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    Walmart Bass Fishing League - Illini

    SHELBYVILLE (April 7, 2001)


    Howell wins Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League Illini Division opener on Lake

    Pro Roger Howell of Watseka, Ill., and Co-angler Larry Leaf of Olney, Ill., won their respective divisions at the April 7 Wal-Mart BFL tour event on Lake Shelbyville. Howell used a catch of 9 pounds, 8 ounces to capture the top prize of $4,810 while Leaf used a catch of 6 pounds, 10 ounces to grab first place and a check for $2,222.

    SHELBYVILLE, Ill. - Roger Howell of Watseka, Ill., outpaced 144 competitors Saturday with three bass weighing 9 pounds, 8 ounces to win $4,810 and 200 points on the boater side of the Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League (BFL) Illini Division opener on Lake Shelbyville.

    Howell edged out Larry Spieth of Olney, Ill., by 1 pound, 5 ounces in the one-day event that was plagued by strong winds gusting up to 40 mph. Spieth finished with a two-bass catch weighing 7 pounds, 3 ounces to win $2,405. Howell caught his bass using a deep diving crankbait off points near Whitty Creek.

    Wayne Shaw of Urbana, Ill., took third place and collected $1,202 with two bass weighing 6 pounds, 13 ounces. He also won $500 as the highest finishing participant in the Ranger Cup incentive program. Eldon Best of Taylorville, Ill., placed fourth and earned $1,042 with one bass weighing 6 pounds, 4 ounces, while Mark Watson of Springfield, Ill., placed fifth and earned $962 with two bass weighing 5 pounds, 12 ounces. Best also won the boater Big Bass Award and collected $720 with the lone bass that he caught on a clown-colored rogue.

    First place in the Co-Angler Division and $2,222 went to Larry Leaf, 51, of Olney, Ill., who topped 130 competitors with three bass weighing 6 pounds, 10 ounces. Second place in the division and $1,111 went to Scott Fore of Greenup, Ill., with two bass weighing 5 pounds, 13 ounces, while Chris Maltas of Spring Valley Ill., took third place and $555 with two bass weighing 4 pounds, 12 ounces.

    Mike Kershaw of Coffeen, Ill., won the co-angler Big Bass Award of $325 with a 3-pound, 13-ounce bass. The bass also earned him fourth place and an additional $481.

    Overall, 59 bass were caught during the tournament.

    The BFL will visit the Ohio River June 2 for the second of five events in the Illini Division. The boater with the most points after the division's season finale, a two-day Super Tournament Sept. 15-16 on Rend Lake, will be declared the Divisional Points Champion and awarded $1,000. The co-angler amassing the most points by the end of the season will receive $500.

    The top 30 boaters and top 30 co-anglers in the Illini Division will advance to regional competition Oct. 9-13 on Weiss Lake near Cedar Bluff, Ala., where they will go up against top competitors from the Carolina, Ozark and Choo Choo divisions for a shot at qualifying for the $250,000 All-American.

    Awards for the 2001 BFL season could reach $5.7 million based on full fields at each tournament.