BILLINGS – Justin Thieme and Zach Weber of Illinois won their second straight National Bass Anglers Association championship recently in Tennessee, beating out 71 other teams including six from Montana.
The three-day event on Kentucky Lake was attended by teams from 16 states. No entry fee was required, but teams did have to qualify to earn invitations.
Thieme and Weber were awarded championship trophies and a new $30,000 Ranger Boat. The team had to pass a standard polygraph test regularly used for events of such magnitude.
Their three-day weight total was 58.04 pounding, including a 15.09 catch on Day 1. The duo followed that with a 26.11 for the tournament’s biggest catch before closing Saturday with 16.00 pounds to win the title by just more than six pounds.
Ten teams from eastern Montana and North Dakota qualified but only six journeyed to Tennessee. None placed high enough to win cash prizes.
Placing first among the Montana region teams were George Riddle and Josh Goff, followed by Charlie Speale and Bob Morgan.
Montana’s reigning Angler Team of the Year, Joe and Diane Taylor of Billings, were also competing but succumbed to muddy conditions.
“I guess we Montanans don’t know how to fish mud,” quipped Joe Taylor upon his return to Montana.
Of the six Montana teams only two were able to weigh fish.