UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Lake Erie

It’s Sappington, Swindle for all the marbles

It’s Sappington, Swindle for all the marbles
Pro Gerald Swindle (left) of Hayden, Ala., and John Sappington (right) of Wyandotte, Okla., will battle against one another for the 2002 FLW Championship title.

Fisher, Chapman miss out on 2002 FLW Championship title match by mere ounces

SHREVEPORT, La. - In one of the more exciting weigh-ins in recent memory, Gerald Swindle and John Sappington came from behind to pull off a berth in the 2002 FLW Championship title match. However, it didn't come easy.

Weigh-in heats up

With all eyes on Greg Hackney, who led the tournament throughout the first two days of competition, bass fishing enthusiasts and anglers alike watched anxiously as the native of Oak Ridge, La., walked to the scales. However, when Hackney was only able to weigh in a 1-pound, 3-ounce catch, Brent Chapman, his opponent, took the opening and ran with it.

Chapman, who had the third-highest weight coming into the semifinals, produced a 5-pound, 15-ounce stringer. By defeating Hackney in the head-to-head matchup, Chapman appeared to be almost assured of qualifying for the title match with a combined three-day total of 23 pounds, 4 ounces.

Hackney's defeat also seemed to clear the way for Pat Fisher, who entered the semifinals with the second-most weight in the tournament. However, while Fisher was able to knock off his opponent, Alton Jones, his catch of 4 pounds, 1 ounce only increased his overall weight to 22 pounds, 11 ounces. With two of the top four anglers already eliminated (Hackney and Jones) and Fisher and Chapman turning in relatively small weights, it was clear that the rest of the field still had a chance to sneak into the title match.

Per tournament rules, the 12 anglers who defeated their opponents in today's head-to-head matchups would be reseeded according to their combined weight totals over the first three days of competition. However, only the top two seeds after today's weigh-in would fish for the championship. So, after Chapman and Fisher had weighed in, the remaining anglers knew they would need at least a combined weight of 22 pounds, 11 ounces to have a shot at the title and the $260,000 first-place prize.

However, when Mike Wurm, Rick Clunn, Tracy Adams, Dion Hibdon, Aaron Martens and Takahiro Omori all failed to bring in a good enough catch to leapfrog Fisher or Chapman, only three anglers remained with a realistic chance of breaking into the title match: Gerald Swindle, Kevin VanDam and John Sappington.

Battle rages on

First up was Swindle. Although he came into the semifinals with a marginal total weight of 13 pounds, 7 ounces, Swindle didn't disappoint on the most important day of the tournament, producing a hefty 10-pound, 1-ounce stringer. His combined weight of 23 pounds, 8 ounces was enough to temporarily grab the No.1-qualifying position and knock Fisher out of the title match.

Then it was VanDam's turn. However, VanDam was only able to produce a 1-pound, 4-ounce catch that wasn't even good enough to defeat his opponent on this day, Kevin Vida. That left Sappington as the only angler with a realistic chance of upsetting Chapman, who clung tentatively to the second qualifying position with a combined weight of 23 pounds, 4 ounces.

As Sappington approached the scales, Chapman watched anxiously with the full knowledge that any stringer less than 9 pounds, 8 ounces would not be enough to evict him from the title match. However, Sappington did not comply. In dramatic fashion, Sappington produced one lunker after another, eventually turning in the best stringer of the entire afternoon, an 11-pound, 14-ounce catch.

To his delight, Sappington now had a total weight of 25 pounds, 6 ounces as well as a berth in the all-important title match with Swindle.

Sappington prevails

"It's exhilarating. I love it," said Sappington. "I really didn't think I caught enough to make it. But the Lord really blessed me today. This is my highest-ever finish on the FLW Tour, so it feels great."

Sappington, a resident of Wyandotte, Okla., said that he knew coming into the semifinals that he was going to have to fish as well as he's ever fished before in his life.

"Today was really the most important day of the tournament," he said. "I knew I was going to have to come out today and catch as many fish as I could. Yesterday, I finally figured out how to get the bigger bites and it really paid off. Today, I just focused on getting those big bites."

Although Sappington knows that he has a tough final-day opponent in Swindle - ironically, one of his best friends on the tour - he said he likes his chances in tomorrow's head-to-head matchup.

"I really have confidence in the area that I'm in," he said. "But I'm definitely have to go all out tomorrow. Because nobody remembers who finishes in second place."

Swindle struggles to contain excitement

If Sappington was pleased with his finish, Swindle was downright giddy with the prospect of fishing for the FLW Championship and a chance at $260,000 in prize money.

"It's kind of overwhelming, but I'm so pumped up right now I can hardly believe it," he said. "I've been able to turn my fishing up a notch each day, and, today, I turned it up to full blast. I am pumped!"

Swindle, who has been targeting largemouth bass near boat docks in less than 5 feet of water for most of the tournament, said his practice sessions on Cross Lake were indispensable.

