Anglers from 24 nationwide BFL divisions competed in five regular-season events in 2004 in the hope of ending the season ranked in the top 30, which would earn them a ticket to one of six no-entry-fee regional championships. These six regionals as well as the Chevy Wild Card determined the 2005 All-American field of 42 boaters and 42 co-anglers. While boaters will compete for a $100,000 award, competitors in the Co-angler Division will fish for a top award of $50,000. A total of 19 states will be represented, with Alabama having the largest contingent with 12 anglers.
According to Wal-Mart FLW Tour pro Dan Morehead of Paducah, this year’s All-American has the potential for some big catches. “A lot of what happens will depend on the water fluctuations in the river,” Morehead said. “I think there may even be a chance that some fish will still be spawning.”
Morehead believes the All-American will likely be won on the Smithland Pool of the Ohio River. “The angler who gets on some fish in one of the backwater creeks will have a good chance, but there are also enough big smallmouths in the fishery to make a difference,” he said.
The All-American presented by Chevy begins Wednesday, June 8, with an official practice day, and competition begins Thursday at 7 a.m. with takeoff from the Paducah city ramp in downtown Paducah. The city ramp will also host takeoff Friday at 7 a.m. and Saturday at 6:30 a.m. Anglers will weigh in each day at 3 p.m. at the Expo Center located at 1 Executive Blvd in Paducah. Surrounding the weigh-in is the Family Fun Zone, which opens at noon Friday and Saturday and features games and product displays for fishing fans of all ages to enjoy. Admission is absolutely free.
As part of the festivities, the first 300 children 12 and under accompanied by an adult who attend the Family Fun Zone and weigh-in June 11 will receive a free rod and reel. One lucky spectator attending the final weigh-in June 11 at 3 p.m. will also win a new Ranger 175VS bass boat powered by a 115-horsepower Yamaha outboard. The boat also comes equipped with Garmin electronics, a Minn Kota trolling motor and EverStart batteries.
Official entry forms are available during each day’s weigh-in festivities at the Expo Center, and you must be present on June 11 at 3 p.m. to win. No entries for the boat giveaway will be accepted after the final weigh-in has begun.
The entire field competes Thursday and Friday for an accumulated two-day weight, and co-angler competition concludes Friday. The top-10 boaters advance to Saturday’s competition, where they will continue fishing with the winner determined by the heaviest three-day weight.
The All-American is one of the sport’s most storied events, and communities hosting the All-American reap the rewards of an estimated $2 million economic impact. Eighty-four competitors and their families plus spectators, sponsors and staff will eat in Paducah restaurants, stay in local hotels and shop at area stores. Paducah will also benefit from extensive national exposure, including coverage on the “Wal-Mart FLW Outdoors” television show, which is broadcast to 82 million FSN (Fox Sports Net) subscribers. Coverage of the All-American will air July 3 and July 10 at 11 a.m. Eastern time. Additionally, Paducah will receive substantial coverage in FLW Outdoors Magazine and FLWOutdoors.com
“Qualifying for the All-American presented by Chevy is one of bass fishing’s greatest accomplishments, so we strive to provide All-American contenders with an ideal tournament location. We’re proud to have the Ohio River and Paducah as this year’s venue. It’s a great fishery and it’s just down the road from FLW Outdoors’ headquarters in Benton,” said Charlie Evans, president and CEO of FLW Outdoors. “Hosting a historic event like the All-American will have a significant impact on Paducah and all of Western Kentucky.”
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 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 FLWOutdoors.com or call (270) 252-1000. For more information on FSN, visit FoxSports.com.