FLORENCE, Ala. – James Hays of Meridian, Miss., outpaced 115 competitors Saturday with five bass weighing 17 pounds, 9 ounces to win $4,136 and 200 points on the boater side of the Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League (BFL) Mississippi Division tournament on Pickwick Lake.
Hays edged out Dennis Kirby of Lakeland, Tenn., by 10 ounces in the one-day event that set out from McFarland Park. Kirby finished with a five-bass catch weighing 16 pounds, 15 ounces to win $2,068. Hays, who also won $500 as the highest finishing participant in the Ranger Cup incentive program, caught the majority of his bass along shallow rocks in a barge canal using chartreuse, blue and black lures.
Danny Carter of Hernando, Miss., took third place and collected $1,034 with five bass weighing 16 pounds, 6 ounces. He also won the boater Big Bass Award and collected $575 with a 5-pound, 11-ounce bass that he caught on a Texas-rigged purple worm while fishing 7-to 10-foot deep ledges in Yellow Creek.
Ricky Smith of Collinsville, Miss., placed fourth and earned $896 with five bass weighing 12 pounds, 4 ounces, while Preston Morris of Lakeland, Tenn., placed fifth and earned $827 with five bass weighing 11 pounds, 1 ounce.
First place in the Co-Angler Division and $1,996 went to Ken Murphy of Meridian, Miss., who topped 111 competitors with two bass weighing 10 pounds, 2 ounces. Murphy also won the co-angler Big Bass Award of $277 with a 5-pound, 8-ounce bass that he caught on a watermelon-and chartreuse-colored worm while fishing laydowns.
Second place in the division and $998 went to Alton Lackie of Germantown, Tenn., with five bass weighing 7 pounds, 12 ounces, while Keith Brumfield of Jackson, Miss., took third place and $499 with three bass weighing 6 pounds, 15 ounces.
Overall, 221 bass weighing were caught during the tournament, including nine five-bass limits.
The BFL will visit the Columbus Pool on May 5 for the third of five events in the Mississippi Division. The boater with the most points after the division’s season finale, a two-day Super Tournament Sept. 22-23 on Lake Ferguson, will be declared the Divisional Points Champion and awarded $1,000. The co-angler amassing the most points by the end of the season will receive $500.
The top 30 boaters and top 30 co-anglers in the Mississippi Division will advance to regional competition Oct. 16-20 on the Red River near Shreveport, La., where they will go up against top competitors from the Cowboy, Okie and Arkie divisions for a shot at qualifying for the $250,000 All-American.
Awards for the 2001 BFL season could reach $5.7 million based on full fields at each tournament.