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    Walmart Bass Fishing League - Illini

    Rend (May 1, 2004)


    Thomas wins season opener on Rend Lake

    The 2004 Wal-Mart BFL Illini Division season kicked off May 1 on Rend Lake near Whittington, and Jason Thomas of Mount Vernon, Ill., claimed the win.

    WHITTINGTON, Ill. — The 2004 Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League Illini Division season kicked off Saturday on Rend Lake near Whittington, and Jason Thomas of Mount Vernon claimed the win thanks to a five-bass catch weighing 15 pounds, 11 ounces. He bested 165 Boater Division competitors to earn $4,343 and 200 points.

    Thomas caught his tournament-winning bass using a 3 1/2-inch black and blue tube. This is Thomas’ first career BFL victory.

    Tied for second were Jay Peterson of Clinton and Rick Byrnes of Tamaroa. Both anglers caught five bass weighing 15 pounds, 8 ounces that earned each of them $1,824. In fourth was Kyle Danhausen of Kankakee with five bass weighing 12 pounds, 14 ounces worth $1,129, and in fifth was Michael Kirksey of Collinsville with a four-bass catch weighing 12 pounds, 13 ounces that earned him $956.

    Peterson earned a $500 bonus from Ranger Boats as the highest-finishing participant in the Ranger Cup incentive program. Larry Bailey of Beecher claimed Boater Division big-bass honors and $825 thanks to a 4-pound, 13-ounce bass that he caught on a jig.

    Paul Emmerich of Carbondale earned $2,061 as the Co-angler Division winner thanks to a three-bass catch that weighed 8 pounds, 15 ounces. He edged past 153 Co-angler Division competitors thanks to a black and blue Senko.

    In second was Michael Blazier of Decatur with two bass that weighed 6 pounds, 2 ounces worth $1,031. Tied for third were Clifford Ramsey of Barnhart, Mo. (two bass) and Greg Mullins of Mount Vernon (one bass). Both men caught 5 pounds, 9 ounces worth of bass that earned each of them $618. In fifth was Gary Bettis of Olney with a three-bass catch weighing 5 pounds, 7 ounces that earned him $454.

    Mullins earned $383 as the Co-angler Division big-bass winner with his 5-pound, 9-ounce bass.

    The Illini Division’s next stop will be May 22 on Lake Shelbyville in Findlay. Each BFL division features four one-day events followed by a two-day Super Tournament to round out the regular season. The top 30 Illini Division boaters and co-anglers based on year-end points standings will advance to the Columbus Pool regional near Columbus, Miss., Oct. 19-23, where they will compete against Cowboy, Music City and Seminole 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 Illini 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’s sponsor page.