Rick Johnston of Joplin, Mo., weighed a five-bass limit totaling 19 pounds, 6 ounces Saturday to win the Walmart Bass Fishing League Ozark Division event on Stockton Lake. For his victory, Johnston earned $6,718.

“I only fished one bait for most of the day, but I rigged it a couple of different ways,” said Johnston. “I was using a green pumpkin-colored 5-inch Luck “E” Strike Jogger worm. At first, I had it rigged on a 3/16-ounce shaky-head jig, but I switched midday and started fishing it weightless, real slow with 8-pound-test line. The water on the lake was up quite a bit – into the bushes – and you could catch fish all day, but they didn’t have any real size.

“Based on my practice, I had decided to target the clearer water in the lower end of the lake,” Johnston went on to say. “I was not having much luck in the shallow trees and bushes, so I decided to back off into the deeper water, and that is where I had my success. I ended up catching eight keepers on the day. I had won the points title for the Ozark division in 2009, but I had never won a BFL tournament. This is such a thrill for me, and I couldn’t be more excited.”

Rounding out the top 10 pros were:

2nd:   Wes Endicott, Joplin, Mo., five bass, 13-10, $1,859

3rd:   Bill Jared, Bella Vista, Ark., five bass, 13-2, $1,238

4th:    Josh Busby, Rogersville, Mo., five bass, 12-15, $867

5th:    David McCormick, Lee’s Summit, Mo., five bass, 12-14, $744

6th:    Nalon Jones, Marshfield, Mo., five bass, 12-13, $682

7th:    Dirk Sluyter, Russellville, Mo., five bass, 12-11, $620

8th:    Ronnie Kane, Gardner, Kan., five bass, 12-10, $558

9th:    Brent Algeo, Ozark, Mo., five bass, 12-8, $496

10th: Robert Derr, Reeds Spring, Mo., five bass, 12-6, $434

Complete results can be found at FLWOutdoors.com.

Brian Thompson of Springfield, Mo., weighed a five-bass limit totaling 12 pounds, 12 ounces Saturday to win $1,820 in the co-angler division.

Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers were:

2nd:   Brian Jones, Villa Ridge, Mo., five bass, 11-5, $910

3rd:   Don Mason, Eldon, Mo., five bass, 10-15, $607

4th:    Brian Gibler, Baldwin City, Kan., five bass, 10-1, $425

5th:    Joe Waggoner, Carthage, Mo., five bass, 9-10, $364

6th:    John Luzynski, St. Louis, Mo., five bass, 9-9, $334

7th:    Bryan Barnard, Harrison, Ark., five bass, 9-6, $303

8th:    Kal Chamaoun, St. Louis, Mo., five bass, 9-5, $273

9th:    Micah Lawson, Leawood, Kan., five bass, 9-3, $243

10th: Derek Felton, Republic, Mo., five bass, 9-2, $212

The next BFL Ozark Division tournament is scheduled for June 2 on Lake Truman in Warsaw, Mo. After the fifth Ozark Division tournament is complete, the top 40 boaters and 40 co-anglers based on point standings will qualify for the Oct. 11-13 Regional Championship on Lake Barkley in Kuttawa, Ky. 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 2012 BFL All-American is being held May 17 – 19 on the Potomac River in National Harbor, Md. Top winners in the BFL can move up to the EverStart Series or even the Walmart FLW Tour.

photo: FLW Outdoors

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