It was another beautiful day on Bull Shoals Lake as 94 TBF anglers left it all out on the water, fighting for the top 14 slots in tomorrow’s final contest. The bite pulled off a little today, but 14 anglers closed the gap to advance to the final day of the 2012 Federation National Championship, presented by the National Guard. The top 14 anglers, seven on the boater and co-angler sides, earn the 2012 Division Champion titles and berths in the 2012 BFL All-American. Tomorrow, the top boater and co-angler will walk away 2012 National Champions and earn berths in the prestigious 2012 Forrest Wood Cup, plus some heavy jewelry and all the pride that comes with it. The national boater will also receive 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. The anglers know what’s at stake and they’ve made the race tight. Tomorrow will be quite a show, as we see who shows up to seize the titles and all the glory as the 2012 Federation National Championship continues with the final day weigh-in on the FLW Tour main stage in Branson, Mo.
Holding on to the top spot is Marc Snyder, from St. Johns, Mich., with another five bass limit weighing 10lbs 13ounces, making his two day total 31lbs 2ounces. “I started out in the same spot I ended up yesterday,” Snyder said. “First fish I had on I lost, then not even ten minutes later my co-angler put the first one in the boat.” Snyder had a good start this morning with two keepers in the first hour, but then had some trouble mid-afternoon trying to finish up. “Probably an hour and a half into the tournament I’m looking pretty good. Then, for about three hours it was pretty dry. After that, I got my first spot, and put my fourth fish in the boat.” Less than thirty minutes until check-in Snyder rolled in on a honey hole. “I found a place loaded with fish. My first one snapped off on me and in five minutes my co-angler lost a limit. Hopefully, they will stay; pretty sure they aren’t going anywhere.” Snyder hopes there are some beauties waiting on him tomorrow, for now the thought is helping him out. “It is helping. If I can go in there and catch my limit, anywhere from about 12-15lbs, I can get my flippin’ stick out and look to catch me a big fish.” This is Snyder’s first trip to nationals after qualifying four times for the Michigan state team and fishing the divisional tournaments. “If I can win this I will be tired, and call it a day. I’ve worked 34 years and many waters to get to this point.”
Climbing from third, less than four pounds away is Jeff Erickson from Phoenix, Az., with a limit of bass weighing 12lb 13ounces making his total going into tomorrow 27lb 13ounces. “I’ve been site fishing mainly,” Erickson said. “There’s still a lot of fish moving up in the shallows. Hopefully, there will be some new fish out there again tomorrow.” Erickson has been covering a large spread of water, and with weather changes rolling in tomorrow he’s thinking it might help out the bite. “I actually think it will help the fishing. There might not be as much site fishing, but I think it will turn the bite on in general. I’m looking forward to getting out there and beating them up.” Yesterday, Erickson said all he needed was to make it to the final day and now he’s right in the mix. “I’m right there in range in second overall; I’m not far out of it now.” This is not Erickson’s first meeting with the pressure of the top 14 and the final day. He’s been here before. He knows what it’s like to taste, to feel victory so close, and all that it means to go home without that title. “I’m really calm and I feel good about tomorrow, like I got a good shot. There’s a lot of fish out there to be had just got to stay focused and get it done.”
Erickson was quick to thank a handful of sponsors and his greatest supporter, his wife. “I’d love to thank Gary Yamamoto custom baits and Denali rods, as well as, my wife who supports me; I’m very happy.” He also thanked his family back home and everybody in the TBF, FLW and Forrest Wood and Ranger Boats. Mrs. Erickson echoed her husband’s enthusiasm with pride written on her face. “I’d like to say how proud I am of my husband. It’s been a long road; he has worked so hard and I’m so proud of him.”
ACA Collegiate National Champion and boater in the Northwest Division, Miles ‘Sonar’ Burghoff made history today by being the first to win his division and qualify to fish the final day for a shot at ‘Living the Dream’. He has also earned a berth in the 2012 BFL All-American being in the top 14, which has been one of his major goals for the last three years as an angler in the ACA College circuit.
The Cabela’s Angler Cash program for TBF members proved its value today for Brian Maloney, from Osage Beach, Mo., and Wesley Taylor from Decherd, Tenn. Maloney is in third place on the boater side with 17lbs 6ounces today making his two day total 27lbs 9ounces. Taylor is currently leading on the co-angler side with 16lbs 6ounces today making his total going into tomorrow 24lbs 15ounces. Maloney and Taylor were the highest finishing registered TBF national championship contenders with the Cabela’s Angler Cash program on the boater and co-angler sides. Each walked away Cabela’s Angler Cash winners with $1,000 cash.
The final day of the Federation National Championship will be held in conjunction with the FLW Tour event at the Walmart Supercenter in Branson, Mo. The weigh-in begins at 3pm and will be streamed on FLW Outdoors Live. For updates, be sure to follow TBF on www.BassFederation.com, www.Facebook.com/TheBassFederation and follow us on Twitter @bassfederation.