GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. – The 2004 Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League Choo Choo Division season kicked off Saturday on Guntersville Lake near Guntersville, and George Thorne of Albertville claimed the win thanks to a five-bass catch weighing 21 pounds, 9 ounces. He bested 200 Boater Division competitors to earn $5,000 and 200 points.
Thorne caught his tournament-winning bass on a Rat-L-Trap in the grass. The win was Thorne’s second BFL top-10 finish in a career that dates back to 1997. He also fishes select Bama Division events.
Rounding out the top five boaters are Wade Caperton of Leoma, Tenn. (five bass, 19 pounds, 3 ounces, $2,500); Ryan Rigsby of Chattanooga, Tenn. (five bass, 18 pounds, 13 ounces, $1,700); Anthony Harrison of Athens (five bass, 18 pounds, 1 ounce, $1,300); and James Marsh of Empire (four bass, 17 pounds, 11 ounces, $1,100).
Marsh claimed Boater Division big-bass honors and $1,000 thanks to an 8-pound, 5-ounce bass that he caught on a spinnerbait. Randall Tharp of Gardendale earned $500 from Ranger Boats as the highest-finishing participant in the Ranger Cup incentive program, and he received another $250 from Yamaha because his boat is powered by a Yamaha outboard.
Davey Lance of Hartselle earned $2,500 as the Co-angler Division winner thanks to a five-bass catch that weighed 18 pounds, 1 ounce. He edged past 200 Co-angler Division competitors thanks to a Rat-L-Trap he was burning through the grass.
Finishing second was Mark Thompson of Scottsboro with five bass weighing 15 pounds, 10 ounces worth $1,250. Tied for third were Paul Kennemur of Trussville (five bass) and Allan Garner of Estill Springs, Tenn. (three bass). Both men caught 12 pounds, 11 ounces worth of bass that earned them $750 each. Wayne Bigbee of Munford finished fifth with five bass weighing 11 pounds, 9 ounces worth $550.
Kent Lodari of Seymour, Tenn., earned $500 as the Co-angler Division big-bass winner with a 7-pound, 11-ounce bass that he caught on a Rat-L-Trap.
The Choo Choo Division’s next stop will be April 3 on Wheeler Lake in Rogersville. Each BFL division features four one-day events followed by a two-day Super Tournament to round out the regular season. The top 30 Choo Choo Division boaters and co-anglers based on year-end points standings will advance to the Kentucky Lake regional presented by Yamaha near Gilbertsville, Ky., Oct. 12-16, where they will compete against Great Lakes, Hoosier and Michigan 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 Choo Choo 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.