Clark Wins Walmart Bass Fishing League Gator Division Event on Lake Toho
Preston Clark of Eagle Lake, Fla., weighed a five-bass limit totaling 30 pounds, 6 ounces Saturday to win the Walmart Bass Fishing League Gator Division tournament on Lake Toho. For his victory, Clark earned $5,197.
“I was on a pretty decent bite in practice but I didn’t really have a good morning bite,” said Clark, a seasoned veteran of Florida competition. “As I was running down the lake the morning of the tournament I was hitting a bunch of bugs. Finally one hit me in the chest and I saw it was a mayfly.
“I pulled over where the wind was blowing the mayflies up against some Kissimmee grass and there were bunches of bluegills popping them. I saw a bass blow one of the bluegill out of the water while I was rigging up.
“I started flipping a 1-ounce June bug-colored Medlock Double Weed Guard Flipping Jig with a June bug-colored Bass Assassin Pure Craw trailer,” Clark explained. “I wanted something big to imitate the bluegill. I caught three six-pounders and lost an eight-pounder in the first 20 minutes of fishing.”
Clark said that while he had fished mayfly hatches in other parts of the country this was the first time he had seen one in Florida.
“The rest of the day was a struggle,” said Clark. “That mayfly bite was only a morning deal. I caught two more big ones flipping the Kissimmee grass, but I only caught nine bass all day.
“I wasn’t sure I would win because it has been taking 28 to 29 pounds to win tournaments here lately,” finished Clark. “But I didn’t care. This is the first time in a while I’ve caught a big stringer in a tournament and I just had a lot of fun on the water.”
Rounding out the top 10 pros were:
2nd: Thadeus Ragan, Miami, Fla., five bass, 23-5, $2,165
2nd: Jeremy Smith, Plant City, Fla., five bass, 23-5, $2,165
4th: Mike Krause, Okeechobee, Fla., five bass, 23-0, $1,213
5th: Dan Smith, Webster, Fla., five bass, 22-10, $1,039
6th: Kelly Autrey, Clewiston, Fla., five bass, 22-2, $953
7th: Robert Crosnoe, Inverness, Fla., five bass, 22-1, $866
8th: Bill Fugate, Kissimmee, Fla., five bass, 21-10, $780
9th: Brian Divito, St. Petersburg, Fla., five bass, 21-1, $693
10th: Danny Shelton, Davie, Fla., five bass, 20-14, $606
Complete results can be found at FLWOutdoors.com.
Lee Frye of Brooksville, Fla., weighed a five-bass limit totaling 16 pounds, 12 ounces Saturday to win $2,598 in the co-angler division.
Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers were:
2nd: Jason McKinnie, Umatilla, Fla., four bass, 16-5, $1,299
3rd: Robert Wood, West Palm Beach, Fla., five bass, 14-1, $865
4th: Brian Goldbeck, Loxahatchee, Fla., two bass, 13-8, $606
5th: Jonathan Joles, Lake Placid, Fla., five bass, 13-6, $520
6th: Matthew Marinelli, Lake Mary, Fla., four bass, 12-2, $476
7th: Jason Pike, Greenacres, Fla., five bass, 11-10, $433
8th: Gerry Frawley, Kissimmee, Fla., two bass, 11-2, $390
9th: Kenneth Bivins, Orlando, Fla., five bass, 10-13, $346
10th: John Trudel, Lighthouse Point, Fla., five bass, 10-12, $303
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.