Blevins and James Claim Top Prize at 2024 Bass Cat Owners Invitational on Norfork

MOUNTAIN HOME, Ark. – Bass Cat Boats held the company’s annual Owners Invitational this week as 312 teams converged on Norfork Lake in Arkansas seeking to earn the top prize and bragging rights. After two days of competition, JW Blevins and Wes James of Arkansas weighed in two limits totaling 29.85 pounds to claim top honors and a prize of a 2024 Bass Cat Bobcat.

“We braved the weather again this year,” said Bass Cat’s Rick Pierce. “That can be a challenge, but we never lose sight of the fact that this is a family affair that features some of the best talent in the region and from around the country.”

The winning team said they fished their strengths, which meant that they didn’t even turn on their electronics all week, except for GPS. While their winning margin of nearly 4 pounds made it look easy, it was anything but a sure thing.

“We had trolling motor issues on Day Two when the circuit board went out,” Blevins said. “It could steer right but it couldn’t steer left. For half the day we used my partner’s boat, which is also a Bass Cat, and then the second half of the day we went back to my 2014 Cougar FTD, using a hand-controlled motor.”

Their pattern focused on windblown points where a white and chartreuse War Eagle spinnerbait did much of the damage. They were In 7th place after a tightly-contested day one, but stuck to the game plan, refusing to get overwhelmed. That paid dividends whenever an obstacle got in front of them. They fished three-quarters of the day south, around the Jordan area, and stopped near Blue Lady on the way back. In addition to the spinnerbait bite, they added a few keepers with wacky worms and floating worm. The larger fish were spawned out, but the smaller keepers were bursting, still not having completed the ritual.

“This is my 9th or 10th Owners Invitational,” Blevins said. “I got my first Bass Cat when I was 18 years old, and now I’m 33. I came out of a 1994 Pantera II into this Cougar. I love the overall drivability of it. You can go as fast as you want and still get into tight spaces. No matter what speed you’re going, it’s stable.”

Keeping with the family theme, Blevins kept the trophy in his family. His uncle, Ted Carter, won the title last year.

“We’ve watched these families grow up around us,” Pierce said. “We like to see the long term owners and families who’ve grown with the brand. It’s particularly gratifying to see kids who fished with dad now fishing with their own children.”

Le finished 2nd, edging out the rest of a crowded and tightly-packed top ten with 26.06 pounds, but it was a bittersweet accomplishment.

“This is my third runner-up finish,” he said. “The other two were at Beaver both times. I also finished 4th or 5th once. I just can’t seem to get over the hump.”

He noted that the lake fished small this time around, and with boat #283 on Day One, he had to play a bit of musical chairs to get on his best areas and spots. Fortunately, he had over 30 bedding fish marked, some as deep as 15 feet.

“I would just run to one and if it didn’t bite, I’d go to another one,” he said. “I’m pleased that every fish I located and planned on catching, I caught. I fished about as clean as possible. Because the bigger fish were deep, I used a jig for most of them.”

Le fishes out of a 2021 Puma FTD, and he said that the forward placement of the trolling motor pedal makes him a better angler.

“The fact that it’s way up front, I can get on the nose and visually look,” he explained. “I’m not very tall, so that’s a huge advantage.”

Pierce is one of Le’s biggest fans: “I’m really proud of how well he’s done over the years. He’s an excellent angler and we’re glad that he stands behind our brand.”

There were also various “Wild Card” prizes given to teams finishing in specific spots, as well as prizes for the largest specimens of other species brought to the scales. The big bass of the event was a  5.78 pound  largemouth weighed in by Bobby Bland and Bobby Bland Jr. on Day One. On Day Two, the winning team of Blevins and James took top honors with a 5.10 pound largemouth. The biggest walleye was 3.94 pounds, and the biggest striper weighed 10.10.  As with past Owners Invitational events, one random team was drawn out of hat to win a fully-rigged Bass Cat Puma STS rigged with a Mercury 250 Pro XS, a Minn Kota Ultrex trolling motor and Humminbird Helix 9 unit – this year’s lucky winners were the husband and wife Tim  and Kathy Adams.  Among the rubber ducks scattered throughout the lake, one was redeemed for a Minn Kota Fortrex and a Humminbird Helix.

“After all these years, the Bass Cat Family remains tight-knit, loyal and dedicated to the sport,” Pierce said. “This annual event is one of the ways that we show our appreciation and maintain cohesiveness. It’s an important part of our culture and our history.”

About Bass Cat: Bass Cat, owned by Correct Craft, manufactures the industry’s premier bass fishing boats from its headquarters in Mountain Home, Arkansas. Family operated since its founding in 1971, Bass Cat is the only bass boat company with over five decades of family involvement throughout its long history. For more information visit www.basscat.com.

About Correct Craft: Celebrating 99 years of excellence in the marine industry, Correct Craft is a Florida-based company with global operations. Focused on “Making Life Better,” the Correct Craft family includes Nautique, Centurion, Supreme, Bass Cat, Yar-Craft, SeaArk, Parker, and Ingenity boat companies, Pleasurecraft Engine Group, Indmar Marine Engines, Velvet Drive Transmissions, Mach Connections, Merritt Precision, Osmosis, Watershed Innovation, and Aktion Parks. For more information, please visit https://correctcraft.com/.”

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