MARBURY, Md. – Boater Thomas Wooten of Huddleston, Va., earned a fully rigged Ranger 198VX and a new Chevy truck Saturday as the winner of the Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League Regional Championship on the Potomac River in Marbury, Md. The top 40 boaters and the top 40 co-anglers from the Empire, Northeast, Piedmont and Shenandoah divisions competed in the three-day event.
Wooten’s winning three-day catch of 15 bass weighed 46 pounds, 5 ounces. In addition to the new truck and boat, Wooten earned a ticket to the 2008 $1 million Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League All-American presented by Chevy on the Connecticut River in Hartford, Conn., May 29-31. With a top boater award of $140,000 and a top co-angler award of $70,000, the All-American is one of the most prestigious tournaments in bass fishing. The winning boater and co-angler at the All-American will also advance to the $2 million 2008 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Murray in Columbia, S.C., Aug. 14-17, where pros will fish for a top award of $1 million – the sport’s biggest payday.
Wooten caught his winning bass by flipping mats with a Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver teamed with a 1 1/2-ounce tungsten weight.
The top six boaters and the top six co-anglers at the regional championship earned a spot to compete in the All-American. Rounding out the top six boaters were Chris Baldwin of Lexington, N.C. (15 bass, 39-2, $4,000); Rip Bass of Spring Hope, N.C. (15 bass, 33-13, $2,000); Shayne Berlo of Vienna, Va. (15 bass, 31-5, $1,600); Ray Griffin of Henderson, N.C. (15 bass, 30-5, $1,200); and Bryan Schmitt of Deale, Md. (13 bass, 29-12, $1,000).
Scott Goodson of Fredericks, Va., earned a new Ranger boat as the co-angler winner, thanks to a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 30 pounds, 8 ounces.
Rounding out the top six co-anglers were James Skidmore of York, Pa. (11 bass, 25-9, $2,000); Michael Roy of Charlottesville, Va. (15 bass, 23-14, $1,000); Joe Rinaldi of Ashburn, Va. (12 bass, 23-9, $800); Dick Gum of Woodbridge, Va. (11 bass, 21-7, $600); and Alan Price of Staunton, Va. (nine bass, 19-15, $500).
As the nation’s leading provider of affordable, close-to-home weekend tournaments, the BFL is widely credited with opening competitive bass fishing to the masses. It also serves as a steppingstone for anglers who wish to advance to the Stren Series and ultimately the Wal-Mart FLW Series and Wal-Mart FLW Tour – bass fishing’s most lucrative tournament circuits.
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.
For more information about FLW Outdoors and its tournament programs, browse FLWOutdoors.com or call (270) 252-1000.