UPCOMING EVENT: TACKLE WAREHOUSE PRO CIRCUIT - 2020 - Harris Chain of Lakes

Armstrong stays strong to win TBF Central Divisional

Armstrong stays strong to win TBF Central Divisional
Mississippi's Eddie Armstrong is the TBF Central Division Championship winner with 33 pounds, 11 ounces over three days.

COLUMBUS, Miss. - Eddie Armstrong of West Point continued his dominance of The Bass Federation Central Division Championship on the Columbus Pool, winning both the overall weight contest as well as the top spot on the Mississippi state team. His performance earned him a slot in the 2008 TBF National Championship alongside 13 other competitors from this week's Central Divisional.

His three-day catch of 33 pounds, 11 ounces bested his own teammate, Matt Ferguson of Pontotoc, in the overall weight contest by 5 pounds, 6 ounces. As the one-two finishers on the Mississippi team, Armstrong and Ferguson will represent the state at the nationals, Armstrong as a boater and Ferguson as a co-angler.

Seven states - Mississippi, Missouri, Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Kansas - each sent six boaters and six co-anglers to this week's event, and the top two finishers from each state earned the right to fish next year's TBF National Championship. The top finisher from each state will compete in that event as a boater, while the No. 2 finisher from each state will contend as a co-angler.

The 12 anglers from Mississippi caught 173 pounds, 15 ounces of bass to claim the overall state title and the top cash award.As the overall weight champ, Armstrong earned a $500 Wal-Mart gift card as the Castrol Maximum Performer, and he also helped propel Mississippi to the state win, as their combined weight of 173 pounds, 15 ounces bested the runner-up team from Missouri, whose members caught 144 pounds, 6 ounces of bass over the last three days. Arkansas came in third with a combined weight of 143 pounds, 6 ounces. Cash awards totaling $10,454 were given to the states in order of finish. Texas took fourth place, Louisiana claimed fifth, Oklahoma finish sixth and Kansas ended the week seventh.

Armstrong struggled despite dominant performance

Armstrong led the tournament wire-to-wire in both the Mississippi state-team contest as well as the overall weight contest among all 84 competitors. His strong knowledge of the Columbus Pool was no doubt an advantage, as he brought in the tournament's heaviest stringer on day one, a limit weighing 12 pounds, 3 ounces. He followed that up on day two with 9 pounds, 12 ounces and closed the deal today with a limit weighing 11 pounds, 12 ounces, the day's heaviest.

Despite the success, Armstrong described both yesterday and today as a struggle. The sun beat down on competitors unrelentingly the first two days before yielding to rain today.

"Today was tough," Armstrong said. "I went to new water, and I lost two fish that I figured would come back to haunt me."

They didn't, despite other obstacles that included a competitor fishing out of one of his reserve spots.

"My main backup spot had a boat sitting on it all day," he said. "But when the rain came in, I started smiling because I knew what was about to happen. I put on a spinnerbait and caught my big fish. That's the one I needed."

Armstrong fished the Columbus Pool exclusively all week, though the spot that paid off for him on days one and two did not work for him today.

"I had a good topwater bite the first day, but the second day it started petering out," he said. "I felt I had used those fish up."

Armstrong said he caught his bass today on a variety of lures, including a Carolina rig, a frog, a crankbait and the spinnerbait that landed his big bass. He will be competing in his second TBF National Championship.

"I'm excited," he said. "I'm looking forward to going to a championship with FLW."

Alexander sweeps Texas

Dean Alexander won the Texas state competition with 21 pounds, 3 ounces and will compete in the 2008 TBF National Championship as a boater.Leading the Texas state team all three days of competition was Dean Alexander of Florence, Texas, whose three-day catch of 21 pounds, 3 ounces landed him in third place on the overall list and into the national championship as a boater.

Alexander slipped past Donny Awtry of Watauga, Texas, by 1 pound, 4 ounces to claim the boater slot. As the No. 2 Texan, Awtry advances to the national championship as a co-angler.

Alexander caught his bass this week flipping a 4-inch June-bug Senko on P-Line Halo with a Tru-Tungsten Force weight. He was fishing the Columbus Pool to land his fish, and on day one he had his strongest day, bringing in 9 pounds, 6 ounces. He caught 6-10 yesterday before finishing the tournament today with a four-bass catch weighing 5 pounds, 3 ounces.

"(Today's weather) made me go to a different pool," he said. "Then I came back and got on my fish. I should have never left."

Alexander said the keys to his success this week were fishing slowly and hitting the same water over and over again. This will be his first national championship appearance.

"I'm looking forward to it," he said.

Thompson claims Arkansas win

Kevin Thompson emerged as the Arkansas state champion with 20 pounds, 4 ounces over three days.Kevin Thompson of Mabelvale, Ark., extended his day-two lead into the final day despite bringing in just two bass weighing 3 pounds, 5 ounces. That brought his three-day weight to 20 pounds, 4 ounces, good enough to beat No. 2 Arkansan Hoyt Akins by 1 pound, 1 ounce. Thompson and Akins will represent Arkansas in the 2008 TBF National Championship as a boater and co-angler, respectively.

Thompson competed as a co-angler this week and said he relied extensively on his boater partners to catch his fish. He was fishing out of the Columbus Pool all week.

"I just had to fish slow in areas where the fish seemed to be replenishing," he said. "I had to size my lures down and make a smaller presentation."

Thompson was using 8-pound line on a spinning rod, fishing small finesse worms.

"I think (my boater partners) were passing over fish with bigger baits, so I scaled down and fished behind them," he said. "Today seemed to be tougher. I think the fish were a little pressured. The key was to fish really slow."

Thompson is looking forward to fishing the championship, which will be his first.

