Michael Smith of Laurel Hill, Fla., weighed a five-bass limit totaling 24 pounds even Saturday to win the first Walmart Bass Fishing League Bama Division tournament of 2014 on Lake Eufaula. For his victory, Smith earned $4,350

Michael Smith of Laurel Hill, Fla., won the March 1 Bama Division event on Lake Eufaula with a 24-pound limit of bass. For his efforts, Smith walked away with a check for over $4,300.
“I was pretty excited to win,” said Smith. “I fished a couple of BFLs last year and had some bad things happen. I decided to fish the whole schedule of the Bama division this year. I had a really good practice and I was definitely looking forward to Saturday. I’m glad it all came together. It’s hard to win one of these.”

Smith is a student at the University of West Florida and boats a fair amount of experience on Eufaula, a lake he described as his “best lake on the schedule.” Smith said his one day of practice went perfectly. He caught more than 20 pounds fishing crankbaits and umbrella rigs on the first breakline before the spawning areas.

“Saturday rolled around and I went to do the same thing as Friday, and I wasn’t catching anything big,” explained Smith. “Instead of 4- and 5-pounders they were 2-pounders. It took me a little bit to figure it out where they had gone, but they had just moved shallower.

“I was flipping a black-and-blue-colored Missile Baits D Bomb. Instead of being out on the first break the fish were up close to where they would spawn, and I was just flipping to isolated pieces of cover in 5 feet of water or less.

“At the end of the day I was about 15 minutes away from the launch and I’d just told my co-angler we only had time for a few more casts,” added Smith. “I still had one in my livewell that was only about 2 ¾ pounds, and I thought that would be the one that cost me. I got to the end of the stretch I was fishing and told my co-angler that this was going to be the last cast. I pitched out and caught a 5 ½-pounder on the last cast. When I did that I was pretty sure I’d won.”

Rounding out the top 10 pros were:

2nd: Ed Wilkerson, Sneads, Fla., five bass, 20-5, $2,175
3rd: Chad Prough, Chipley, Fla., five bass, 20-3, $1,451
4th: Jason Nixon, Wetumpka, Ala., five bass, 19-14, $1,015
5th: Will Barnes, Headland, Ala., five bass, 18-13, $870
6th: Terry Tucker, Gadsden, Ala., five bass, 18-9, $798
7th: Chuck Thurlow, Auburn, Ala., five bass, 18-6, $725
8th: Bryon Montalbano, Helena, Ala., five bass, 18-1, $653
9th: Kenny Carroll, Opelika, Ala., five bass, 17-15, $544
9th: Ryan Ingram, Phenix City, Ala., five bass, 17-15, $544

Complete results can be found at FLWOutdoors.com.

Joe Wikoff of Phenix City, Ala., weighed a five-bass limit totaling 17 pounds, 13 ounces Saturday to win $2,175 in the co-angler division.

Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers were:

2nd: Matt Cook, North Port, Ala., five bass, 17-6, $1,088
3rd: Thomas Lawson, Warner Robins, Ga., five bass, 16-14, $726
4th: Robert Volinic, Peachtree City, Ga., five bass, 16-7, $507
5th: Michael Milson, Fort Gaines, Ga., five bass, 15-2, $435
6th: James Sharp, Leesburg, Ga., five bass, 14-11, $399
7th: Tyler Morgan, Columbus, Ga., five bass, 13-15, $363
8th: Kevin Johnson, Grady, Ala., five bass, 13-0, $326
9th: Dustin Jordan, Banks, Ala., five bass, 12-15, $290
10th: Blaine Stevens, Ozark, Ala., three bass, 12-13, $254

The top 40 boaters and 40 co-anglers based on point standings will qualify for the Oct. 2-4 Regional Championship on the St. John’s River in Palatka, Fla. Boaters will compete for a top award of a Ranger Z518C with a 200-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard and a Chevy Silverado, while co-anglers will fish for a new Ranger Z518C 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. Top winners in the BFL can move up to the Rayovac FLW Series or even the Walmart FLW Tour.

Image courtesy FLW Outdoors

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