competitors knew Bradshaw. Some knew Mayne or others competing. Some just came to fish, but their contributions still helped.

“It was cool for me. Fishing for a lot of us is a way of live. It is all we do, but no matter how competitive we are, everyone stepped up. The real thanks goes to the fishing community. I just pieced it together,” Mayne said.

In a note to the volunteers, competitors and sponsors, Mayne said,

“…it would have not been possible without everyone that was involved. I have fished against a lot of these guys for a long, long time and some have even been customers of mine through my fishing guide business.With that said no matter how competitive we can be at times it’s times like these that show what kind of people are involved in the fishing community. I took this on not only because Keith has been more than a friend to me over 20 years but because I knew what kind of guys and girls surround this fishing community.

“It’s more than just fishing, it’s a way of life for us and I never for one second doubted the support that would come. I have received a ton of thank you messages and what a great job. I can’t say how much I appreciate them, but I still have to say that this fishing community is the one that deserves the most thanks and that includes wives, parents, daughters and sons. From me to everyone involved thank you for being what I already knew you were.”

While Collard and Preston took home the top prize, John and Michael Bratloff finished second with 13.55 and Ivan Slauton and Josh Priest were third with 13.3 pounds, they were not the tournament’s biggest winners. That would be everyone who came out to compete to support their friend, and of course Bradshaw, who has friends that care.

Have a comment or opinion on this story? Contact outdoor writer Steve Knight by email at outdoor@tylerpaper.com. Follow Steve Knight on Facebook at Texas All Outdoors and on Twitter @txalloutdoors