HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Veteran angler Kim Carver of Milledgeville, Ga., celebrated his 53rd birthday Friday with a five-bass catch weighing 5 pounds, 7 ounces to retain a 12-ounce lead in the $1 million Wal-Mart BFL All-American presented by Chevy on Lake Hamilton with a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 16-13. If he holds on to the lead for one more day, he will win his second All-American title, pocket $140,000 and advance to the $2 million Forrest Wood Cup presented by Castrol for a shot at winning $1 million – the sport’s biggest award.
“Anytime I can put myself into position to be the leader going into the final day is a good day,” said Carver, who won his first All-American on the Mississippi River in La Crosse, Wis., May 27, 1998. “I have three or four different ways I’m catching fish, so I don’t see a problem catching a limit. But tomorrow is another day, so we will see.”
Carver says he is catching fish anywhere from the surface, using a Zara Spook on opening day, to 40 feet deep, relying on Texas-rigged green-pumpkin worms on day two. “Five pounds, 7 ounces is not going to win tomorrow, but you never know when a big one is going to bite,” he said.
This is Carver’s eighth All-American and his 32nd top-10 finish in BFL competition since 1995 – an FLW Outdoors record. He has also won more than $452,000 fishing the BFL – another FLW Outdoors record.
Rounding out the top-five boaters are Shayne Berlo of Vienna, Va. (10 bass, 16-1); Terry McWilliams of Greenfield, Ind. (10 bass, 15-3); Ray Griffin of Henderson, N.C. (10 bass, 14-8) and Mike Brueggen of Cashton, Wis. (10 bass, 14-2).
Also clearing the top-10 cut weight of 13 pounds, 7 ounces in the Boater Division are Greg Rikard of Leesville, S.C.; Kevin Snider of Elizabethtown, Ky.; Michael Conley of Bainbridge, Ga.; Chris Martinkovic of Liberty Township, Ohio; and Brett Sellers of Denham Springs, La.
Okie Division boater Jason Christie of Park Hill, Okla., finished 17th and earned $9,150 with a two-day total of eight bass weighing 11-4. He also won the Yamaha Be the Best Award of $10,000 as the highest-finishing division points champion. His closest challenge was Volunteer Division boater Jim Street of Johnson City, Tenn., who finished 19th with a two-day total of nine bass weighing 10-12.
Eddie Herlong of Prosperity, S.C., caught the day’s heaviest bass in the Boater Division, a 3-pound, 14-ounce largemouth, to win the Snickers Big Bass Award of $500.
Overall, 187 bass weighing a total of 224 pounds, 3 ounces were caught by 51 boaters Friday. The catch included 23 five-bass limits.
Blake Wilson of Prattsville, Ark., leads the Co-angler Division with 10 bass weighing 13 pounds, 11 ounces. He caught five bass weighing 8-3 while fishing with boater Scott Hamrick of Denver, N.C., Thursday and five bass weighing 5-8 while fishing with Berlo Friday. Wilson will fish with Carver Saturday.
Rounding out the top-five co-anglers are Michael Roy of Ivy, Va. (seven bass, 11-14); Allen Williams of Moncks Corner, S.C. (eight bass, 11-12); Robert Crosnoe of Inverness, Fla. (eight bass, 11-11); and Billy Cain of Jackson, Ill. (six bass, 10-13).
Also clearing the top 10 cut weight of 8 pounds, 10 ounces in the Co-angler Division are Brett Wysock of Wilmington, Ill.; Leavitt Hamilton of Prairieville, La.; Chuck Rounds of Benton, Ky.; Kenneth Hunnicutt of Jacksonville, Fla.; and Chris Dozier of Collinsville, Miss.
Wysock and Rounds, fishing out of the Illini and LBL divisions, respectively, are still in contention for the Yamaha Be the Best Award of $5,000 in the Co-angler Division.
Williams caught the day’s heaviest bass in the Co-angler Division, a 4-pound, 5-ounce largemouth, to win the Snickers Big Bass Award of $500.
Overall, 125 bass weighing a total of 148 pounds, 14 ounces were caught by 49 co-anglers Friday. The catch included eight five-bass limits.
Anglers from 26 states competed in the 25th annual All-American for a top boater award of $140,000 and a top co-angler award of $70,000. These anglers represent the best of more than 37,000 competitors who strive to make it to the lucrative championship each year. The heaviest three-day total weight will determine the winners Saturday.
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.
Takeoff starts at 7 a.m. Saturday from the Fish Hatchery Ramp located at 350 Fish Hatchery Road in Hot Springs. Saturday’s final weigh-in starts at 4 p.m. at Summit Arena located at 134 Convention Blvd in Hot Springs. The All-American Family Fun Zone and Outdoor Show featuring exhibits from Ranger Boats, Chevy, Berkley, Lowrance, Evinrude, Yamaha and other sponsors opens at noon. Admission is free, and the first 200 children 14 and under accompanied by an adult who attend the show will receive a free rod and reel combo from Today’s THV 11. One lucky spectator attending the final weigh-in will win a new Ranger 177 TR bass boat powered by Yamaha from the Sentinel Record and Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Participants in the boat drawing must be present during the final 4 p.m. weigh-in to win. Watch the papers for entry forms.
Coverage of the All-American will be broadcast to 81 million FSN (Fox Sports Net) subscribers in the United States as part of the “FLW Outdoors” television program airing Oct. 26. “FLW Outdoors” is also broadcast in Canada on WFN (World Fishing Network) and to more than 429 million households in the United Kingdom, Europe, Russia, Australia, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East through a distribution agreement with Matchroom Sport, making it the most widely distributed fishing program in the world. The program airs Sunday mornings at 11 Eastern time in most markets. Check local listings for times in your area.
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. Combined, these pros have earned more than $2.25 million in FLW Outdoors competition.
Tournament pros aren’t the only ones winning big this season, however. With the introduction of FLW Fantasy Fishing, FLW Outdoors offers anyone the opportunity to enter for their chance to land the catch of a lifetime with the opportunity to win $7.3 million in cash and prizes. Players can become a virtual pro angler by signing up for Player’s Advantage, providing them with exclusive insider information that could guide them to a $100,000 victory at every FLW Tour stop and the Forrest Wood Cup. Player’s Advantage will give them an edge over the competition and increase their shot for a $1 million cash grand prize that will be awarded to the FLW Fantasy Fishing cumulative points winner. Those who visit FantasyFishing.com today can sign up for Player’s Advantage and FLW Outdoors will include a $15 Wal-Mart gift card.
FLW Outdoors, named after Forrest L. Wood, the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, is the largest fishing tournament organization in the world. In 2008 alone the organization is offering more than 90,000 anglers the chance to win over $40 million through 230 tournaments in 10 circuits targeting bass, walleye, redfish, kingfish and striped bass. FLW Outdoors is also taking fishing mainstream with the largest cash awards in the history of fantasy sports, $7.3 million.
For more information about FLW Outdoors and its tournaments, visit FLWOutdoors.com or call (270) 252-1000. For more information about FLW Fantasy Fishing and Player’s Advantage, visit FantasyFishing.com.