"It was overcast this morning, and we launched 30 minutes earlier than days one and two," Ramsey said. "Because of that, I decided to take a gamble and throw a buzzbait in my first area. I caught a 3-pounder right off the bat. After that, I caught two more keepers on a Carolina rig."
A dry spell followed the morning's action, as Ramsey fished a long time without getting another bite. "I tried to hit four or five more spots, and I eventually headed back to my first area," Ramsey said. There, he was able to boat another 3-pounder and secure his win.
In his fourth season on the BFL, Ramsey qualified for his first All-American appearance through the Okie Division, where he finished 11th in the points standings and fourth at the 2004 Toledo Bend Regional.
More than 36,000 anglers participate in BFL events last season, and Ramsey is doing well in the Okie Division again this year, with a win on Grand Lake in March and a second-place finish on Lake Eufaula in April.
Ramsey had to make quite a jump on Friday to get into the first-place slot, as he was tied for 12th place at the end of Thursday's weigh-in with Adam Wagner of Cookeville, Tenn. Both anglers caught five bass weighing 8 pounds, 11 ounces. On Friday, Ramsey fished ledges and riprap to catch five more bass weighing 11 pounds, 10 ounces and make a big jump to first place, edging out day one leader Brent Crow of Hartselle, Ala., by nearly four pounds.
Ramsey, a police officer who was married only a few weeks ago, said this win will be a big help to him and his wife, Candace. "We want to build a house this winter and start a family. I think this will help us out quite a bit," Ramsey said.
Rounding out the top five boaters are Adam Wagner of Cookeville, Tenn. (15 bass, 29 pounds, 1 ounce, $25,000); Mark Richards of Houston, Texas (12 bass, 24 pounds, 2 ounces, $12,000); Brent Crow of Hartselle, Ala. (12 bass, 23 pounds, 7 ounces, $9,000); and Ryan Deal of Haubstadt, Ind. (15 bass, 23 pounds, 7 ounces, $7,000). Crow earned the fourth-place slot over Haubstadt for having the heaviest one-day weight, which was 11 pounds, 11 ounces on day one.
Grant Goldbeck, who finished in 24th place in the Boater Division, won the Boater Division Yamaha Be the Best Award, which pays $10,000 to the highest finishing BFL division points champion. Goldbeck qualified for the All-American through the Shenandoah Division, where he won a Regional Championship on Wheeler Lake.
Matt Linton of Kingston, Tenn., who finished in 17th place in the Co-angler Division, won the Yamaha Be the Best Award in the Co-angler Division, worth $5,000. Linton qualified for the All-American through the Mountain Division and the Kentucky Lake Regional, where he finished in fifth place.
Friday saw the conclusion of the tournament for co-anglers, with Aaron McManaway of Altamont, Ill., claiming top honors and $50,000. McManaway caught a two-day total of eight bass weighing 15 pounds, 4 ounces to claim $50,000 - the largest first-place co-angler prize in competitive bass fishing.
This year's championship marks the 21st anniversary of the first $100,000 award in competitive bass fishing. That historic award was presented to 1984 All-American champion Shaw Grigsby of Gainesville, Fla., for his victory on the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes in Florida.
The All-American and its lucrative cash awards present a unique opportunity for qualifiers looking to launch a professional bass-fishing career. Former All-American contenders who have become fishing superstars on the Wal-Mart FLW Tour include Kellogg's pro Clark Wendlandt, four-time FLW Tour champion David Fritts and bass-fishing legend Rick Clunn.
Named after the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, Forrest L. Wood, FLW Outdoors administers the Wal-Mart FLW Tour and seven other national tournament circuits offering a combined $30 million in awards through 214 events in 2005. The 27-year-old organization is the purveyor of America's largest and most prestigious fishing tournaments, including the Wal-Mart FLW Tour, EverStart Series, Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League, Wal-Mart Texas Tournament Trail, Wal-Mart FLW Walleye Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Walleye League, Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Tour and Wal-Mart FLW Redfish Series.
Wal-Mart and many of America's largest and most respected companies support FLW Outdoors and its tournament trails. Wal-Mart signed on as the title sponsor of the FLW Tour in 1997 and today is the title sponsor of all FLW Outdoors events.
For more information on Wal-Mart, visit Wal-Mart.com. For more information on FLW Outdoors and its tournament programs, visit FLW Outdoors.com or call 270-252-1000. For more information on FSN, visit FoxSports.com.