Walmart Bass Fishing League - Gator
OKEECHOBEE (March 16, 2002)
OKEECHOBEE, Fla. — John Huls of Lakeland, Fla., topped 193 Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League competitors Saturday on Lake Okeechobee with five bass weighing 28 pounds, 11 ounces. The catch earned him $4,899 and 200 points in the Boater Division.
Huls, who also earned a $1,000 bonus from GARMIN for his use of a fixed-mount GARMIN Fishfinder or combination GPS/sounder, caught his limit on a June-bug colored Gambler ribbon-tail worm while fishing along the lake's north shore. The catch topped second-place boater John Peters of Boynton Beach, Fla., by 2 pounds, 15 ounces.
Peters finished the one-day tournament with a five-bass catch weighing 25 pounds, 12 ounces worth $2,449. He also earned boater big bass honors and $965 with a 9-pound, 3-ounce largemouth that he caught while pitching a Delong Leggie Lizard.
Billy Bowen Jr. of Ocala, Fla. (five bass, 25 pounds, 10 ounces, $1,470); Jim Hurlock Jr. of West Palm Beach, Fla. (five bass, 25 pounds, 6 ounces, $1,176); and Tommy Hatfield of Kissimmee, Fla., (five bass, 24 pounds, 14 ounces, $1,078) rounded out the top-five boaters.
Rick Peck of Ocoee, Fla., earned a $500 bonus from Ranger Boats as the highest finishing participant in the Ranger Cup incentive program. He finished ninth with a five-bass catch weighing 19 pounds, 10 ounces.
Jason Gonzalez of Loxahatchee, Fla., claimed first place and $2,449 in the 193-competitor Co-angler Division with five bass weighing 22 pounds, 6 ounces. Gonzalez, who also earned co-angler big bass honors and $482 with a 9-pound largemouth, surpassed second-place co-angler Robert Maul of Lakeland, Fla., by 1 pound, 15 ounces thanks to a 10-inch red shad worm that he worked methodically in Fishing Eating Bay. Maul finished with a five-bass catch weighing 20 pounds, 7 ounces worth $1,225.
Steve Poland of West Palm Beach, Fla. (five bass, 18 pounds, 4 ounces, $735); Mike Woodham of Clewiston, Fla. (five bass, 17 pounds, 15 ounces, $588); and Robert Kimbrough of Vero Beach, Fla., (five bass, 17 pounds, 9 ounces, $539) rounded out the top-five co-anglers.
Overall, 185 five-bass limits were caught during the tournament.
The Wal-Mart BFL will visit the Harris Chain of Lakes April 27 for the fourth of five Gator Division events. The boater with the most points after the division's season finale, a two-day Super Tournament Oct. 5-6 on Lake Okeechobee will be declared the Yamaha “Be the Best” Points Leader and awarded $1,000. The co-angler amassing the most points by the end of the season will receive $500.
The top-30 Gator Division boaters and co-anglers will advance to regional competition Oct. 22-26 on Lake Seminole near Bainbridge, Ga., where they will go up against top competitors from the Carolina, Choo Choo and Piedmont divisions for a shot at qualifying for the Wal-Mart BFL All-American — one of the most lucrative post-season tournaments in competitive angling.
2002 BFL awards could reach $7 million based on full fields.