SOUTH AFRICA'S ANRÉ DE VILLIERS CROWNED FIRST INTERNATIONAL BASS FEDERATION CHAMPION
Six Anglers Advance to the 2006 CITGO Bassmaster Classic
LEESBURG, Fla. - Tension, excitement and big bass led the way Friday in the 33rd BASS Federation Championship as six anglers advanced to bass fishing's biggest dance, the CITGO Bassmaster Classic on Lake Tohopekaliga, Feb. 24-26, in Kissimmee, Fla. South Africa's Anré De Villiers led the way, sweeping both the Championship and Southern division by more than 6 pounds.
Tune in to ESPN2 Saturday, Jan. 21, at 10 a.m. EST to catch all of the excitement. Coverage will re-air on Jan. 27 at 7 a.m. and again on Jan. 30 at noon.
De Villiers fished waters he previously staked out on the Harris Chain of Lakes during pre-practice in December. He returned to the same sweet spot each day of the tournament. "I told a select few people I thought I had a good chance to come here and win this tournament," said De Villiers. "Losing yesterday was a technical move in my strategy. I left my area alone because I knew I could come back to it today."
De Villiers remained in Lake Harris, focused on deep-water structure he found about 100 yards offshore, dropping from 8 to 20 feet in places. All but one of his 15 fish over the three days were caught on Carolina-rigged, junebug trick worms. And, while this strategy played to his advantage on the Harris Chain, De Villiers isn't counting on it to help him at the Bassmaster Classic, as he knows very little about Lake Toho and will experiment with different techniques.
But De Villiers didn't want to think that far ahead - at least, not yet. "Today, it's absolutely incredible," he said, "I'm really, really proud. It is still sinking in."
In addition to De Villiers, five other anglers realized their dreams Friday as they weighed-in and learned they were Classic-bound.
Bob Soley of Trenton, N.J., jumped from third to take the lead in the Mid-Atlantic division with 29 pounds, 5 ounces. Joel St. Germain of Cumberland, R.I. held his Eastern division lead, weighing in 9 pounds, 4 ounces for a three-day total of 24-8.
James Kennedy of Lacombe, La., led the Central division with a total weight of 21-9 and Joe Conway of Colorado Springs, Colo., moved from third to first in the Western division with a five-fish limit of 15-7 and a three-day total of 30 pounds even. Conway's one-day catch of 15-7 also earned him the BUSCH Heavyweight of the Tournament title, giving him one of 13 berths to the BUSCH Shootout, taking place on an undisclosed mystery lake somewhere in the United States, under a modified format announced hours before the tournament. The dates of the tournament have not been announced.
The BUSCH Shootout champion will collect a $100,000 grand prize, and each remaining participant receives $5,000, for a total purse of $160,000.
Jimmy Johnson of LaCrosse, Wis., was the biggest mover of the day, weighing in a five-fish limit of 12 pounds, 4 ounces and jumping from seventh to first in the Northern division. Johnson bested his competition by just 1 ounce. "I had been on these fish all week, and I finally got them," said Johnson. "I just can't believe it!"
In other news, 92 CastingKids contenders from 46 states, as well as Washington, D.C., and Ontario, Canada, competed Saturday in one of six divisions - Northern, Southern, Central, Eastern, Western and Mid-Atlantic - at the Bassmaster CastingKids semifinals at Lake Sumter Community College in Leesburg. Twelve children in their respective age group, 7-10 and 11-14, have advanced to the national finals at the CITGO Bassmaster Classic, scheduled to take place Feb. 25 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla.
The following competitors ages 7 to 10 advanced: Charles Rankin of Argyle, Iowa, Northern division; Ryan Bush of Gap, Va., Southern division; Chase Laflamme of East Waterboro, Maine, Eastern division; Bryce Bason of Mill Hall, Pa., Mid-Atlantic division; Kiana Clark of Richland, Wash., Western division; and Brad Schaefer of Omaha, Neb., Central division.
The following competitors age 11 to 14 also advanced: Josh Koester of Teutopolis, Ill., Northern division; Ryan Mallette of Okeechobee, Fla., Southern division; Cory Laflamme, East Waterboro, Maine, Eastern division; Alex Thomas of Crofton, Md., Mid-Atlantic division; Jori Clark Richland of Richland, Wash., Western division; and Cory Schuman of Lincoln, Neb., Central division.
All 12 finalists will earn a scholarship ranging from $500 to $5,000, with a total of $21,000 awarded at the Classic.
Local sponsors: The City of Leesburg, Leesburg Area Chamber of Commerce, Lake County Water Authority and The Lake County Department of Economic Development and Tourism.
BASS is the worldwide authority on bass fishing, sanctioning more than 20,000 events through the BASS Federation annually. Guided by its mission to serve all fishing fans, BASS sets the standard for credibility, professionalism, sportsmanship and conservation, as it has for nearly 40 years.
BASS stages bass fishing tournaments for every skill level and culminates with the CITGO Bassmaster Classic. Through its clubs, youth programs, aquatic resource advocacy, magazine publishing and multimedia platforms, BASS offers the industry's widest array of services and support to its nearly 550,000 members. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.
For more information, contact BASS Communications at (407) 566-2208 or visit www.bassmaster.com.
Source: bassmaster.com (2006-01-13)