MOUNT IDA, Ark. – The 2004 Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League Arkie Division season kicked off Saturday on Lake Ouachita near Mount Ida, and Danny Gwinn of Mount Ida claimed the win thanks to a five-bass catch weighing 19 pounds, 11 ounces. He bested 186 Boater Division competitors to earn $4,759 and 200 points.
Gwinn’s tournament-winning catch included a 7-pounder that earned him big-bass honors and $930. He also earned a $1,000 bonus from Ranger Boats and a $500 bonus from Yamaha for his participation in the Ranger Cup incentive program and for running a Yamaha outboard. Garmin also awarded Gwinn a $1,000 bonus as part of the Garmin Grand contingency program for using only Garmin electronics during the tournament.
Rounding out the top five boaters are Matt Lea of Conway (four bass, 14 pounds, 4 ounces, $2,380); Chris Darby of Mount Ida (four bass, 13 pounds, 5 ounces, $1,618); Rickey Owens of Amity (five bass, 13 pounds, 3 ounces, $1,237); and Greg Dyer of Benton (four bass, 11 pounds, 12 ounces, $1,047).
Jeff Barfield of Nashville, Ark., earned $2,228 as the Co-angler Division winner thanks to a five-bass catch that weighed 13 pounds, 11 ounces. He edged past 171 Co-angler Division competitors to claim the win.
Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Frank Reynolds of Bryant (four bass, 12 pounds, 6 ounces, $1,114); Joey Brannon of Benton (three bass, 8 pounds, 8 ounces, $758); Robert Morehart of Ward (two bass, 6 pounds, 13 ounces, $579); and Stan Grizzle Jr. of Sherwood (two bass, 6 pounds, 1 ounce, $490).
Scott Boatright of Sheridan earned $428 as the Co-angler Division big-bass winner with a 5-pound, 5-ounce bass. He finished the tournament in seventh place thanks to the catch.
The Arkie Division’s next stop will be March 27 on DeGray Lake in Arkadelphia. Each BFL division features four one-day events followed by a two-day Super Tournament to round out the regular season. The top 30 Arkie Division boaters and co-anglers based on year-end points standings will advance to the Toledo Bend regional near Many, La., Oct. 12-16, where they will compete against Louisiana, Okie and Ozark division anglers for a slot in the 2005 All-American. The winning boater at the All-American receives $100,000 cash, making it one of the most lucrative and prestigious championship events in bass fishing.
Every angler who receives weight credit in a tournament earns points, with 200 points going to the winner, 199 for second, 198 for third, and so on except for Super Tournaments, which award 300 points to the winner, 299 for second, 298 for third, and so on. These points determine angler standings. The Arkie Division boater who amasses the most points at the end of the regular season will earn $1,000 as the Yamaha “Be the Best” points leader, and the co-angler earning the most points will earn $500 as the Yamaha “Be the Best” points leader in the Co-angler Division.
The $6.3 million Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League features 24 divisions nationwide. In BFL competition, boaters and co-anglers are randomly paired, with boaters supplying the boat and fishing against other boaters and co-anglers fishing from the back deck against other co-anglers. For more information or to enter a tournament, call (270) 252-1000 or browse this Web site.
Wal-Mart and many of America’s most respected companies support FLW Outdoors and its six tournament trails. Wal-Mart has been the title sponsor of FLW Outdoors since 1997. For a complete list of FLW Outdoors sponsors and for more information about the premier products and services they offer, please visit FLWOutdoors.com’s sponsor page.