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    Walmart Bass Fishing League - Everglades

    Okeechobee (Feb. 4, 2006)


    Ellerbee best boater at BFL event on Lake Okeechobee

    Boater Earl Ellerbee Jr. of Lake Placid, Fla., earned $4,463 Feb. 4 as winner of the BFL Everglades Division event on Lake Okeechobee.

    OKEECHOBEE, Fla. — Boater Earl Ellerbee Jr. of Lake Placid, Fla., earned $4,463 Saturday as winner of the Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League Everglades Division event on Lake Okeechobee. The tournament was the first of five regular-season Everglades Division events and earned Ellerbee 200 points in the Boater Division.

    Ellerbee’s winning catch of five bass weighed 23 pounds, 4 ounces. Anglers had rainy conditions on Saturday, but Ellerbee said he began catching bass that morning and went on to catch them all day. He threw a spinnerbait in Moonshine Bay to get his bites. Ellerbee earned an additional $1,000 for being qualified for the Ranger Cup contingency award.

    Rounding out the top five boaters are Chris Rand of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (five bass, 22 pounds, 7 ounces, $2,232); Bill Rucker of Cocoa, Fla. (five bass, 21 pounds, 6 ounces, $1,489); Richard Held of Lake Worth, Fla. (five bass, 21 pounds, $1,041) and Gary Niemi of Lake Placid (five bass, 20 pounds, 14 ounces, $893).

    Bruce Spencer of Jacksonville, Fla., took Boater Division big-bass award honors, earning $640 for an 8-pound, 4-ounce bass. He caught his big bass on an Ugly Otter.

    Craig Lovely of Fort Myers, Fla., earned $2,214 as the co-angler winner, thanks to five bass weighing 16 pounds, 6 ounces that he caught on a black and blue jig and trailer in the South Bay. Lovely earned an additional $317 for the big-bass award in the Co-angler Division, thanks to an 8-pound, 13-ounce bass.

    Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Jim Joseph of Oakland Park, Fla. (five bass, 16 pounds, $1,107); Alan Retter of Margate, Fla. (five bass, 14 pounds, 13 ounces, $738); Chris Prowant of Gainesville, Fla. (five bass, 13 pounds, 5 ounces, $517); and Jeffrey Vest of Okeechobee, Fla. (five bass, 12 pounds, 12 ounces, $443).

    All the regular-season Everglades Division events will be held on Lake Okeechobee in Okeechobee. The next event will be held Feb. 25, followed by an event March 18 and another event April 22. A two-day Super Tournament, the Everglades Division’s fifth and final event, will be held Sept. 30-31.

    Following the regular season, the Everglades Division boater with the most points who advances farthest in the Wal-Mart BFL All-American will earn $10,000 as the Yamaha “Be the Best” points champion. The co-angler points champion who advances farthest will earn $5,000 as the Yamaha “Be the Best” points champion in the Co-angler Division.

    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. The top 40 Everglades Division boaters and co-anglers based on year-end points standings will advance to the Lake Demopolis Regional near Demopolis, Ala., Oct. 19-21 where they will compete against Choo-Choo, Mississippi and Seminole Division anglers for one of six slots in the 2007 All-American. With a total purse of $1 million and a potential $140,000 cash prize going to the winning boater and $70,000 going to the winning co-angler, the All-American is one of the most prestigious and lucrative events in bass fishing.

    The $8.8 million Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League features 28 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

    Named after the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, Forrest L. Wood, FLW Outdoors administers the Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League, as well as the Wal-Mart FLW Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Series, Stren Series, Wal-Mart Texas Tournament Trail, Stratos Owners’ Tournament Trail, Wal-Mart FLW Walleye Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Walleye League, Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Series and Wal-Mart FLW Redfish Series. These circuits offer combined purses exceeding $36.9 million through 241 events in 2006.

    Wal-Mart and many of America’s largest and most respected companies support FLW Outdoors and its tournament trails. Wal-Mart signed on as title sponsor of the FLW Tour in 1997 and today is the title sponsor of all FLW Outdoors events. For more information on Wal-Mart, visit