UPCOMING EVENT: T-H Marine BFL - 2019 - Kentucky / Barkley Lake

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Andrews ‘Living the Dream’ as TBF national champion

Andrews ‘Living the Dream’ as TBF national champion
Dave Andrews won the TBF National Championship title on Lake Wylie by skipping docks.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - With one of only three boater limits on a tough day at Lake Wylie, the Eastern Division's Dave Andrews of Bolton, Mass., emerged as the winner of The Bass Federation National Championship presented by the National Guard and its "Living the Dream" prize package.

Through "Living the Dream," Andrews has not only qualified for the $1 million 2007 Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League All-American but also the lucrative $2 million 2007 Forrest Wood Cup, to be held this August in Hot Springs, Ark. The winner of that event will take home as much as $1 million cash. Andrews also received paid entry into either the 2008 Wal-Mart FLW Tour or Wal-Mart FLW Series, not to mention the $10,000 cash he earned for winning the TBF National Championship.

Andrews' victory was a bit of a surprise - as much to him as anyone - as the Southern Division's Jamie Horton dominated the event the first two days, bringing in more than 15 pounds per day. But Horton faltered today while Andrews excelled, bringing in a limit of five bass that weighed 12 pounds, 8 ounces that brought his three-day total weight to a championship-winning 41 pounds, 4 ounces.

Champion Dave Andrews proudly displays his trophy.Andrews' weight actually declined each day, as he caught 14-14 on day one and 13-14 on day two. No matter, though, as everyone had their toughest day yet Saturday on Lake Wylie. Andrews entered the final day from the No. 3 spot, just under 3 pounds behind Horton, and credits his underdog status with his ability to execute today.

"I'm overwhelmed," Andrews said. "I had no preconceived notions of winning. I didn't really give it that much thought with Jamie catching 15 pounds a day. That's probably the reason why it went so well - I was very relaxed. Coming from third place, the pressure is off a bit. I was more relaxed today than any other day."

Andrews said he took off this morning with one bait and one rod on the deck, employing the same pattern that has sustained him all week: skipping docks. He was using 8-pound line on a 6 1/2-foot spinning rod, using a 5-inch soft plastic Gambler Ace rigged wacky-style.

"The whole package skips really well," he said. "It's a heavy weight, really dense. I've got a plastic collar on it that allows me to skip it way under the docks. I spend all day fishing instead of fixing the bait."

Andrews left Lake Wylie several weeks ago after pretournament practice armed with the very bait and pattern that served him so well this week. For him, it wasn't so much the area as much as it was all about the pattern.

"I fished places today I hadn't even seen before," he said.

A new future beckons

Dave Andrews weighs in one of his winning fish.With an opportunity to fish not only the All-American and the Forrest Wood Cup but also one of two top-tier tournament trails next season, Andrews said he's got a lot of work to do. He had nothing but praise for the FLW-TBF partnership and the Living the Dream package and holds the distinct honor of being the first national champion from the FLW-TBF alliance.

"You win a big tournament, and usually that's it. But this isn't the end, it's the beginning," he said. "I would like to say that it's unique and very neat to be the first one. Wherever I finished, this is a memory to last a lifetime. If (fishermen) are not in TBF, they're missing out."

Andrews himself advanced to the TBF National Championship through a series of state and regional events. Though he is a Massachusetts resident, he has been fishing with the New Hampshire State Federation since he was 14 years old.

"I started in the youth club and never left the Federation," he said. "I have qualified 15 times for regionals, and this is my fourth national championship. When I'm working out my tournament schedule, this is the most important thing I do every year. My goal is to qualify for that state team, get to a regional championship and try to get to this championship."

Interestingly, Andrews' boat yielded another champion today - his day-four co-angler partner Wayne Black of San Mateo, Fla., earned $5,000 as the co-angler national champion.

Cooper retains No. 2 spot

Greg Cooper took second place with a three-day total of 39 pounds, 6 ounces.Behind Andrews in second place is the Central Division angler Greg Cooper of Monroe City, Mo. He ended day two in second behind Horton and caught a limit of bass today weighing 10 pounds, 3 ounces to stay in second with a three-day total weight of 39 pounds, 6 ounces worth $5,000.

