Cotton wins Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League tournament on Smithville Lake

SMITHVILLE, Mo. - Michael Cotton of Shawnee Mission, Kan., outpaced 45 competitors Saturday with three bass weighing 8 pounds, 13 ounces to win $2,527 and 200 points on the boater side of the Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League (BFL) Plains Division tournament on Smithville Lake.

Cotton edged out James Sells of Trimble, Mo., by 12 ounces in the one-day event that set out from Camp Branch Marina. Sells finished with a two-bass catch weighing 8 pounds, 1 ounce to win $1,348. He also won $225 for a 5-pound, 12-ounce bass that earned him the boater Big Bass Award.

Cotton caught his bass using a clown-colored jerkbait around rocks in the south end of the lake. Sells opted to fish a red jerkbait around shallow structure near the middle of the lake.

Scott Hand of Lawson, Mo., took third place and collected $759 with one bass weighing 2 pounds, 12 ounces.

First place in the Co-Angler Division and $1,263 went to Charles Bottero of Kansas City, Mo., who topped 45 competitors with one bass weighing 3 pounds, 12 ounces. Second place in the division and $674 went to Louis Null of Westphalia, Mo., with one bass weighing 3 pounds, 2 ounces, while Royce Hershberger of Lincoln, Neb., took third place and $380 with one bass weighing 2 pounds, 13 ounces.

Bottero also won the co-angler Big Bass Award of $112 with the lone bass that he caught on a jerkbait while fishing shallow grass near the middle of the lake.

Only nine bass weighing 29 pounds, 5 ounces were caught during the tournament, which took place under sunny skies and 40-degree temperatures.

On April 28, the BFL will visit Milford Lake for the third of five events in the Plains Division. The boater with the most points after the division's season finale, a two-day Super Tournament Sept. 8-9 on Truman Lake, will be declared the Divisional Points Champion and awarded $1,000. The co-angler amassing the most points by the end of the season will receive $500.

The top 30 boaters and top 30 co-anglers in the Plains Division will advance to regional competition Oct. 16-20 on the Ohio River of Paducah, Ky., where they will go up against top competitors from the LBL, Hoosier and Great Lakes divisions for a shot at qualifying for the $250,000 All-American.

Awards for the 2001 BFL season could reach $5.7 million based on full fields at each tournament.

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