Travis hauls in 12-15, wins TBF Southern Divisional - Major League Fishing

Travis hauls in 12-15, wins TBF Southern Divisional

Alabama wins race among the states
Image for Travis hauls in 12-15, wins TBF Southern Divisional
Brian Travis of North Carolina hauled in 32 pounds, 1 ounce of bass over three days to win the TBF Southern Divisional Championship. Photo by Jennifer Simmons. Angler: Brian Travis.
June 22, 2007 • Jennifer Simmons • Archives

PRATTVILLE, Ala. – The Alabama state team may have won the contest among the states, but the name at the top of the leaderboard on the final day of The Bass Federation Southern Divisional Championship on the Alabama River is North Carolina’s Brian Travis. A threat all week, Travis busted a 12-pound, 15-ounce sack on the final day to rise to the top with a four-day total of 32 pounds, 1 ounce.

That catch landed him in the 2008 TBF National Championship as a boater representing North Carolina and also earned him a $500 Wal-Mart gift card as the tournament’s Castrol Maximum Performer. The top finisher from each state competing this week advanced to next year’s championship on the boater side, and the No. 2 finisher from each state advanced as a co-angler. Seven states competed in this week’s Southern Divisional – Alabama, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Florida, South Carolina and Georgia.

The Alabama team emerged victorious for the second straight year, this time in their home state, with a three-day total of 243 pounds, 12 ounces.The Alabama state team earned $18,000 as the winning team, as their 12 members caught 243 pounds, 12 ounces of bass over three days. That beat the North Carolina team, whose members weighed in 222 pounds, 13 ounces. In fact, competitors from Alabama and North Carolina took up eight out of the top 10 spots in the overall weight contest. Tennessee emerged as the No. 3 state team with a combined catch of 190 pounds, 8 ounces.

Each state team sent 12 anglers to this week’s divisional, with half of them competing as boaters and half of them competing as co-anglers. State teams determined which members would fish this week as boaters and which would fish as co-anglers, though co-anglers in TBF divisionals do have a right to front-of-boat fishing time and decision-making.

Travis has best day yet to win overall

On the overall weight list, Travis never left the top three, and he jumped to the top today with his 12-15 limit, the heaviest he has brought in all week. He caught 9 pounds, 15 ounces on day one to sit in third on the overall weight list and brought in another 9 pounds, 3 ounces yesterday to slide up to second. He led his state team each of the tournament’s three days.

As the overall winner, Brian Travis earned $500 as the Castrol Maximum Performer.To win his state team and this week’s event, Travis stuck with something that has served him well back home – a jig. But like most competitors, he couldn’t resist trying out the early-morning topwater bite.

“This morning, we started off throwing a topwater, and I could not get bit,” Travis said. “So I went to what I do best – throwing a jig. Within 15 minutes, I had a limit, and that’s what I did the rest of the day.”

Travis was fishing the southern end of the river, locating fish midway back in the creeks. He was fishing shallow banks in about 2 to 3 feet of water.

“I was just fishing the wood with the jig,” he said. “I caught a limit and then went on the main lake and started skimming a jig under piers and caught the 4-6.”

Indeed, Travis’ final-day haul included a big one in the 4 1/2-pound range, and the fact that he caught it under the piers is notable given the fact that this river isn’t dominated by a lot of piers.

Ultimately, going with his instincts put Travis in a good position this week, and he is hoping he can translate that good fortune to future success in the realm of bass fishing.

“It’s a dream,” Travis said. “I’ve been fishing tournaments since I was 10 years old. I went with my strengths. A jig is how I made it this far.”

Representing North Carolina at next year’s national championship is No. 2 Scott Hamrick of Denver, N.C. Hamrick’s three-day catch totaled 27 pounds, 5 ounces.

Lee overcomes tough day one to claim Alabama title

Robert Lee came from behind to win the Alabama state title with a three-day catch of 28-4.Robert Lee of Deatville, Ala., brought in the tournament’s heaviest stringer today to claim a surprise win on the Alabama team, where Chris Rutland of Wetumpka had dominated the first two days.

