ELBERTON, Ga. – Tony Christian of Hull, Ga., topped 96 Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League competitors Saturday on Lake Russell with five bass weighing 13 pounds, 12 ounces. The catch earned him $3,005 and 200 points in the Boater Division.
Christian, who also landed a $1,000 bonus from Garmin for using a fixed-mount Garmin GPS/Sounder, caught his limit on a Bill Norman crankbait that he was casting to rocky points on the Savannah River. The catch topped second-place boater Troy Morrow of Toccoa, Ga., by 2 pounds, 15 ounces in the BFL’s Savannah River Division. Morrow finished the one-day tournament with a five-bass catch weighing 10 pounds, 13 ounces worth $1,503.
Darrell Wilbanks of Easley, S.C. (five bass, 10 pounds, 8 ounces, $902); David Wright of Lexington, N.C. (five bass, 9 pounds, 10 ounces, $721); and John Axsom of Gray Court, S.C., (four bass, 9 pounds, 3 ounces, $661) rounded out the top five boaters. Wright also received a $500 bonus from Ranger Boats as the highest-finishing participant in the Ranger Cup incentive program.
John Prior of Ila, Ga., earned boater big bass honors and $480 with a 4-pound, 2-ounce bass that he caught using a Carolina rig. He finished in 12th place overall with three bass weighing 7 pounds, 12 ounces.
J.D. Hughes of Westminster, S.C., claimed first place and $1,503 in the 96-competitor Co-angler Division with four bass weighing 10 pounds, 13 ounces. He surpassed second-place co-angler Ralph Mixon of Bonaire, Ga., by 8 ounces thanks to a watermelon tube he was casting in 12-15 feet of water. Mixon finished with a four-bass catch weighing 10 pounds, 5 ounces worth $751. Hughes also earned big bass honors and $240 in his division with a 6-pound, 11-ounce bass.
Kevin Chandler of New London, N.C. (five bass, 8 pounds, 3 ounces, $451); Jeffrey Queen of Catawba, N.C. (three bass, 8 pounds, 2 ounces, $361); and Rodney Anderson of Gainesville, Ga., (five bass, 7 pounds, 10 ounces, $331) rounded out the top five co-anglers.
Overall, 16 five-bass limits were caught during the tournament.
The Wal-Mart BFL will visit Clark Hill Sept. 21-22 for the Savannah River Division’s season finale, a two-day Super Tournament. The boater with the most points after the season finale will be declared the Yamaha “Be the Best” Points Leader and awarded $1,000. The co-angler amassing the most points by the end of the season will receive $500.
The top 30 Savannah River Division boaters and co-anglers will advance to regional competition Oct. 15-19 on Kerr Lake near Henderson, N.C., where they will go up against top competitors from the Buckeye, Mountain and Northeast divisions for a shot at qualifying for the Wal-Mart BFL All-American – one of the most lucrative post-season tournaments in competitive angling.
2002 BFL awards could reach $7 million based on full fields.
Sponsors of the 2002 Wal-Mart BFL are Wal-Mart, Alpo Pet Foods, BC Powder, BFGoodrich Tires, Castrol, Chevy Trucks, Coleman, Conseco, Energizer, EverStart Batteries, Evinrude, Faded Glory, Frito-Lay, FujiFilm, Garmin, Kellogg’s, Land O’Lakes, Minn Kota, Newell Rubbermaid, Pepsi, Poulan, Ranger Boats, Shop-Vac, Snickers, Stanley Works, Stren, US Bank, Weed Eater and Yamaha Outboards. Associate sponsors are Abu Garcia, Berkley, Eagle Claw, Hover-Lure, Laker, Maxwell House, Plano and Solar Bat.