June 8, 2002 by Jeff Schroeder
2002 champion just hours away from glory, $100,000
SHREVEPORT, La. - The last 10 anglers took off from the American Legion boat ramp on Cross Lake this morning for the final round of the 2002 Wal-Mart Bass Fishing All-American. The Boater Division will be decided in Saturday's one-day shootout for $100,000.
Nerves, anticipation and focus were the order of the day as the sun rose over Louisiana at takeoff. Friday's comeback king, Dave Lefebre of Erie, Pa., the first-time All-American qualifier who edged into 10th place with the second-biggest weight of day two, gave the thumbs up and said, "I feel pretty good. Nothing to worry about. No pressure at all." He then took a brief, frantic look around to make sure his camera boat was nearby. Finalists are required by the rules to stay with their cameramen at all times.
With that, the 10 Boater Division finalists took off onto Cross Lake. Dick Shaffer of Celina, Ohio, dominated the opening round with a weight of 17 pounds, 1 ounce. But second-place Ricky Smith of Collinsville, Miss., looked strong, too, consistently catching over 5 pounds both days.
Fishing will remain tough Saturday. While the field has shrunk and the tournament pressure on the lake will be lessened, weekend anglers will add traffic to the small impoundment. And of course there's the 14- to 17-inch slot limit that has baffled competitors throughout the week to consider.
The final weigh-in is at 2 p.m. at the L. Calhoun Allen Exposition Hall on Clyde Fant Parkway in Shreveport. Doors open to the public at noon. Admission is free, and fishing fans are invited to attend the weigh-in, which will be broadcast live as part of "FLW Outdoors" on PAX TV. There are also free children's games, sponsor giveaways and a free drawing for a fully rigged Ranger 216 B Cherokee bass boat.
Sunrise: 6:08 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 71 degrees
Expected high temperature: 90 degrees
Water temperature: 72 degrees
Wind: from the east-northeast at 5 mph
Relative humidity: 78 percent
Day's outlook: mostly cloudy this morning with scattered thunderstorms developing this afternoon.
List of finalists
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