Super Splash fan

ALBA, Texas -- For the last 10 years, Don Cheshire hasn't missed a McDonald's Big Bass Splash tournament at Lake Fork, Texas.

He's won money fishing for the prizes that Bob Sealy and his staff award.

"I've fished it about 10 times over the years," Cheshire said. "Rayburn, Toledo Bend, my son fishes this one here and weighed in four fish. He didn't win any money, but they gave him a rod and reel."

Cheshire would love to fish the tournament again, but leg surgery has prevented his time to tournament fish, therefore he watches and for any one else in the audience. Cheshire is one who knows the weights.

"It's the people and the excitement of watching a weigh-in happen," he said. "I didn't see any really big sizes, but there were some good eights and nines. I thought 12 pounds would win this tournament."

Cheshire, originally from Carthage, Texas, and now residing in Houston, was taught fishing by his mother, a retired police officer.

"After work she'd take me around fishing," he said. "I was raised on the lake, Lake Murbial."

Cheshire was the ultimate "Felix the Cat" in the audience by keeping his eye out for those large weights to get an idea of how the winners were stacking up. He sat under an shade tree for three days of the Splash.

"In other tournaments that don't have slot, people who catch small fish don't have a chance," Cheshire said. "Here at Lake Fork, someone who is not a seasoned fisherman can catch a small fish and win some money."

Game on
The Texas Game Wardens were in force at the 24th annual McDonald's Sealy Outdoors Big Bass Splash at Lake Fork.

"Basically we come here to the tournaments and make sure they are in compliance with state law," said Game Warden Kurt Kelly. "The main thing is we make sure they are slot fishing and we are actually out patrolling on the water for safety reasons and checking boats, making sure things are safe."

Another role of the Game Wardens is to ease the tension when a fisherman doesn't like how his fish is being measured.

"We smooth things down a little bit," Kelly said. "This will be my 10th tournament with Bob Sealy. We have never had any major problems, just some minor cheating last year when we had some guys who trimmed the fishes' tails to get them below the 16-inch limit."

The tournament has had two fatalities, a boating accident and an accidental drowning, in the last two years.

"This is a protected resource and that's why we are here," Kelly said. "Tournaments like this really draw in the local crowd and a lot of people. We may not give out many tickets, but we have already issued a lot of warnings."

Throughout the entire tournament, Kelly said the wardens issued around 20 tickets.