DAVENPORT, Iowa – Adam Wagner of Cookeville, Tenn., finished in first place and took home $120,000 at the $1 million Walmart Bass Fishing League All-American presented by Chevy on the Mississippi River with a four bass weighing 11 pounds, 5 ounces for a three-day total of 14 bass weighing 36-8 in the Boater Division.
“I am ready to go to the Forrest Wood Cup,” said Wagner. “This is giving me a shot to go on the FLW Tour. This has been my dream my whole life to be a professional fisherman since I was six years old.”
With the all important win, Wagner qualified for the $2 million Forrest Wood Cup presented by Castrol and BP, which will be held July 30-Aug. 2 on the Three Rivers in Pittsburgh, Pa., where he could win as much as $1 million – the sport’s biggest award.
“I took the gamble each day and locked through to (Pool) 13,” said Wagner. “I got lucky and found two fish in Pool 14. I had about 40 minutes in 14 before I had to lock through and was able to catch two of my key fish this week there.”
Wagner said there was a lot of traffic once he got to his spot today. “When I went where I had been fishing, there were seven boats on my spot. They were all kind and a couple kept fishing, but I went ahead and left and ended up catching one of my keepers in another spot.”
Using the same method that had put him in the lead, Wagner stuck to his pattern of targeting wood and grass. “I caught two flipping a beaver today and one on a green pumpkin senko in 13. I caught the big smallmouth in (Pool) 16 on a black-and-blue jig. That was the only one I caught there all week.”
“I have had a good year winning two BFL’s prior to this this year. My birthday was yesterday, so it has been a good week. I said in my mind that I was going to win everything that I fished this year. I came here to win. It was in my mind that I was going to win. When I got here, I didn’t know how I was going to win, but that was plan and it just worked out.”
Rounding out the top 10 boaters were Steve Wagner of New Kent, Va. (13 bass, 27-0); Chris Baldwin of Lexington, N.C. (11 bass, 22-15); Mike Devere of Berea, Ky. (12 bass, 22-14); Russ Moran of Manchester, Tenn. (nine bass, 19-3); Jeff Holder of Bossier City, La. (seven bass, 18-15); Edward Gettys of Scottsboro, Ala. (seven bass, 17-8); Larry Neal of Piney Flats, Tenn. (eight bass, 16-2); Gary Edwards of Milton, Ky. (seven bass, 15-11); and David Lowery of Milledgeville, Ga. (seven bass, 15-2).
Overall there were 20 bass weighing 42 pounds, 14 ounces caught in the Boater Division Saturday. The catch did not include any five-bass limits by the 10 anglers.
Jade Keeton of Florence, Ala., brought in the only five-bass limit weighing 8 pounds, 10 ounces giving him a three-day total of 10 bass weighing 18-5 in the Co-angler Division to take first place earning $70,000. Keeton outdistanced second-place finisher Dickson Adams of Woodstock, Ga., by three pounds for the title. Adams caught one bass weighing 1-8 giving him a three-day total of seven bass weighing 15-5.
“We turned in right before we went in to the dam in Pool 16,” said Keeton. “We stayed in there for most of the day until about 12 or 12:30. We fished two or three different spots along the rock walls and we came out and fished an isolated section of a rock wall that had a wing dam on it. We made four or five passes there and I was able to limit out right there. I caught them on a black and red tube.”
Keeton, who attends Northern Alabama, fishes the National Guard FLW College Fishing circuit and said he will likely move up to the Stren Series next year.
Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers are Elzie Dorman of Charlottesville, Va. (seven bass, 13-12); Tommy Milligan of Seneca, S.C. (six bass, 13-6); John Hyatt of Leicester, N.C. (six bass, 12-12); Terry Olmstead of Lock Haven, Pa. (six bass, 12-9); David Deciucis of Richmond, Va. (seven bass, 12-1); Andy Houston of Baldwyn, Miss. (five bass, 10-14); Danny Robinson of Fairland, Ind. (four bass, 9-12); and Ron Jackups of Fairfield, Ohio (four bass, 8-10).
For the first time in the 25-year history of the BFL All-American, a woman qualified. Belinda Lewis of Lawrenceburg, Tenn., qualified through the Bama Division, finished in 43rd place with one fish weighing 1-13 and earning $1,500.
“It was a great experience fishing with all the other anglers,” said Lewis. “Everybody got along and it felt like family out there fishing. I am definitely going to try and get back here again.”
Following Lewis’ weigh-in on Saturday, her boyfriend, Scott Towry, went on stage and asked her to marry him, capping off a great weekend for Lewis and her family. “That moment topped it all,” said Lewis.
Overall there were 13 bass weighing 25 pounds, 8 ounces caught in the Co-angler Division Saturday. The catch included one five-bass limit by 10 anglers.
Coverage of the BFL All-American tournament, hosted by the Quad Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau, will be broadcast in high-definition (HD) on VERSUS, the network which brings anglers the best fishing programming on television featuring the most-trusted authorities on the water. The Emmy-nominated “FLW Outdoors,” will air Aug 23 from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET. “FLW Outdoors,” hosted by Jason Harper, is broadcast to approximately 500 million households worldwide, including internationally through agreements with WFN (World Fishing Network) and Matchroom Sport to such countries as Canada, Germany, China, South Africa, Australia, Malaysia, Russia, Hungary and the United Kingdom, making it the most widely distributed weekly outdoor-sports television show in the world.
Because BFL competitors are weekend anglers, the All-American and its lucrative cash awards and international media exposure present a unique opportunity for qualifiers who will be fishing for top awards of $140,000 in the Boater Division and $70,000 in the Co-angler Division. Additionally, the winning boater and winning co-angler will advance to the $2 million Forrest Wood Cup presented by Castrol and BP, which will be held July 30-Aug. 2 on the Three Rivers in Pittsburgh, Pa., where they could win as much as $1 million – the sport’s biggest award.
Each year more than 34,000 BFL anglers and 20,000 TBF anglers nationwide compete in the hope of becoming one of just 54 boaters and 54 co-anglers who qualify for the All-American and fish for a share of $1 million.
As the nation’s leading weekend tournament circuit, the Walmart Bass Fishing League and its 28 divisions nationwide are widely credited with opening competitive bass fishing to the masses. The BFL also serves as a steppingstone for anglers who wish to advance to the Stren Series, Walmart FLW Series and ultimately the FLW Tour.
FLW Outdoors, named after Forrest L. Wood, the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, is the largest fishing tournament organization in the world. FLW Outdoors also is taking fishing mainstream with FLW Fantasy Fishing, offering the largest awards possible in the history of fantasy sports, $10 million in cash and prizes. Sign up for Player’s Advantage for only $10 to get your edge and win.
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.