ONALASKA, Wis. – Boater Bill Sepke of North Aurora, Ill., earned $4,337 Saturday as winner of the Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League Great Lakes Division event on the Mississippi River. The tournament was the first of five regular-season Great Lakes Division events and featured 128 boaters vying for the win, which earned Sepke 200 points in the Boater Division.
Sepke’s winning catch of five bass weighed 17 pounds, 6 ounces. Sepke was fishing a tube and a Senko in back water around rocks.
Finishing second was Michael Johnson of La Crosse with five bass weighing 16 pounds 10 ounces that earned him $2,168. Douglas Barnes of Carpentersville, Ill., claimed $1,422 as the third-place finisher thanks to five bass weighing 16 pounds, 9 ounces. In fourth was Jason Leuenberger of La Crosse with five bass weighing 15 pounds, 15 ounces worth $1,814, and finishing fifth and earning $907 was David Rogalski of Saint Louis Park, Minn., with five bass weighing 15 pounds, 14 ounces.
Leuenberger took Boater Division big-bass award honors, earning $710 for a 5-pound, 4-ounce bass. He caught his big bass on a crankbait.
Matt Felton of Wisconsin Dells earned $2,168 as the co-angler winner, thanks to five bass weighing 15 pounds, 2 ounces that he caught on a 4-inch worm.
Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Dave Durbala of Ft. Madison, Iowa (five bass, 12 pounds, 12 ounces, $1,084); Jason Steger of Stanley (four bass, 11 pounds, 15 ounces, $709) Scott Habeck of Tomah (five bass, 11 pounds, 9 ounces, $552); and Ken Haslam of Mukwonago (five bass, 11 pounds, 2 ounces, $453).
Tory Sage of Davenport, Iowa earned $355 as the co-angler big-bass award winner with a 5-pound, 11-ounce bass. Sage caught the big bass on a white tube.
The Great Lakes Division’s next event will be held June 18 on Lake Winneconne near Winneconne followed by an event on the Mississippi River near Prairie Du Chien July 23. The fourth-qualifying event will be held on the Mississippi River near Wabasha August 20. The Great Lakes Division will wrap up its regular season Oct. 1-2 with a two-day Super Tournament on the Mississippi River near Prairie Du Chien.
Following the regular season, the Great Lake Division boater with the most points will earn $1,000 as the Yamaha “Be the Best” points champion. The co-angler amassing the most points will earn $500 as the Yamaha “Be the Best” points champion in the Co-angler Division.
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. The top 40 Great Lakes Division boaters and co-anglers based on year-end points standings will advance to the Ohio River Regional near Paducah, Ky., Oct. 11-15 where they will compete against Arkie, Hoosier, and Michigan Division anglers for one of six slots in the 2006 All-American. With a total purse of $1 million and a potential $140,000 cash prize going to the winning boater and $70,000 going to the winning co-angler, the All-American is one of the most prestigious and lucrative events in bass fishing.
The $8.4 million Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League features 28 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.
Named after the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, Forrest L. Wood, FLW Outdoors administers the Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League and seven other national tournament circuits offering a combined $30 million in awards through 214 events in 2005. The 27-year-old organization is the purveyor of America’s largest and most prestigious fishing tournaments, including the Wal-Mart FLW Tour, EverStart Series, Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League, Wal-Mart Texas Tournament Trail, Wal-Mart FLW Walleye Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Walleye League, Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Tour and Wal-Mart FLW Redfish Series.
Wal-Mart and many of America’s largest and most respected companies support FLW Outdoors and its tournament trails. Wal-Mart signed on as title sponsor of the FLW Tour in 1997 and today is the title sponsor of all FLW Outdoors events. For more information on Wal-Mart, visit Wal-Mart.com.