6/9/12 – Fourteen anglers advanced today from the 2012 Southern Division Championship, presented by Ranger Boats held on Lake Okeechobee in Florida. The event was hosted by Okeechobee Tourist Development Council and the Florida Bass Federation. The top angler in state team standings advances as a boater and the 2nd place angler of each state advances as a co-angler to the 2013 TBF National Championship next spring. There they’ll fish for the “Living the Dream” prize package to include paid entry fees as an FLW Pro for a year with use of a wrapped Ranger boat and Chevrolet truck, as well as, thousands in cash and prizes.
Brian Hickey of Kentucky Bass Federation was in the top of the rankings each day and came out on top today with a 3-day total of 56 lbs 3 oz to be crowned the 2012 Southern Division Overall Champion. “I’m humbled to have won the Southern Division in such a prestigious path, with such a caliber of fisherman, especially Florida State Team. To come to their water, that I had never fished on, and win, is amazing. I put a lot of effort and thought into it. Once a year I get to fish like the professionals do,” said Hickey. He won his state by nearly 17 lbs. “I put a game plan together, wanted to try a something new, and not a generic pattern. All three days I stuck with the same pattern in the same areas. I was throwing a Zoom Magnum Ultravibe Speed Worm with a 15lb fluorocarbon line in the offshore hydrilla grass. The weather played into my hands and forced me to find areas on all parts of the lake where I thought I could compete well.” Hickey caught about 70 fish off that same spot, and it was enough for him to be named the overall division Champion.
This will be Hickey’s first time to qualify for the TBF National Championship. “This is another way for me to possibly qualify for the BFL All-American. I’ve been to the American twice fishing BFL’s. This will be a new experience for me and I’m very excited. I hope it is on a lake I’ve never been to. Those tend to be more fun because it should make me a better angler. I will get to spend a week treated like a pro. It will test me and I will see what I can do against the field.”
It was a shootout between Hickey & Florida’s Scott Bumgarner yesterday, weighing in over 52lbs between the two. Bumgarner finishes in a very close second overall to Hickey with a 3-day total weight of 54 lbs 6 oz. “The weather conditions played a big factor on how things played out today. I ran the same pattern I’d been running, and the weather shut all my fish down. I was throwing a Spro Frog and Gambler Big Eazy swimbait,” said Bumgarner. Because of his monstrous sack of fish he weighed in yesterday, he had some cushion. He was able to bring in a limit today and it was enough to make him the qualified Boater for Florida to the 2013 TBF National Championship. “This is my first time to divisionals and to be the boater to represent Florida at Nationals is incredible. Hopefully this luck streak will continue.”
Bumgarner helped solidify Florida’s State Team in the overall state standings. Florida wins with 371lbs 8 oz. Georgia finished in 2nd with 352lb 4oz and Alabama in 3rd with 344 lbs 10 oz.
The Cabela’s Angler Cash & Ranger Cup winner for the 2012 Southern Division was South Carolina’s Rich Gerken, who will also advance as a Boater for SC next spring to 2013 TBF National Championship.
2013 TBF National Championship Contenders
Robbie Robinson – Angler
Henry Rockhill – Co-Angler
Scott Bumgarner – Angler
Mike Cass – Co-Angler
John Brady – Angler
Joey Nichols – Co-Angler
Brian Hickey – Angler (Overall Division Winner)
Johnny Cooper – Co-Angler
Michael Collins – Angler
Mark Allen Seals – Co-Angler
Rich Gerken – Angler
Robert Rikard – Co-Angler
Mike Hardin – Angler
Daniel Ellis – Co-Angler
Be sure to tune in to FLW Outdoors THIS Sunday. The 2012 TBF National Championship will be aired on NBC Sports Network at 1PM EST.
For more information about The Bass Federation, visit www.BassFederation.com, join us on www.Facebook.com/TheBassFederation and follow us on Twitter @bassfederation