Wisconsin’s Smyers Takes Lead InThe Bass Federation National Championship On Bull Shoals Lake

 (Mar. 13, 2009 – Branson, MO)… Northern Division boater Nicholas Smyers, 27, of Franksville, Wis., took over the tournament lead and is one step closer to “Living the Dream” after catching five bass weighing 15 pounds, 12 ounces on day two of The Bass Federation National Championship presented by the National Guard Friday on Bull Shoals Lake. Now, with a two-day total catch of 10 bass weighing 34 pounds, 11 ounces and a 4-pound, 8-ounce lead on the rest of the field, Smyers is one day away from making his dream a reality.

The catch was the heaviest of the day giving Smyers the lead over Western Division rival Brandon Craner of Filer, Idaho, in the race to win a $100,000 prize package that includes berths into two of the sport’s most coveted events – the $2 million Forrest Wood Cup and the $1 million Walmart Bass Fishing League All-American presented by Chevy.

“I have been working an area hard and beat it to death and getting what I could cranking in some dirty water,” said Smyers. “I hope there are not too many local anglers around tomorrow.”

Smyers said he is excited about qualifying for the BFL All-American. “I feel great knowing that. I have been trying to qualify for that for eight years and making that has always been my goal. My boss is pretty good about giving me time off to practice. I would love to fish the FLW Tour – I live to fish,” said Smyers regarding the potential of winning the “Living the Dream” package.

Anglers from six nationwide TBF divisions competed during 2008 and qualified through a series of TBF club, TBF state and TBF divisional tournaments to compete in the no-entry-fee TBF National Championship.

In addition to incredibly lucrative championship berths, the TBF National Championship will also award $10,000 and a “Living the Dream” prize package to the first-place boater. The package includes use of a “Living the Dream” wrapped Chevy truck and Ranger boat powered either by Evinrude or Yamaha, sponsor merchandise and paid entry fees into the winner’s choice of either the 2009 Walmart FLW Tour or Walmart FLW Series to compete against the world’s top bass anglers.

If his productive pattern holds up one more day, Smyers will advance to the 2009 Forrest Wood Cup presented by BP and Castrol in Pittsburgh, Pa., July 30 -Aug. 2, where the nation’s top pros will compete for as much as $1 million. He has earned a trip to the 2009 BFL All-American presented by Chevy on the Mississippi River in Davenport, Iowa, May 28-30 along with the top boater from each of the five other TBF divisions represented in Branson.

Rounding out the division-leading boaters are Brandon Craner of Filer, Idaho (Western Division, 10 bass, 30-3); Daniel Ellis of Gleason, Tenn. (Southern Division, 10 bass, 28-3); Zachary King of Clarksville, Ark. (Central Division, 10 bass, 27-10); Robert Harkness of Elizabeth, W.Va. (Mid-Atlantic Division, 10 bass, 27-2); and Rob Lamoy of Chazy, N.Y. (Eastern Division, 10 bass, 19-13).

Overall there were 159 bass weighing 382 pounds, 7 ounces caught on Friday by 44 boaters. The catch included 23 five-bass limits.

Mark Modrak, 43, of China Township, Mich., representing the Northern Division, held onto his overall lead amongst the co-angler challengers with seven bass weighing 20 pounds, 3 ounces over the first two days.

“It was kind of a struggle as the bite was not on today,” said Modrak. “I caught one fish early and one late. I caught the big one off a crankbait that I bounced off a rock on a point and [the fish] ate it. All my fish have been coming on crankbaits, so I will continue to throw that, but a lot will depend on my boater tomorrow.”

“It is great knowing I will be in the All-American, but it will be new deal for me as I am not usually on the co-angler side,” said Modrak. “It is a whole new level I guess.”

If Modrak holds on for the win, he will earn a $5,000 cash prize and a berth into the 2009 Forrest Wood Cup for a chance to fish for as much as $50,000. He has earned a berth into the BFL All-American presented by Chevy along with the top co-angler from each of the additional TBF divisions for a chance to fish for as much as $70,000.

Rounding out the division-leading co-anglers are Woody Parks of Lincolnton, Ga. (Southern Division, eight bass, 19-10); Jerry Necaise of Long Beach, Miss. (Central Division, six bass, 17-6); David Martinez of Tucson, Ariz. (Western Division, 10 bass, 16-2); Eric Stewart of Anmoore, W.Va. (Mid-Atlantic Division, six bass, 13-7); and Peter De Moya of Plymouth, Mass. (Eastern Division, five bass, 9-2).

There were 79 bass weighing 171 pounds, 7 ounces caught by 44 co-anglers on Friday. The catch included 2 five-bass limits.

Central Division boater Terry Kleeman won the Castrol Big Bass Award for the tournament with a big-bass weighing 6 pounds, 1 ounce, earning him a $500 cash award.

K Dock Marina will host takeoff Saturday at 7 a.m. Saturday’s weigh-in will begin at 3 p.m. at the Branson Convention Center followed by the Walmart FLW Tour weigh-in at 4 p.m. FLW Tour anglers will return to the convention center Sunday for their final weigh-in at 4 p.m.

The entire field of 44 TBF boaters and 44 co-anglers competed Thursday and Friday for an accumulated two-day weight. The top boater and co-angler from each of the TBF’s six divisions advanced to Saturday’s final round, where the winners will be determined by the heaviest three-day accumulated weight.

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In conjunction with the weigh-ins Saturday and Sunday, FLW Outdoors will host a free Family Fun Zone and outdoor show at the Branson Convention Center each day at noon. The Family Fun Zone offers fans a chance to meet their Fantasy Fishing team anglers face-to-face and review the latest products from Berkley, Lowrance, Ranger, Evinrude, Yamaha and other sponsors while children are treated to giveaways, fishing themed games and rides like the Ranger Boat simulator. Children 14 and under visiting the Family Fun Zone on Sunday will receive a free rod and reel combo courtesy of US 97 FM while supplies last. One lucky member of the audience will even win a new Ranger boat courtesy of the Springfield News-Leader that will be given away during the final 4 p.m. weigh-in Sunday, March 15. Admission is free, and you must be present to win.

On Saturday, March 14, musical group and local favorite DoGtag will perform between the TBF Championship weigh-in and the FLW Tour weigh-in at the Branson Convention Center. Legendary artist Moe Bandy will perform prior to the weigh-in on Sunday starting at approximately 3:15 p.m.

In a partnership with Goodwill, FLW Outdoors invites you to drop off your clean, gently-used clothing and household materials at the Branson Convention Center, March 14 and 15 starting at noon. In return, the first 500 to donate will receive a free BP die-cast boat, while supplies last. Donations will be sold at local Goodwill stores to help people with disabilities and other disadvantages receive job training and other important services.

The Bass Federation Inc. (TBF) is owned by those it serves and is dedicated to the sport of fishing. TBF affiliated state federations and their member clubs conduct more than 20,000 fishing, youth and conservation events at the local level each year and have provided the foundation for the entire bass fishing industry for more than 30 years. For more information about The Bass Federation, call (580) 765-9031.