Kentucky and Tennessee Advance Anglers to Nationals
The Bass Federation hosted the 2017 TBF National Semifinal District 3 event as 162 anglers converged on Kentucky Lake, October 21-22, fighting for top honors and record-breaking NSF payouts. Coveted spots in the 2018 Federation National Championship were awarded to the top boater and co-angler from each state. Eighty-four boats launched from Paris Landing and were met with clear skies and calm waters but several struggled to find the bite.
A total of $28,680 with 114% payback was awarded in cash and prizes. The top two boaters and co-anglers in the 84 boat field divvied up a whopping $18,900 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 Etec Evinrude).
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.
As day one wrapped up the race was still tight as Tennessee angler, Larry Dunlap, led the field with a solid 20.04 pounds. Dunlap didn’t find many bites but the ones he did he made count. Sitting in second and also from Tennessee was Jason Sosebee with 15.05 pounds. In third and fourth place was Tennessee father and son competitors, Eric and Dylan Fuller. Dylan claimed third by just 3 ounces with 13.08 pounds to Eric’s 13.05 pounds.
On the co-angler side, Eugene Puckett of Kentucky led with 12.09 pounds. Puckett and second place angler, Chris Franco from Tennessee were the only two co-anglers to find double digits on day one. James Burns & Hunter Young both of Kentucky were sitting in third and fourth with 9.12 and 8.12 pounds.
On day two, cooler temps, increased cloud cover, stronger winds and scattered rain throughout the day made for a chilly morning run but heavier weights at the scales. Dunlap put together another solid limit of bass weighing 14.05 pounds to make his tournament total 34.09 pounds and be named the 2017 National Semi-Final Champion boater. Dunlap received a record-setting $4,370 paycheck and will advance to nationals representing Tennessee.
Tennessee anglers swept the field holding first through seventh places on the boater’s side. Finishing in second and cashing in a $2,230 paycheck was Eric Fuller with 29.05 pounds. Dylan Fuller took third with 26.13 pounds. Terry Harris came in fourth with 24.07 pounds and received the $500 Ranger Cup award for being the highest finishing Ranger Cup qualified angler.
The top Kentucky boater who will advance to the national event was Steven Taylor finishing in eighth overall with 18.07 pounds.
On the co-angler side, Kentucky angler, BJ Nelson, vaulted to the top of the leader board with a 14.13 pound sack. Nelson only caught two fish for 4.07 pounds on day one but went out on Sunday refusing to give up, good thing he didn’t. His 19.04 pound bag would earn him the 2017 National Semi-Final Champion co-angler title, a $2,185 prize check and a slot at the national contest.
The top Tennessee co-angler was Chris Franco who came in fourth overall with 13.05 pounds; he’ll also advance to nationals representing his state.
The Tennessee Bass Federation made the final sweep for state bragging rights and the District 3 State Pride Award to settle the score with Kentucky’s win last year, 87.13 to 44.12 pounds. The award is determined by adding the weights of the top four boaters and co-anglers from each state selected prior to the event.
The National Semi-Finals format rolled out last year replacing the divisional events and state team line-ups. TBF anglers can now advance to a close-to-home NSF event in one of two ways. Active state clubs can advance their top two anglers, in addition, the top 10% of state event participation or a minimum of 12 anglers per state qualify, whichever is greater. The new format has been highly successful with state participation and membership up across the nation.
This was the largest NSF event to date since introducing the new format last year. The event went well thanks to the hosting state of Tennessee, volunteers, as well as, TBF’s Sponsors: FLW, Ranger, Cabela’s, Lowrance, MinnKota, Humminbird, Evinrude, Berkley and Power Pole.