"I've never been to anything that big, and the guy I'm going with is one of my best friends who I've known all my life," he said of Akins.

Thompson's three-day weight of 20-4 landed him in fourth on the overall weight list.

Cagle wins Louisiana by 7-pound, 7-ounce margin

Ross Cagle won the Louisiana title by a 7-pound, 7-ounce margin.Day-two Louisiana leader Ross Cagle of Downsville, La., will compete in the TBF National Championship as a boater thanks to his state-leading weight of 20 pounds, 2 ounces that put him on top by a 7-pound, 7-ounce margin over No. 2 Shane Morris of Bastrop, La. As the runner-up, Morris will represent Louisiana at the national championship as a co-angler.

Cagle caught 5-12 on day one but weighed in 9 pounds, 1 ounce yesterday to put himself solidly on top. He followed that up today with a four-bass catch weighing 5 pounds, 5 ounces to complete his three-day sweep of Louisiana state competition.

"I caught them on V&M plastics in the Aberdeen pool," Cagle said. "That's where the fish were. The first day I went to Aliceville, but the fish there weren't the right size, so the last two days I went north."

Cagle has been in the area since May 28, having competed in last week's Stren Series event on the Columbus Pool as a pro. He was fishing anywhere from 2 feet to 5 feet of water to catch his bass and said the weather seemed to shut down his bite today.

"I put on a heavier weight," he said, explaining how he adjusted to today's cloudy, rainy conditions. "I was using a 1/8-ounce, and I had to go to a quarter ounce because of the wind."

Cagle will also be making his first TBF National Championship appearance.

Maloney sweeps Missouri competition

Brian Maloney led the Missouri state team all three days to earn a berth in the 2008 TBF National Championship.Also leading his state all three days is Brian Maloney of Osage Beach, Mo., who took the Missouri state win by a 1-pound, 6-ounce margin over 16-year-old Mike Horstmeyer of Ellisville, Mo. Maloney and Horstmeyer will represent Missouri at the 2008 national championship as a boater and co-angler, respectively. Horstmeyer will also be competing in the upcoming TBF National Guard Junior World Championship.

Maloney had a solid day one, bringing in 10 pounds, 6 ounces, but his weight did fall in consecutive days. He claimed 6 pounds, 5 ounces yesterday and caught three today weighing 3 pounds, 6 ounces - not much, but plenty enough to earn a boater slot in the nationals.

"I stayed with one rod all week," Maloney said. "I was flipping a Zoom Baby Brush Hog. I was two miles below the locks in Aliceville, and everybody was leaving me alone. I had two points that gave me a limit early on day one. I saved those fish, and on day two, I went to the same spot and got a limit again."

Maloney went back to that Aliceville pool today, only to find it had dropped 4 to 6 inches.

"It had me scared," he said. "But within 10 casts, I had a keeper. Then it took until 10 o'clock to find another fish."

Maloney qualified for his first national championship after making five divisionals in a row.

"I can't believe bringing in three fish would make it," he said. "It's been a dream of mine to make it, but my team is all top-notch."

Despite his struggles, Maloney's combined weight of 20 pounds, 1 ounce put him in sixth place on the overall weight list.

Owens takes Oklahoma win

Don Owens came from behind to claim the Oklahoma state win with a three-day total of 18 pounds, 8 ounces.Though Jay Glasgow of Fort Gibson, Okla., led that state the first two days of competition, Don Owens of Ponca City, Okla., took the win today by a 4-pound, 10-ounce margin. Owens will thus represent Oklahoma at the 2008 National Championship as a boater while Glasgow, as the No. 2 Oklahoman, qualified as a co-angler.

Owens caught 3 pounds, 7 ounces on day one and sat in third in Oklahoma competition, a seemingly insurmountable 6 pounds, 5 ounces behind Glasgow. His day-two catch of 5 pounds, 6 ounces was an improvement, but he dropped to fourth in his state standings and was still 3 pounds, 5 ounces out of the lead.

But Owens stepped up to the plate today while others struggled, bringing in a five-bass limit weighing 9 pounds, 11 ounces to bump his three-day total to 18 pounds, 8 ounces, enough to win by a mile.

"I think it was a lot of dumb luck," Owens said. "I caught most of my fish on a Texas-rigged lizard in a small back creek. I was going there every day and picking up a couple of fish."

Owens was fishing shallow-water laydowns and stumps in 2 feet of water or less.

"It's going to be my first time, and I'm excited - very excited," he said of his championship berth. He was competing this week as a boater.

Garver goes from second to first to claim Kansas victory

Robert Garver moved from second to first to win the Kansas state competition with 14-9 over three days.Robert Garver of Olathe, Kan., was the No. 2 angler both of the first two days in Kansas state competition, but a four-bass catch today weighing 4 pounds, 9 ounces vaulted him to the top with a combined weight of 14 pounds, 9 ounces. That weight ultimately bested No. 2 Michael Hays of Iola, Kan., by nearly 3 pounds and earned Garver a boater slot in the 2008 TBF National Championship. Hays will advance as a co-angler.

"I made a commitment to lock down to Aliceville every day if I caught them or not," Garver said. "That paid off. There are more big fish down there."

Garver provided one of the more compelling on-stage stories today, saying he lost five fish that would have totaled around 17 pounds. That would have been the heaviest stringer of the tournament by far.

"I lost one that weighed 8 to 10 pounds," he said.

The losses never hurt him. Garver said he was catching his bass on a Paca Craw in 4 to 10 feet of water. He will be competing in his first national championship.

"I've never been there," he said. "I'm very excited and proud to represent Kansas."

Garver competed this week's divisional as a boater.

This week's tournament was presented by the National Guard.

Tags: jennifer-simmons  headline-story  2007-06-13-divisional-tenn-tom-waterway 

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