Walmart Bass Fishing League - Regional
PEARL RIVER (Oct. 22-24, 2002)
SLIDELL, La. — Gene Brown of West Point, Miss., topped 120 competitors on the Pearl River this weekend at the Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League Pearl River Regional. The postseason tournament featured the top 30 boaters from the Arkie, Bama, Cowboy and Mississippi divisions. Brown, who qualified for the regional through the Mississippi Division, won a new Ranger boat powered by Evinrude or Yamaha and a new Chevy truck. He also earned a berth in the prestigious 2003 All-American, where he will vie for a top boater award of $100,000 cash.
Brown caught five bass weighing 11 pounds, 2 ounces Saturday to lead the regional field. He caught his bass in cloudy, rainy conditions using a buzzbait. On Thursday's opening day, he hauled in five bass weighing 12 pounds, 4 ounces to place sixth and followed that up Friday with five more bass weighing 14 pounds, 7 ounces to rank second. His win Saturday marks his first BFL win and his first chance to compete in the All-American. He is also fishing his first season in the BFL.
The full field of anglers competed for two days to determine which six would advance to Saturday's final day of competition. The final six started at zero Saturday, competing for position and prize money, having secured their All-American berth.
Rounding out the All-American qualifiers are David Wild of Acworth, Ga. (five bass, 10 pounds, 2 ounces, $5,000); Ray Jamieson of Germantown, Tenn. (four bass, 6 pounds, 5 ounces, $2,500); Albert Dobson of Gulfport, Miss. (three bass, 6 pounds, 2 ounces, $2,000); Jesse Draime of Long Beach, Miss. (three bass, 4 pounds, $1,500); and Ronnie Wall of Boyle, Miss., (no bass, $1,000). Wild also earned a $5,000 bonus as the highest-finishing participant in the Ranger Cup incentive program.
John Howard of Alexander City, Ala., led the Co-angler Division with a final-round catch of five bass weighing 7 pounds, 5 ounces. His victory earned him an Evinrude- or Yamaha-powered Ranger boat and a spot in the All-American, where he will compete for a top prize of $50,000 cash.
Rounding out the top six co-anglers were Jim Cummings of Murfreesboro, Ark. (five bass, 7 pounds, 1 ounce, $2,500); Fred Fowler of Sherwood, Ark. (two bass, 6 pounds, 11 ounces, $1,250); Shane Patterson of Alexander City, Ala. (one bass, 15 ounces, $1,000); David Kayda of Deer Park, Texas (no bass, $750); and Stephen Gibson of Shreveport, La. (no bass, $500). All six are eligible to compete in the All-American.
Anglers advanced to this weekend's regional competition by placing in the top 30 in the points standings within their respective divisions. Every angler who receives weight credit during the season earns points. Six regionals will each advance six boaters and six co-anglers to the All-American, while a seventh regional will send three boaters and three co-anglers. Another six boaters and six co-anglers will advance to the All-American from the Chevy Trucks Wild Card, which will be held Nov. 5-9 on Alabama's West Point Lake. Anglers who fished all five regular-season tournaments within a division but did not advance to the regional can enter the Wild Card for a chance to compete in the All-American. The All-American is one of the most prestigious and lucrative events in bass fishing. The site for the 2003 event will be announced next month.
Sponsors of the 2002 Wal-Mart BFL are Wal-Mart, Alpo Pet Foods, BC Powder, BFGoodrich Tires, Castrol, Chevy Trucks, 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, U.S. Bank, Weed Eater and Yamaha Outboards.