HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Shayne Berlo, 38, of Vienna, Va., came from behind to win the Wal-Mart BFL All-American presented by Chevy on Lake Hamilton Saturday with a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 20-12. He jumped from second place to earn a $100,000 victory on the final day of competition thanks to a five-bass catch weighing 4-11.
“I thought someone would come in with a big fish today and blow this thing wide open, but that didn’t happen,” said Berlo, who works as a business development director. “I’m still absolutely amazed that I won.”
Berlo opened the tournament in fifth place Thursday with five bass weighing 8-10 that he caught on a Rebel Pop-R and a Hunter Creek jig in root beer and pepper color. He then added five bass weighing 7-7 to his catch Friday using a wacky-rigged floating worm and the Hunter Creek jig to advance to the final round in second place. On Saturday he caught his bass swimming the jig around boat docks, willow grass lines and bluff banks. On previous days the bass preferred the bait on the bottom. “The fish were really keying on movement today, creating reaction strikes,” Berlo said. “I probably fished over 100 boat docks today.”
This was Berlo’s second All-American and his first win in 10 BFL top-10 appearances. To qualify he finished 12th in the Shenandoah Division and then placed fourth in the Potomac River Regional. Today’s victory boosts his career BFL winnings to more than $123,000. He will also advance to the Forrest Wood Cup presented by Castrol in Columbia, S.C., Aug. 14-17 for the chance to fish against the world’s top professional anglers for $500,000.
“I’m obviously going to be the underdog in the Forrest Wood Cup, so there are no expectations,” Berlo said. “I’m just going to do the best I can.”
Rounding out the top-10 boaters are Kevin Snider of Elizabethtown, Ky. (14 bass, 20-9, $50,000); Chris Martinkovic of Liberty Township, Ohio (15 bass, 20-7, $32,000); Greg Rikard of Leesville, S.C. (14 bass, 20-6, $21,000); Michael Conley of Bainbridge, Ga. (15 bass, 20-5, $26,000); Kim Carver of Milledgeville, Ga. (13 bass, 19-13, $11,000); Terry McWilliams of Greenfield, Ind. (14 bass, 19-3, $15,000); Mike Brueggen of Cashton, Wis. (15 bass, 19-0, $13,500); Brett Sellers of Denham Springs, La. (15 bass, 18-9, $8,000); and Ray Griffin of Henderson, N.C. (13 bass, 17-6, $14,000).
Snider also won a $40,000 Ranger 198VX bass boat powered by Yamaha as the highest-finishing Ranger Cup participant.
Okie Division boater Jason Christie of Park Hill, Okla., finished 17th Friday 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.
Overall, 44 bass weighing a total of 51 pounds, 4 ounces were caught by 10 boaters Saturday. The catch included six five-bass limits.
Robert Crosnoe, 40, of Inverness, Fla., won the Co-angler Division and $50,000 Saturday with a three-day total of 11 bass weighing 17-6. Crosnoe opened the tournament in first place Thursday with five bass weighing 8-14 that he caught on a Chatter Bait fished in muddy water in the back of creeks. He then added three bass weighing 2-13 to his catch Friday using a Carolina rigged Berkley creature bait to advance to the final round in fourth place. On Saturday he caught three bass weighing 5-11 while fishing with Griffin to take the win. Two of those fish came on the Carolina rig and the third was caught on a swimbait.
“This is a life-changing amount of money for me,” said Crosnoe, who serves as a deputy sheriff. “It was my dream to come here and win. And I did. It still hasn’t sunk in. It’s unbelievable.”
This was Crosnoe’s first trip to the All-American. To qualify he finished 19th in the Gator Division and then won the Clarks Hill Regional. Today’s victory boosts his career BFL winnings to more than $98,000. Like Berlo, he will also advance to the Forrest Wood Cup.
Rounding out the top-10 co-anglers are Billy Cain of Jackson, Ill. (11 bass, 16-7, $15,000); Leavitt Hamilton of Prairieville, La. (13 bass, 15-7, $7,000); Blake Wilson of Prattsville, Ark. (12 bass, 15-6, $6,000); Allan Williams of Moncks Corner, S.C. (11 bass, 15-02, $5,000); Brett Wysock of Wilmington, Ill. (13 bass, 14-6, $4,000); Kenneth Hunnicutt of Jacksonville, Fla. (12 bass, 13-2, $3,500); Michael Roy of Ivy, Va. (eight bass, 12-14, $3,000); Chuck Rounds of Benton, Ky. (eight bass, 10-4, $3,000) and Chris Dozier of Collinsville, Miss. (eight bass, 8-10, $4,500).
Wysock, who competes in the Illini division, also won the Yamaha Be the Best Award of $5,000 in the Co-angler Division.
Cain earned the Frabill Big Bass award of $2,000 for the biggest bass of the tournament netted in a Frabill net. He caught a 5-pound, 2-ounce bass on opening day.
Overall, 27 bass weighing a total of 29 pounds, 9 ounces were caught by eight co-anglers Saturday. The catch included two five-bass limits.
Anglers from 26 states competed in the 25th annual All-American on Lake Hamilton this week. 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 determined 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.
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.