PADUCAH, Ky. – Boater Kenneth Bortlein of West Harrison, Ind., earned a fully rigged Ranger 519VX and a new Chevy truck Saturday as winner of the Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League Regional event on the Ohio River. The top 40 boaters and the top 40 co-anglers from the Arkie, Hoosier, Great Lakes and Michigan divisions competed in the three-day event.
Bortlein’s winning three-day catch of 15 bass weighed 28 pounds, 12 ounces. In addition to the new truck and boat, Bortlein earned a ticket to the 2006 $1 million Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League All-American, one of the most prestigious tournaments in bass fishing, where the winning boater will earn up to $140,000 and the winning co-angler will earn $70,000. Bortlein caught his winning bass by throwing a 1/4-ounce Strictly Bass spinnerbait around creek channels.
He earned an additional $1,000 as winner of the Ranger Cup award.
The top six boaters and the top six co-anglers fishing the event also earned a berth into the All-American. Rounding out the top six boaters were Richard Pankey of Blytheville, Ark. (13 bass, 21 pounds, 3 ounces, $6,000); Todd Leatherman of Kuttawa (12 bass, 20 pounds, 3 ounces, $3,000); Sean Wieda of Cincinnati, Ohio (14 bass, 19 pounds, 5 ounces, $2,500); Nathan Huss of Elkhart Lake, Wis. (nine bass, 18 pounds, 10 ounces, $2,000); and Kevin Reynolds of Bentonville, Ark. (nine bass, 17 pounds, 5 ounces, $1,800).
Ed Keplinger of Logansport, Ind., earned a new Ranger boat as the co-angler winner, thanks to a three-day total of seven bass weighing 13 pounds, 8 ounces.
Rounding out the top six co-anglers were Jason Steger of Stanley, Wis. (six bass, 13 pounds $3,000); Robert Bland of Sheridan, Ark. (seven bass, 11 pounds, 14 ounces, $1,500); Jeff McCarnan of Henderson (four bass, 11 pounds, 13 ounces, $1,250); Brad Ballard of Winona, Minn. (seven bass, 9 pounds, 13 ounces, $1,000); and Russell Richmond of Benton, Ark. (five bass, 9 pounds, 12 ounces, $900).
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 FLWOutdoors.com.
Named after the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, Forrest L. Wood, FLW Outdoors administers the Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League and nine other national tournament circuits including the Wal-Mart FLW Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Series, Stren Series, Wal-Mart Texas Tournament Trail, Wal-Mart FLW Walleye Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Walleye League, Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Series and Wal-Mart FLW Redfish Series. These circuits offer combined purses exceeding $35 million through 235 events in 2006.
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.