Freeman and Pendleton Crowned 2020 Federation National Champions

Grand Lake Hosts 2020 National Event Boasting Over $380,000 in Record-Breaking Prize Pot

Grove, Ok., March 14, 2020 – The Bass Federation’s top anglers from across the nation and Canada traveled to Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees in Grove, Okla., this week for the 2020 Federation National Championship.  108 TBF anglers had their sights set on the National Champion titles, lucrative “Living YOUR Dream” boater and co-angler champions prize packages, Ranger Cup contingencies and cash prizes in the events $380,000-plus, cash and prize payout.  Two national champion anglers were crowned victorious and walk away with all the glory.

Lance Freeman from Kentucky held on to yesterday’s lead to be named the 2020 Federation National Champion boater.  Freeman had five fish limits all three tournament days with 14 pounds 14 ounces, 19 pounds 8 ounces and 19 pounds 15 ounces to make his winning total 54 pounds 5 ounces.

“It’s truly a blessing.  From the second cast this morning to the last; it’s been a wild ride,”  Freeman told the crowd gathered at Grove today.  “I am blessed beyond belief.  On my way to Oklahoma I had this feeling.  It’s an unrealistic feeling, surreal, God feeling that something was going to go my way.  Practice was tough but then the first tournament day everything went right.  The whole week to here it was just like tunnel vision.”

Freeman was awarded the “Living YOUR Dream” boater prize package valued at over $125,000 including a 2020 Ranger Z520L with Evinrude 250 G2, fully loaded with Power Poles, MinnKota trolling motor, Lowrance electronics, TH Marine locker bar and a custom Ranger trail trailer.

The package also includes $20,000 cash, $5,000 entry fees into affiliated circuit of choice,  entry into FLW Series Championship which has a $200,000 top prize, a reserved slot in the 2021 FLW Pro Circuit and berth in the 2020 BFL All-American with travel and housing stipends and guaranteed payout with $100,000 top prize at that event as well as clothing package and more.

“Today was a miracle.  On the last cast of the day I was just fishing stuff that looked good around Elk river even though I caught most my fish on the south end of the lake and caught the great big ole fish there,” Freeman said.

“It was about 6, 6 1/2 pounds.  It’s like you look and its the ten seconds of eternity you have. One of those moments the sun was shining on you.  The biggest breaths of fresh air.  I’m speechless in so many ways and so thankful for you guys.”

Freeman and President/CEO, Robert Cartlidge, spoke on stage about the caliber of angler that stands the test over and over again.  The kind of angler Freeman is and the style he’s displayed since he adapted fishing over 13 years ago when he started fishing TBF’s junior program.

Fish your strengths, fish the way you like and number one have fun doing it.  A style he still puts in play today. 

“I’m not the big guy wearing the jersey pushing around – everyone look at me- I’m just a boy that likes to go fishing.  I had a blast with all of my co-anglers.  Every day, it was about having some fun and fishing, making the most of every moment. 

Today, we caught our limits about 20 seconds apart around 9am and then we were just sitting there having the time of our lives in the pouring rain.”

Freeman joins the ranks of TBF success stories across the nation.  He started in TBF’s junior program at 11 years old and still remembers his first TBF tournament.  He also advanced to the TBF Junior World Championship.  Now, 13 years later, he holds the title of Federation National Champion.

“For the first time in my life I think I’m speechless. I’ve been calling every fish a blessing all week,”  Freeman continued.  “Thank you so much TBF. I grew up with this support and I love this sport for what it is, fishing.

I’m still in shock.  I mean, to look out in the crowd and see the people that literally brought me up in the same organization, to be sitting right there, the guys who took me out fishing when I was little.  Words can not describe that feeling.” 

The National Champion Co-Angler, Derick Pendleton, lead the event from start to finish.  Pendleton celebrated his birthday catching the biggest bag of day one with  20 pounds 5 ounces.  Yesterday, he caught two fish for 4 pounds 2 ounces.  Today, he brought in another five bass limit for 11 pounds 15 ounces to make his tournament total 36 pounds 6 ounces.

