(Apr 11, 2018 - JASPER, AL.)
Boater Gil Summerlin of Guntersville, Alabama, caught a five-bass limit weighing 16 pounds, 3 ounces, Saturday to win the T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Choo Choo Division event on Lewis Smith Lake. For his win, Summerlin earned $4,652.
Summerlin spent the event fishing a long clay point, a few miles from the dam, where he’d caught a good keeper in practice.
“I casted to the same place I’d caught the big one in practice and got hung up on a tree that I didn’t know was there,” said Summerlin, who earned his second career win in BFL competition. “I retrieved my bait, returned to my waypoint and casted back to it and caught a 4-pound spotted bass. It ended up being my magic tree.”
Summerlin said the tree was the only one along the point and was 20 feet deep.
“About every 30 minutes the tree reloaded,” said Summerlin. “They came up schooling on that point all day long until about 11 a.m. We probably caught 40 to 45 fish from that one spot all day.”
Summerlin said that his most productive baits were a Fish Head Spin with a Sexy Shad-colored Big Bite Baits Swimbait and a wacky-rigged green-pumpkin-colored Strike King KVD Perfect Plastic Ocho.
The top 10 boaters finished the tournament in:
1st: Gil Summerlin, Guntersville, Ala., five bass, 16-3, $4,652
2nd: Jeff Kitchens, Auburn, Ala., five bass, 15-8, $2,326
3rd: Mitch Mitchell, Muscle Shoals, Ala., five bass, 14-12, $1,751
4th: David Milsaps, Ranger, Ga., five bass, 14-10, $1,486
5th: Lee Black, Danville, Ala., five bass, 14-1, $930
6th: Todd Lee, Jasper, Ala., five bass, 13-15, $853
7th: Griffin Phillips, Mount Olive, Ala., five bass, 13-14, $697
7th: Danny Shell, Albertville, Ala., five bass, 13-14, $697
7th: Matt Graves, Little Rock, Ark., five bass, 13-14, $697
10th: Jake Roberson, Tuscumbia, Ala., five bass, 13-10, $543
Scott Wright of Carbon Hill, Alabama, brought a 4-pound, 10-ounce bass to the scale – the heaviest of the event in the Boater Division – and earned the day’s Boater Big Bass award of $685.
Justin Stephenson of Jasper, Alabama, won the Co-angler Division and $2,288 Saturday after catching five bass weighing 14 pounds, 4 ounces.
The top 10 co-anglers were:
1st: Justin Stephenson, Jasper, Ala., five bass, 14-4, $2,288
2nd: William Ryan, Jasper, Ala., five bass, 13-15, $1,144
3rd: Brian Warfel, Woodbridge, Va., five bass, 12-10, $862
4th: Tyler Power, Birmingham, Ala., five bass, 12-7, $534
5th: Larry Hughes, Summertown, Tenn., five bass, 11-11, $458
6th: Larry McNeil, Huntsville, Ala., five bass, 11-10, $419
7th: Daniel Douglas, Meridianville, Ala., five bass, 11-9, $431
8th: Jody Moore, Hixson, Tenn., five bass, 11-7, $343
9th: Josh Clark, Logan, Ala., four bass, 11-2, $305
10th: Michael Park, Birmingham, Ala., four bass, 11-1, $267
Leandra McClendon Jr. of Trussville, Alabama, caught the largest bass in the Co-angler Division weighing in at 4 pounds, 13 ounces. The catch earned him the day’s Co-angler Big Bass award of $332.
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. 25-27 BFL Regional Championship on Lake Chickamauga in Dayton, Tennessee. 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, South Africa and Spain. 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.