LAKE WALES, Fla. – Boater James Watkins of Lakeland, Fla., won the Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League Gator Division tournament on Lake Kissimmee Saturday with a five-bass catch weighing 16 pounds, 10 ounces. The victory earned Watkins $4,782 and placed him one step closer to qualifying for the Clarks Hill Lake Regional Championship in Appling, Ga, Oct. 11-13, where he could ultimately win a new 519VX Ranger boat and a Chevy truck.
Watkins was flipping worms around submerged structure to catch his bass.
Rounding out the top five boaters are Tommy Hatfield of Kissimmee, Fla. (five bass, 16-00, $2,813); Jeff Fitts of Keystone Heights, Fla. (five bass, 14-3, $1,877); Dan Smith of Bushnell, Fla. (five bass, 13-14, $1,313) and Jeremy Smith of Plant City, Fla., and John Stahl of Wesley Chapel, Fla., tied for fifth (five bass, 13-3, $1,078).
Hatfield also took home and additional $500 for being the highest-placing Ranger Cup participant.
John Brazzell of Ocoee, Fla., took home the Boater Division Snickers Big Bass award, earning $910 for a 9-pound, 2-ounce bass.
Robert Crosnoe of Inverness, Fla., earned $2,783 as the co-angler winner Saturday thanks to five bass weighing 14 pounds, 15 ounces that he caught while fishing a Senko.
Crosnoe also took home the Snickers Big Bass Award in the co-angler division after catching a 7-pound, 5-ounces bass that earned him an additional $450.
Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Scott Fannon of Oldsmar, Fla. (five bass, 14-3, $1,391); Billy Jackson of Ocala, Fla. (five bass, 12-6, $926);Joe Ventrello of Orlando, Fla., (four bass, 12-4, $649) and Joseph Lopresto of Ocala, Fla. (three bass, 11-8, $557).
The Gator Division’s next event will be May 5 on Lake Kissimmee in Lake Wales, Fla., followed by their two-day Super Tournament held Sept. 15-16 on the Harris Chain of Lakes in Tavares, Fla.
Following the end of regular-season competition, the top 40 boaters and 40 co-anglers based on year-end points standings in the division will advance to the no-entry-fee Clarks Hill Lake Regional Championship where they will compete against top qualifiers from three other BFL divisions. At the Regional Championship boaters will fish for a new Ranger boat and Chevy truck and co-anglers will fish for a new Ranger boat. The top six boaters and top six co-anglers at the Regional Championship will also advance to the 2008 All-American presented by Chevy. With a total purse of $1 million, a potential $140,000 cash prize going to the winning boater and as much as $70,000 going to the winning co-angler, the All-American is one of the most prestigious and lucrative events in bass fishing. The winning boater and winning co-angler at the All-American also advance to the no-entry-fee $2 million 2008 Forrest Wood Cup. This event, featuring a top award of $1 million, is the sport’s biggest championship.
The $8.8 million Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League features 28 divisions nationwide. In BFL competition, boaters and co-anglers are randomly paired. Boaters supply the boat and fish from the front deck against other boaters while co-anglers compete from the back deck against other co-anglers.
Named after the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, Forrest L. Wood, FLW Outdoors administers the Wal-Mart FLW Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Series, Stren Series, Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League, Wal-Mart Texas Tournament Trail presented by Abu Garcia, Ranger Owners Tournament Championship Series, Wal-Mart FLW Walleye Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Walleye League, Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Series, Wal-Mart FLW Redfish Series and Wal-Mart FLW Striper Series. These circuits will offer combined purses of nearly $43 million through 238 events in 2007.
Wal-Mart and many of America’s largest and most respected companies support FLW Outdoors and its tournament trails. Wal-Mart signed on as an FLW Outdoors sponsor in 1997 and today is the world’s leading supporter of tournament fishing. For more information about Wal-Mart, visit Wal-Mart.com.
For more information about FLW Outdoors and its tournaments, browse FLWOutdoors.com or call (270) 252-1000.