May 12, 2001 by Jeff Schroeder
Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League
Lake Hamilton, Hot Springs, Ark.
Day 3, Boater Finals
Did you know? ... Jeff Coble of Henderson, N.C., has competed in five All-Americans. He fished the inaugural Red Man All-American in 1983 and won the last Red Man All-American in 2000. "Now, I guess I won the first BFL All-American," he said. ... Coble's legacy in the sport of bass fishing will forever be linked to the All-American tournament. While he has won the top prize on all three levels of Operation Bass circuits, he did it in reverse order. He won an FLW Tour event in 1996, an EverStart Series event in 1998 and the All-American in 2000 and 2001, becoming the only angler ever to win back-to-back All-Americans. ... Coble also holds another record. He caught the largest single-day stringer weight ever recorded in an Operation Bass tournament. He caught five bass weighing 29 pounds, 6 ounces at the FLW tournament he won at Lake Santee Cooper, S.C., in 1996.
Coble's method uncovered ... It's no coincidence that Coble repeated as All-American champion when the tournament was held at Lake Hamilton both years. Coble said he likes to fish here because the clear, highland lake offers very little natural cover for bass. "When there's not a lot of natural cover, it eliminates a lot of lake to fish," he said. "They just hit a lake that was right for me." In fact, he spent much of the week fishing exclusively around a medium-sized boulder that he and comrade David Wright of Lexington, N.C., found submerged in deeper water. Coble credits Wright so much for his success this week that he plans to share part of his $100,000 in winnings with him. "Together, we're probably as good as any five fishermen in the country when it comes to this style of fishing," Coble said.
Doing it the hard way ... By far, the most astounding fish catch of the day was made by fourth-place boater Rodney Hardwick of Connersville, Ind. He hooked a fish that had become entangled in some submerged brush on the side of a dock. Problem was, Hardwick and his boat were positioned on the other side of the dock. Top-notch video footage taken by the JM Associates film crew shows Hardwick acrobatically trying to straddle the dock's handrails to try and work the fish free, all the while keeping one foot on the deck of his boat. Tournament rules say anglers must remain in the boat to make a catch. "Man, oh man, I'd do anything to get out of this boat!" Hardwick says to the camera. In the end, he eventually finds a way to land the bass without leaving the boat, and the manner in which he pulls it off is no less amazing than his high-wire act on the dock. Fishing fans, don't miss this show when it hits the airwaves.
Rewarding awards ... While he placed fourth today, Hardwick won a Ranger Comanche 518VX for being the highest-placing All-American participant in the Ranger Cup incentive program. ... Yesterday, Paul Redwine of Crab Orchard, Tenn., and Randy Kelly of Inola, Okla., claimed the CITGO National Points Champion awards. Redwine received a $10,000 bonus for his title in the Boater Division, and Kelly received a $5,000 bonus for his title in the Co-Angler Division.
Rain, rain, go away ... Redwine had a little problem with the weather today. While it was a beautifully clear day, thunderstorms rolled through central Arkansas last night. "I've been fishing topwater baits all week," he said. "Evidently, that rainstorm last night shut down (the topwater bite) for me." Redwine, who said he still had a great time, caught three fish weighing 2 pounds, 14 ounces and placed fifth.
The right plug ... David Truax of Beaumont, Texas, said he fished the whole week almost exclusively using a shad-colored Wal-Mart FLW Tour crankbait. Today he caught five fish weighing 8 pounds, 9 ounces and placed second.
0-0, 0-0: Weight, in pounds and ounces, that Jeff Coble registered on days one and two in his first trip to the All-American in 1983.
"It's a lot easier to win this thing than it is to get into it."
- Jeff Coble, on the All-American.
"If every dad and every mom went fishing with their kids, we wouldn't have near the headlines that we see today."
- Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, proclaiming the benefits of fishing to the All-American capacity crowd, estimated at over 5,000 fans strong, at the Hot Springs Convention Center.
Quick Links, Day 3: