The historic All-American is one of the most prestigious events in tournament fishing, with more than 30,000 anglers annually vying for a shot at the lucrative title. In 1984, the All-American became the first bass-fishing tournament to award a $100,000 cash top prize, and in 2006, 96 anglers representing 22 states will be casting for a top award of $140,000.
Georgia and Kentucky are sending the most qualifiers with 13 anglers each followed by Tennessee with 10 anglers and Alabama and Florida with eight anglers each.
"Qualifying for the BFL All-American is one of bass fishing's greatest accomplishments," said Charlie Evans, president and CEO of FLW Outdoors. "It is our longest running championship and an event that holds a special place in the hearts of anglers nationwide. A trip to the All-American is something that thousands of anglers strive for every year, but only the best accomplish."
The All-American begins Wednesday, July 5, with an official practice day, and competition begins Thursday, July 6, at 7 a.m. with takeoff from Charter Oak Landing on Reserve Road in downtown Hartford. Charter Oak Landing will also host takeoff Friday, July 7, and Saturday, July 8, at 7 a.m., and competitors will weigh in each day at 4 p.m. at the Connecticut Convention Center located at 100 Columbus Blvd. in Hartford.
Surrounding the weigh-in is the FLW Outdoors Family Fun Zone and Outdoor Show featuring dozens of exhibits from Ranger Boats, Chevy, Berkley, Lowrance, Evinrude, Yamaha and many more premier companies. The doors open at 2 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 11 a.m. Saturday. Admission is free and the first 300 children 12 and under accompanied by an adult who attend the outdoor show on opening day will receive an assortment of Berkley PowerBait. On Friday, the first 300 children will receive free Stren fishing line. And on Saturday, the first 300 children will receive a free Rod and Reel combo plus a free FujiFilm camera. One lucky spectator attending the final weigh-in, Saturday, July 8, will win a new Ranger 175VS bass boat powered by a 115-horsepower Yamaha outboard.
Official entry forms for the Ranger boat giveaway are available at the Outdoor Show at the Connecticut Convention Center, and you must be present July 8 during the 4 p.m. weigh-in to win.
The entire field competes Thursday and Friday for an accumulated two-day weight, and co-angler competition concludes Friday with the winner receiving as much as $70,000. The top-10 boaters advance to Saturday, and the winner is determined by the heaviest three-day weight. Ten All-American qualifiers who do not advance will be paired with 10 anglers representing the New England Paralyzed Veterans of America for a one-day memorial tournament on the Connecticut River. This tournament honoring servicemembers wounded in the line of duty will launch from Charter Oak Landing at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, July 8. Weigh-in for the memorial tournament will be held at the Connecticut Convention Center at 2 p.m. The veterans and All-American anglers will be escorted to and from the launch ramp Friday by the Nam Knights of America, a Harley Davidson motorcycle club comprised of military personnel and law enforcement officers dedicated to honoring the memory of all veterans. Representatives of the Nam Knights will also assist NEPVA anglers during the weigh-in.
Oak Hill, an organization providing services and solutions for people with disabilities, will host a youth fishing derby at Great River Park in East Hartford from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, July 7. Seventy youths are currently schedule to participate with top finishers in each age bracket to be recognized at 3 p.m. on stage at the Connecticut Convention Center prior to the All-American weigh-in. The derby is being sponsored locally by the Mark Sepkaski and Keith Mazerolle Foundation and the law offices of Trantolo & Trantolo.
Gengras Chevrolet, located at 460 Connecticut Blvd. in East Hartford, will host Chevy Pro Night featuring Larry Nixon, Dion Hibdon, Kim Stricker, David Fritts and Luke Clausen on Thursday, July 6. The world-class anglers, who account for 10 FLW Tour victories and more than $2.5 million in winnings, will be signing autographs, posing for photos and answering questions from 6 to 8 p.m.
Coverage of the All-American will be broadcast to 81 million FSN (Fox Sports Net) subscribers in the United States on Aug. 6 and Aug. 13 as part of the "FLW Outdoors" television program. "FLW Outdoors" airs Sunday mornings at 11 Eastern time. "FLW Outdoors" is also broadcast internationally to more than 350 million households in such countries as Germany, China, South Africa, Australia, Malaysia, Russia, Hungary and the United Kingdom, making it the most widely distributed weekly outdoor-sports television show 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.
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 and four-time FLW Tour champion David Fritts.
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, Stratos Owners' Tournament Trail, 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 exceeding $37.9 million through 249 events in 2006.
For more information about FLW Outdoors and its tournament programs, visit FLWOutdoors.com or call (270) 252-1000.
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 Wal-Mart.com.
Riverfront Recapture Inc., the Greater Hartford Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the Capital City Economic Development Authority are official hosts for the 2006 Wal-Mart BFL All-American.