James Blankenship of Lexington, N.C., weighed a five-bass limit totaling 14 pounds even Saturday 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,” said Blankenship. “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 continued. “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 3 ½ 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, S.C., five bass, 13-11, $2,118

3rd:   Nathan Webber, Lake Wylie, S.C., 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 Saturday 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 for 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.

Image courtesy FLW Outdoors

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