RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. — Steve Ruff of Wentzville, Mo., won the Walmart Bass Fishing League (BFL) Regional on Lake Dardanelle Saturday with a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 40 pounds, 4 ounces. For his victory, Ruff won a 198VX Ranger boat with a 200-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard motor plus a Chevy 1500 Silverado and a berth in the BFL All-American presented by Chevy. This regional tournament featured the top 40 boaters and 40 co-anglers from the Cowboy, LBL, Okie and Ozark divisions of the Walmart FLW BFL circuit.
“I didn’t have a lot of knowledge about the lake,” said Ruff. “I had only been there a handful of times before, most recently was about six years ago. I tried to do as much homework as I could because I knew that it was a hazardous place to run, being on the river system and having a reputation for a lot of stumps.
“I spent two days there before the official off-limits period just learning how to run the place,” Ruff continued. “It wasn’t until the official practice period that I got a real feel for the fish. During practice I found four areas that had a high concentration of fish that were about 20 miles apart. They were a little farther apart than I would have liked, but not having intimate knowledge of the lake, I was lucky to have found these areas.
“The first day was pivotal for me,” Ruff went on to say. “The weather was treacherous: 25 mile-per-hour winds, 5-foot swells. It was brutal. I couldn’t even get to two of my four areas, and I only had one fish by noon. I was just trying to keep myself in the game when I finally decided to move to my last area. With 20 minutes left to fish, I finally caught my fifth and sixth bass. I decided then that this last area would be my primary spot for the rest of the tournament.
“The fishing changed every day,” Ruff went on. “I think it was my ability to adapt and change that made the difference for me and making the right decisions at the right time. I let the bass tell me how to fish. I started every day with a crankbait. On the second day I had my limit by 10:30, and knew I needed to upgrade, so broke out the Alabama rig and swimbaits. That was another pivotal move for me. But it was really my ability to adapt and change that won the tournament for me.”
The remaining top six boaters who also qualified for the BFL All-American:
2nd: Christopher Jones, Bokoshe, Okla., 15 bass, 35-1, $1,500
3rd: Roger Fitzpatrick, Eldon, Mo., 13 bass, 34-14, $1,100
4th: Dicky Newberry, Houston, Texas, 15 bass, 34-12, $1,000
5th: Tim Fleetwood, Forsyth, Mo., 15 bass, 30-1, $900
6th: John Wynn, Bentonville, Ark., 10 bass, 29-12, $800
Rounding out the top 10 boaters:
7th: Tim Taylor, Nixa, Mo., 13 bass, 29-10, $700
8th: Michael Thompson, Broken Arrow, Okla., 11 bass, 28-13, $650
9th: Brandon Mosley, Choctaw, Okla., eight bass, 24-5, $600
10th: Tommy Mackey, Bryan, Texas, nine bass, 24-1, $550
Waller winning co-angler
James Waller of Cypress, Texas, won the Co-angler Division with a three-day total of seven bass weighing 19 pounds, 1 ounce. He took home a 198VX Ranger boat including a 200-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard motor along with a berth in the BFL All-American presented by Chevy.
The remaining top six co-anglers who also qualified for the BFL All-American:
2nd: David Hamilton, Rogers, Ark., eight bass, 17-12, $750
3rd: Dylan Duncan, Kansas, Okla., seven bass, 16-10, $550
4th: Cory Gordon, Bossier City, La., seven bass, 15-14, $500
5th: Dennis Spell, Desloge, Mo., seven bass, 14-14, $450
6th: Bob Powell, Sapulpa, Okla., eight bass, 14-8, $400
Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers:
7th: Pete Mathews, Shawnee, Kan., five bass, 13-12, $350
8th: T.J. Martin, Broken Arrow, Okla., 10 bass, 13-6, $325
9th: Damon Duncan, Kansas, Okla., four bass, 13-0, $300
10th: Dennis Taylor, Fulton, Ky., five bass, 12-12, $275
The BFL is a 24-division circuit devoted to weekend anglers with 120 tournaments throughout the season, five in each division. The top 40 boaters and co-anglers from each division qualify for one of six regional tournaments and are competing to finish in the top six, which then qualifies them for one of the longest-running championships in all of competitive bass fishing – the Walmart BFL All-American presented by Chevy. Top winners in the BFL can move up to the EverStart Series or even the Walmart FLW Tour.
FLW Outdoors is the largest tournament-fishing organization in the world, offering anglers worldwide the opportunity to compete for millions over the course of 191 tournaments in 2011. FLW Outdoors has taken fishing mainstream with the world’s richest fantasy sports game, FLW Fantasy Fishing at FantasyFishing.com, where competitors can play for free as well as sign up for Player's Advantage to gain an edge.