UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

Wilson Crowned TBF Champ

Wilson Crowned TBF Champ
Austin Wilson

Undaunted by rollercoaster weather conditions, falling water levels and intense competition, California’s Austin Wilson turned three days of rock-solid springtime bass fishing into a $120,000 payday at The Bass Federation’s 2018 National Championship. In addition to the prize money, Wilson qualified for the 2018 Forrest Wood Cup, 2018 T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League All-American and the Living the Dream package that includes entry into the 2019 FLW Tour, with an expense stipend and use of a wrapped Ranger bass boat.

Held April 12-14 on Bull Shoals out of Flippin, Ark., the championship event featured an elite field of 54 boaters and 54 co-anglers from across the continent who qualified at 22 district competitions in the TBF’s National Semi-Finals system.

Thanks to the success of that recently adopted qualifying format, the field competed for an all-time record payout of nearly $300,000 in cash and prizes.

“Anglers practiced in their own boats Monday and Tuesday, then transferred their gear to brand-new Evinrude-powered Ranger boats for the final day of practice,” explains TBF President and CEO Robert Cartlidge. “Everyone fished out of these state-of-the-art Rangers on Thursday and Friday, after which the field was cut to the top boater and co-angler from each of the TBF’s seven divisions for Saturday’s final round.”

Wilson’s drive to the championship began with serious research from his home in Citrus Heights, Calif., just outside Sacramento.

“As soon as I found we were fishing Bull Shoals, I spent as much time as possible on Google Earth, dissecting the lake and getting an idea where I thought the bass would position to move in and spawn,” he says.

Wilson’s home waters include the California Delta, plus Folsom and Clear lakes, and although his favorite tactics are frogging and flipping, he’s a firm believer in versatility.

“I don’t like to put myself in any one category,” he says. “My weakness is cranking, but I still caught a lot of my fish this week on crankbaits.”

In practice, he fished the lake stem to stern and fished new water each day.

Wilson started the championship with a five-fish day-one limit weighing 14 pounds, 2 ounces. The catch included a pair of largemouths that hit a compact Picasso umbrella rig near a bridge located 25 minutes from takeoff at the Bull Shoals Boat Dock, and a trio of smallies taken barely a long cast from the ramp.

“I got the smallmouths on a Norman Deep Little N in reverse green craw,” he says. “I was fishing chunk rock on a secondary point in 5 to 10 feet of water.”

The weight put him atop the Southwest Division and within striking distance of overall leader Cody Huddleston of West Virginia, who brought 15 pounds, 9 ounces to the scale.

As he idled onto Bull Shoals the second morning, Wilson was in a dead heat with Kentucky’s B.J. Nelson, who was representing the Southern Division. Wilson followed a similar game plan. Although the bridge failed to produce, a mix of umbrella rigs and crankbaits yielded all the keepers.

As fate would have it, both anglers turned in identical limits again on day two. Each weighed 13 pounds, 9 ounces to lead his division and the entire field with 27 pounds, 11 ounces.

Wilson stuck to the same game plan on day three. Again, the bridge was a bust. But his two-pronged crankbait and umbrella rig program yielded a respectable limit in 10 feet of water on secondary points near the weigh-in area.

“I didn’t think I had enough to win it,” he admits.

The 12-pound, 9-ounce limit was enough for a 40-pound, 4-ounce total that put him more than 3 pounds ahead of his closest rival.

“I’m ecstatic,” Wilson said after claiming the crown. “I’ve been fishing as long as I can remember, and ever since I was about 16 I knew this is what I wanted to do with my life. I’m thankful TBF offers an opportunity like this.”

In fact, Wilson became interested in TBF after seeing fellow Californian Mark Daniels Jr. win the TBF championship and parlay the Living the Dream package into a professional bass fishing career. He hopes to do likewise with his shot at the FLW Tour.

As icing on the cake, Wilson was awarded a brand-new Ranger Z518 for being the event’s top Ranger Cup-qualified boater.

 

Blash tops co-angler division

On the co-angler side of the event, Missouri’s Ray Blash won the Central Division and the overall co-angler title with 10 bass for a 27-pound, 12-ounce total. Blash sacked 6 pounds, 11 ounces on day one, boated the field’s heaviest catch on day two with a 16-pound, 3-ounce limit, and finished with 4 pounds, 14 ounces on day three.

