“Winning this would mean the world to me,” said Horton, a one-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier and current Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League Dixie Division points leader. “I’ve been trying to break through (to the sport’s top ranks) for 10 years. The ‘Living the Dream’ prize package would give me the chance to make it.” Horton caught his bass on a 3/8-ounce Davis jig. He was primarily sight fishing, although he did through a buzzbait early in the morning in the hope of catching a big bass.
“With all the cloud cover, I thought for sure I would catch one on the buzzbait, but it didn’t happen,” he said. “I found some more bedding fish, though, so I think I can go out and catch at least 13 pounds.”
If he accumulates the heaviest total weight throughout the three-day championship, the project manager for a construction company will win $10,000 cash and a “Living the Dream” prize package that includes automatic entry into the 2007 Forest Wood Cup presented by Castrol in Hot Springs, Ark., Aug. 2-5, where top pros will compete for the sport’s first $1 million award. The prize package also includes use of a “Living the Dream” wrapped Chevy truck and Ranger boat powered by Evinrude or Yamaha, sponsor merchandise, and entry fees into the winner’s choice of either the 2008 Wal-Mart FLW Tour or Wal-Mart FLW Series. The top boater from each of the six TBF divisions represented in Charlotte this week will also earn a berth into the 2007 All-American presented by Chevy on the Ohio River in Louisville, Ky., May 30-June 2, where they will fish for a top award of $140,000.
Rounding out the division-leading boaters are Blank (15-4); Greg Cooper of Monroe City, Mo. (Central Division, 15-3); Dave Andrews of Bolton, Ma. (Eastern Division, 14-14); Dan Jordan of Florence, Ore. (Western Division, 12-13) and David Keisel of Virginia Beach, Va. (Mid-Atlantic Division, 12-11).
Cooper earned the day’s big bass award of $250 in the Boater Division with a 4-pound, 3-ounce largemouth. Overall there were 157 bass weighing 369 pounds, 14 ounces caught by 35 boaters. The catch included 27 five-bass limits and one zero.
David Andrews, a 50-year-old carpenter from Fairfax, Va., led the co-angler challengers Thursday with five bass weighing 13 pounds, 10 ounces. Representing the Mid-Atlantic Division, Andrews caught his limit while fishing with Central Division boater Donnie Cobb of Russellville, Ark. Cobb is currently third in his division with five bass weighing 12 pounds, 4 ounces.
“This is the biggest tournament of my life,” Andrews said. “I’ve worked hard through the Federation for the last six years to get here, so winning would be a great accomplishment.”
If Andrews holds on for the win, he will earn a $10,000 prize package that includes a berth into the Forrest Wood Cup for a chance fish for as much as $50,000. He will also earn a berth into the All-American along with the top co-angler from each TBF division for a chance to fish for as much as $70,000.
Rounding out the division-leading co-anglers are Carl Robertson of Clarksville, Tenn. (Southern Division, 12-6); Jim Jones of Big Bend, Wis. (Northern Division, 11-12); Steve Cagle of Farmersville, La. (Central Division, 11-3); Gerald Wright of Pasco, Wash. (Western Division, 10-2); and Ronald Herbert Jr. of East Livermore, Maine (Eastern Division, 8-14).
Mid-Atlantic representative Danny Shanz of Adamstown, Md., earned the day’s big bass award of $250 in the Co-angler Division with a 5-pound, 11-ounce largemouth.
Overall there were 140 bass weighing 296 pounds, 7 ounces caught by 33 co-anglers. The catch included 21 five-bass limits and three zeros.
More than 99 percent of the fish weighed in Thursday were released alive. Anglers qualified for the no-entry-fee TBF National Championship through a series of TBF club, state and divisional tournaments.
“This is a milestone event for FLW Outdoors and The Bass Federation,” said David Simmons, FLW Outdoors and TBF programs manager. “Not only is this the most lucrative Bass Federation National Championship ever held, we will also be crowning the first national champion since our historic partnership with TBF last year.”
Competitors will takeoff at 7 a.m. from Copperhead Island Park located at 15200 Soldier Road in Charlotte Friday and Saturday. Anglers will weigh in each day at 4 p.m. at the Charlotte Merchandise Mart, Liberty Hall, located at 2500 E. Independence Blvd. in Charlotte. Surrounding the weigh-ins is the National Guard Expo, which opens at 2 p.m. Friday and noon Saturday. The National Guard Expo features games, prizes, free product samples and displays for fishing fans of all ages to enjoy. Admission is absolutely free.
As part of the festivities, children 14 and under accompanied by an adult who attend the National Guard Expo and weigh-in Saturday will also receive a free rod and reel combo while supplies last.
The entire field of 36 TBF boaters and 36 co-anglers fish for an accumulated two-day weight. The top boater and co-angler from each of the TBF’s six divisions advance to Saturday’s competition, carrying their weight from the opening round into the final round. The winners will then be determined by the heaviest three-day accumulated weight.
Coverage of the TBF National Championship presented by the National Guard will be broadcast to 81 million FSN (Fox Sports Net) subscribers in the United States on May 27 as part of the “FLW Outdoors” television program. “FLW Outdoors” airs Sunday mornings at 11 Eastern time. “FLW Outdoors” is also broadcast internationally to 429 million households in such countries as Germany, China, South Africa, Australia, Malaysia, Russia, Hungary and the United Kingdom, making it the most widely distributed fishing program in the world. Additionally, FLW Outdoors is proud to provide tournament coverage to more than 800,000 servicemembers stationed around the world in 177 countries and aboard Navy ships through broadcasts on the American Forces Network.
Named after the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, Forrest L. Wood, FLW Outdoors administers the Wal-Mart FLW Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Series, Stren Series, Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League, Wal-Mart Texas Tournament Trail presented by Abu Garcia, Ranger Owners Tournament Championship Series, Wal-Mart FLW Walleye Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Walleye League, Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Series, Wal-Mart FLW Redfish Series and Wal-Mart FLW Striper Series. These circuits offer combined purses of nearly $43 million through 241 events in 2007.
The Bass Federation Inc. (TBF) is owned by those it serves and is dedicated to the sport of fishing. TBF affiliated state federations and their member clubs conduct more than 20,000 fishing, youth and conservation events at the local level each year and have provided the foundation for the entire bass fishing industry for more than 30 years. For more information about The Bass Federation, visit bassfederation.com.
Wal-Mart and many of America’s largest and most respected companies support FLW Outdoors and its tournament trails. Wal-Mart signed on as an FLW Outdoors sponsor in 1997 and today is the world’s leading supporter of tournament fishing. For more information about Wal-Mart, visit Walmart.com.
For more information about FLW Outdoors and its tournament programs, visit FLWOutdoors.com or call (270) 252-1000.