FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE
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Walmart Bass Fishing League - Gator
Okeechobee (Feb. 7, 2004)
Deka wins season opener on Lake Okeechobee
CLEWISTON, Fla. — The 2004 Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League Gator Division season kicked off Saturday on Lake Okeechobee near Clewiston, and Daryl Deka of Wellington claimed the win thanks to a five-bass catch weighing 26 pounds, 2 ounces. He bested 202 Boater Division competitors to earn $5,000 and 200 points.
Deka caught his tournament-winning bass casting and flipping a spinnerbait on the north end of the lake. He is a Gator Division veteran with six top-10 BFL finishes since 1995.
Rounding out the top five pros are Billy Cason of High Springs (five bass, 25 pounds, 7 ounces, $2,500); David Turner of Palm Springs (five bass, 23 pounds, 12 ounces, $1,700); Bob Broughton of Clewiston (five bass, 23 pounds, 9 ounces, $1,300); and Steve Fairtrace of Stuart (five bass, 23 pounds, $1,100).
Cason earned $500 as the highest-finishing participant in the Ranger Cup incentive program. Juan Ruiz of West Palm Beach claimed Boater Division big-bass honors and $1,000 thanks to a 9-pound, 11-ounce bass that he caught on a worm.
Larry Cruce of Cocoa earned $2,500 as the Co-angler Division winner thanks to a five-bass catch that weighed 23 pounds, 14 ounces. He edged past 202 Co-angler Division competitors with a white spinnerbait fished in the scattered grass in the south end of the lake.
Rounding out the top five co-anglers are John Stahl of Wesley Chapel (five bass, 20 pounds, 11 ounces, $1,250); Frank Cannon of Naples (five bass, 20 pounds, 2 ounces, $850); Clay Garrett of Zephyrills (four bass, 16 pounds, $650); and Mark Brader of Loxahatchee (five bass, 15 pounds, 15 ounces, $550).
Cannon earned $500 as the Co-angler Division big-bass winner with a 9-pound, 11-ounce bass that he caught on a fluke in the cattails.
The Gator Division’s next stop will be Feb. 28 on Harris Chain in Tavares. Each BFL division features four one-day events followed by a two-day Super Tournament to round out the regular season. The top 30 Gator Division boaters and co-anglers based on year-end points standings will advance to the Lake Seminole regional near Bainbridge, Ga., Oct. 5-9, where they will compete against Bama, Mississippi and Piedmont division anglers for a slot in the 2005 All-American. The winning boater at the All-American receives $100,000 cash, making it one of the most lucrative and prestigious championship events in bass fishing.
Every angler who receives weight credit in a tournament earns points, with 200 points going to the winner, 199 for second, 198 for third, and so on except for Super Tournaments, which award 300 points to the winner, 299 for second, 298 for third, and so on. These points determine angler standings. The Gator Division boater who amasses the most points at the end of the regular season will earn $1,000 as the Yamaha “Be the Best” points leader, and the co-angler earning the most points will earn $500 as the Yamaha “Be the Best” points leader in the Co-angler Division.
The $6.3 million Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League features 24 divisions nationwide. In BFL competition, boaters and co-anglers are randomly paired, with boaters supplying the boat and fishing against other boaters and co-anglers fishing from the back deck against other co-anglers. For more information or to enter a tournament, call (270) 252-1000 or browse this Web site.
Wal-Mart and many of America’s most respected companies support FLW Outdoors and its six tournament trails. Wal-Mart has been the title sponsor of FLW Outdoors since 1997. For a complete list of FLW Outdoors sponsors and for more information about the premier products and services they offer, please visit FLWOutdoors.com's sponsor page.
Editor’s Note: Complete results and angler profiles are available in the Media Center located at the top of FLWOutdoors.com. Ranger Cup award winners are pending verification by Ranger Boats and thus are unofficial at this time.