Walmart Bass Fishing League - Regional
LAKE SEMINOLE (Oct. 22-24, 2002)
BAINBRIDGE, Ga. — Tommy Hatfield of Kissimmee, Fla., topped 120 competitors on Lake Seminole this weekend at the Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League Lake Seminole Regional. The postseason tournament featured the top 30 boaters from the Carolina, Choo Choo, Gator and Piedmont divisions. Hatfield, who qualified for the regional through the Gator 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.
Hatfield caught five bass weighing 12 pounds, 7 ounces Saturday to lead the regional field. He caught his bass in cloudy conditions using a Gambler worm. On Thursday's opening day, he hauled in four bass weighing 7 pounds, 1 ounce to place 27th and followed that up Friday with five more bass weighing 14 pounds, 12 ounces to rank fifth. His win Saturday marks his first BFL win and his first chance to compete in the All-American. He also fished the EverStart Series Eastern Division this season, ranking 17th in overall standings.
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 Bobby Lane of Lakeland, Fla. (five bass, 10 pounds, 11 ounces, $5,000); Billy Bowen Jr. of Ocala, Fla. (three bass, 7 pounds, 8 ounces, $2,500); Curt Staley of Meridianville, Ala. (three bass, 6 pounds, 14 ounces, $2,000); John Huls of Lakeland, Fla. (four bass, 6 pounds, 4 ounces, $1,500); and Greg Rikard of Leesville, S.C., (two bass, 4 pounds, 6 ounces, $1,000).
James Darcey of Lake Worth, Fla., led the Co-angler Division with a final-round catch of five bass weighing 7 pounds, 6 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. He caught most of his bass using a buzzbait.
Rounding out the top six co-anglers were Mark Cummings of Pembroke, N.C. (three bass, 5 pounds, 10 ounces, $2,500); Joshua Vest of Okeechobee, Fla. (one bass, 1 pound, 6 ounces, $1,250); Clint Boyles of Deltona, Fla. (one bass, 1 pound, 4 ounces, $1,000); Terry Wien of Lexington, N.C. (no bass, $750); and Randall Faulk of Conway, S.C., (no bass, $500).
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.