“It’s been phenomenal.  I had a great day on the water today,” Pendleton said.  “I struggled yesterday, had a little setback.  I’m not going to lie.  I was so nervous only having an 8 ounce lead coming into today.   I didn’t know where it was going to land me.

But, today was more like the first day out there for me condition-wise.  I had a limit by 8:57am and I was culling by 9 o’clock.  We caught fish all day.” 

It’s not Pendleton’s birthday anymore but it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.  He was awarded the 2020 “Living YOUR Dream” Co-angler prize package valued at over $33,000.  The package includes $20,000 cash, $500 BassPro Shops/Cabela’s gift card, a PowerPole Certificate, MinnKota trolling motor, clothing package and entry into the FLW Series Championship with top prize there of $30,000. 

Pendleton also received a berth in the 2020 BFL All-American with travel and housing stipends top prize of $50,000 plus $5,000 of paid entry fees into the affiliated circuit of his choice.

“It’s literally living the dream, this is…this is a dream for me to do this.  TBF gave me this opportunity and it is just incredible.  I’ll be pulling into Indiana around 3 o’clock in the morning and I don’t care, every body will know I’m home.” 

Pendleton is representing Indiana’s Hoosier HogHunters and the Northern Division.  He’s already making plans to fish the BFL All-American. 

“No matter what, I’m not passing this opportunity up.  It’s a dream I’ve always wanted and I’m going to live it how I want to right now.  It’s a dream, holy cow, and I’m going to live it.” 

For the first time in event history, Ranger Cup contingencies will be awarded to the top five Ranger Cup qualified TBF boaters and the top 5 TBF co-anglers.  The top five boaters will awarded $2,500, $2,000, $1,500, $1,000 & $500 and the top co-anglers will receive $2,000, $1,250, $750, $500 and $250.

The top Ranger Cup qualified boater was, Sam Heckman, from Pueblo, Colo.  Heckman had a five bass limit today weighing 16 pounds 10 ounces making his tournament total 35 pounds 14 ounces.  He was awarded a $2,500 Ranger Cup voucher for his efforts.  

“I got 5 bites today and I caught all 5,” Heckman said.  “I just love what TBF does for everybody, especially the juniors and high schoolers.

I run the Southern County Junior Bass Club.  I’m hoping they’re watching this and one day they can be here doing the same thing I’m doing right now.   What TBF provides for us, the platform they give us, we wouldn’t have the opportunity we do without their support and the staff what they do is amazing.”  

The top Ranger Cup qualified co-angler was, Mel Marchese, from Washington representing the Northwest Division.  Marchese had a tournament total of 22 pounds 11 ounces and was awarded a $2,000 Ranger Cup voucher.

“This is a dream – 30 years and I’ve finally made it,”  Marchese said on stage.  “Every one out there just keep trying.  Thirty years and it can happen, some day it will all come together.”

Day Two of the 2020 Federation National Championship Crowns 14 Division Champions

Kentucky’s, Freeman, Takes Boater Lead; Pendleton Locks Down Yesterday’s Co-Angler Lead

L to R, Boaters in back, Non Boaters in front: Central Div. Champions Blake Wilson – AR. & Samuel Jenkins – LA. / Southern Div. Lance Freeman – KY. & Craig Middleton – KY., Southwest Div. Sam Heckman -CO. & Kerry Harris – CA. / Mid-Atlantic Div. Chris Fiore – VA. & Andrew Wiley – MD / Northern Div. David Schneider JR – IN. & Derick Pendleton – IN. / Northwest Div. Loren Torok – ID. & Mel Marchese – WA. / Eastern Div. Keith Cleary – CT. & Jeffrey Perron -NH.

After a tough first day on Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees 108 TBF champion anglers launched from Grove, Okla., today to switch the tides.  Weather conditions were less than favorable for the average lake-goer with temperatures in the low 50’s, plenty of cloud cover and Oklahoma’s resilient winds.   But, for TBF’s elite the fishing conditions proved favorable.  Some anglers still struggled to catch them but those that did brought in heavier weights and solid bags of bass. 