"I fished a lot of different stuff in practice and I was eventually able to rule everything out but two different things," he said. "That gave me a lot of confidence coming in. Because of my practice, I knew I was going to be able to generate a lot of bites, but I also knew there would be a lot of luck involved with the slot limit. Because there is no way you can pattern a 17-inch fish."

Swindle was referring to the difficult slot limit in which anglers were not permitted to keep any fish between 14 and 17 inches or any fish under 12 inches.

"With a slot limit, it's a lot like golf," he said. "Sometimes you hit the fairways and sometimes you hit it into the woods."

Swindle said that neither the hefty prize money nor his friendship with Sappington would enter into his mind for the next 24 hours.

"You only get a few opportunities to win a tournament like this in your lifetime, so I'm not going to get caught up thinking about the money," he said. "And I know John and I are friends, but I'm going to have to temporarily put aside our friendship during the finals. When I hit that water tomorrow, I'm going to let it all hang out."

And what if he were to win the championship?

"I'll tell you what, you better have your cameras ready," he said. "Who knows what I might do. I might just do what those soccer guys do and rip off my shirt and run around on the stage. You better be ready."

Best of the rest

Although the Swindle-Sappington duel will be the premier matchup during tomorrow's competition, there will be a number of other compelling head-to-head contests.

Brent Chapman of Shawnee, Kansas and Pat Fisher of Stone Mountain, Ga., will square off for third and fourth place; Aaron Martens of Castaic, Calif., and Dion Hibdon of Stover, Mo., will compete for fifth and sixth place; Bernie Schultz of Gainesville, Fla., and Rick Clunn of Ava., Mo., will vye for seventh and eighth place; Takahiro Omori of Emory, Texas, and Kevin Vida of Clare, Mich., will battle for ninth and 10th place; and Wes Thomas of Hanover, Ind., and Alvin Shaw of State Road, N.C., will battle for 11th and 12th place.

Tomorrow's final takeoff is scheduled to take place at 6:30 a.m. at the American Legion, located at 5315 Southlake Shore Drive in Shreveport.

Related links:
Photos
FLW Championship bracket
Cross Lake Connection: FLW Championship, day three
Results
Results of day-three pairings
Press releases

Tags: gary-mortenson  headline-story  2002-09-11-championship 

Pirowski Flips for Potomac Title

Pirowski Flips for Potomac Title

Boater Alex Pirowski of Occoquan, Virginia, brought a five-bass limit to the scale Saturday weighing 17 pounds, 3 ounces to win the 2020 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine event at the Potomac River in Marbury, Maryland. For his victory, Pirowski earned a total of $5,337. READ MORE »

Richmond Wins on Ouachita

Richmond Wins on Ouachita

Boater Russell Richmond of Sheridan, Arkansas, brought three bass to the scale Saturday totaling 11 pounds, 5 ounces to win the 2020 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine event at Lake Ouachita in Mount Ida, Arkansas. Richmond topped his nearest competitor, Stephen Browning of Hot Springs, Arkansas, by 1-pound, 1-ounce and earned $4,394 for his victory. READ MORE »

McClain, Drake Take Hoosier Double-Header

McClain, Drake Take Hoosier Double-Header

It was a double-header for bass anglers this past weekend in Bloomington with the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine on Lake Monroe events presented by Fish-Intel. FLW, the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, rescheduled the events after the coronavirus pandemic forced the organization to pause competition in mid-March. READ MORE »

Okie Double-Header on Arkansas River

Okie Double-Header on Arkansas River

It was a double-header for bass anglers this past weekend in Muskogee with the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine on the Arkansas River events. FLW, the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, rescheduled the events after the coronavirus pandemic forced the organization to pause competition in mid-March. READ MORE »

Losee, Tweite Close out High School Championship

Losee, Tweite Close out High School Championship

The Riceville (Iowa) High School team of Lawson Losee and Kooper Tweite won the 2020 Student Angler Federation High School Fishing National Championship on the Mississippi River out of La Crosse, Wis., with a three-day (three bass per day) total weight of 30 pounds, 4 ounces. Losee and Tweite topped 194 of the top high school teams in the country. READ MORE »

It’s All Wheeler on Chickamauga

It’s All Wheeler on Chickamauga

You’re not going to find a bass angler on a hotter streak right now than Tennessee’s Jacob Wheeler. Prior to this week, the 29-year-old pro had won five multiple-day tournaments since the start of the 2019 season. Today, the No. 1 ranked angler in the world added a sixth victory to his impressive run by dominating the first-ever Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament on Lake Chickamauga. Wheeler’s four-day total of 93 pounds, 12 ounces earned him the win by a margin of more than 11 pounds. READ MORE »

Lake Chickamauga Day 4 Coverage

Lake Chickamauga Day 4 Coverage

Complete coverage from the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament at Lake Chickamauga June 23-26, 2020. READ MORE »