Lee was competing as a co-angler this week and on day one, he struggled as a back-of-the-boat angler. He caught a small limit weighing only 5 pounds, 4 ounces and sat mired back in 11th place, a long way from Rutland’s 12 pounds, 5 ounces.

On day two, Lee fished with a boater who gave him a little more leeway – smart, considering how well Lee knows the Alabama River – and he caught a limit weighing 9 pounds, 3 ounces and moved up to fourth on his state team. Still, he was almost 7 pounds behind Rutland and took off on day three not feeling strongly he could pull off a coup.

But while Rutland struggled on day three, Lee excelled, hauling in a five-bass limit weighing 13 pounds, 13 ounces to bump his three-day total to 28 pounds, 4 ounces, enough to win his state crown by 13 ounces. As a result, Lee will compete in the 2008 TBF National Championship as a boater.

“Today we started off throwing a topwater bait, and then we moved offshore and positioned the boat on main-river ledges in 20 to 25 feet of water,” Lee said. “We were throwing into about 8 feet, and most of the fish came at around 10 to 15 feet on the ledges. If there was wood that current had washed up on the ledges, the fish would thump a jig.”

Lee’s comeback story feels particularly sweet since it took place on the river he calls home.

“I was born and raised on this river,” he said. “It feels great. This is a position I felt like I could be in from the get-go, but I couldn’t operate the boat. However, my boaters the last two days let me do what I needed to do to be in contention.”

Joseph Webster of Fulton, Miss., also had a solid day, bringing in five weighing 10-12 to finish second on the Alabama team with a combined total of 27 pounds, 7 ounces. That weight put him into next year’s national championship as a co-angler.

Hoskinson improves steadily to claim Kentucky crown

Greg Hoskinson improved every day to ultimately win the Kentucky state crown with 23-13 over three days.With weights that got better every day, Greg Hoskinson of Louisville, Ky., emerged as the winner of the Kentucky state team with a three-day total of 23 pounds, 13 ounces. He caught 4-6 on day one and sat in seventh on his team but moved up to second yesterday with a catch totaling 9 pounds, 4 ounces. He topped it off today with a final limit weighing 10 pounds, 3 ounces to earn the right to compete in the 2008 TBF National Championship as a boater.

“I was catching all my fish very, very shallow,” Hoskinson said. “I tried to find something similar to the Ohio River at home, and I knew a lot of people wouldn’t be fishing shallow.”

Helping Hoskinson’s cause was a relatively undisturbed fishing spot that gave him a steady supply of fish all week long.

“I had Swift Creek to myself all week,” he said. “There was one boat in there today, but none were fishing my main area.”

Hoskinson was flipping a jig with a Prowler Pro Chunk to land his bass. This is his second divisional championship, and he will be competing in his first national championship.

“This is fantastic,” he said.

Finishing second on the Kentucky team and advancing to the championship as a co-angler is Todd Leatherman of Paducah, Ky. He caught 22 pounds, 13 ounces of bass over three days.

Cnota wins Georgia title by a mile

With a three-day catch of 23 pounds, 8 ounces, Randy Cnota won the Georgia state title by a 7-pound, 8-ounce margin.Yesterday’s Georgia state leader Randy Cnota upped the ante a bit today, bringing in his personal-best weight to leave the tournament as the No. 1 Georgian and 2008 national championship boater contender. He caught 7-7 on day one and brought in another 7-5 yesterday, but today he weighed in a limit totaling 8 pounds, 12 ounces for a three-day total of 23 pounds, 8 ounces. That total put him on top in Georgia by a whopping 7-pound, 8-ounce margin.

Cnota’s hefty victory margin and his personal-best weight today are significant considering his primary pattern bit the dust yesterday.

“The first two days I was flipping treetops,” he said. “Today I didn’t go fishing; I went to school.”

Cnota competed with Alabama winner Lee as his co-angler today and wisely let the local do the guiding.

“I said, `Tell me where to go,'” Cnota said. “We fished main-river ledges with jigs and crankbaits. Today’s weight I owe to Robert and the fish he took me to.”

Cnota will compete in his first national championship by way of his first divisional championship.

“I’m really excited,” he said.