Lance Freeman pulled ahead in the national champion boater race with a five bass limit  weighing 19 pounds 8 ounces making his tournament total 34 pounds 6 ounces.  “I’m fortunate, to say I’m blessed is beyond an understatement,” Freeman said.  “I’m more blessed than one man deserves.”

Freeman is fishing for the Kentucky Bass Federation representing the Southern Division.  He started fishing the federation when he was 11 years old in the junior division.  Now, one day of fishing separates him from the $125,000 prize package including $20,000 cash, a 2020 fully-rigged Ranger Z520L with Evinrude 250 G2 outboard, power poles, Lowrance Electronics and Minn Kota Trolling Motor, his first BFL All-American a stipend of $5000 worth of paid entry fees into his circuit of chose and countless other “Living YOUR Dream” opportunities. 

“That’s what TBF is all about, for a weekend angler this a dream” Freeman continued.  “It’s been a surreal experience and now going into the last day with a 7lb lead – when things are suppose to roll your way, they really roll your way.”

Freeman was just two ounces shy of the overall lead yesterday with his 14 pound 14 ounce bag.  He’s reportedly finding his fish fast in spots that just keep on giving. 

“There’s a subtle difference between the spots that I can’t talk about until tomorrow.  Everything’s winding up how you dream about it happening, just one more day and we can talk about it happening.

It’s just 5 bass.  Anything over that is overthinking. Their opportunistic feeding fish and I have to make my opportunities count because there’s just five bass between me and $125,000 prize package.”

Derick Pendleton, was the day one leader on the co-angler side and had the overall big bag of 20 pounds 5 ounces.  Pendleton solidified his lead today with two fish weighing 4 pounds 2 ounces making his tournament total 24 pounds 7 ounces. 

“Nerves got me a bit today and the weather wasn’t what I expected,” Pendleton said.  “It was a little colder out there and we never got to see any sun.” 

Less than a pound separates Pendleton from Samuel Jenkins from Louisiana who’s holding down second overall with 23 pounds 12 ounces. 

“I knew I was going to need more fish today to give me a comfortable lead.  But, I’ve got a game plan if the weather is more like today.  From the way it fished Thursday coming into today I’d like it to do what it did Thursday.  Either way, I’m just going to adapt to my boater who is definitely on fish and do whatever I can to make it happen.”   

The top boaters and co-anglers from each division were crowned Division Champions today and were awarded “Living YOUR Dream” prize packages and slots in the 2020 BFL All-American.

The top 14 TBF Division Champions:

Central

BLAKE WILSON -AR – 8/8 – 27-04

SAMUEL JENKINS – LA – 8/8 – 23-12

Eastern

KEITH CLEARY – CT – 9/9 24-06

JEFFREY PERRON -NH – 5/5 15-06

Mid-Atlantic

CHRIS FIORE – VA – 7/7 – 19-01

ANDREW WILEY – MD – 5/5 – 16-03

Northern

DAVID SCHNEIDER JR – IN – 10/10 – 26-06

DERICK PENDLETON – IN – 7/7 – 24-07

Northwest

LOREN TOROK – ID – 5/5 – 12-07

MEL MARCHESE – WA – 8/8 – 19-15

Southern

LANCE FREEMAN – KY – 10/10 – 34-06

CRAIG MIDDLETON – KY – 5/5 – 16-01

Southwest

SAM HECKMAN -CO – 8/8 – 19-04

KERRY HARRIS – CA – 4/4 – 11-13

 

 

DAILY LIVE Coverage click here!

OR click the link on the home page that says TBF LIVE COVERAGE

Overall Results and Results by division CLICK HERE

Grand Lake Showed Out and Shut Off – Indiana Anglers, Schneider and Pendleton, Top the Field

Best TBF grassroots angler in North America Face Tough Day on Day One of the 2020 Federation National Championship 

Grove, Okla., March 12, 2020 – The top TBF anglers from each state and Canada launched from Grove, Okla., on Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees at sunrise today in hopes of putting together a solid first day of fishing.  Grand Lake showed out and not in a good way.  Most anglers reported successful practice days but with a storm blowing through on Wednesday the bite was off across the board. 

