PADUCAH, Ky. – Wade Ramsey of Midwest City, Okla., caught five bass weighing 11 pounds, 10 ounces Friday to boost his two-day total weight to 20 pounds, 5 ounces and claim the Boater Division lead going into the final day of the 2005 Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League All-American presented by Chevy on the Ohio River. The top 10 boaters advance to the final day of the tournament – one of the longest running and most respected championships in competitive bass fishing – where the winner will receive $100,000.
“I’m feeling terrific,” Ramsey said. “I was in 12th place yesterday, and I made quite a jump to get where I am. To be leading is just beyond expectations.” Ramsey fished rocky ledges and riprap to catch his bass, one of which was a smallmouth that broke the 3-pound mark.
Ramsey said he targeted the bigger bite today, and he rotated between several areas that he had found during practice.
Rounding out the top five boaters are Brent Crow of Hartselle, Ala. (eight bass, 16 pounds, 14 ounces); Robert Beatty of Clermont, Fla. (nine bass, 16 pounds, 6 ounces); Rick Byrnes of Tamaroa, Ill. (nine bass, 15 pounds, 15 ounces); and Adam Wagner of Cookeville, Tenn. (10 bass, 15 pounds, 7 ounces).
Friday saw the conclusion of the tournament for co-anglers, with Aaron McManaway of Altamont, Ill., claiming top honors and $50,000. McManaway caught a two-day total of eight bass weighing 15 pounds, 4 ounces to claim $50,000 – the largest first-place co-angler prize in competitive bass fishing.
“I feel awesome,” McManaway said. “I never use spinning tackle, but I knew I’d have to for this tournament. I’ve been practicing fishing the area with light spinning tackle and jigs, and it paid off.” McManaway threw green-pumpkin tubes on 3/16-ounce jigheads to catch his bass.
Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Steve Morgan of Grand Bay, Ala. (eight bass, 14 pounds, 10 ounces, $12,500); Jamie Floyd of Prairieville, La. (eight bass, 12 pounds, 3 ounces, $6,000); Mark Heimburger of Sidney, Ill. (six bass, 11 pounds, 5 ounces, $4,500); and Richard Hooter of Natchitoches, La. (seven bass, 11 pounds, 2 ounces, $3,500).
Billy Gwaltney of Fayetteville, Ark., caught the largest bass during the first two days of competition – a 4-pound, 14-ounce largemouth – to claim the $1,000 Snickers Big Bass award.
Takeoff Saturday starts at 7 a.m. from the Paducah City Ramp in downtown Paducah, and the final weigh-in begins at 3 p.m. at the Expo Center located at 1Executive Blvd. in Paducah. Surrounding the weigh-in is the Family Fun Zone, which opens at noon Saturday and features games and product displays for fishing fans of all ages to enjoy.
There is no admission fee, and the public is invited to attend. Participants in the Paducah Sun’s Ranger bass boat giveaway must be present to win at 3 p.m. Saturday. The first 300 children 12 and under to attend will receive a free rod and reel courtesy of WPSD-TV following the weigh-in festivities.
This year’s championship marks the 21st anniversary of the first $100,000 award in competitive bass fishing. That historic award was presented to 1984 All-American champion Shaw Grigsby of Gainesville, Fla., for his victory on the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes in Florida. All-American qualifiers represent the best of more than 30,000 BFL participants nationwide.
The All-American and its lucrative cash awards present a unique opportunity for qualifiers looking to launch a professional bass-fishing career. Former All-American contenders who have become fishing superstars on the Wal-Mart FLW Tour include Kellogg’s pro Clark Wendlandt, four-time FLW Tour champion David Fritts and bass-fishing legend Rick Clunn.
Named after the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, Forrest L. Wood, FLW Outdoors administers the Wal-Mart FLW Tour 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 the title sponsor of the FLW Tour in 1997 and today is the title sponsor of all FLW Outdoors events.