Florida and Georgia Advance Anglers to Nationals
The Florida Bass Federation played host to the first TBF National Semifinal contest for District 1 October 22-23 on the St. John’s River in Palatka, Fla. The new TBF National Semi-Finals program pits top grassroots anglers from each state in a “close to home” weekend event with neighboring states for significant cash prizes and advancements.
A total of $10,760 with 128% payback in cash and prizes, National Semi-Final qualifying jerseys, trophies, champion titles and slots in the national championship were awarded in the boater and co-angler divisions. The top five boaters and co-anglers in the 28 boat field divvied up $6,300 in total cash payback, not including the $500 Ranger Cup award and the $1,000 Evinrude E-tec award for the winning boater (if he/she runs a 2012 or newer Evinrude).
The first cold snap of the year hit Northeast Florida Friday night as a cold front came through making day one cool with a moderate breeze. The change in weather did not seem to affect the anglers. Both boaters and co-anglers had impressive stringers to bring to the scales.
After two days of competition, John Mobley from Florida bested the boater field with 31.73 pounds. He weighed in a whopping 18.40 pound bag on day one to set the winning pace. Mobley received a $1,900 paycheck and a slot in the 2017 Federation National Championship.
Jason Stake from Florida came in second overall with 27.17 pounds. Stake received a $960 cash prize, as well as, the $500 Ranger Cup award for being the highest finishing Ranger Cup qualified angler.
Van Kennedy from Georgia had a tournament total of 25.45 pounds for third place overall. Kennedy will advance to nationals as the highest finishing boater representing Georgia, he also received a $640 cash prize.
On the co-angler side, Dale Rader, from Georgia took the lead on day one bringing in an 8.81 pound beauty to anchor his five fish limit weighing 14.96 pounds. On day two, he brought in 9.91 pounds for a tournament total of 24.87 pounds. Rader would take the co-angler title, advance to nationals representing Georgia and also receive a $950 cash prize for his two days of work.
The fourth and final angler advancing is Kenny Hunnicutt from Florida who had a two day total of 20.03 pounds. Hunnicutt came in second overall on the co-angler side, received a $470 cash prize and will advance as the highest finishing co-angler representing the state of Florida.
The Florida Bass Federation made the final sweep taking home bragging rights and the first District 1 State Pride Award with 215.51 total pounds. The award is determined by adding the weights of the top four boaters and co-anglers from each state, which are selected prior to the event.
In District 1, top TBF anglers competed for the chance to advance to the 2017 Federation National Championship and to win enough cash to travel to the spring event. Anglers qualify for the semi-finals in one of two ways. Active state clubs in good standing can send their top two anglers directly to the semi-final event, in addition, the top 10% of state event participation or a minimum of 12 anglers per state qualify, whichever is greater.
The new format pays back 100% of the entry fees, 75% to the top 20% of the field, 10% to the state federations and 15% to the TBF Federation National Championship. In the new NSF rules, a co-angler can also move up as a boater if his/her weight totals more than the state boater’s weight.
The new event format went well thanks to the Florida Bass Federation who ran the event and all their support from TBF’s sponsors; FLW, Ranger, Cabela’s, Lowrance, Minn Kota, Humminbird, Evinrude, Berkley and Power Pole. Also, thanks to Georgia TBF President, Larry Lewis, the Georgia tournament director and the Georgia team for their help in making the event enjoyable for all.