The field is wide open going into day two where it’s literally anyone’s bag of fish on the line.  Fourteen Division Champions will advance tomorrow as the 2020 Federation National Championship continues from Grove, Okla. 

Leading the boater side is, David Schneider Jr, representing the Indiana Bass Federation and the Northern Division.  Schneider had a five fish limit of bass weighing 15 pounds.  “It was a fun day but it wasn’t easy out there,” Schneider told the crowd at the weigh-in.  “I got lucky and caught those fish quick this morning.  I’m not gonna lie – it’s just a matter of luck and opportunity.”

Schneider has a solid mindset and is confident he can put it all together again tomorrow.  “I had a limit by 9am and left fish biting.  I found new areas and caught a total of 14 keepers today.” 

In preparation for the event, Schneider traveled to Grand between Christmas and New Year’s to pre-fish.  “The lake has risen since then quite a bit and water temperatures are a lot warmer than I anticipated.  The lake and the conditions have changed every day since we’ve been here but it hasn’t changed much out there for me.” 

The Indiana Bass Federation is one of the most competitive federations in the nation to advance from its also one of the largest.  Schneider has fished the Federation since 1996 and this is his first appearance at the national event. 

“I just want to thank my Dad, who always tournament fishes with me, the Indiana Bass Federation and the TBF for allowing me to do what I do.  We can not do what we do without our family and support back home.”

Derick Pendleton, put together a 20 pound 5 ounce bag from the back of the boat to lead it on the co-angler side. Pendleton is also representing the Indiana Bass Federation and the Northern Division.   He not only brought in the biggest bag of the day and landed his personal best limit but he’s also celebrating his Birthday. 

“You couldn’t ask for a better Birthday,”  Pendleton said.  “It’s all coming together, just lucky I guess. I’d rather be lucky than good.”

Schneider and Pendleton practiced together and they’ve both found water they like to fish.  “In practice we wacked them and the same thing we adapted to is still going. Hopefully, the weather stays about the same and the wind cooperates by staying a little windy.”

Oklahoma is known for its wind so, luck aside, he’s got a good chance of getting his wish.  “I’m very happy with Oklahoma and Grand’s a great fishery.  I’d come back here in a heartbeat.”

This is Pendleton’s second go at the national championship.  Tomorrow, he’s looking to crush the second day stigma that’s toyed with him over the years.  “Putting two days together has always been a hard task for me.  I’m just going to go in like it’s the first day of the tournament, put my head down and grind it out.”

Pendleton fished the championship on Table Rock Lake the second year Allen Boyd won the event.  Boyd and him are friends and continue to fish together back in Indiana.  “I just want to thank my sponsors, my kids and family back home for supporting me, Allen for all his help, my Federation and the HogHunters club.  I fish with a lot of good guys. I made it here and that is more than I could even ask for and on my Birthday at that.”   

TBF’s elite have a score to settle with Grand as day two day of the 2020 Federation National Championship returns tomorrow.  The top anglers will emerge from each Division to be crowned and they’ll advance to the final day of the national championship.

Live coverage begins at 3pm CT from Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees in Grove, Okla., on www.bassfederation.com and watch for event updates, live stream and pictures on TBF’s Facebook page.

Division Leaders after Day one are as follows:

Central

Blake Wilson – AR, 5/5, 10-08

Justin Harris – KS, 3/3, 12-03

Eastern

Keith Cleary – CT, 5/5, 13-09

David Dumas – NY, 3/3, 8-06

Mid-Atlantic

Derick Olson – NJ, 4/4, 11-04

Dave Wilt – PA, 5/5, 13-13

Northern

David Schneider Jr. – IN, 5/5, 15-00

Derick Pendleton – IN, 5/5, 20-05

Northwest

Loren Torok – ID, 3/3, 6-02

Mel Marchese – WA, 4/4, 10-02

Southern

Lance Freeman – KY, 5/5, 14-14

Marshall Harrelson – GA, 2/2, 4-13

Southwest

Sam Heckman – CO, 4/4, 6-14

Vanessa Berger – NM, 1/1, 3-01

Full Results Overall

Full Results by Division