Winning the T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) All-American is a feat in itself, but to win wire-to-wire from the back of the boat is a whole different level. With 11 pounds and 11 ounces on the final day, Ben Dacey of Chesterfield, Va., closed out his win with a total of 38-2. For the win, Dacey earned $50,000 and also qualified for the Costa FLW Series Championship this fall.
Dwelling near the James River, Dacey came into the event with the built-in advantage of understanding how to make the most of a tidal river system. That skill carried him for the first two days, but he needed to dig deep on day three.
“Today actually was a lot different than my first two days,” says Dacey, who manages a concrete construction business in life away from fishing. “We fished grass a lot today. The past two days we fished a little grass, but we didn’t spend an extensive amount of time in grass. I am pretty comfortable fishing grass, because it’s usually out here (in the Potomac), but this morning my boater was on ‘em – he lit ‘em up, he caught ‘em quick, and I struggled.
“I was still getting some bites, and I was still feeling confident, but I lost a few fish, and I really had to dig deep to come back around and pull myself together.”
As it turned out, Dacey filled his limit with under an hour to go, and that final fish was enough to weather a hard charge from Todd Blakeman, who weighed 14-2 on the final day to move up to second.
For baits, Dacey stuck with a 3/8-ounce green pumpkin jig and a Zoom Finesse Wormon a light Texas rig to get the job done. Though he mixed in some other stuff, those river staples accounted for the majority of his fish.
Fishing about one BFL Division per year, Dacey doesn’t imagine that the All-American win will vault his fishing career to new heights, but he, his wife and four kids are grateful for it nonetheless.
“I miss them a lot, being away from them for so long, but I did promise them a swimming pool if I won,” says Dacey. “I missed my son’s birthday on Wednesday to be here, but I told him before I left I’d get them a swimming pool if I win, so they’re super pumped about that.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling – unbelievable,” says Dacey of the win. “I had a lot of confidence in this tournament. I knew if I got paired with the right people I would have a shot to win because I am a river fisherman. I just feel so fortunate to win.”
Top 10 Co-anglers
1. Ben Dacey – Chesterfield, Va. – 38-2 (15) – $50,250
2. Todd Blakeman – Chatham, Ill. – 36-15 (14) – $16,950
3. Jeff Rikard – Leesville, S.C. – 35-12 (13) – $6,000
4. Levi Crossway – Jacksonville, Fla. – 34-9 (14) – $5,000
5. Frank Godwin Jr. – Bainbridge, Ga. – 30-5 (11) – $4,500
6. Zach Barnes – Chickamauga, Ga. – 28-9 (11) – $4,000
7. Willis Kennedy III – Flomaton, Ala. – 27-8 (12) – $4,800
8. Michael Bahnweg – Union Dale, Pa. – 26-15 (10) – $3,000
9. James Moore Jr. – Lampasas, Texas – 25-4 (11) – $2,500
10. Tristen Trull – Mt. Holly, N.C. – 24-8 (10) – $2,000
In addition to their other prizes, the highest finisher from each BFL Regional and the Wild Card also qualified for the Costa FLW Series Championship. Below are the anglers, their Regional location and their finish in the All-American.
1. Ben Dacey – Lake Norman
2. Todd Blakeman – Lake Chickamauga
4. Levi Crossway – St. Johns River
5. Zach Barnes – Wild Card
8. Michael Bahnweg – Chesapeake Bay
18. Alan Bernicky – Lake of the Ozarks
26. Ryan Helbling – Kentucky Lake