UPCOMING EVENT: T-H Marine BFL - 2019 - Lake Okeechobee

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Not in Kansas anymore

Not in Kansas anymore
Jason Baird holds up a pair of tournament-winning bass from Francis Case Reservoir.

LAKE ANDES, S.D. - After flirting with the lead all week, Jason Baird of Gypsum, Kan., ultimately took home the overall win at the TBF Central Divisional championship on Francis Case Reservoir. The overall victory earned him a $500 Wal-Mart gift card as the Castrol Maximum Performer, but the real prize Baird sought after this week was a slot in the 2009 TBF National Championship, which he earned with his Kansas state-team win.

Eight states - Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Mississippi and Louisiana - each sent 12 competitors to this week's event, and competition among each state's 12 was fierce, as the No. 1 finisher from each team advances to next year's national championship as a boater. The runner-up from each state also earns a ticket to the nationals, but as a co-angler.

Competition among the eight teams was significant as well, as the top three teams, based on their competitors' combined weight over three days, earned tournament cash prizes. Team Arkansas won the top spot in that competition with 156-12 caught over three days, followed by Team Oklahoma with 153-13 and Team Texas with 146-2.

Central Divisional contenders braved a bevy of weather conditions this week, including a glaring sun Wednesday that was followed by severe weather Thursday and 20-mph winds today. Baird's weights slipped day by day, but in the end, he took the overall win by a 1-pound, 2-ounce margin and the Kansas win by 4 pounds, 3 ounces.

Tournament winner and Team Kansas leader Jason Baird shows off his plaque.Baird's one spot brings glory

As Baird fished as many as 20 spots on days one and two, he likely felt a little apprehensive when he realized this morning he couldn't get to his preferred spot.

"I wasn't able to go to my spot today," he said. "I went to one point right outside the off-limits buoy. I had 20 different spots on the first and second days, but today I fished that one spot and got lucky."

Baird's presentation today included 8-pound line and a 3/16-ounce shaky-head lure, which brought in his day-three catch of 5 pounds, 15 ounces. That brought his three-day total to 22 pounds.

"I decided it was too dangerous to go upriver, so I didn't have to burn any gas today," he said.

Playing it safe handed Baird his fourth trip to the nationals. By day, he is a parks and recreation director in Nebraska.

Finishing second on the Kansas team and advancing to the nationals as a co-angler is Jody Pfannenstiel of Salina, Kan. His three-day catch totaled 17 pounds, 13 ounces.

Arkansas claims second, third overall

Team Arkansas took the top tournament cash prize thanks to their win in the race among the states. These anglers together caught 156 pounds, 12 ounces over three days.Finishing the tournament second overall and first on the Arkansas squad is Zachary King of Clarksville, Ark. His 20-pound, 1-ounce three-day catch edged past No. 3 overall Jim Towers of Star City, Ark., who hauled in 19-4 over three days. King will represent Arkansas at the nationals as a boater, while Towers advances as a co-angler.

"I was planning on going 12 miles upriver, but when I took the first two waves and the third one went over the boat, I decided it just wasn't going to happen," Towers said. "I joined the merry-go-round on the launch cove."

Towers threw a Carolina rig to land his bass, guessing that since he caught three keepers on it in a crowded area, he must have been the only one using it.

"I am excited about fishing the national championship," Towers said. "This is my first year with TBF. My son, Ty Towers, competed in the TBF Junior National Championship last summer and finished second overall. We love TBF."

Halbersma claims Missouri title

Leading Team Missouri all week long was Marion Halbersma of Ozark, Mo., whose 19-pound, 1-ounce three-day haul will send him to the nationals as a boater. Joining him from Missouri at the nationals as a co-angler is Greg Cooper of Monroe City, Mo., who was the runner-up on the boater side at the 2007 TBF National Championship.

"It just feels great," Halbersma said of his state victory. "It was a dream of mine, and the dream came true. My son is probably more excited than I am."

Halbersma earned his ticket to the national championship on his son's 17th birthday. Brennan Halbersma qualified for the Missouri team as an alternate and got to compete on the final day.

Kleeman, Cartlidge to represent Oklahoma

Team Oklahoma caught 153-13 over three days to finish second in the race among the states.Winning the Oklahoma crown is Terry Kleeman of Joplin, Mo., with a three-day total catch of 18 pounds, 14 ounces. That bested the three-day weight of TBF national president and day-two overall leader Robert Cartlidge, who ended up second in Oklahoma with 17-13.

Foskey, Necaise advance from Mississippi

Tops in Mississippi is Norman Foskey of Gulfport, Miss., with 18 pounds, 9 ounces of Francis Case bass over three days. That beat No. 2 Mississippi angler Jerry Necaise of Long Beach, Miss., by a solid 4 pounds. Both are headed to the national championship, Foskey as a boater and Necaise as a co-angler.

Texas' Montgomery feels the pressure

Finishing third in the race among the states is Team Texas with 146-2 over three days.Taking first place on the Texas team and eighth overall is Troy Montgomery of Granbury, Texas, with a combined catch of 18 pounds, 1 ounce. Like many, Montgomery took shelter from the rough water today and found himself in good company.

"This was the hardest day of fishing in my life," Montgomery said. "I have never seen so many people fishing together. I counted 32 boats at one point fishing in the same cove."

Joining Montgomery at the nationals is No. 2 Texan Clint Farris, who caught 16-11 this week.

Walla, Knuth lead Nebraska

Advancing to the nationals as a boater from Nebraska is Bob Walla of Ceresco, Neb., with 15 pounds, 14 ounces over three days. Fellow Ceresco resident Jared Knuth advanced to the nationals as a co-angler with a combined catch of 15-9.

Moore claims Louisiana win

A look at the Central Divisional contenders who advanced to the 2009 National Championship.Taking victory in Louisiana is Joshua Moore of Grand Cane, La., with a three-day catch of 13 pounds, 2 ounces.

"It simply feels great to go to the nationals," Moore said. "I would love to fish professionally if the money starts coming in."

Joining him at the nationals from Louisiana is Shane Morris of Bastrop, La., with 10-10 over three days, good for second in his state.

Tags: jennifer-simmons  headline-story  2008-06-04-francis-case-reservoir 

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