Losee, Tweite Take Over High School Lead

Losee, Tweite Take Over High School Lead

Lawson Losee and Kooper Tweite of Riceville High School in Riceville, Iowa, have the lead going into the final day of the Student Angler Federation High School Fishing National Championship on the Mississippi River near La Crosse, Wis. Their two-day total of 19 pounds, 2 ounces (three-fish limit per day) has Losee and Tweite 1 pound, 1 ounce ahead of the second-place team. The top 10 teams compete tomorrow for the title.  READ MORE »

Wheeler Crushes 25-12 to Retake Lead

Wheeler Crushes 25-12 to Retake Lead

Day three of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament was another banner day on Chickamauga, but it was a really stupendous day for Jacob Wheeler. Weighing 25-12 with a 10-pounder for a 72-6 total, Wheeler cruised back into the lead with no problem. Heading into the final day, Wheeler has a 4-13 edge over Jason Reyes, who weighed 17-11 and dropped to second with a 62-3 total. READ MORE »

Lake Chickamauga Day 3 Coverage

Lake Chickamauga Day 3 Coverage

Complete coverage from the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament at Lake Chickamauga June 23-26, 2020. READ MORE »

Mains, Chapman Lead High School Championship

Mains, Chapman Lead High School Championship

Legacy Christian Academy (Lenexa, Kan.) anglers Ryder Mains and Mason Chapman have the early lead at the Student Angler Federation High School Fishing National Championship on the Mississippi River in La Crosse, Wis. With a three-fish limit worth 11 pounds, 11 ounces, Mains and Chapman lead the second-place team by 1 pound, 9 ounces.  READ MORE »

Reyes Surges Ahead

Reyes Surges Ahead

The big fish bit on day two of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament on Lake Chickamauga. While the first day featured plenty of good fishing, both Jason Reyes and Cole Floyd caught bags that crossed the 25-pound mark on day two. Weighing 27 pounds, 4 ounces, Reyes surged into the lead with a 49-14 total. READ MORE »

High School Championship Under Way at La Crosse

High School Championship Under Way at La Crosse

La Crosse, Wis., has been inundated with bass boats this past week as young anglers pre-fished and boat drivers got them into casting position on the mighty Mississippi for the FLW High School Fishing presented by Favorite National Championship. This three-day lure-slinging event, June 24-26, 2020, is likely to showcase this area’s amazing bass fishery, as well the diversity of techniques that can be used to catch them in early summer.  READ MORE »

Lake Chickamauga Day 2 Coverage

Lake Chickamauga Day 2 Coverage

Complete coverage from the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament at Lake Chickamauga June 23-26, 2020. READ MORE »

Wheeler leads with 24-9 on Chick

Wheeler leads with 24-9 on Chick

Day one of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament on Lake Chickamauga featured good fishing with a lot of pressure put on the offshore fish. Making the most of his local knowledge, Jacob Wheeler weighed 24 pounds, 9 ounces to take the lead on day one. Behind him, John Cox weighed in 23-6 for second place. READ MORE »

Lake Chickamauga Day 1 Coverage

Lake Chickamauga Day 1 Coverage

Complete coverage from the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament at Lake Chickamauga June 23-26, 2020. READ MORE »

FLW Live Leaderboard - Lake Chickamauga

FLW Live Leaderboard - Lake Chickamauga

FLW marshals and media staff provide unofficial weight estimates for the fourth stop of the 2020 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit at Lake Martin. READ MORE »

Dixon, Houchin Win on Dardanelle

Dixon, Houchin Win on Dardanelle

Boater Wayne Dixon of Morrilton, Arkansas, brought three bass to the scale totaling 10 pounds, 11 ounces to win Saturday’s event and earn $5,127, but Mabelvale’s Quincy Houchin was the big winner on the weekend. Houchin finished second Saturday – good for $3,139 – then backed it up with a win on Sunday, which earned him the top prize of $12,309, including the lucrative $7,000 FLW PHOENIX Bonus contingency award. READ MORE »

Morgan, Chandler Win on High Rock

Morgan, Chandler Win on High Rock

Boaters Brian Morgan of Sherrills Ford, North Carolina, brought a five-bass limit to the scale weighing 22 pounds even to win Saturday’s event, while Kevin Chandler of New London, North Carolina, brought in a limit weighing 19 pounds, 3 ounces on Sunday to earn the win. Morgan earned $5,511 for his win Saturday, while Chandler won Sunday’s top prize of $4,359. READ MORE »

Bama Division Goes Back-to-Back

Bama Division Goes Back-to-Back

Boaters Jason Nixon of Wetumpka, Alabama, and Byron Smith of Tyrone, Georgia, both brought a five-bass limit to the scale totaling 13 pounds, 10 ounces to tie for the win at Saturday’s event, while Hunter Hayes of Gadsden, Alabama, brought in a limit weighing 14 pounds, 12 ounces on Sunday to earn the win. Nixon and Smith each earned $2,937 for their wins Saturday, while Hayes won Sunday’s top prize of $4,545. READ MORE »