Representing Georgia at next year’s nationals as a co-angler will be No. 2 Wayne Bennett of Nashville, Ga. He brought in 16 pounds of bass over three days and led his state team on day one.

Klys wins Florida by 5 ounces

Ron Klys narrowly won the Florida state title with 23 pounds, 5 ounces of bass over three days.The week’s tightest race belonged to the Florida state team, and Ron Klys of Gainesville, Fla., ultimately emerged victorious with a three-day catch of 23 pounds, 5 ounces that beat No. 2 Jerry Shawver II of St. Augustine, Fla., by only 5 ounces. As such Klys enters the 2008 TBF National Championship as a boater, and Shawver will compete there as a co-angler.

The pair was tied yesterday for the Florida state lead and both struggled today, though Klys ultimately struggled just a tiny bit less. After catching 11-1 yesterday, Klys weighed in only four bass today that totaled 5 pounds, 12 ounces, edging past Shawvers’ day-three weight of 5-7.

“I had an awesome day,” Klys said. “I fished every single place that even smelled like fish, but I had that feeling of struggling all day. I never could get that fifth fish.”

Klys put together his winning run mainly by milking a couple of spots that pretty much dried up yesterday, explaining his day-three drop-off in weight.

“I had one main area that I had keepers on and one big-fish spot,” he said. “Other than that, I was running a pattern, fishing points of creek mouths. I’m a real jittery fisherman, and I run and gun a lot, and I was throwing a buzzbait in the morning.”

After his hot spot bit the dust, he was forced to spend day three as a very jittery fisherman.

“The good spot let down on me yesterday, and I just scrambled around,” he said. “I let the bottom fall out.”

Rikard claims South Carolina title

Robert Rikard emerged as the South Carolina champion with a three-day weight of 22 pounds, 15 ounces.With a three-day catch weighing 22 pounds, 15 ounces, Robert Rikard of Lexington, S.C., claimed the No. 1 spot on the South Carolina team and a boater slot in next year’s national championship. It didn’t come easy, though, as he ultimately caught his lowest weight of the event today, a limit totaling 5 pounds, 12 ounces.

“At 11 o’clock, I had less than a pound,” he said. “We went flipping, and I caught some small fish and culled up. I guess the heat and the fishing pressure (slowed down the bite). We’d go to an area, and there would be a boat on it.”

But when his closest competition struggled on day three as well, Rikard ultimately won his state by a 2-pound, 14-ounce margin.

“It was basically two patterns,” Rikard said. “I had a flipping pattern in shallow water – the thicker the brush, the better. When that didn’t work, we would stop on points with a shaky head, but we didn’t find the big fish on the points.”

Finishing second on the South Carolina team and qualifying for the championship as a co-angler is Craig Fredrychowski, also of Lexington, S.C., with 20 pounds, 1 ounce of bass over three days.

Caperton returns to championship from Tennessee

Wade Caperton caught this 4-pound, 1-ounce bass on his way to finishing first on the Tennessee state team.Wade Caperton of Leoma, Tenn., will be competing in his second consecutive TBF National Championship thanks to his Tennessee-state winning weight of 22 pounds, 12 ounces. To claim the top spot, Caperton jumped from sixth to first thanks to a day-three limit weighing 10 pounds, 15 ounces – a far cry from his day-one and day-two catches of 6-5 and 5-8.

Caperton competed this week as a co-angler and reported catching most of his bass this week on crankbaits.

“We swapped,” he said of how he and his boater partner divvied up day-three fishing time. “I caught my big fish on his stuff, and he caught his big one on my stuff.”

Caperton competed today with Todd Leatherman, a qualifier for the national championship from Kentucky.

“My fish were all scattered,” Caperton said. “I tried to find crankbait fish off the drops. Most of the time I sat in 15 to 17 feet of water.”

Caperton is enthused about returning to the championship – and so is someone else.

“I made it last year, and I’d like to make it again,” he said before the field was set. “My wife would like it too.”

Fishing the nationals as a co-angler from Tennessee is No. 2 Ty Garrett of Pulaski, Tenn. He caught 8 pounds, 2 ounces today for a three-day weight of 21 pounds, 3 ounces.