JASPER, Ala. – Boater David Lowery of Columbus, Ga., earned a chance to win $100,000 at the 2005 Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League All-American by taking victory at this weekend’s Chevy Trucks Wild Card on Lewis Smith Lake near Jasper. Lowery’s two-day catch of 10 bass weighing 20 pounds, 4 ounces gave him his second career All-American berth.
The Wild Card gives anglers who did not qualify for postseason regional competition a chance to make the All-American field. The Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League is divided into 24 divisions nationwide, each of which has five regular-season events in which anglers earn points. Every angler who receives weight credit in a tournament earns points. The top 30 boaters and top 30 co-anglers based on year-end points standings advance to one of six nationwide regionals, each of which send six boaters and co-anglers to the All-American. Anglers who entered all five events within a division but did not advance to regional competition were eligible to fish the Wild Card, which also sends six boaters and six co-anglers for an All-American field of 84 competitors.
Lowery fished a spinnerbait in shallow, cloudy water to catch 12 pounds, 6 ounces Friday and 7 pounds, 14 ounces Sunday. He competed in the Bulldog Division in 2004 and ranked 95th. Lowery competed in the 2002 All-American and finished 42nd.
Rounding out Boater Division anglers heading to the All-American are Jarrod Hembree of Berea, Ky. (10 bass, 19 pounds, 7 ounces); Kim Carver of Milledgeville, Ga. (nine bass, 18 pounds); David Young of Mayfield, Ky. (eight bass, 16 pounds, 12 ounces); Mark Cawthon of Toccoa, Ga. (10 bass, 14 pounds, 15 ounces); and Blaine Shelton of Moulton (10 bass, 14 pounds, 14 ounces).
Carver earned a $500 bonus from Ranger Boats as the highest-finishing participant in the Ranger Cup incentive program.
Melvin McNeal of Circleville, Ohio, caught a two-day total of eight bass weighing 11 pounds, 9 ounces to win the Co-angler Division and his first trip to the All-American, where he will compete for a top co-angler award of $50,000 cash. McNeal caught three bass Friday weighing 4 pounds, 8 ounces and another five bass Saturday that weighed 7 pounds, 1 ounce. He ranked 94th in 2004 Buckeye Division points standings.
Rounding out the top six co-anglers who will advance to the All-American are Chris Stites of Smyrna, Tenn. (six bass, 9 pounds, 15 ounces); Billy Gwaltney of Bella Vista, Ark. (four bass, 9 pounds, 12 ounces); Greg O’Neal of Winchester, Tenn. (five bass, 8 pounds, 12 ounces); Thomas (Chip) Morris of Mableton, Ga. (two bass, 8 pounds, 3 ounces); and Richard Hooter of Natchitoches, La. (six bass, 7 pounds, 15 ounces).
The All-American is one of the most prestigious and storied events in competitive bass fishing as well as one of the most lucrative. The location and date of the 2005 All-American will be announced at a later date.
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 about the BFL, call (270) 252-1000 or browse this Web site.
Wal-Mart and many of America’s most respected companies support FLW Outdoors and its eight 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.