Oklahoma and Arkansas Advance Anglers to Nationals
The Oklahoma TBF played host to the first TBF National Semifinal contest for District 6 on the Arkansas River in Muskogee, Okla. 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.
In District 6, top TBF anglers from Oklahoma and Arkansas competed September 23 for the chance to advance to the 2017 Federation National Championship and to win enough cash to travel to the 2017 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.
A total of $10,120 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 26 boat field divvied up $5,850 in total cash payback, not including the $500 Ranger Cup award and the $1,000 Evinrude E-tec award for the top boater running a 2012 or newer Evinrude.
After two days of competition, the District 6 National Semi-Final Champion titles would go to the boater from Arkansas, Josh Ray, who received a $1,700 cash prize. The co-angler champion was Sandy Hooker from Oklahoma who received $850 from his two days of work.
Jackie Husmann nabbed the $500 Ranger Cup award for being the highest Ranger Cup qualified angler along with his $900 second place overall purse and narrowly missed winning the $1000 Evinrude E-Tec bonus award which goes to the district champion if they are running a 2012 or newer Evinrude E-Tec motor. The Oklahoma TBF made the final sweep taking home bragging rights and the first District 6 State Pride Award with 65.93 total pounds.
The Arkansas River proved tough this time of year. Two Oklahoma anglers, Jackie Husmann and Stewart Ryan, found a pattern and responded with the only five fish limits on day one. Husmann took the first day lead with 12.20 pounds followed closely by Ryan with 11.96 pounds. Josh Ray had four fish weighing 7.65 pounds to hold down third and lead the Arkansas boaters.
Overcast skies greeted anglers on the final day as Josh Ray responded to land the biggest stringer of the tournament at 15.05 pounds and a winning tournament total of 22.73 pounds. First day leader, Jackie Husmann, Oklahoma, brought in his second limit of 9.40 pounds, the only angler to record limits both days. The anglers fished almost 40 miles apart but both put it together to earn slots in the 2017 TBF National Championship representing the Arkansas and Oklahoma boaters, respectively.
Josh Ray used about 45 gallons of gas to fish the lower Kerr Reservoir pool approximately 30 miles from the launch site. Although this was Ray’s first trip to the Arkansas River he was able find areas with water willows in practice, and then set way points using his Lowrance HDS 12 to return to them on tournament days. He also used the power of his 112 Minn Kota trolling motor to hold despite the current as he presented frog and swim jigs.
The co-angler race was also close after day one as Kyle Tudor from Oklahoma brought four fish to the scales for a leading weight of 8.37 pounds. Sandy Hooker also from Oklahoma followed close behind with three fish at 8.21 pounds, anchored by a 4.66 pound lunker.
On the final day Hooker brought three fish to the scales for 6.26 pounds to make his winning tournament total 14.47 pounds. Tudor’s big bass tipped the scales at 4.76 pounds, but with only one fish it wasn’t enough to hold on to his day one lead. Robert Scott’s 7.12 pounds on the first day held out to top the Arkansas co-anglers; he will advance with Hooker to the 2017 TBF National Championship in the co-angler division.
The top boater and top co-angler from each state advancing to the 2017 Federation National Championship are as follows; (boater, co-angler) Oklahoma: Jackie Husmann, Sandy Hooker; Arkansas: Josh Ray, Robert Scott.
The event was sponsored by the Greater Muskogee Chamber of Commerce, The Muskogee Basin, Three Forks Marina, and the Knight’s Inn Motel.