The Kansas BASS Nation had a big weekend full of events from June 13-14, with the Frank Stong Memorial Scholarship Tournament and the Mr. Bass Tournament both taking place on Melvern.


In Saturday’s scholarship tournament, Chris Brimager and Blake Nowak topped a 42-team field with 14.36 pounds of bass, edging out the second-place team of Ryan Jobe and Sam Leintz by over a pound (13.29-pound bag). Jobe and Leintz also earned the $400 Big Bass award with a 3.83-pounder.


Topekans Rue Armstrong and Thomas Heinen finished in a tie for the third-place honors with fellow Topekans Nick Butler and John Burns, with each team weighing a 13.21-pound bag.


Another Topeka team, Jim Parsons and Kyle Herrman, also finished sixth with 11.12 pounds behind the fifth-place team of Robert Seidel and Mike Felber.


"Nick and I always have fun when we fish together," Burns said. "Our goal was just to weigh in a limit of fish. We certainly met that and honestly only missing big bass by a little over 1 ounce and only missing out on first by a little over a pound stings, but hey, that's fishing. I think all the Topeka anglers were excited about the chance to fish the scholarship tournament on Melvern instead of Big Hill this year, and the results show that with three of the top six teams coming from the Topeka BASS clubs. We all had fished Melvern several times through the spring spawn, so everyone's confidence was high.


"If you're going to tie, you definitely want to tie with your club teammates, but we should've went back out for a one-hour fish-off," he added, laughing.


Burn’s son, Tyler, was also one of the winners of the scholarship.


"So he and this year's other recipient are the real winners," Burns said. "It's a great way to remember the fishing legacy of Frank Stong and a way to help high school seniors achieve their college dreams."


In Sunday’s Mr. Bass Tournament, Hays native Branden Garrison was the top boater with a 14.34-pound bag, followed by Leavenworth’s Larry Stoafer (11.95) and Manhattan’s Brent Lanoue (11.81). Lindsborg’s Jason Baird took fourth with an 11.75-pound bag, followed by Vince Hammond in fifth (11.37).


Other notable boaters in the top 10 included Overland Park’s Jeremy Montgomery (6th, 8.76 pounds) and Topeka’s Parsons (9th, 6.35).


Among co-anglers, Hutchinson’s Justin Harris took the top spot Sunday with an 8.29-pound bag to top Berryton’s Mike Turner (7.97). Shane Wilson took third with 7.17 pounds, with Brad Wheeler (7.07) and Ray Cates (6.99) rounding out the top five.


State championship ahead


Heinen, who fishes competitively at Washburn, finished seventh among co-anglers on Sunday. His Saturday teammate, Armstrong, finished 11th among boaters.


Heinen will now prepare to compete June 27-28 alongside Ichabod teammate Jake Brunton in the Kansas BASS Nation College State Championship at Wilson Reservoir.


"Jake and I are real excited for the state championship," Heinen said Wednesday morning. "We have been since the last one and then COVID-19 got in the way. Hopefully, we can finally have it without any more conflicts."


Heinen said that, about a month ago, KBN youth director Travis Burch had a Zoom meeting with the K-State and Washburn fishing teams to discuss lakes and potential dates to reschedule the tournament after the coronavirus hit.


"Jake and I are very excited and relieved that we finally got a date set," Heinen said. "We’re going to go out there and try our best. You know last June at Wilson, the water was very high and it will be a game-changer this year. I believe we’re about only 2 to 4 feet high versus last year, the water was well covering parking lots and such. I’m just very excited to get back on the water again after everything that’s been going on.


"I’d like to thank Travis Burch for all his hard work, as well, because I’m sure this was stressful for him rescheduling everything, especially after getting dates all set and having to postpone all events. We’re going to try to have a better finish than last year and try to learn from our mistakes. Wilson seems to be fishing good lately, but one day of bad weather could change a lot."


Chris Brimager and Blake Nowak finished first with a bag of 14.36 pounds in the Frank Stong Memorial Scholarship Tournament on Saturday, June 13, at Melvern. [Submitted]