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    Walmart Bass Fishing League - Buckeye

    LAKE ERIE (June 1, 2002)


    Howard wins Wal-Mart BFL Buckeye Division tournament

    Jeff Oaks won the Co-angler Division at the Wal-Mart BFL Buckeye Division tournament on June 1.

    SANDUSKY, Ohio — Don Howard of Okeechobee, Fla., topped 165 Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League competitors Saturday on Lake Erie with five bass weighing 20 pounds, 1 ounce. The catch earned him $4,347 and 200 points in the Boater Division.

    Howard, who also earned boater big bass honors and $825 with a 5-pound, 8-ounce bass, caught his limit in 15 to 20 feet of water. The catch topped second-place boater Charles Queen of Charleston, Ohio, by 4 pounds. Queen finished the one-day tournament with a five-bass catch weighing 16 pounds, 1 ounce worth $2,173.

    Rounding out the top five boaters were: James Vitaro of Wooster, Ohio, five bass weighing 16 pounds worth $1,304; Robert Otto of Dayton, Ohio, five bass weighing 15 pounds, 12 ounces worth $1,043; and Larry Mason of Waterville, Ohio, five bass weighing 15 pounds, 5 ounces worth $956.

    Vitaro also received a $500 bonus from Ranger Boats as the highest-finishing participant in the Ranger Cup incentive program.

    Jeff Oaks of Medway, Ohio, claimed first place and $2,173 in the 165-competitor Co-angler Division with five bass weighing 17 pounds, 6 ounces. He surpassed second-place co-angler Charlie Hanshaw of Drennen, W.Va., by 2 pounds, 1ounce. Hanshaw finished with a five-bass catch weighing 15 pounds, 5 ounces worth $1,087.

    Rounding out the top five co-anglers were: Steven Todd of Streetsboro, Ohio, five bass weighing 14 pounds, 15 ounces worth $652; Aaron Stahley of Milford, Ohio, four bass weighing 13 pounds, 10 ounces worth $522; and Christopher Cockerham of Camden, Ohio, five bass weighing 13 pounds, 9 ounces worth $478.

    Co-angler Barry Baldwin of Dayton, Ohio, earned big bass honors and $412 in his division with a 5-pound, 7-ounce bass. He finished seventh with four bass weighing 13 pounds, 2 ounces.

    Overall, 59 five-bass limits were caught during the tournament.

    The Wal-Mart BFL will visit the Ohio River July 20 for the third of five Buckeye Division events. The boater with the most points after the division's season finale, a two-day Super Tournament Sept. 7-8 on the Ohio River, 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 Buckeye Division boaters and co-anglers will advance to regional competition Oct. 15-19 on Kerr Lake near Henderson, N.C., where they will go up against top competitors from the Mountain, Northeast and Savannah River divisions for a shot at qualifying for the Wal-Mart BFL All-American. The All-American is one of the most lucrative post-season tournaments in competitive angling.

    BFL awards in 2002 could reach $7 million based on full fields.

    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, Hover-Lure, Laker, Maxwell House, Plano and Solar Bat.