TUNICA, Miss. – Boater Jeff Johnston of Marion, Ark., won the Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League Mississippi Division tournament on Tunica Lake Saturday with a five-bass catch weighing 9 pounds, 14 ounces. The victory earned Johnston $3,087 and placed him one step closer to qualifying for the Wheeler Lake Regional Championship in Decatur, Ala., Oct. 9-11, where he could ultimately win a new 198VX Ranger boat and a Chevy truck.
“I won as a co-angler on the Columbus Pool in 2005, but to win as a boater is even better,” Johnston said. “It’s a great feeling. Especially with gas prices the way they are.
“We made a two-hour run one way and only had a couple of hours to fish,” Johnston added. “So you can imagine we went through some gas. It was a gamble, but it paid off.”
Johnston targeted a road bed three feet under the surface that dropped to six feet on the sides. Johnston flipped a green-pumpkin jig with an electric blue trailer as well as a June bug-colored soft plastic crawfish imitator to three green bushes located on the submerged road bed.
Rounding out the top five boaters are Bob Burgess of Millington, Tenn. (three bass, 6-4, $1,816); Gene Brown of West Point, Miss. (two bass, 6-2, $1,210); Brad McCulley of Batesville, Miss. (two bass, 5-15, $847); and Danny Carter of Hernando, Miss. (two bass, 5-14, $726).
Ronnie Wall of Boyle, Miss., took home the Boater Division Snickers Big Bass award, earning $465 for a 4-pound, 6-ounce bass he caught.
Larry McNeal of Ridgeland, Miss., earned $1,816 as the co-angler winner Saturday thanks to three bass weighing 6 pounds even that he caught fishing a green pumpkin lizard around wood in two feet of water.
Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Jonathan Reeves of Hillsboro, Ala. (one bass, 4-2, $908); Andrew Harris of Jackson, Miss. (two bass, 3-9, $606); John Bubnik of Olive Branch, Miss. (two bass, 3-8, $424); and Mike Findley of Millington, Tenn. (two bass, 3-7, $363).
Reeves earned $232 as the co-angler Big Bass winner after catching a 4-pound, 2-ounce bass on a green pumpkin lizard with a chartreuse tail.
Mississippi Division anglers will visit Lake Ferguson in Greenville, Miss., Sept. 6-7 for a two-day Super Tournament, the division’s fifth and final event.
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 Wheeler 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 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 Forrest Wood Cup. This event, featuring a top award of $1 million, is the sport’s biggest championship.
Tournament anglers aren’t the only ones winning big this season. 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 Wal-Mart 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.
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.
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, browse FLWOutdoors.com or call (270) 252-1000. For more information about FLW Fantasy Fishing and Player’s Advantage, visit FantasyFishing.com.
Total awards are based on a full field of 200 boats in every tournament.