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Walmart Bass Fishing League - Everglades
Lake Okeechobee (Jan. 5, 2008)
Gestwicki wins Wal-Mart BFL event on Lake Okeechobee
OKEECHOBEE, Fla. — Boater Jim Gestwicki of Miami, Fla., won the Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League Everglades Division tournament on Lake Okeechobee on Saturday with a five-bass catch weighing 14 pounds. The victory earned Gestwicki $2,979 and placed him one step closer to qualifying for the Lake Seminole Regional Championship in Bainbridge, Ga., Oct. 16-18, where he could ultimately win a new 198VX Ranger boat and a Chevy truck.
“I had a tremendous time. This was my first major victory,” said Gestwicki. “A cold front came through the area and the water temperature dropped, so I had to change my strategy right before the tournament.”
Gestwicki caught his limit throwing a Zoom Trick Worm on a football-head jig in the Kissimmee River.
Rounding out the top five boaters are Doug Harris of Loxahatchee, Fla. (five bass, 12-15, $1,753); Ronald Yurko of East Point, Fla. (five bass, 12-12, $1,169); Jim Hurlock Jr. of Lake Worth, Fla. (five bass, 11-13, $818) and Jack Hand of St. Cloud, Fla. (five bass, 11-5, $701).
Robert Beatty of Clermont, Fla., took home the Boater Division Snickers Big Bass award, earning $440 for a 7-pound, 1-ounce bass he caught pitching a black-and-blue Gambler Crawdaddy.
Richard Prowant of Moore Haven, Fla., earned $1,753 as the co-angler winner Saturday thanks to five bass weighing 12 pounds, 14 ounces that he caught near river ledges on a Zoom Trick Worm.
Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Edward Owens of Port Saint Lucie, Fla. (five bass, 10-10, $876); David Milo of De Bary, Fla. (five bass, 9-10, $585); Bruce Bozman of St. Cloud, Fla. (five bass, 9-3, $409) and Robert Wood of Jupiter, Fla. (two bass, 8-14, $351).
Wood earned $220 as the co-angler Big Bass winner after catching a 6-pound, 7-ounce bass he caught by flipping a Gambler Sweebo Worm.
Everglades Division anglers will visit the Kissimmee River in Lake Wales, Fla., Feb. 9 for their second regular-season event, followed by an event on Lake Okeechobee in Okeechobee, Fla., March 29. The division’s fourth qualifying event will be held on Kissimmee River in Lake Wales on April 19. A two-day Super Tournament, the division’s fifth and final event, will be held on Lake Okeechobee in Okeechobee Sept. 27-28.
Following the end of regular-season competition, the top 40 boaters and 40 co-anglers based on year-end points standings in the division will advance to the no-entry-fee Lake Seminole Regional Championship where they will compete against top qualifiers from three other BFL divisions. At the Regional Championship boaters will fish for a new Ranger boat and Chevy truck and co-anglers will fish for a new Ranger boat. The top six boaters and top six co-anglers at the Regional Championship will also advance to the 2008 All-American presented by Chevy. With a total purse of $1 million, a potential $140,000 cash prize going to the winning boater and as much as $70,000 going to the winning co-angler, the All-American is one of the most prestigious and lucrative events in bass fishing. The winning boater and winning co-angler at the All-American also advance to the no-entry-fee $2 million 2008 Forrest Wood Cup. This event, featuring a top award of $1 million, is the sport’s biggest championship.
The $8.8 million Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League features 28 divisions nationwide. In BFL competition, boaters and co-anglers are randomly paired. Boaters supply the boat and fish from the front deck against other boaters while co-anglers compete from the back deck against other co-anglers.
Named after the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, Forrest L. Wood, FLW Outdoors administers the Wal-Mart FLW Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Series, Stren Series, Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League, Wal-Mart FLW Walleye Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Walleye League, Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Series, Wal-Mart FLW Redfish Series and Wal-Mart FLW Striper Series. These circuits offer combined purses more than $40 million through 230 events in 2008.
Wal-Mart and many of America’s largest and most-respected companies support FLW Outdoors and its tournament trails. Wal-Mart signed on as an FLW Outdoors sponsor in 1997 and today is the world’s leading supporter of tournament fishing. For more information about Wal-Mart, visit Wal-Mart.com.
For more information about FLW Outdoors and its tournaments, browse FLWOutdoors.com or call (270) 252-1000.