Runyon, an electrician from McArthur, Ohio, brought in a total catch of 50 pounds, 11 ounces. The whopping catch not only won the tournament, but also bought Runyon a ticket to the CITGO BASS Federation Championship presented by Busch Beer.
"It's gong to have to have time to sink in," Runyon said. "All I wanted to do today was put together a 10-pound sack to make sure I get a spot in the championship."
The Divisional pits Federation teams and their anglers against one another. The top angler from each of the nine competing Federations will head to the championship for a chance to win one of the BASS Federation's five traditional berths at the CITGO Bassmaster Classic presented by Busch Beer.
Runyon will be joined by South Dakota's Jami Fralkick (49-7), Indiana's Rodney Hardwick (43-12), Michigan's Edward Rogers (41-11), Minnesota's Ken Milender (41-6), Ontario's Jamie Janzen (38-11), Wisconsin's Jeremy Foster (38-7), Iowa's Thad Takes (35-5) and Illinois' Steve Tatum (32-11).
Although the competition was stiff, it didn't quite qualify as cutthroat, with anglers cooperating in a spirit best exemplified by what Runyon said was his best decision of the week.
"I worked with my co-anglers," he said, referring to the partners who shared his boat throughout the three-day tournament. "We'd go over what they were fishing, we'd go over what I was doing, and we worked together. That's how I put together the fish I caught."
Runyon said he and his partners all caught their smallmouth bass by fishing around rocks in water between 2 and 5 feet deep. His lucky lure for the week was a Picasso spinnerbait in white chartreuse. Runyon credited it with catching 13 of the 14 fish he brought to the scales.
BASS is the world's largest fishing organization, sanctioning more than 20,000 tournaments worldwide through its Federation. In 2004, BASS will introduce the all-new Bassmaster Elite 50 Series, a four-event, no-entry-fee circuit featuring a $1.6 million prize purse for the world's best anglers. The CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail presented by Busch Beer 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.
For more information, contact BASS Communications at (334) 551-2375 or visit www.bassmaster.com.