Gilbert Gagner of Highgate Springs, Vt., weighed a five-bass limit totaling 13 pounds, 10 ounces Saturday to win the TBF National Championship event on Bull Shoals Lake with a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 35 pounds, 5 ounces. For his victory, Gagner earned the $100,000 “Living the Dream” prize package which includes entry into the 2013 FLW Tour.
Gilbert spent 20 years trying to qualify for the TBF National Championship and when all the fish were weighed he was in a tie with second-place finisher Jeff Erickson of Phoenix, Ariz. TBF rules state that in a tie the first tie-breaker is the total number of fish caught. Each had 15. The next tie-breaker is the total number of fish weighed alive. All 15 of Gilbert’s fish were weighed alive, while Erickson only weighed 14 of his 15 alive.
“This is a great honor for me,” said the choked-up Gagner. “Stuff like this doesn’t happen to people like me. I was just thrilled to be competing in the TBF National Championship and just came to fish. I didn’t care how I finished. I was just honored to be here.
“I had a really horrible practice … didn’t catch a fish,” Gagner went on to say. “I was moving way too fast and tried to force feed the fish. Come tournament time I slowed way down and that is what made the difference. During the competition I was able to make meticulous casts to the base of bushes and let the bait sit.
“The first two days I fished the same area using Senkos. Today, I moved to a new area and started throwing a jig. The lake is up about 8 feet, so I found the lip of where the lake is normally and fished a submerged ledge where the bass were just getting ready to spawn.”
For his efforts Gagner won the $100,000 “Living the Dream” prize package, including cash and prizes, fully paid entry fees into the FLW tour, travel funds and use of a wrapped Ranger Boat and Chevrolet truck for the year.
Rounding out the top 7 pros were:
2nd: Jeff Erickson, Phoenix, Ariz., 35-5
3rd: Miles Burghoff, Orlando, Fla., 35-2
4th: Marc Snyder, St. Johns, Mich., 33-0
5th: Steve Hughes, Rimersburg, Pa., 31-3
6th: Brian Maloney, Osage Beach, Mo., 29-13
7th: Brandon Glass, Resaca, Ga., 28-15
Tyler Webb of Arnett, W. Va., won the Co-angler Division with a three-day total of 30 pounds, 6 ounces.
Rounding out the top 7 co-anglers were:
2nd: Robert Hime, Odessa, Mo., 29-12
3rd: Wesley Taylor, Decherd, Tenn., 28-13
4th: Chris Lambert, Olympia, Wash., 19-3
5th: Robert Cox, Tippecanoe, Ohio, 18-2
6th: Karl Beltz, Tucson, Ariz., 15-8
7th: Gary Kurensky, Bridgeport, Conn., 10-12
For complete details and updated information visit the TBF website.