UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Lake Dardanelle

Travis’ dream comes true

Travis’ dream comes true
Brian Travis made all the right decisions over three days to win The Bass Federation National Championship on Lake Wylie.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Brian Travis made all the right decisions over the past three days, decisions that helped him win The Bass Federation National Championship on Lake Wylie. For the 2008 national win, Travis will be able to try his hand at going pro through the "Living the Dream" prize package. On Saturday he ended up with his third limit in as many days for a total weight of 45 pounds, 9 ounces.

The "Living the Dream" package includes $10,000 in cash, paid entry fees into either the Wal-Mart FLW Tour or Wal-Mart FLW Series, the use of a wrapped Chevy tow vehicle and a wrapped Ranger boat, sponsor merchandise and travel expenses. Travis also earned a slot in the BFL All-American and the $2 million Forrest Wood Cup, held on Lake Murray Aug. 14-17.

Now Travis is facing two of the biggest decisions of his life: the FLW Tour or the FLW Series? Quit his job, or try to squeeze in his dream of going pro? But even with such immense pressure, the 30-year-old Conover, N.C., angler is pretty sure what he's going to do.

"I'm leaning toward the tour. The money is better, and there are more tournaments," he said.

His job?

"I've always dreamed of going pro. I'm going to have to have a talk with my boss."
As 2008 TBF National Championship winner, Brian Travis will be able to fish either the FLW Tour or FLW Series in 2009 with all expenses paid, including boat and tow vehicle.
Travis got his first clue about where to start on the morning of the final day as the National Anthem played at the launch ramp. As he held his hand over his chest, his eyes drifted to the still water of Lake Wylie, where he noticed shad flipping along a shoreline. That told him all he needed to know: The shad were spawning in the creeks, not on the main lake where he tried to find them the first two days.

He caught two solid fish right off the bat: one on a spinnerbait, the second only five minutes later on an unweighted Yum swim bait that he skipped under a dock. Those two bass gave him a 5-pound start, and it lifted a huge weight off his back. He also caught fish by casting soft plastics to bedded bass, something he did consistently the first two days of the event.

All told, Travis caught about 10 bass today. His five best weighed 14-4, more than 4 pounds better than second-place angler Ron Hobbs Jr. of Orting, Wash.

Hobbs has no regrets

Hobbs planned to stick with the same tactic he used the first two days: sight-fishing. However, when he arrived at a spot he knew held three good largemouths, he couldn't see the fish.

Boater Ronald Hobbs Jr. of Graham, Wash., representing the Western Division, caught 15 bass, 38-11, over three days to earn second place at the TBF Championship and $5,000. "It was just too dark. The sun wasn't up enough to where I could see them, so I decided to throw a spinnerbait because I was seeing shad flipping," he said. "I've never fished the shad spawn before, and I wasn't real sure whether it would work."

Not only did it work, his 1/2-ounce white-, chartreuse- and pink-skirted spinnerbait put his three best fish in the boat by 9 a.m. However, the shad quit flipping on the surface, so Hobbs went back to sight-fishing, the very tactic that got him to the final day. He ended up with a solid limit that weighed 11-1, but it just wasn't enough to overcome Travis' solid lead.

Hobbs, a milkman who makes door-to-door deliveries, had never been on Wylie until the official practice day, just the day before the start of the tournament. In fact, this trip was his first ever to the East Coast. That should have put him at a major disadvantage, but Wylie's bass were in the middle of the spawn, and Hobbs excels at sight-fishing in the clear Western waters back home.

"I knew it was going to be hard to beat the guy who fishes this lake a couple of times a week," he said. "I'm actually quite proud I did so well. I have no regrets."

Hobbs will take home a check for $5,000 and a ticket to the $1 million BFL All-American, to be held in May on Lake Hamilton. Hobbs also won a 519VX Ranger Comanche powered by Yamaha as the highest finishing Ranger Cup participant.

Belinda finishes third

Pennsylvania angler Tom Belinda also caught a limit that weighed 11-1, which gave him a three-day total of 36-7 along with a check for $2,500 and a ticket to the All-American. He's convinced he could have won if he wouldn't have had a couple of bad breaks. He lost three big fish the first day and saw what he described as two giants on the final day that he just couldn't convince to bite.

"I spent three hours on those two fish," he said.

Even though he couldn't coax those fish into his livewell, he doesn't regret his decision to Boater Tom Belinda of Hollidaysburg, Pa., bested the Mid-Atlantic Division at the TBF Championship with 15 bass, 36-7, over three days for $2,500.work them for so long.

"I knew I had to catch big fish in order to have a chance," he said.

He spent the mornings twitching a black-and-chrome Rogue, which resulted in a quick limit on day two of the three-day event. On the final day, however, he only caught a single bass on that lure. The rest came on a custom-made June-bug creature bait, rigged on a ¼-ounce football jighead.

Crino comes in fourth

Bob Crino of Vermont put four fish in the boat on the final day for a three-day total of 33-12. He also takes home a check for $2,500 and a free ride to the All-American.

He caught most of his fish during the tournament on Senkos. A few came on a buzzbait, and a couple more, including a 4-pounder, came on a jig.

Indy angler places fifth

Terry McWilliams of Greenfield, Ind., took fifth place with a total weight of 30-1. He brought five bass to the scales today that weighed 9-2.

McWilliams targeted deeper fish with a tube on main-lake points today, hoping to find a limit of postspawn females. During the first two days, he targeted docks with the same bait. He also put a handful of keepers in his livewell on a floating twitchbait. He won $2,500 and a trip to the All-American.

Owens comes in sixth

Also winning $2,500 and a berth into the BFL All-American was sixth-place boater Don Owens of Ponca City, Okla. He only put one fish in his livewell today, and that fish came early. His total weight was 25-11.

"The first two days, I caught limits early, but today I just couldn't get anything going," he said.
Craig Fredrychowski of Lexington, S.C., representing the Southern Division, topped all co-anglers at the 2008 TBF Championship.
Co-anglers change places

Yesterday's co-angler leader, Bill Roberts of Fairfax, Va., struggled today. He and two others in the Co-angler Division only weighed a single bass.

Craig Fredrychowski of Lexington, S.C., however, brought five to the scales for a three-day total of 26-11. He won $5,000 and a free ride to the Forrest Wood Cup as a co-angler.

Fredrychowski caught all five fish on a 5-inch shaky-head worm cast toward deeper water.

"While my partner was working docks or bedding fish, I just cast out the other side of the boat," he said.

He and the top five other co-anglers will also get a chance to compete in the BFL All-American. Ben Gross of Kingman, Ariz., came in second with 23-11 and won $2,500; Roberts ended up in third with 23-5 and will take home $1,000; Arkansas angler Hoyt Akins placed fourth with 22-8 over the three days worth $1,000; Brian Belke of Illinois caught a total of 22-5 for $1,000; and Vermont Bass Federation Youth Director Tim Austin brought 20-5 to the scales, also good for $1,000.

To join The Bass Federation, visit Bassfederation.com.

Tags: david-hart  headline-story  2008-04-24-national-championship 

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