Blash received a $30,000 “Living the Dream” prize package with fully paid entry fees into the Costa FLW Series division of his choice. Vermont’s Scott McKay earned a $5,000 cash award for being the highest-placing Ranger Cup-qualified co-angler.

 

All-American qualifiers

The top boater and co-angler in each TBF division at the championship qualified to fish the 2018 BFL All-American. The list of qualifiers follows:

Boater finalists

1. Austin Wilson, California, 40-04 (15)
2. Pat Upthagrove, Michigan, 37-02 (15)
3. Brian Trieschman, Washington, D.C., 37-02 (14)
4. B.J. Nelson, Kentucky, 35-00 (13)
5. Nick Deering, Maine, 32-02 (12)
6. Mike Webster, Arkansas, 27-08 (10)
7. Loren Torok, Idaho, 19-03 (7)

Co-angler finalists

1. Ray Blash, Missouri, 27-12 (10)
2. Jesse Parks, Arizona, 21-13 (7)
3. Hernandez Ruffin, Washington, 19-10 (8)
4. Adam Wall, Delaware, 16-06 (6)
5. Dave Berg, Minnesota, 11-05 (4)
6. Chris Franco, Tennessee, 7-14 (3)
7. Scott McKay, Vermont, 5-05 (2)

 

Tournament details

Overall, boaters and co-anglers brought in 31 bass weighing 85 pounds, 8 ounces on the final day. Just three of the 14 finalists landed limits.

Coverage of the TBF National Championship was streamed live daily on bassfederation.com and will be broadcast nationally in high definition on “Federation Angler,” which airs on the Pursuit Channel.

The Bass Federation is a proud partner in fishing with FLW, which helps support this annual event along with other industry-leading TBF sponsors, including Bass Pro Shops, Ranger Boats, Evinrude, Faculty of Fishing, Cabela’s, Humminbird, Minn Kota, Berkley, Lowrance and Power-Pole.

 

Tags: dan-johnson  article 

Nixon Ready for Fresh Start

Nixon Ready for Fresh Start

Except 2020 will be different for the General. He’ll miss the season opener on Sam Rayburn and stop No. 2 at the Harris Chain. In fact, he might not get to launch a boat for the 2020 Pro Circuit until stop No. 4 or 5 in April. READ MORE »

Review: VMC Tokyo Rig

Review: VMC Tokyo Rig

When the VMC Tokyo Rig first debuted at ICAST in 2018, a lot of folks didn’t know what to make of the weird-looking contraption. Some thought of it as a gimmick. I kind of felt that way at first until some industry friends told me about their success with it. It didn’t take long before I had a few in hand and was ready to take it for a spin. READ MORE »

Check-in Time: Kurt Mitchell

Check-in Time: Kurt Mitchell

From time to time, FLW checks in with its anglers to find out what they’ve been up to, what they’re listening to, who they’re following and where they’re heading while out on the tournament trail. This week, we caught up with Delaware pro Kurt Mitchell.  READ MORE »

Top 10 Reasons to Fish the Phoenix Bass Fishing League

Top 10 Reasons to Fish the Phoenix Bass Fishing League

Fishing tournaments in general is obviously a blast, but we like to think that fishing the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine is especially fun. READ MORE »

BFL Registration Now Open

BFL Registration Now Open

Boaters and co-anglers interested in fishing the Gator, Piedmont, Savannah River, Shenandoah and South Carolina divisions of the 2020 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine can begin registering today. With the addition of these final divisions, registration for the Bass Fishing League is now open for everyone who wants to fish in 2020.  READ MORE »

How to Fish Offshore Grass in Florida

How to Fish Offshore Grass in Florida

In recent years, fishing a lipless bait, a spinnerbait or a vibrating jig in offshore grass in Florida has lit up the leaderboard in many tournaments. Tyler Woolcott, a second-year pro from Port Orange, Fla., has plenty of experience tracking the bass in offshore grass throughout the seasons, and you might be able to learn a thing or two from him. READ MORE »

Registration Starts Monday 

Registration Starts Monday 

This year, things are better than ever for anglers looking to get in on the action of the Bass Fishing League, which is the premier grassroots tournament circuit. MLF and FLW are rolling back entry fees – now just $200 per boater and $100 per co-angler for one-day qualifiers and $300 per boater and $150 per co-angler for two-day Super Tournaments. Those are the lowest entry fees since 2014.  READ MORE »

