Wins a Truck

P.D. Vinson (left) presented a new truck to lucky angler and fishing guide Jeff Risbeck this week. Risbeck caught the truck tag fish in the Bass Cash Bash tournament. He also won $500 for having the bonus T-shirt. 

It was the afternoon of Easter Sunday. The weather was pleasant and Nancy Risbeck suggested her husband, fishing guide Jeff Risbeck, take her out in the boat to get some sun.

There wasn't supposed to be much wind, but the Risbecks found the lake nearly whitecapping when they got to Seibold Creek. 

"I told Nancy I knew a place where we could get out of the wind and she could get some sun," Jeff said. "It's actually a spot I fish some when I'm guiding."

He pulled into that sheltered spot, one he's fished many times. Nancy read her book. Jeff got out his rod and began fishing. 

Within 5 minutes, he'd hooked up. 

"Hey, I got one," he said to Nancy. 

She hardly looked up and continued to read her book. He's a pretty good fisherman, so she was not at all surprised he hooked a fish so soon.

Then he landed the fish and noticed it had a tag on it. 

"The tag was all green," Jeff said. "I wiped it off, saw that it was pink and said, "Hey, guess what, we just won $1,000."

The Bass Cash Bash fishing derby started March 1 and runs through July 4. 200 bass were tagged with neon pink tags and released into the lake. Anglers who pay a $50 registration fee ahead of time and catch one of the fish earn $1,000. If they bought the bonus Bass Cash Bash T-shirt, they get an extra $500. 

But 2 special tags were among the tagged bass, one good for a truck and another for a loaded bass boat. 

"I wiped the tag off and said, 'Hey, give me my glasses,'" Jeff said. He and Nancy saw that the tag said "Truck."

Jeff immediately called his friend Jim Leary of Guntersville Bass Guides and told him what he'd caught. 

"You just won yourself a truck," Jim replied. 

There was a phone number on the tag. Nancy called the number while Jeff called Jim. 

When they learned just what they had, the afternoon of fishing was over. They put the boat on the trailer and headed to Guntersville Tackle & Outdoors to turn in the tag.

Jeff took the required polygraph, passed it and Bass Cash Bash founder P.D. Vinson delivered the truck this Tuesday. 

The Dodge 4-door extended cab is valued at about $35,000. Jeff said it's Nancy's truck and she will be the one to drive it mostly. 

He also pointed out that they needed a new truck. The Risbecks moved to Guntersville 3 years ago from Iowa. The salt on the roads in the winter in Iowa has rusted the wheel wells of the Ford F150 long bed he'd been driving. 

"They called me 'Rusty' at the boat ramps around here," Jeff said with a grin. 

Jeff spent 35 years working as a sheet metal craftsman in Iowa. He worked outdoors and the winters sent him south to Guntersville in retirement. 

He spent a couple of years fishing alone and learning the lake and said he figured out how to catch bass. 

"I was fishing the team tournaments by myself and I was doing pretty well when Jim Leary approached me," Jeff said. "He said, 'Don't you have any friends?' I told him, 'Not any I want to show my fishing spots to.'"

Jim has Guntersville Lake Guides fishing service. He talked Jeff into becoming one of his guides. 

"But I only guide on Lake Guntersville," Jeff said. "I want to make that clear."

He's fishing in the Big Bass Tour on Chickamauga next weekend. Anyone who has guided on that body of water is ineligible. 

Jim caught a $1,000 tagged fish on April 3, Jeff said. Jeff felt all along that he would catch one, but he didn't expect to catch the truck fish.

"An awful lot of fish go through our hands since we're on the water so much," Jeff said. "I kind of knew I would probably catch one."

He declined to say what bait he caught the bass on. 

"Everything I fish is factory, but I modify it a little bit," he said. 

The fish that had the tag was "a fat 15-incher" in excellent shape, Jeff said. He cut the tag off and put the fish right back in the same spot where it came from. 

Bass Cash Bash started on Toledo Bend in 2015. It expanded just this year to include Guntersville. 

"This is the first year someone who was registered in the tournament caught the truck fish," Bass Cash Bash founder P.D. Vinson said. "We gave a truck last week to a guy from Louisiana who caught the truck fish in Toledo Bend."

So far on Guntersville Lake, 69 tagged fish have been caught, but only 24 anglers were registered, Vinson said. 

The boat tag was caught on Guntersville Lake, but the angler was not registered. Another boat tag fish was put back in the lake, Vinson said. 

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