60 TBF anglers faced-off until the bitter end as the final day of the 2012 Southwest Division Championship crowned Roger Mezenen and the Utah state team victorious. The championship was hosted by Sky Ute Casino and Resort and presented by Solar Bat this week on Lake Navajo in Navajo State Park, Arboles, Co. Mezenen took the lead on day one and had solid finishes each day to solidify his win in the individual standings. In the state standings, the Utah state team, led by Mezenen, jumped from third to first yesterday, and continued that momentum finishing 30lbs over second to claim the division title. 10 anglers, the top boater and co-angler from each of the five states representing the TBF Southwest Division, claimed spots at the 2013 Federation National Championship. It was an exciting day as these champion anglers stepped that much closer to the dream of a lifetime advancing to the national contest. There they’ll fish for the “Living the Dream” prize package to include paid entry fees as an FLW Pro for a year with use of a wrapped Ranger boat and Chevrolet truck, as well as, thousands in cash and prizes.
“I don’t even think it’s sunk in yet. It’s nice to be on top of the field especially when I’ve come so close twice only to get beat out on the last day,” Mezenen said. “Pretty unheard of to maintain a three day lead, usually changes. In all reality I kept expecting a lead change at any time; I thought for sure someone would overtake me, pretty ecstatic no one did.” Mezenen caught a five bass limit today weighing 9lbs 12ounces making his tournament total 36lbs 2ounces. “It was a tough grind today. I headed right in to my best spot, but only caught three largemouth keepers out of there.” Mezenen’s best area was Negro Canyon, an area where all his big fish came from pitching and flipping wood. “My area was just pounded out, there was not many fish left in there. I’d say just about every large mouth in that canyon was taken for a boat ride this week.” The last half of the day the wind started picking up on Lake Navajo, and by the tournament’s end over 40mph winds hit the area. “With it calling for 40mph winds, we knew it was going to be a different day. I just knew I had to get a solid sack of keepers and hope for the best.” Mezenen’s reaction bite died off, and a little spot where he’d stopped in for an early morning limit had went out as well. “I knew I had a pound and a half lead, and to stay in contention in Utah I needed about a 10lb bag.”
This is Mezenen’s first time to qualify for the national championship and excited doesn’t begin to cut it. “I thought for sure someone would overtake me; I’m pretty ecstatic no one did. Ten days on the water is a whole lot; I’m worn out but it was well worth it.” Mezenen would like to thank his personal sponsors, Mike Helton of Denali Rods and James Bradshaw of Maniac Custom Lures.
The 2012 Southwest Division Champion state team of Utah caught 165 fish today weighing 101lbs 7ounces. Utah’s tournament total was 276lbs 6ounces. The second place finishers of California caught 171 fish weighing 77lbs 15ounces making their tournament total 249lbs 6ounces.
The 10 State Champion anglers advancing to the 2013 Federation National Championship are as follows: (boater, co-angler) 1st Place, Utah: Roger Mezenen, Mike Powell ; 2nd Place, California: Mark Daniels, Jr, Tom Shimabukuro; 3rd Place, Colorado: Sean Hinton, Greg Gizzi; 4th Place, Arizona: Ben Gross, Jon Griffith; 5th Place, Nevada: Tom Martin, Joe Raftery.