FLW, TBF Extend Strategic Partnership

FLW, TBF Extend Strategic Partnership

Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) and The Bass Federation (TBF) announced today a new strategic partnership. This agreement extends bass fishing’s longest-running alliance between two pioneering organizations in service to grassroots anglers from coast to coast and around the world. READ MORE »

2020 High School Fishing Details

2020 High School Fishing Details

Today FLW (Fishing League Worldwide) announced the schedule, rules and entry dates for the 2020 FLW High School Fishing season. New for 2020, the winning team (two anglers) at the National Championship will both advance to the 2020 FLW Series Championship to compete as co-anglers and fish for the top prize of $30,000, in addition to each receiving a $5,000 scholarship to a school of their choice. READ MORE »

Phoenix Signs as Exclusive Boat Sponsor

Phoenix Signs as Exclusive Boat Sponsor

FLW has reached a sponsorship agreement with Phoenix Boats, a leading boat manufacturer known for innovation, performance and an angler-centric business approach. Effective immediately, Phoenix will assume title sponsorship of the FLW Bass Fishing League, which recently announced decreased entry fees to offer grassroots anglers the best payouts at the lowest cost available. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. READ MORE »

Wall Back to Building Baits

Wall Back to Building Baits

The offseason for many professional anglers is a time to hang out with family and take a step away from a bass boat, while some even swap time on the water for time in a deer stand or duck blind. Not so for Jacob Wall, who just wrapped his first year as a professional angler. READ MORE »

Thrift, Dudley Join 2020 Bass Pro Tour

Thrift, Dudley Join 2020 Bass Pro Tour

Bryan Thrift and David Dudley will be joining the 2020 Major League Fishing (MLF) Bass Pro Tour. READ MORE »

How the Pros Spend Thanksgiving

How the Pros Spend Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time to enjoy the company of family and friends – especially those we might not get to see that often. And, of course, it’s time to indulge in some delicious food while giving thanks for what we have in our lives. For professional anglers, the holiday is even more special because it lands during that small portion of the year when they’re not on the road and can spend a little extra time relaxing at home. READ MORE »

BFL Co-Anglers Win Polaris ATVs

BFL Co-Anglers Win Polaris ATVs

Jacob Yelton and Richard Thornburg, both of whom fished as co-anglers in the T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League this season, are each proud recipients of a brand new Polaris Sportsman 570 EPS ATV as winners of the Polaris Sportsman Giveaway. READ MORE »

How to Catch Winter Bass on Hair Jigs

How to Catch Winter Bass on Hair Jigs

“It’s hard to pass up smallmouths in the winter,” Slegona says. “When they get bunched up out there you can have a lights-out day. So, when that water temp drops below 50, I break out the hair jig box, and I put it away again in the spring when the water gets warm.” READ MORE »

Cash in on the Florida Prespawn

Cash in on the Florida Prespawn

Growing up on Lake Okeechobee, Jared McMillan loves to flip for big fish when the opportunity presents itself, but he’ll be the first to tell you that mid-November can be one of the best times to be on the water. READ MORE »

Check-in Time with Kurt Dove

Check-in Time with Kurt Dove

The most exciting thing I have going on currently is that I just picked up my 2020 Ranger 520L, and the prepping and rigging happens on the weekends. I’m hoping to get out on the water sometime after Thanksgiving to test it out. READ MORE »

Rapala Varsity Bass Ep. 5 Airs Friday 

Rapala Varsity Bass Ep. 5 Airs Friday 

Join FLW for a watch party for the premiere of Episode 5 of Rapala Varsity Bass presented by General Tire. The episode will air Friday, Nov. 22 at 2 p.m. CT. READ MORE »

2020 FLW College Fishing Details

2020 FLW College Fishing Details

The schedule, rules and entry dates for the 2020 FLW College Fishing presented by YETI season are now available, highlighted by the FLW College Fishing National Championship on the Harris Chain of Lakes in Leesburg, Fla., and advancement opportunities for anglers to compete in the Bass Fishing League (BFL) All-American and the FLW Series Championship. All teams also now have the freedom to add as many nonconference tournaments to their schedule as they like.  READ MORE »

Less Stress and More Fun

Less Stress and More Fun

After qualifying for the FLW Tour out of the FLW Series Northern Division for the second time in 2018, Slegona finally had the money lined up and hit the big leagues. So, he pointed his Tundra and Skeeter toward Texas in December to start an adventure that was a lifetime in the making. READ MORE »