James Blankenship of Lexington, N.C., weighed a five-bass limit totaling 14 pounds Feb. 23 to win the Walmart Bass Fishing League North Carolina Division event on Lake Norman. For his victory, Blankenship earned $4,235.
“I hadn’t fished at all over the past two months,” Blankenship said. “I was going to fish Thursday and Friday, but the weather was changing so much. I didn’t want to get into a rut of where the fish were the day before, so I chose not to pre-fish.
“My day started out a little slow,” Blankenship said. “I caught one early, but then it really slowed down for me. I was fishing deep brush piles in about 20 feet of water. At about 11 a.m. I pulled up on one brush pile and caught four fish very quick on back-to-back casts, all on a Fish Head Spin with a Zoom Fluke trailer in albino color. I fished around in the area after that and caught several other keepers, but was only able to cull up by a few ounces.
“That’s when I decided to leave there and went up the lake to fish some muddy water,” Blankenship went on to say. “I caught one on a dock that went about 31/2 pounds on a black and blue jig. This was crucial to my victory, as I was able to cull and upgrade my catch by almost 2 pounds. I thought my bag would have been top 5 or maybe even top 10, but I really didn’t think it would be enough to win. I guess it was a lot tougher of a day than I had thought.”
Rounding out the top 10 pros were:
• 2nd: Gordon Smith, Lake Wylie, five bass, 13-11, $2,118
• 3rd: Nathan Webber, Lake Wylie, five bass, 13-8, $1,413 + Evinrude Bonus: $300
• 4th: Wayne Hauser, Mooresville, N.C., five bass, 13-7, $917
• 4th: Shane Lineberger, Lincolnton, N.C., five bass, 13-7, $917
• 6th: Larry Houser, Lincolnton, N.C., five bass, 13-5 $776
• 7th: Drew Montgomery, Denver, N.C., five bass, 12-10 $706
• 8th: Pete Bejte, Charlotte, N.C., five bass, 12-8, $635 + Evinrude Bonus: $300
• 9th: Brian Travis, Conover, N.C., five bass, 11-13, $565
• 10th: Kevin Toler, Statesville, N.C., five bass, 11-11, $494
Complete results can be found at FLWOutdoors.com.
Tripp Toney of Rutherfordton, N.C., weighed a five-bass limit totaling 12 pounds, 2 ounces to win $2,118 in the co-angler division.
Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers were:
2nd: Kevin Hughes, Bristol, Va., five bass, 10-6, $1,059
• 3rd: Andrew Shundich, Cornelius, N.C., five bass, 8-4, $706
• 4th: George Hirapetian, Charlotte, N.C., five bass, 8-0, $494
• 5th: Mark Murphy, Kannapolis, N.C., four bass, 7-13, $406
• 5th: Charles Wood, Thomasville, N.C., three bass, 7-13, $406
• 7th: Johnny Guffey, Bessemer City, N.C., five bass, 7-12, $353
• 8th: Nicholas Shaver, Marion, N.C., five bass, 7-10, $318
• 9th: Brooks Singletary, Cherryville, N.C., three bass, 7-1, $282
• 10th: Thomas McDermott, Madison, N.C., five bass, 7-0, $247
The next BFL North Carolina Division tournament is scheduled March 16 on Jordan Lake in Sanford, N.C. After the final divisional tournament is complete, the top 40 boaters and 40 co-anglers based on point standings will qualify for the Oct. 10-12 Regional Championship on Lake Lanier in Gainesville, Ga. Boaters will compete for a top award of a Ranger Z518 with a 200-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard and a Chevy Silverado, while co-anglers will fish for a new Ranger Z518 with a 200-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard.
The BFL is a 24-division circuit devoted to weekend anglers, with 120 tournaments throughout the season, five in each division.
The top 40 boaters and co-anglers from each division qualify for a regional tournament and compete to finish in the top six, which then qualifies them for one of the longest-running championships in all of competitive bass fishing – the Walmart BFL All-American presented by Chevy.
The 2013 BFL All-American is being held June 27–29 on the Nickajack Lake in Chattanooga, Tenn. Top winners in the BFL can move up to the EverStart Series or even the Walmart FLW Tour.