(Oct 2, 2017 - BRANDON, MS.)
Reigning Forrest Wood Cup Champion Justin Atkins of Florence, Alabama, added to his stellar 2017 campaign Sunday, winning the T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Mississippi Division tournament on Ross Barnett Reservoir with a two-day cumulative total of 10 bass weighing 24 pounds, 6 ounces. Atkins was awarded $7,646 for his victory.
Atkins said he spent the tournament on the lower end of the lake targeting offshore fish. He said he caught the majority of his fish throughout the weekend using a 10-inch black Berkley Power Worm.
“I had one big school that was 10- to 14-feet deep,” said Atkins, who had seven prior top-10 finishes in BFL competition. “That’s where’d I’d start each morning to get a limit.”
Atkins said he moved to shallower brush piles around 10:30 a.m. each day.
“My Humminbird electronics helped me locate the brush piles and which of them were holding fish,” said Atkins. “I could also see the subtle changes on the bottom. I’ve never owned a unit that you could see fish that shallow.”
The top 10 boaters finished the tournament in:
1st: Justin Atkins, Florence, Ala., 10 bass, 24-6, $5,646 + $2,000 Ranger Cup Bonus
2nd: Teddy Cranford, Seminary, Miss., 10 bass, 24-5, $2,823
3rd: Dan Love, Pearl, Miss., seven bass, 20-0, $1,816
4th: Shannon Denson, Brandon, Miss., 10 bass, 19-10, $1,271
5th: Marty Torrence, Crystal Springs, Miss., nine bass, 19-6, $1,089
6th: Mitch Crane, Columbus, Miss., seven bass, 18-10, $998
7th: Darrell Hunter, Lena, Miss., seven bass, 18-8, $908
8th: Bobby McDill, Raleigh, Miss., seven bass, 18-3, $817
9th: Chris Wooten, West Point, Miss., seven bass, 17-4, $1,074
10th: Timmy Smith, Petal, Miss., eight bass, 17-4, $635
Larry Savell of Brandon, Mississippi, caught a 6-pound, 8-ounce bass – the heaviest of the event in the Boater Division – and earned the Boater Big Bass award of $348.
Hunter Utley of Cordova, Tennessee, caught a two-day total of eight bass weighing 19 pounds even to win the Co-angler Division and $3,272.
The top 10 co-anglers were:
1st: Hunter Utley, Cordova, Tenn., eight bass, 19-0, $3,272
2nd: Mike Allen, Crystal Springs, Miss., eight bass , 16-15, $1,411
3rd: Jason Mitchell, Hamilton, Miss., six bass, 13-5, $908
4th: Ray Higginbotham, Brooksville, Miss., six bass, 10-12, $635
5th: Kevin Culpepper, Seminary, Miss., four bass, 10-8, $545
6th: Charles Conn, Pearl, Miss., six bass, 10-0, $499
7th: Mike Hall, Purvis, Miss., four bass, 9-13, $454
8th: Bobby Murphy, Florence, Miss., five bass, 9-13, $408
9th: Jimmy Tisdale, Ellisville, Miss., five bass, 9-4, $363
10th: Lance Jackson, Starkville, Miss., three bass, 9-2, $318
Utley also caught the largest bass in the Co-angler Division – a fish weighing 5 pounds, 1 ounce – and earned the Co-angler Big Bass award of $349.
The top 45 boaters and co-anglers in the region based on point standings, along with the five winners in each qualifying event, will be entered in the Oct. 19-21 BFL Regional Championship on the Red River in Bossier City, Louisiana. Boaters will compete for a top award of a Ranger Z518C with a 200-horsepower Evinrude outboard and $20,000, while co-anglers will fish for a new Ranger Z518C with a 200-horsepower Evinrude outboard.
The 2017 BFL is a 24-division circuit devoted to weekend anglers, with 128 tournaments throughout the season, five qualifying events in each division. The top 45 boaters and co-anglers from each division, along with the five winners of the qualifying events, will advance to one of six regional tournaments where they are competing to finish in the top six, which then qualifies them for one of the longest-running championships in all of competitive bass fishing – the BFL All-American. The 2018 All-American will be held on Cross Lake in Shreveport, Louisiana, May 31-June 2 and is hosted by the Shreveport-Bossier City Sports Commission and the Red River Waterway Commission. Top performers in the BFL can move up to the Costa FLW Series or even the FLW Tour.
FLW is the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, providing anglers of all skill levels the opportunity to compete for millions in prize money in 2017 across five tournament circuits. Headquartered in Benton, Kentucky, with offices in Minneapolis, FLW conducts more than 258 bass-fishing tournaments annually across the United States and sanctions tournaments in Canada, China, Mexico, South Africa and South Korea. FLW tournament fishing can be seen on the Emmy-nominated “FLW" television show, broadcast to more than 564 million households worldwide, while FLW Bass Fishing magazine delivers cutting-edge tips from top pros.