(Jan 15, 2018 - Lake Wales, FL)
Boater Robert Crosnoe of Inverness, Florida, caught a five-bass limit weighing 18 pounds, 7 ounces, Saturday to win the 2018 T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Gator Division opener on the Kissimmee River. Crosnoe pocketed $4,920 for his victory.
Crosnoe said he spent the event flipping a type of cover he called ‘mud mats’. He said his key stretch of water was 300 yards long and on the east side of Lake Kissimmee.
“When Hurricane Irma hit Florida, lily pads weren’t able to grow on Lake Kissimmee because the water was so high,” said Crosnoe, who logged his fourth career win as a boater in the BFL Gator division. “Eventually, their roots dislodged from the bottom and floated to the surface to form these mud islands, along with some grass.”
Crosnoe said he targeted bass who sought warmth in the mud mats.
“I flipped in 3 feet of water and had 15 bites throughout the day,” said Crosnoe.
Crosnoe said he caught his fish using a Hematoma-colored Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver with a 1¼-ounce tungsten weight on a 7-foot, 6-inch Fitzgerald Titan HD rod with 70-pound-test Vursa braid line.
The top 10 boaters finished the tournament in:
1st: Robert Crosnoe, Inverness, Fla., five bass, 18-7, $4,920
2nd: Matthew Wieteha, Miami, Fla., five bass, 18-4, $2,460
3rd: Billy Carroll, Tavares, Fla., five bass, 17-0, $1,574
4th: Van Soles, Haines City, Fla., five bass, 16-6, $1,101
5th: Andrew Markham, Lake Placid, Fla., five bass, 16-1, $944
6th: Jared McMillan, Belle Glade, Fla., five bass, 15-14, $865
7th: Marlon Crowder, Tampa, Fla., five bass, 15-4, $787
8th: Preston Clark, Eagle Lake, Fla., five bass, 15-0, $708
9th: Neal Meadors, Vero Beach, Fla., five bass, 14-9, $629
10th: Raymond Guerra, Port Saint Lucie, Fla., five bass, 14-8, $551
Chuck Webb of Sarasota, Florida, caught a bass weighing 7 pounds, 14 ounces – the heaviest of the event in the Boater Division – and earned the day’s Boater Big Bass award of $695.
Larry Branch of Kissimmee, Florida, won the Co-angler Division and $2,707 Saturday after catching a five-bass limit weighing 17 pounds, 5 ounces.
The top 10 co-anglers were:
1st: Larry Branch, Kissimmee, Fla., five bass, 17-5, $2,707
2nd: Michael Wiles, Perry, Fla., five bass, 14-2, $1,180
3rd: Dean Haughey, Babson Park, Fla., five bass, 13-12, $787
4th: Jim Topmiller, Orlando, Fla., five bass, 12-14, $751
5th: Jeff Claiborne, Pembroke Pines, Fla., five bass, 12-9, $472
6th: John Trudel, Lighthouse Point, Fla., five bass, 12-5, $483
7th: Marco Carbajal, Marshall, Texas, five bass, 11-4, $393
8th: Vince Owen, Coral Springs, Fla., four bass, 11-1, $354
9th: Mike Tucker, Yalaha, Fla., five bass, 10-10, $315
10th: Timothy Hibbs, Bradenton, Fla., five bass, 10-9, $275
Branch also caught the largest bass in the Co-angler Division – an 11-pound, 1-ounce giant. The catch earned him the day’s Co-angler Big Bass award of $347.
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. 11-13 BFL Regional Championship on the St. Johns River in Palatka, Florida. 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 2018 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 BFL All-American will be held May 31-June 2 at Cross Lake in Shreveport, Louisiana, and is hosted by the Shreveport-Bossier Sports 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 2018 across five tournament circuits. Headquartered in Benton, Kentucky, with offices in Minneapolis, FLW and their partners conduct 286 bass-fishing tournaments annually around the world, including the United States, Canada, China, Italy, South Korea, Mexico, Portugal, and South Africa. 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.