Cooper caught 15-3 on day one and followed that up yesterday with another 14 pounds. Like everyone else, today was a tough one, but he did bring in one of the three pro limits, his clocking in at 10-3.

Cooper caught his bass throwing a spinnerbait around brush piles in the upper river area.

"I looked for five bites, and I was blessed with five," he said. "They were not as big as I wanted, but I'll take the five. I wanted to weigh a limit each day."

When the All-American rolls around in early June, look for Cooper to be there with bells on.

"I wanted to try to get to the All-American, and if I got to Living the Dream, then that would be so much more," he said.

Horton falls to third

Day-one and day-two leader Jamie Horton, left, weighs in his third and ultimately final fish while a nervous Dave Andrews, right, looks on.In a heartbreaking twist of fate, the Southern Division's Jamie Horton of Centerville, Ala. - who two years ago gave up a shot at fishing the Bassmaster Classic on his home lake in order to pursue the Living the Dream package at this very championship - fell from first to third with a three-bass catch on day three that weighed only 5 pounds, 2 ounces. That brought his three-day total to 36 pounds, 11 ounces, still worth $2,500 and an All-American berth, but ultimately just under 5 pounds shy of the win.

"I prayed about this tournament for two years," he said. "The Lord knew who was going to win before we showed up. I gave 110 percent."

On day one, Horton said he caught his bass sight-fishing, but that pattern did not come through for him today.

"I really don't know what happened," he said. "I went and fished docks until dinner. I've been catching 25 fish a day. I just wasn't on them as good. I only got three bites off the docks."

With the dock pattern eliminated, Horton tried to locate some bass on beds with a sight-fishing pattern.

"It was so sunny and slick, so I looked for some on beds," he said. "I felt like one day things would not go my way, and I'd have to have them. I found a 4-pounder and a 3-pounder, and they hit it, but I just didn't get it."

Echternkamp limits and takes fourth

Aaron Echternkamp ended up in fourth place with a three-day total of 35 pounds, 5 ounces.With the third five-bass limit of the day is Western Division boater Aaron Echternkamp of Moses Lake, Wash., with a three-day total of 35 pounds, 5 ounces worth $2,500.

Echternkamp caught 12-2 on day one and was third in the Western Division, but stepped it up on day two, weighing in 13-14 and advancing to the final round as well as to the All-American.

"The lizard has been working good when I'm fishing on beds, and the shaky head is good when I'm just cruising around," Echternkamp said of his championship fish-catching methods. "This was a great tournament for me and a fun time. I look forward to coming here again."

Cummings lands in fifth

Northern Division competitor Derek Cummings of Eaton Rapids, Mich., took fifth place and $2,500 with a three-day catch of 32 pounds, 7 ounces. His Saturday catch of three bass that weighed 5 pounds, 15 ounces was not quite up to the standards he set on days one and two, when he caught 14-8 and 12 pounds, respectively.

"I was fishing docks the first two days and took a chance today and went for bedding fish," Cummings said. "It didn't pan out, but I'm glad I did it. I saw a lot of big fish today; I just didn't catch them."

Keisel takes sixth

Boater David Keisel took sixth place as well as a certificate for a new Ranger boat as the highest-placing finisher in the Ranger Cup incentive program.Rounding out the top six boaters is David Keisel of Virginia Beach, Va., representing the Mid-Atlantic Division. Keisel caught 12-11 on day one, 11-8 on day two and 6-2 today for a three-day total of 30 pounds, 5 ounces worth $2,500.

"The second fish this morning just pulled off," he said. "I caught the first one on a topwater and the other three on a shaky-head 5-inch worm."

Keisel may have finished last among the six finalists, but he was a winner in the Ranger Cup incentive program as the highest finisher in the tournament among Ranger Cup participants. For the win, Keisel received a certificate for a Ranger 519VX Comanche rigged with a Yamaha outboard engine.

"It's been an awesome experience," Keisel said. "We were all living the dream this week."

All six finalists earned a slot in this year's All-American, coming this June to the Ohio River in Louisville, Ky.

Tags: jennifer-simmons  headline-story  2007-04-19-lake-wylie 

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