Southeast Division boater Gary Cline, 54, from Lexington, N.C., leads The Bass Federation National Championship presented by the National Guard after catching five bass weighing 19 pounds, 4 ounces on the opening day at Watts Bar Lake. The catch gives Cline a slim 11-ounce lead over Leo Bevelaqua of Wyoming, R.I., representing the Eastern Division with five bass weighing 18 pounds, 9 ounces, in the race to win the "Living the Dream" $100,000 prize package that includes berths in two of the sport's most coveted events - the Forrest Wood Cup, the world championship of bass fishing, and the BFL All-American presented by Chevy.
"A lot of fish are biting, so it has been a good week," said Cline, who is a purchasing agent. "I am just glad to be here and to be able to have a shot at winning this title is great."
"The first place we stopped this morning we started catching them right off the bat," stated Cline. "As a matter of fact, I had four of my keepers at nine o'clock this morning. We were catching fish all day and I was catching them with a crankbait fishing shallow rocks and I was also flipping and pitching to shallow brush. After I had my limit this morning, I basically went around fishing other areas and caught some fish, so I am going to basically do the same thing I did today and expand on that [Friday]."
In addition to the incredibly lucrative championship berths, the TBF National Championship will also award $7,000 and a "Living the Dream" prize package to the first-place boater. The package includes use of a "Living the Dream" wrapped Chevy truck and Ranger boat powered either by Evinrude or Yamaha, sponsor merchandise and paid entry fees into the 2011 FLW Tour to compete against the world's top bass anglers.
Anglers from seven nationwide TBF divisions competed during 2008 and 2009 seasons qualifying through a series of TBF club, TBF state and TBF divisional tournaments to compete in the no-entry-fee TBF National Championship. The top boater and top co-angler from each of the seven TBF divisions from the competition on Watts Bar Lake will advance to the 2010 BFL All-American. The national championship is the culmination of more than two years of qualifiers for most of the 30,000 anglers that are members of TBF in the United States and Canada.
Rounding out the division leaders on the boater side after day one on Watts Bar Lake are:
Central Division: Clint Farris, Crowley, Texas, five bass, 16-4
Mid-Atlantic Division: Amos Dixon, Camden Wyoming, Del., five bass, 13-4
Northern Division: Jason Knapp, Uniontown, Pa., five bass, 15-8
Northwest Division: Aaron Echternkamp, Moses Lake, Wash., three bass, 7-8
Southwest Division: Jason Rayles, Haskell, Texas, four bass, 11-4
For complete results, visit the bassfederation.com.
Overall there were 150 bass weighing 407 pounds, 15 ounces caught by 47 boaters. The catch included 17 five-bass limits.
Adam Williamson of Ridgeway, S.C., led the co-angler challengers Thursday with five bass weighing 13 pounds, 7 ounces. Representing the Southern Division, Williamson caught his limit while fishing with Central Division boater Clint Farris. Farris is currently leading his division after day one.
"We went to some areas we found in practice," said Williamson. "We worked together today as team and if I would see something I liked I could tell him and we would go check it out."
Williamson, 23, who works in retail in the sports industry, said, "The TBF is a great thing and all I have been thinking about the past few days is qualifying for the Forrest Wood Cup. If it pans out, it can help in making this my career."
If Williamson can hold on for the win, he will earn a $5,000 cash prize and a berth into the 2010 Forrest Wood Cup for a chance to fish for as much as $60,000. He will also earn a berth into the BFL All-American presented by Chevy along with the top co-angler from each TBF division for a chance to fish for as much as $60,000.
Rounding out the division leaders on the co-angler side after day one on Watts Bar Lake are:
Central Division: Ronnie Gordon, Horn Lake, Miss., four bass, 8-9
Eastern Division: Casey Casamento, Plattsburgh, N.Y., four bass, 8-8
Mid-Atlantic Division: Willie Adkins, Wayne, W.Va., four bass, 8-2
Northern Division: Steve Quiggins, Fortville, Ind., four bass, 9-6
Northwest Division: Tom Schachten, Murphys, Calif., three bass, 7-3
Southwest Division: Jeff Erikson, Phoenix, Ariz., four bass, 9-3
Overall there were 89 bass weighing 217 pounds, 14 ounces caught by 47 co-anglers. The catch included 1 five-bass limit.
Ladd Park in Kingston, Tenn., will host takeoff Friday and Saturday at 7 a.m. Anglers will weigh in Friday at 3 p.m. at Ladd Park. Saturday's weigh-in will begin at 3 p.m. at the Knoxville Convention Center followed by the FLW Tour weigh-in at 4 p.m. The TBF National Championship is being hosted by the Tennessee Valley Authority.
The entire field of 47 TBF boaters and 47 co-anglers compete Thursday and Friday for an accumulated two-day weight. The top boater and co-angler from each of the TBF's seven divisions will advance to Saturday's final round, where the winners will be determined by the heaviest three-day accumulated weight.
Fans will be treated to a Family Fun Zone & Outdoor Expo at the Knoxville Convention Center on Friday from 5 to 9 p.m. and Saturday prior to the final weigh-in from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. There will be a drawing for a Can-Am ATV courtesy of WNML-AM and rod and reel combos will be given to the first 300 kids under 14 in attendance on Saturday compliments of the Knoxville News Sentinel. The Family Fun Zone & Outdoor Expo includes Ranger boat simulators, the opportunity to interact with professional anglers, enjoy interactive games, activities and giveaways provided by sponsors, and learn more about the sport of fishing and other outdoor activities. All activities are free and open to the public. For a full schedule of events, additional information and to register for the ATV, visit http://www.flwoutdoors.com/knoxville/.
Coverage of the TBF National Championship presented by the National Guard will be broadcast in high-definition (HD) on WFN (World Fishing Network) Sunday, June 20 at 7 p.m. ET.
The Bass Federation Inc., (TBF), is the oldest and largest, organized grassroots angling organization in America. TBF is owned by those it serves and is dedicated to the sport of fishing. TBF affiliated state federations and their member clubs conduct more than 20,000 fishing, youth and conservation events at the local level each year, and have provided the foundation for the entire bass fishing industry for more than 40 years.