June 12, 2009 – Suspense was mounting, as everyone awaited the results of the final day of the TBF Southern Division Championship on Lake Murray, in Lexington, SC. In the team standings, we knew it was going to be close; with more than half the weigh-in over only a pound separated the top three teams. But, the home state of South Carolina made a late push, launching them far above the rest, and seized the title of the 2009 TBF Southern Division Champions.
It was neck and neck in the individual standings as well, with everybody fighting to claim the top spot in their state, in order to advance to the TBF National Championship. The top angler from each state advances as the boater and the second place finisher as the co-angler. These anglers compete close to home for over a year to qualify for the state team and the opportunity to advance to nationals. On average, it only costs around $200 a year in total entry fees and dues, and now these qualifiers will advance to fish for a prize purse of almost a quarter of a million dollars, the largest in federation history. The anglers who have qualified to advance are as follows and are listed, boater then co-angler: Ala., Joseph Webster and James A Boyle; Fla., Leon Roy V and J Nobel Willits; Ga., Tony Green and Mike Morris; Ky., Greg Hoskinson and Karl Snyder; N.C., Gary Cline and Chuck Murray; S.C., Jay Keith and Adam Williamson; Tenn., Michael Wooley and John J Talton.
Jay Keith from Camden, S.C., battled all week to claim the number one spot, and on the final day he did just that, making him the 2009 TBF Southern Division Champion. Keith brought in a limit of bass that weighed 14lb 14oz. He caught a limit all three days, which made his total tournament weight 41lb 11oz. This will be his first time to compete at the national tournament, and he seemed pretty excited about that. “Today went good, they didn’t jump off today,” Keith said. “I caught 8 or 9 fish using a fluke, a flugger iron reel and an all-star rod.” Keith’s fellow teammate was yesterday’s leader, Adam Williamson from Ridgeway, S.C., who was only a pound away. Williamson caught a limit of bass that weighed 13lb 12oz, making his total tournament weight 40lb 15oz. Today, he ran into a few problems, but still managed to grab second in his state and overall. “I lost two 4 pounders,” Williamson said. “Then, I caught a fish that was already hooked and was about to die. I worked on the fish for about two hours. I had such an outstanding partner; he let me come in early to weigh the fish so it wouldn’t cost me 8oz.” Williamson showed great character in the effort that kept his fish alive. He will advance to nationals on the co-angler side for the state of South Carolina, and this will be his first time as well. “I have fished on three state teams, and been close; but, this will be my first time and I’m excited.” In third place, is Michael Wooley from Collierville, Tenn., who caught a limit of bass that weighed 13lb 12oz, making his total weight 36lb 5oz. Close behind him is Gary Cline from Lexington, N.C., who caught five bass, which weigh d 10lb 15oz, making his total weight 35lb 1oz. Cline said he caught the majority of his good fish on a jig, but he also did some top water fishing. “The day was great; my partner let me have the boat all day,” Cline said. “I had three days with good partners; I couldn’t have done it without my partners.” This will also be Cline’s first time to compete at nationals.
The 2009 TBF South Division state team champions, the South Carolina Bass Federation caught 42 bass, which weighed 91lb 8oz, bringing their three day tournament total to 133 bass that weighed 261lb. The Georgia Bass Federation overcame a 20lb deficit yesterday, to become the day two leaders, but, didn’t quite have enough to hold their spot on the top. In second, the Georgia state team caught 46 bass, which weighed 72lb 8oz, making their tournament total 138 bass that weighed 250lb 7oz. Less than three pounds away from Georgia, is the defending champions, the North Carolina Bass Federation. They brought in 47 fish that weighed 96lb, making their total 126 bass, which weighed 247lb 15oz.