"This has been my main goal since I was in this situation in 2002," said Alabama's Jamie Long. "It's unbelievable. You see the BASS Times, and you see the guys you know and you're friends with and they've done it. You think how great that would be."
Long, a minister from Bear Creek, Ala., brought in 33 pounds and 9 ounces of bass in the three days to become the tournament's overall winner. As the top angler on the Alabama team he will advance to the Federation Championship.
"On the way here, I was thinking, with Alabama having the biggest federation, and how many guys you have to beat just to get to where we are, I just feel really lucky being in that situation."
Kentucky's Russell Hosick, who caught all of his 32 pounds and 11 ounces of fish on a Prowler green pumpkin candy tube with a ½ ounce jig head agreed. Hosick will also be heading to the Federation Championship, a goal that he is just now realizing.
"I'm going to have to sleep on this," Hosick said. "Jerry Waters, the co-manager of Dunn's Sporting Goods loaned me his boat this week. I have to thank him for this, too.
"Most of my fish came off of one hole. I hate to brag on this, but I'd bet about 40 fish weighed in in this tournament came out of that hole."
What the modest Hosick didn't say was that he told his Kentucky teammates where that hole was and, since he knew he couldn't make it to that hole, he wanted them to fish there to help the team.
"I got a little help from my team members and that pulled it through," he said.
The other anglers who qualified for the Federation Championship from the Southern Division are Georgia's Bob Ellis, North Carolina's Jeff Hager, South Carolina's Gary Pope, Florida's Leon Roy and Tennessee's Jason Lambert who all caught the heaviest weights on their respective teams this week.
The Kentucky BASS Federation was also a big winner Friday. The 12 angler team brought in 226-2 for the three days, earning first place and $23,000 for their state federation.
"This is the first time ever that the state of Kentucky has won the Southern Divisional," said Kentucky BASS Federation President Donnie Keeton. "That is awesome. I'm just overjoyed. I told these boys that they had a chance to make history. I'm tickled to death that I'm the president when we made history.
"Not only myself, but the whole state of Kentucky are proud of them. The joy of seeing those boys work as a team and take the victory home is marvelous."
North Carolina's Charles Davis took home the $1,000 prize for the Purolator Big Bass of the Tournament. His 5-pound, 11-ounce lunker caught on the first day of the tournament held through the end and earned him the $1,000 prize.
BASS is the world's largest fishing organization, sanctioning more than 20,000 tournaments worldwide through its Federation. The CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail is the oldest and most prestigious pro bass-fishing tournament circuit and continues to set the standard for credibility, professionalism and sportsmanship as it has since 1968.
BASS Federation Sponsors Include CITGO Petroleum Corp., Busch Beer, Purolator, Triton Boats, Skeeter Boats, Mercury Marine, Yamaha Outboards, Berkley, Abu Garcia, Lowrance Electronics, Flowmaster Exhaust Systems, MotorGuide, Bass Pro Shops, Evan Williams and BankOne.
Associate Sponsors include G3 Boats.
Local Sponsors include J.R.'s Executive Inn and the Kentucky BASS Federation.
For more information, contact BASS Communications at (334) 551-2375 or visit www.bassmaster.com.