Crappie boat traffic crowded the area, centered around a bridge, causing both anglers to move from their shared spot. Velvick’s decision proved best as he boated three fish by 9:30 a.m. He used the remainder of the competition day to build and upgrade his five-fish limit.
Live, streaming video footage of the daily weigh-ins and real-time leaderboard information was available on www.espnoutdoors.com. Along with Velvick and Phillips, the eight others who finished in the top 10 earned berths in the 2008 Bassmaster Elite Series. The final Elite field will be announced in mid-December. The previously announced competitors derived from the 2007 Elite Series fields and 2007 Bassmaster Opens can be viewed on www.Bassmaster.com.
“This was a tough, tough tournament,” said Velvick, who scored his second BASS win. “It was a do-or-die situation for a lot of these anglers and it was very stressful. But it’s a nice end to what has been a roller-coaster season.”
Velvick primarily used four baits: a Gambler worm, a Berkley Power worm, a River2Sea Tungsten Vibe and a Bill Lewis Rat-L-Trap. The 10-inch Gambler worm in redbug color proved to be the most effective, he said.
The area that was key for the top two competitors in the first two days of competition was a migratory spot that had key cover for pre-spawning bass. That location allowed Velvick to build a lead for the first two days, and the Texan was able to close with a modest limit Saturday.
“I played it safe today,” Velvick said. “And it was a good decision. This was an exciting tournament and I knew it was going to be really close.”
Phillips charged into second place after a 16-pound, 4-ounce limit Friday, but he wasn’t able to catch the quality of fish that Velvick found. Phillips rounded out his limit at 2 p.m., barely before check-in time.
“My best decision was waiting out the bridge the first two days,” said Phillips, 35. “I feel comfortable with all the decisions I made. I wouldn’t take anything back.”
Rounding out the top five were John Cox of Debary, Fla., in third with 36 pounds, 14 ounces; Corey Waldrop of Fort Worth, Texas, in fourth with 36 pounds, 11 ounces; and Texan Elton Luce, who was aided by a 10-pound, 1-ounce behemoth caught Saturday, in fifth with 35 pounds, 5 ounces.
Also qualifying for the 2008 Elite Series on the strength of their top-10 performances were Rick Ash of Pottstown, Pa., in seventh with 34 pounds, 10 ounces, and Bobby Myers of Tulsa, Okla., in 10th with 32 pounds, 8 ounces. The full list of standings can be found below.
In the co-angler division, Robbie Anderson of Crystal River, Fla., took home more than $4,000, claming victory with 29 pounds, 3 ounces. Finishing behind Anderson were Marty Scoggins of Trion, Ga., with 26 pounds, 15 ounces, and Brandon Stanley of Johnson City, Tenn., with 26 pounds, 10 ounces.
The WildCard tournament was a second-chance competition for 2007 Elite pros who failed to qualify via their performance on the top-level circuit, as well as 2007 Bassmaster Open pros who put together solid seasons.
Okeechobee Tourism Development is a local sponsor of the event.
Bassmaster Elite Series Sponsors: Sponsors of the Bassmaster Elite Series include Toyota Tundra, Purolator, Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Berkley, Advance Auto Parts, Lowrance Electronics, MotorGuide, Evan Williams Bourbon, Ramada Worldwide and Costa Del Mar.
BASS is the worldwide authority on bass fishing, sanctioning more than 20,000 events through the BASS Federation Nation annually. Guided by its mission to serve all fishing fans, BASS sets the standard for credibility, professionalism, sportsmanship and conservation, as it has for nearly 40 years.
BASS stages and sanctions bass fishing tournaments for every skill level and culminates with the Bassmaster Classic. Through its clubs, youth programs, aquatic resource advocacy, magazine publishing and multimedia platforms, BASS offers the industry’s widest array of services and support to its nearly 530,000 members. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.
For more information, contact BASS Communications at (407) 566-2208 or visit http://www.bassmaster.com. Visit http://www.espnmediazone.com for ESPN's latest releases, schedules and other news, plus photos, video and audio clips and more.