“While I was getting ready to weigh in, I heard the tournament director calling weights and they were low,” said Caldwell. “I heard 15-2 as the current winning weight. I still wasn’t sure I could win it but knew then I had a good chance.”
The day started off very well for Caldwell, fishing the lower lake on points with a Lucky Craft jerkbait. He caught two bass weighing 8 pounds by 8:30.
“I was on a good pattern and knew it would take 20 pounds at least to win,” Caldwell said. “Since the wind picked up, I shut the pattern down and made an adjustment. I used the same technique but started fishing in grass.”
The Fish were withdrawn, making it harder to find them. With the day heating up, he found 62-degree water and the fish in shallow water.
Caldwell said, “I had 10 minutes to weigh-in, so I mentally put myself in the game and made the fish bite and caught a 2 ½ pound bass and culled out the one-pounder I had.” That fish, he said, is what gave him the win.
“The guy checking the fish confirmed to me I was at least in the top three. The checker covered the weight number so I couldn’t see and then took his hand away and announced I was the new leader,” Caldwell said.
Rounding out the top five boaters are Robert Walser of Lexington, N.C. (five bass, 15-2, $2,620); Greg Wyrick of Red Springs, N.C. (five bass, 14-6, $1,748); Randy Goss of Stem, N.C. (five bass, 12-10, $1,223) and James Blankenship of Lexington, N.C. and Ralph Hollifield, Jr. of Winston-Salem, N.C. (five bass, 12-9, $1,004).
Charles Shuck took home the Boater Division Big Bass award, earning $825 for a 5-pound, 5-ounce bass he caught.
Hunter Campbell of Henderson, N.C., earned $2,614 as the co-angler winner Saturday thanks to five bass weighing 11 pounds, 13 ounces that he caught on a spinnerbait.
Rounding out the top five co-anglers are David Buskey of McKenney, Va. (three bass, 11-7, $1,307); Jeremy Gatewood of Chesapeake, Va. (five bass, 10-13, $872); Jeff Gore of Lynchburg, Va. (four bass, 10-8, $610); and Randy Buchanan of Bullock, N.C. (four bass, 9-11, $523).
David Buskey earned $407 as the co-angler Big Bass winner after catching a 6-pound, 10-ounce bass.
The next Piedmont Division event will be held on the Jordan Lake in Apex, N.C., April 4.
The top 40 boaters and 40 co-anglers in each of the BFL’s 28 divisions at the end of the season advance to a no-entry-fee Regional Championship where boaters fish for a new Ranger boat and a Chevy truck and co-anglers fish for a new Ranger boat. Seven regional championships will each send six boaters and six co-anglers to the no-entry-fee Wal-Mart BFL All-American presented by Chevy, which features a $1 million purse and a top award of $140,000 in the Boater Division and $70,000 in the Co-angler Division. Anglers who compete in all five regular-season events within a division but do not advance to a Regional Championship are eligible to compete in the Chevy Wild Card, which will also send six boaters and six co-anglers to the All-American for a total of 48 boaters and 48 co-anglers advancing through BFL competition.
The winning boater and winning co-angler at the All-American will advance to the no-entry-fee $2.5 million Forrest Wood Cup in Atlanta in 2010. This event, featuring a top award of $1 million, is the most lucrative tournament in all of competitive bass fishing. In all, the BFL offers weekend anglers the opportunity to qualify for three no-entry-fee championships with total cash awards exceeding $3.5 million. Plus, the top 40 boaters and 40 co-anglers from each BFL division may move up to the Stren Series™ for 2010 while All-American champions have the option to advance directly to the Wal-Mart FLW Tour®.
In BFL competition, boaters supply the boat and compete from the front deck against other boaters. Co-anglers compete from the back deck against other co-anglers.
As the nation’s leading provider of affordable, close-to-home weekend tournaments, the BFL is widely credited with opening competitive bass fishing to the masses. It also serves as a steppingstone for anglers who wish to advance to the Stren Series and ultimately the FLW Tour – bass fishing’s most lucrative tournament circuit.
Total awards are based on a full field of 200 boats in every tournament.
FLW Outdoors, named after Forrest L. Wood, the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, is the largest fishing tournament organization in the world. FLW Outdoors also is taking fishing mainstream with FLW Fantasy Fishing, offering the largest awards possible in the history of fantasy sports, $10 million in cash and prizes. Sign up for Player’s Advantage for only $10 to get your edge and win.
For more information about FLW Outdoors and its tournaments, visit FLWOutdoors.com or call (270) 252-1000. For more information about FLW Fantasy Fishing and Player’s Advantage, visit FantasyFishing.com.