Craig Dowling of Franklin, Tenn., weighed a five-bass limit totaling 23 pounds, 7 ounces Saturday to win the Walmart Bass Fishing League LBL Division event on Kentucky/Barkley lakes. For his victory, Dowling earned $4,981.

“I ended up running 50 miles or so down the lake through some pretty nasty weather,” said Dowling. “My plan was to fish several spots on the way back, but I actually went straight to the creek where I had caught them in practice and just stayed there throughout the entire day. I was basically forced to stay in that area because of the weather, and ended up picking up a good fish every couple of hours.

“They weren’t biting as well as I wanted,” Dowling continued. “But because of the weather and the wind I didn’t want to be running around a lot, so I just camped out in an area where I knew there were fish. Thankfully, it ended up working to my advantage. Instead of running around, I found some new spots and caught three of my five fish in an area that I had never found in practice.

“Mainly I was using an Alabama rig,” Dowling went on to say. “I also caught a few on a jerkbait. The key that I found was that the boat needed to be sitting in about 20 feet of water and I needed to be throwing into about 10 feet of water. The bass were sitting somewhere in between. Most of my bites came near the end of the day, and I left them biting because I wasn’t sure how long it would take to get back. I ended up coming in a half hour early.”

Rounding out the top 10 pros were:

2nd: Eric Sanders, Lexington, Ky., four bass, 22-8, $2,490
3rd: David Young, Mayfield, Ky., five bass, 22-2, $1,662
4th: Sam Boss, Paducah, Ky., five bass, 21-1, $1,162
5th: Scott Brummett, Brentwood, Tenn., five bass, 20-5, $996
6th: Matt Robertson, Central City, Ky., five bass, 20-4, $913
7th: Austin Brown, Calvert City, Ky., five bass, 19-10, $830
8th: Ben Helmerich, Calvert City, Ky., five bass, 18-14, $747
9th: Keith White, Gilbertsville, Ky., five bass, 17-15, $664
10th: Will Yelverton, Hazel Green, Ala., five bass, 17-7, $581

Complete results can be found at

Bryan Rupe of Mayfield, Ky., weighed a five-bass limit totaling 22 pounds even Saturday to win $2,490 in the co-angler division.

Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers were:

2nd: Dickey Reece, LaFayette, Ky., five bass, 19-9, $1,245
3rd: James Lee, Ledbetter, Ky., four bass, 16-15, $829
4th: Brady Kendall, Paducah, Ky., five bass, 14-6, $581
5th: Greg Hollingsworth, Sullivan, Ind., four bass, 12-8, $498
6th: Mike Mueller, Union, Ky., two bass, 11-2, $457
7th: David Bunton, Iuka, Ill., four bass, 10-15, $394
7th: Bryan Henry, Lexington, Ky., three bass, 10-15, $394
9th: Kevin Hancock, Madisonville, Ky., four bass, 10-13, $332
10th: Kyle Ekstrom, Poplar Grove, Ill., three bass, 10-11, $291

The next BFL LBL Division tournament is scheduled for April 20 on Kentucky/Barkley lakes in Gilbertsville, Ky. After that last divisional tournament is complete, the top 40 boaters and 40 co-anglers based on point standings will qualify for the Oct. 3–5 Regional Championship on Lake Guntersville in Guntersville, Ala. 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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