CEDAR BLUFF, Ala. – Tim Norris of Alexandria, Ala., topped 120 competitors from four Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League divisions this weekend on Weiss Lake to win a new Chevy Silverado and a Mercury- or Yamaha-powered Ranger 518 VX boat.
Norris caught five bass weighing 16 pounds, 3 ounces Saturday to win the regional’s $50,000 first place prize package in the Boater Division. He also qualified for the prestigious Wal-Mart BFL All-American, which features an estimated purse of $345,000. On opening day, Norris landed five bass weighing 14 pounds, 5 ounces. He then added five more bass weighing 5 pounds, 11 ounces Friday to advance to the final round in eighth place. Most of his bass, he says, were caught on white spinnerbaits and brown/blue jigs.
Rounding out the top five boaters in the regional presented by BC® Powder were Maurice Freeze of Kannapolis, N.C., with five bass weighing 11 pounds, 2 ounces worth $5,000; Terry Tucker of Gadsden, Ala., with four bass weighing 8 pounds, 14 ounces worth $2,500; James Miles of Berryville, Ark., with five bass weighing 8 pounds, 2 ounces worth $2,000; and Jay Hulsey of Bourbon, Mo., with five bass weighing 6 pounds, 13 ounces worth $1,500.
Boater Gary Willis of Spokane, Mo., earned a $500 bonus from Ranger Boats as the highest finishing participant in the Ranger Cup incentive program. He finished in ninth place with a two-day total of eight bass weighing 19 pounds, 1 ounce.
Wesley Helton of Cleveland, Tenn., took first place and a new Mercury- or Yamaha-powered Ranger boat in the Co-angler Division with a final-round catch of four bass weighing 7 pounds, 14 ounces. He advanced to the final round in second place after catching 10 bass weighing 16 pounds, 12 ounces during the first two days of competition. Helton dedicated his win to his father, Frank, who passed away earlier this year.
Rounding out the top five co-anglers were Kevin Chandler of New London, N.C., with four bass weighing 6 pounds, 15 ounces worth $2,500; Bruce O’Brien of Normal, Ill., with three bass weighing 5 pounds, 4 ounces worth $1,250; Ron Montgomery of Rome, Ga., with four bass weighing 4 pounds, 13 ounces worth $1,000; and Russ Ritter of Lexington, Ala., with two bass weighing 4 pounds, 4 ounces worth $750.
Anglers from the Carolina, Ozark, Choo Choo and Illini divisions covering lakes in North and South Carolina, Missouri, Tennessee, Alabama and Illinois qualified for the regional by placing in the top 30 in points standings after five qualifying events.
Five regional championships will each advance eight boaters and co-anglers to the All-American. Four boaters and co-anglers will advance from a sixth regional, and six boaters and co-anglers will advance from the Chevy Trucks Wild Card regional. The Wild Card is open to anglers who entered all five qualifying events in their region but who did not otherwise qualify for post-season competition. A total of 50 boater and 50 co-anglers will compete in the All-American for top awards of $100,000 cash in the Boater Division and $50,000 cash in the Co-Angler Division. At the All-American, Ranger Boats will also award a new Ranger 518VX Comanche boat to the highest placing boater participating in the Ranger Cup incentive program.
More than $5.7 million could be awarded across 22 BFL divisions nationwide in 2001 based on full fields at each tournament.