Heath Gilmore of Meridian, Miss., weighed in four bass totaling 16 pounds, 5 ounces Saturday to win the Walmart Bass Fishing League Mississippi Division event on Ross Barnett. For his victory, Gilmore earned $6,507.

“I had no idea that I was going to win,” said Gilmore. “I had three good fish and one 12-incher. I didn’t think I had a chance to win. I just figured that I might make a check. I had practiced a few days prior to the tournament, but the problem was that the weather has been changing so much lately. The day started out a little sunny and the water was on the rise from all of the rain we had Thursday night. I’m guessing the water rose around 6 inches just in the period that we were fishing. It was cold and the wind was blowing all day making it miserable.

“But I stuck with my game plan,” Gilmore continued. “I ended up catching all my keepers at the main spot where I was planning on fishing. I didn’t catch anything there in the morning, but I saw six or seven other boats in the same area and they caught a few smaller fish. I decided to leave and come back later in the afternoon after the water had a chance to warm up.

“I was fishing between 2 and 4 feet deep,” Gilmore went on to say. “The moon was close to being full and I figured that the bigger females would be moving up later in the day. I caught most of them very shallow on a swimbait that I had dyed blue because of the stained water conditions. It was a very tough bite. I only had five bites all day, and four of those were keepers. I was very lucky.”

Rounding out the top 10 pros were:

2nd: Grant Galloway, Houlka, Miss., five bass, 15-7, $2,253
3rd: Philip Atkins, Columbus, Miss., five bass, 12-7, $1,502
4th: Craig Dowling, Franklin, Tenn., three bass, 12-3, $1,052
5th: Wade Mitchell, Woodland, Miss., four bass, 10-14, $901
6th: Michael Dennis, Collinsville, Miss., five bass, 10-13, $826
7th: Chris Wooten, West Point, Miss., three bass, 10-0, $751
8th: Roger Stegall, Iuka, Miss., five bass, 9-12, $676
9th: Rick Pullen, Houston, Miss., three bass, 9-9, $601
10th: Dennis Kirby, Lakeland, Tenn., five bass, 9-4, $526

John Goul of Philadelphia, Miss., weighed in four bass totaling 15 pounds, 10 ounces Saturday to win $2,253 in the co-angler division.

Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers were:

2nd: Jesse Steadham, Florence, Miss., four bass, 9-6, $1,127
3rd: Charles Conn, Pearl, Miss., two bass, 6-4, $751
4th: John Breeden, Brandon, Miss., four bass, 6-3, $488
4th: Richard Keene, Caledonia, Miss, three bass, 6-3, $488
6th: Bernard Crump, Jackson, Miss., two bass, 5-15, $413
7th: Adam Horn, Madison, Miss., two bass, 5-8, $376
8th: Shayne Barfield, Meridian, Miss., one bass, 4-9, $338
9th: Tim Davis, Laurel, Miss., one bass, 4-6, $300
10th: Josh Carver, Clinton, Miss., three bass, 4-3, $263

The next BFL Mississippi Division tournament is scheduled for March 16 on Pickwick Lake in Iuka, Miss. After the last 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 Kentucky Lake in Gilbertsville, 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 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.

Image courtesy FLW Outdoors

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