Walmart Bass Fishing League - All-American
ALL AMERICAN (June 5-7, 2002)
SHREVEPORT, La. — Eddie Waits III of Pine Bluff, Ark., landed his first Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League All-American title and $100,000 Saturday on Cross Lake with three bass weighing 5 pounds, 13 ounces.
Waits qualified for the All-American through the Chevy Truck's Wild Card regional on Kentucky Lake with a sixth-place finish. As the All-American champion, he topped more than 30,000 competitors in 22 Wal-Mart BFL divisions nationwide.
Waits caught one bass weighing 4 pounds, 5 ounces Thursday to finish opening day of the three-day All-American in 11th place. He then landed two bass weighing 4 pounds, 7 ounces Friday to advance to the final round in the No. 8 qualifying spot. On Saturday, he topped his closest competitor, Greg Gutierrez of Red Bluff, Calif., by 7 ounces to claim victory over 50 All-American qualifiers in the Boater Division. He caught his fish all week on 30-year-old Big O and Creek King crankbaits while targeting shady spots between cypress trees.
“There was so much pressure this week that the fish moved off the trees and suspended between them,” said Waits, who plans to make the most of his automatic berth in the Wal-Mart FLW Tour next season. “I didn't get many bites, but I had good bites.
“I've been trying for eight years to get here, but I don't imagine it will hit me for awhile.”
Gutierrez finished with three bass weighing 5 pounds, 6 ounces to claim second place and $20,000. Steve Kennedy of Auburn, Ala., with five bass weighing 4 pounds, 14 ounces and a $10,000 prize; Ricky Smith of Collinsville, Miss. with four bass weighing 4 pounds, 12 ounces and an $8,000 prize; and Terry Tucker of Gadsden, Ala., with two bass weighing 4 pounds, 2 ounces and a $7,000 prize rounded out the top five boaters.
On Friday, Jeremy Ives of Burgaw, N.C., landed the co-angler title and $50,000 with a two-day total of four bass weighing 7 pounds, 11 ounces.
T.J. Edwards of Waldron, Ind., won the Yamaha “Be the Best” Points Championship and $5,000 cash as the highest-finishing Co-angler Division points leader in the All-American. Wes Campbell of Dayton, Ohio, won the Yamaha “Be the Best” title and $10,000 cash in the Boater Division. He was the only Boater Division points leader to qualify for the All-American.
Ranger Boats awarded a new Ranger 518VX Comanche bass boat to Smith, who was the highest-placing All-American contender in the Ranger Cup incentive program. Ranger Cup participants are also eligible to win up to a $1,000 bonus in each regular season Wal-Mart BFL tournament. If the winner's boat in any regular season tournament is equipped with a fixed-mount Garmin GPS/Sounder, they are also eligible for a $1,000 bonus from Garmin. Awards for the 2002 Wal-Mart BFL season could reach $7 million based on full fields at each tournament.
Sponsors of the 2002 Wal-Mart BFL are Wal-Mart, Alpo Pet Foods, BC Powder, BFGoodrich Tires, Castrol, Chevy Trucks, Coleman, Conseco, Energizer, EverStart Batteries, Evinrude, Faded Glory, Frito-Lay, FujiFilm, Garmin, Kellogg's, Land O'Lakes, Minn Kota, Newell Rubbermaid, Pepsi, Poulan, Ranger Boats, Shop-Vac, Snickers, Stanley Works, Stren, US Bank, Weed Eater and Yamaha Outboards. Associate sponsors are Abu Garcia, Berkley, Eagle Claw, Laker, Maxwell House, Plano and Solar Bat.
The Shreveport Regional Sports Authority sponsors the Wal-Mart BFL All-American locally.