LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Boater Calvin Davidson of Plainfield, Ind., caught four bass weighing 7 pounds, 3 ounces Friday to take charge of the $1 million Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League All-American presented by Chevy on the Ohio River. His catch, the heaviest of the tournament, bumped him from fifth to first, giving the BFL rookie a two-day total of eight bass weighing 12 pounds, 12 ounces and a 1-pound, 8-ounce lead over his closest competitor. Davidson is now just one day away from winning the biggest, and toughest, tournament of his life and pocketing $140,000.
To pull off the win, however, he must outfish nine other finalists in the Boater Division, which was whittled down from 54 anglers following Friday’s weigh-in. These finalists represent the best of more than 30,000 competitors who strive to qualify for the lucrative championship each year through a series qualifying tournaments and regional championships covering the United States.
“With just four fish on the first day and four more today, I never dreamed I would be standing up here in the lead,” said Davidson, who qualified for the All-American through the Hoosier Division, where he finished 29th in the points standings and fifth in the Kentucky Lake Regional Championship. “There are a lot of quality anglers out here, so it’s going to be tough.”
Davidson is understandably keeping his fishing secrets to himself for now in the hope of keeping every conceivable advantage in a tournament that will likely be decided by a matter of ounces. He did say, however, that he has not locked through to any other pool.
Rounding out the top-five boaters are seven time All-American qualifier Curtis Samo of Rochelle, Ill. (seven bass, 11-4); Shonn Goodwin of Moore, Okla. (eight bass, 11-1); Dicky Newberry of Houston (eight bass, 11-0); and Ronald Yurko of East Point, Fla. (eight bass, 10-8).
Also clearing the top-10 cut weight of 7 pounds, 3 ounces in the Boater Division are Thomas Southern of Sylacauga, Ala.; Matthew Mize of Ben Lomond, Ark.; Richard Heath Jr. of Beaverdam, Va.; Jamey Black of Sheridan, Ark.; and Jeff Benson of Holmen, Wis.
Davidson caught the heaviest bass in the Boater Division Friday, winning the Snickers Big Bass Award of $500 with a 3-pound, 7-ounce largemouth.
Overall, 68 bass weighing a total of 109 pounds, 10 ounces were caught by 36 boaters Friday. The catch included three five-bass limits.
Kevin Wells of South Shore, Ky., who qualified through The Bass Federation Northern Division after finishing fifth in the TBF National Championship on Lake Wylie, leads the Co-angler Division in the chase for a top award of $70,000 with a two-day total of seven-bass weighing 10 pounds, 5 ounces.
Wells caught three bass weighing 6 pounds, 5 ounces Friday while fishing with boater Rickey Campbell of Waxahachie, Texas, who finished 32nd with two bass weighing 3-0. On Thursday Wells caught four bass weighing 4 pounds while fishing with boater James Edwards of Greenville, SC, who finished 48th.
Rounding out the top-five co-anglers are Mike Williams of Lancaster, Ky. (three bass, 5-13); Jeremy Mull of Chatham, Ill. (three bass, 5-4); Jeffery O’Connor of Charlotte, N.C. (four bass, 4-15); and Chad Hartzog of Bush, La. (three bass, 4-8).
Also clearing the top-10 cut weight of 2 pounds, 12 ounces in the Co-angler Division are Dick Martin of Baltimore; William Feyh of Brandon, Miss.; Stacy Metz of Staley, N.C.; Glen Mire of Jackson, Miss.; and Paul Stokes of Grand Ledge, Mich.
Wells caught the heaviest bass in the Co-angler Division Friday, winning the Snickers Big Bass Award of $500 with a 3-pound, 10-ounce largemouth.
Overall, 28 bass weighing a total of 44 pounds were caught by 20 co-anglers Friday. No limits were caught.
The 10 remaining boaters and co-anglers will continue competition Saturday with a 7 a.m. takeoff from Carrie Gaulbert Cox Park located at 3730 River Road in Louisville, and the winners will be determined by the heaviest total catch from all three days of competition. Saturday’s final weigh-in will start at 4 p.m. at the Kentucky Exposition Center located at 937 Phillips Lane in Louisville.
Surrounding the weigh-in is the FLW Outdoors Family Fun Zone and Outdoor Show featuring dozens of exhibits from Ranger Boats, Chevy, Berkley, Lowrance, Evinrude, Yamaha and many more premier companies. The doors open at noon, and admission is free. The first 200 children 14 and under accompanied by an adult who attend the Family Fun Zone and Outdoor Show will receive a free rod and reel combo. One lucky spectator attending the final weigh-in will even win a $30,000 Ranger 178VS bass boat powered by Yamaha. Official entry forms for the Ranger boat giveaway are available at the Family Zone and Outdoor Show at the Kentucky Exposition Center, and you must be present during the 4 p.m. weigh-in to win.
Coverage of the All-American will be broadcast to 81 million FSN (Fox Sports Net) subscribers in the United States on Oct. 21 as part of the “FLW Outdoors” television program. “FLW Outdoors” airs Sunday mornings at 11 Eastern time. “FLW Outdoors” is also broadcast internationally to 429 million households in such countries as Germany, China, South Africa, Australia, Malaysia, Russia, Hungary and the United Kingdom, making it the most widely distributed fishing program in the world. Additionally, FLW Outdoors is proud to provide tournament coverage to more than 800,000 servicemembers stationed around the world in 177 countries and aboard Navy ships through broadcasts on the American Forces Network.
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 and four-time FLW Tour champion David Fritts, who fishes for Team Chevy.
In All-American competition, boaters control boat movement and fish from the front deck against other boaters while co-anglers compete from the back deck against other co-anglers. Boaters and co-anglers are randomly paired each day.
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 offer combined purses of nearly $43 million through 241 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 Walmart.com.