Boyd Blossoms, Grabs Day Three Lead At 2017 TBF National Championship
April 6, 2017
By Dan Johnson
With weights zeroed and the field trimmed by more than half, day three of The Bass Federation’s 2017 National Championship produced heavy limits, epic comebacks and the promise of even more exciting grassroots bass action to come.
Running April 3-8 on Missouri’s famed Table Rock Lake out of Kimberling City, the championship pits top contenders from TBF federations across North America. Currently, 49 boaters and 49 co-anglers are fighting for a berth in Saturday’s final round. More than twice that number fished Monday and Tuesday, competing for the top two-day weight for their respective state or province.
All 14 finalists who qualify for Saturday’s shootout will advance to the 2017 BFL All-American. The National Champion boater also advances to the world championship of bass fishing, the 2017 Forrest Wood Cup, for a shot at winning the biggest payday in bass fishing.
The winning boater will also receive the $100,000 “Living the Dream” package to include a cash prize, fully paid entry fees on the 2018 FLW Tour as a pro, travel expense stipends for each event and use of a “Living the Dream”-wrapped Ranger boat with Evinrude outboard for the year. The top co-angler will also receive a $20,000 prize package including $10,000 cash and fully paid entry fees into the FLW Series division of choice as well as other prizes.
Indiana’s Allen Boyd took full advantage of a fresh start. He shook off a slow start that saw him 25th overall earlier in the week to grab the lead today among the boaters with 17 pounds, 14 ounces. The weight was more than 2 pounds heavier than any limit brought in the first two days.
“I made a long run and caught fish all day,” Boyd says, with a look that speaks volumes about not wanting to tip what could be a winning hand.
It’s worth noting that Boyd is no stranger to championship comebacks. In 2011, he rallied from 13th on day one to win the TBF National Championship on Nickajack Lake, Tennessee.
Whether he can rally for a repeat crown remains to be seen, but he’s cautiously optimistic. “The fish gotta cooperate,” he laughs. “But if we get more sun, it could work out.”
Florida’s John Mobely freely admits his home waters on the St. John’s River are nothing like Table Rock Lake, and that he struggled earlier in the championship to get a handle on the mighty reservoir, which spans nearly 43,000 acres, offering almost 800 miles of shoreline plus countless coves, cuts, channels, docks and other potential sweet spots to choose from.
“I had a tough time early on,” he recalls. “I barely beat out the other guy from Florida to make the cut. I feel fortunate and thank the good Lord for that.”
Today didn’t start out much better, however. “At 1 o’clock I had one 15-inch spotted bass in the livewell,” he says. “So I gambled and made a little run to a spot that had smaller fish on it Saturday. I guess the females have pulled up in there, because I caught four pretty quick, and then another two so I could cull that little bitty spot.”
The result was a 15-pound, 10-ounce limit that put him in second overall and on top of the Southern Division. By comparison, he tallied just four bass for 9 pounds, 4 ounces the first two days of the championship and found himself in 63rd overall among the boaters.
With two days to go, Mobely is looking ahead, not behind. “I feel good about my chances,” he says. “Coming into the tournament, I figured you would need 15 pounds each of the last three days to win, and I’m on that pace. If I keep doing what I’m doing, hopefully I can bring it home.”
For Arizona’s Jon Griffith, the event offers a chance at redemption from a close finish at last season’s championship, where he finished strong but landed in second place behind Joseph Webster of Mississippi.
Griffith was third overall the first two days of competition with 24 pounds, 8 ounces. He brought in a 13-pound, 11-ounce limit today to again land in third overall. “I’m excited,” he says. “Absolutely nothing is different than last year. As soon as I pulled in for practice, I started catching fish the same way I did last year, so all I had to do was expand the program.”
TBF fans will recall Griffith’s 2016 strategies hinged on finesse fishing clear water near the bank. “It’s the same program now, except I still have 60 waypoints I haven’t even touched yet,” he says. “A lot of it depends on the weather, but if it stays sunny, hopefully I can keep on doing it. I can’t wait to see what happens.”
Day one and two boaters’ leader Brad Brodnicki, of New York, found his fortunes flowing the opposite direction, though in more of a trickle than a waterfall. After weighing in 15-08 and 13-02 limits earlier in the week, he boxed 12-10 today, slipping to sixth overall. Still, he remained atop the Eastern Division, 10 ounces ahead of his closest divisional rival, Herbert Meyer IV, of Maine.
“Today was a little pinched,” he says. “I had some fish lined up, but the water temperature dropped 5 degrees overnight, the water clarity changed, the fish dropped off of where I was, and the bite shut down. The whole first half of the day I was searching around looking for new fish, and ended up going to an area I wanted to save for the next few days. They anchored my bag, but tomorrow will be a little bit of a grind.”
Antrup Ups The Ante
While Body paced the boaters, fellow Hoosier Jeremy Antrup racked up 13 pounds, 13 ounces from the back of the boat to lead the co-anglers.
“I had an incredible day today, my boater put me on fish and we had consistent fishing all day,” he reports. Looking ahead, Antrup also foresees good things with the expected warm, sunny weather. “It should be more of the same,” he smiles.
In all, competitors brought 286 bass weighing a total of 635 pounds, 6 ounces to the stage, including 35 5-fish limits.
More To Come
TBF President and CEO Robert Cartlidge believes we haven’t seen the end of the action. “The anglers are catching a few more fish every day,” he says. “The bass would like to move onto the beds but the weather just hasn’t been stable enough so far. We’ve had bluebird skies and storms, then more bluebird skies and storms. But the forecast for sunny, stable weather Friday and Saturday might open the floodgates.”
Cartlidge notes that the 2017 title showdown is the biggest championship in the Federation’s 49-year history, and he credits the new National Semi-Finals qualifying system for helping more anglers discover the thrills of competitive bass fishing.
“We have a lot of folks who never fished outside their state before,” he says. “On the co-angler side, some have never run a boat before. It’s good for them to see and experience this, because it shows them how fun it is, and that anyone can do it.”
The action continues tomorrow, with a 7 a.m. take-off and 3 p.m. weigh-in set for the Port of Kimberling Marina and Resort, 72 Marina Way, Kimberling City, Missouri.
Top 10 Boaters
- Allen Boyd, Indiana, 17-14 (5)
- John Mobley, Florida, 15-10 (5)
- Jon Griffith, Arizona, 13-11 (5)
- Joshua Moore, Louisiana, 13-10 (5)
- Robert Walla, Nebraska, 13-05 (5)
- Brad Brodnicki, New York, 12-10, (5)
- Greg Hoskinson, Kentucky, 12-13 (5)
- Doug Thompson, Arkansas, 12-06 (5)
- Herbert Meyer IV, Maine, 12-00 (5)
- Ben Warren, Idaho, 12-00 (5)
Top 10 Co-Anglers
- Jeremy Antrup, Indiana, 13-13 (5)
- Ross Cagle, Louisiana, 11-12 (5)
- Brian LaClair, Delaware, 10-13 (5)
- Thomas Prowant, Pennsylvania, 10-06 (4)
- Eric Storms, South Dakota, 10-04 (5)
- David Simmons, Oregon, 10-00 (4)
- Steven Martins, Connecticut, 9-13 (5)
- Brad Jernigan, Mississippi, 9-13 (5)
- Kevin Higgins, Washington, 9-08 (4)
- Mike Alvarez, California, 9-01 (5)