Joe Haunert of West Chester, Ohio, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 17 pounds, 12 ounces Saturday to win the Walmart Bass Fishing League Mountain Division event on Lake Cumberland. For his victory, Haunert earned $4,244 plus a $2,000 Ranger Cup bonus.

Haunert said he practiced on Lake Cumberland by throwing a swimbait the weekend before the tournament, which was his only opportunity to pre-fish for Saturday’s tournament. After three hours of fishing he only had two good bites and had lost one keeper. He knew that on tournament day it could be a tough bite. His game plan going into the tournament was to keep moving and target post-spawn fish with swimbaits, and to attack the aggressive fish that were coming off the beds. He stuck with his plan, and it paid off.

“I hit my first spot and caught three fish right away, one keeper, and I knew it was going to be a good day,” said Haunert. “At 11:30 I had four keepers in the boat and I knew I had a shot. But then the bite died. From 11:30 to 3 o’clock I didn’t catch a keeper.

“I knew I needed one more fish, and after going three hours without catching anything you start to play mind games in your head,” continued Haunert. “I started to second guess my strategy, trying to decide if I should go to a marina to try and catch a sure-thing bass to fill out my limit with that I knew would be a smaller fish, or to stick with my game plan and go for one more quality bite.

“At about 3 o’clock I made a run to my last spot, and sure enough, on my third cast I caught my biggest fish of the day. It was really hard sticking to my original plan, but in the end it paid off. That doesn’t seem to happen very often, that you get to stick to your game plan and it works.

“I had a great co-angler and I wanted to stay out as long as I could to give him a chance. But after catching my last fish I wanted to give myself plenty of time to get back, so at 3:20 we started to make our way back. It was a pretty tense ride to the weigh-in. The lake was full of debris. Huge logs and entire trees were all
over; most were not visible. You never want to lose focus on the water because it is too easy to tear up your equipment.”

Haunert sat with his wife and mother-in-law during weigh-in and said that it was pretty nerve wracking watching the weigh-in with the lead. He kept expecting someone to come in with a bigger sack. It never happened, and Haunert claimed his first FLW victory on Lake Cumberland.

Rounding out the top 10 pros were:

2nd: Doyle Epperson, Nancy, Ky., five bass, 14-3, $2,122
3rd: Monte Hale, Nancy, Ky., five bass, 14-0, $1,413
4th: Jerry Hogue, Danville, Ky., five bass, 13-4, $919
4th: Greg Pugh, Cullman, Ala., five bass, 13-4, $919
6th: Bill Bowling, Somerset, Ky., five bass, 12-9, $778
7th: Keith Monson, Burgin, Ky., five bass, 12-8, $707
8th: Densmore Goodson, Letcher, Ky., five bass, 11-14, $637
9th: Jeff Carman, Liberty, Ky., five bass, 11-13, $530
9th: Barry Strunk, Science Hill, Ky., five bass, 11-13, $530

Brett Graham of Alexandria, Ky., weighed five bass totaling 8 pounds, 10 ounces Saturday to win the co-angler division. Graham earned $2,005 for his victory.

Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers were:

2nd: Troy Stidham, Hyden, Ky., four bass, 8-5, $1,002
3rd: Dustin House, London, Ky., four bass, 8-0, $668
4th: Michael Aldridge, Scottsville, Ky., two bass, 7-4, $468
5th: J.P. Sims, Cookeville, Tenn., three bass, 7-2, $401
6th: Mike Bowman, Cincinnati, Ohio, three bass, 7-1, $368
7th: Kenny Hardin, Columbia, Ky., two bass, 7-0, $334
8th: Dennis Cravens, Jamestown, Tenn., three bass, 6-15, $301
9th: Kenny Botts, Bowling Green, Ky., three bass, 6-13, $267
10th: Tyler Blevins, Waco, Ky., five bass, 6-9, $234

The next BFL Mountain Division tournament is scheduled for June 1 on the Barren River in Scottsville, Ky. After the 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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