Louisiana won big Friday in the 2012 Cabela’s B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Central Divisional. The host anglers caught a total of 328 pounds, 2 ounces of Atchafalaya Basin bass across three days to claim their team championship.

It was, indeed, a team effort. Thirteen anglers contributed to the cause with Jason Pecoraro leading the charge. He brought 38 pounds, 7 ounces to the scales to best second-place finisher Ryan Lavigne by 3 pounds, 8 ounces.  The team won a Skeeter ZX190 powered by a Yamaha VZ150TL. The rig included a Skeeter single axel trailer, a Minn Kota 70 Edge trolling motor and a Humminbird 788c electronics unit.

Oklahoma finished second; Kansas was third; Missouri ended up fourth; and Texas claimed the fifth spot. Each of those state teams will receive a cash prize. Arkansas, Mississippi and Nebraska rounded out the field.

In the individual competition, Dale Hightower, fishing with Oklahoma, slowed down a bit today but didn’t stumble. He held his two-day lead with a sack that weighed 8 pounds, 11 ounces for a total of 39 pounds, 7 ounces and a wire-to-wire finish.

Pecoraro made a serious run on Hightower but fell exactly 1 pound short. His huge Friday sack of 13 pounds, 1 ounce just wasn’t big enough to make up for a slower first day when he weighed 10 pounds, 5 ounces.

Hightower fished a medium-sized, shallow-water slough all three days with a Lucky Craft RC square-bill crankbait with a copper shad finish, and with a purple Gene Larew HooDaddy Jr.

“I fished both baits around some old railroad ties that were in shallow water. I’d run the crankbait down alongside them first and then go back with the HooDaddy Jr.,” he said. “When my bite slowed I moved out to some cypress trees at the mouth of the slough. I’m sure glad this was a three-day tournament. I was starting to run out of fish.”

Big bass for the day, and for the tournament, went to Mississippi’s Teb Jones. He brought a 5-pound, 4-ounce fish to the scales this afternoon.

Each leader of the state teams will advance to the Oct. 25-27 Cabela’s B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Championship on Wheeler Lake out of Decatur, Ala. Six regional winners of that event will advance to the 2013 Bassmaster Classic, set for Grand Lake out of Tulsa, Okla.

“That is really special,” Hightower said. “You don’t know how much I want to fish next year’s Classic in my home state. But I have to get there first, so I think I’m going to go now and get ready for the next round.”

Besides Hightower for Oklahoma, the other qualifiers for the Federation Championship were Tim Dycus for Arkansas; Preston Frazell for Kansas; Pecoraro for Louisiana; Jones for Mississippi; Greg Cooper for Missouri; Jared Knuth for Nebraska; and Albert Collins for Texas.

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