Tuten Crowned 2005 Mr. Clarks Hill
Mike Tuten had never won a big tournament, until now. He beat out 209 anglers in the 2005 Mr. Clarks Hill.
Mike Tuten of Augusta, tired of his runner-up finishes in many local bass tournaments, has finally fulfilled a burning desire to make the prestigious Mr. Clark Hill Bass Fishing Championship his first major victory.
On October 1 on Clarks Hill Lake, the Richmond County Fire Department lieutenant weighed in five largemouth bass totaling 14.9 pounds to make the 32nd annual event his own.
His triumph brought glory to his fellow Richmond County Bassmasters and made possible his desire to dedicate it to the memory of Greg Taitague of Augusta, a 2002 auto crash victim.
“He was my fishing buddy and had the talent and skills to win this tournament,” Mike said. “I miss him.”
Mike beat a field of 209 others, including runner-up David Matthews of the Savannah River Bassmasters, who had 13.40 pounds, and third-place finisher Tony Postell of the Augusta Bass Club with 12.96 pounds.
Mike, who had competed in six other Mr. Clark Hill events, had a chance to win the 1996 tournament but lost a 4-pounder that would have put him on top. He finished third.
The champion caught most of his fish in Shriver Creek. He located the fish he caught that Saturday during practice on the previous Wednesday, but not until after 3 p.m. All he could hope for was an early bite since the Wildwood weigh-in started at 4 p.m.
Mike rigged one rod with a 1/4-oz. Buckeye buzzbait equipped with a chartreuse and white skirt, a pearl Ynot soft plastic, fish-shaped trailer and a red trailer hook. A drop of Super Glue prevented the soft bait from sliding down the hook shank.
Another rod carried a Carolina-rigged, Zoom green pumpkin U-tail plastic worm, a lure that turned out to be the key to his victory.
“My second fish came on the buzzbait about 9:30 a.m., on my third pass down the bank,” said Mike. “It weighed 3.82 pounds. After that one, I decided to run up the Savannah River to hit humps and two main river pockets between Soap and Wells creeks. I caught seven fish, all short, except for a 12 1/2 incher.
Mike returned to the bank in Shriver.
“I decided to finish out my five-fish limit by returning to the worm and at 1:10 p.m., I caught a 1 3/4-lb. bass and added a 3 1/4-pounder at 1:25 p.m,” said Mike. “I moved around to the other side of the point and cast the worm down the edge of a grassbed. A big fish socked it. It jumped three or four times during the three- or four-minute fight. I finally got the 4.66-pounder into the boat, culling that 12-1/2-inch fish caught upriver. I left the area at 3 p.m., to allow myself plenty of time to get back to Wildwood.”
After his fun day on the lake, Mike suffered a bout of internal shakes, becoming “as nervous as I’ve ever been waiting for others to weigh in. I remembered all my second-place finishes and although I’m proud of all of them, none were as sweet as winning.”
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