Virginia and West Virginia Advance Anglers to Nationals
The Virginia Bass Federation played host to the first TBF National Semifinal contest for District 12, November 4-6 on the Chickahominy River outside of Williamsburg, Va. 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.
A new NSF record of $23,240 with 115% payback 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 13 boaters and co-anglers in the 67 boat field divvied up $15,075 in total cash payback, not including the $500 Ranger Cup award and the $1,000 Evinrude E-tec award for the winning boater (if he/she runs a 2012 or newer Evinrude).
Anglers were greeted with nice weather on the river. On day one, Virginia anglers, Dylan Whitmore, led it with a limit of bass weighing 18.47 pounds followed by Dave Christian with 15.77 pounds and Frank Harris with 15.20 pounds.
On the co-angler side, Virginia’s Trey Gregg had 13.83 pounds to lead after day one, followed by Brandon Marks of West Virginia with 13.10 pounds and William Hoeffer of Virginia with 12.46 pounds.
Day one big fish was caught by Amy Schwartz from Virginia. She snagged a 6.80 pound beauty.
A cold front came through overnight and although anglers saw sunny skies in the morning, the wind blew hard. Anglers struggled to find the heavy bags from day one, but still managed to put together small five bass limits.
After two days of competition, Whitmore would lead from start to finish with a tournament total of 28.75 pounds. Whitmore received a whopping $3,180 paycheck and a slot in the 2017 Federation National Championship as the winning boater.
Based on Virginia’s numbers/participation in the event, they get to advance the top two boaters and co-anglers to nationals. Harris slid up from third to second to grab that slot with 27.86 total pounds. Harris received a $1,880 cash prize, as well as, the $500 Ranger Cup award for being the highest finishing Ranger Cup qualified angler.
West Virginia’s, Wes Lester, was the highest finishing boater to represent his state and he will also advance to nationals. Lester came in third overall and received $990 for his two days of work.
On the co-angler side, Hoeffer would take the top spot from day one leader, Gregg, with a tournament total of 25.30 pounds. Hoeffer received a $1,590 cash prize and will advance to nationals as the highest finishing co-angler.
Although, Gregg wound up in second overall with 23.81 pounds, he will still advance to nationals as the second highest finishing co-angler from Virginia. Gregg also received $940 cash prize.
West Virginia’s, Brandon Marks, will also advance to nationals representing his state. He came in 6th overall with a tournament total of 20.47 pounds.
The Virginia Bass Federation narrowly edged out the West Virginia team to take home bragging rights in the first District 12 State Pride Award with 105.65 total pounds versus 101.77 pounds. The award is determined by adding the weights of the top four boaters and co-anglers from each state, which are selected prior to the event.
In District 12, top TBF anglers competed for the chance to advance to the 2017 Federation National Championship and to win enough cash to travel to the 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.
The new event format went well thanks to the Virginia Bass Federation who ran the event and all their support from TBF’s sponsors; FLW, Ranger, Cabela’s, Lowrance, Minn Kota, Humminbird, Evinrude, Berkley and Power Pole.
The Virginia Federation would also like to thank Scott Whitmore and all of Region 8 for their help and all the other volunteers. Also, a very special thanks to Anthony Roberts from Virginia for offering up his boat to a man he’d never met, John Christopher of West Virginia, after boat problems arose on day one. These men represent what TBF fishermen are all about.