North Carolina and South Carolina Advance Anglers to Nationals
The North Carolina Bass Federation played host to the first TBF National Semifinal contest for District 2 on Lake Wylie in Charlotte, N.C. 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 2, top TBF anglers competed October 1-2 to advance to the 2017 Federation National Championship and to win enough cash to travel to the spring event. Hot weather and high water temperatures made it rough for most of the field as catching 14” bass proved difficult. As a result, very few limits came to the scales on day one.
Preston Rikard of Lexington, S.C., did bring a five bass limit to the scales weighing 11.21 pounds to lead it on the boater’s side. In close pursuit, was Nelson Walker of Manning, S.C., with 10.14 pounds.
On day two, Walker, a veteran TBF and BFL angler, would add another win to his resume with a limit weighing 10.15 pounds for a tournament total of 20.29 pounds. Walker received a $1,630 cash prize and will advance to the 2017 Federation National Championship as the winning boater. He also nabbed the $500 Ranger Cup award for being the highest finishing Ranger Cup qualified angler.
Jeff Hager from North Carolina finished just a pound away in second with 19.29 pounds. Hager received an $820 cash prize for his two days of work and he’ll also advance the 2017 National Championship representing North Carolina as the highest finishing boater.
After two days of fishing, the co-angler race remained tight with less than a pound separating first and second and two ounces separating second and third. Ultimately, the champion title went to Larry Halsey from North Carolina with 10.22 pounds. Halsey received $815 cash prize and will represent the North Carolina co-angler’s at the national championship.
Jeff Rikard from South Carolina came in second with 9.35 pounds while Kenny Hawk settled into third at 9.33 pounds. Rikard will also advance to nationals being the highest finishing co-angler for South Carolina.
The South Carolina TBF made the final sweep narrowly edging out North Carolina by less than four pounds to take home bragging rights and the first District 2 State Pride Award with 55.22 total pounds. The award is determined by adding the weights of the top four boaters from each state. The boaters are selected prior to the event.
A total of $9,160 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 four boaters and co-anglers in the 23 boat field divvied up $5,175 in total cash payback, not including the $500 Ranger Cup award and the $1,000 Evinrude E-tec award (awarded to the winner if he/she runs a 2012 or newer Evinrude).
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 North Carolina TBF who ran the event and all the support from TBF’s sponsors; FLW, Ranger, Cabela’s, Lowrance, Minn Kota, Humminbird, Evinrude, Berkley and Power Pole.