The Arkansas state team led from start to finish wrapping up the 2013 Central Division Championship presented by Evinrude on Lake Ray Robert, June 11-14. In the individual standings, Paul Helton, from Russellville, Ark., was in a tie for fourteenth after day one and inched to seventh on day two, to take the lead and the division champion title on the final day.
Helton led the Arkansas state team after three tournament days with 9lbs 13ounces, 14lbs and 16lbs 1ounces for a total of 39lbs 14ounces. Helton and his family are very active in TBF and FLW from the adult to the high school and college levels. “First of all, TBF and FLW have been great for me; they’ve been great to my family,” Helton said. “I feel like they are part of my family, and I couldn’t do any of this without them or the support of my family.”
Helton settled into fourteenth after day one with a solid bag but not enough to lead his team. “It took me a little while to figure out they were in the transition phase, moving deeper, getting off the structures I was fishing, it wasn’t like they were replenishing.”
Helton used his homemade, watermelon colored football jig and 12lb fluorocarbon McCoy fishing line all week. “I get the reason they put me on the McCoy Pro Team, I used their 12lb fluorocarbon all three days; it was great.” He started fishing shallow in the 5ft range. As the week progressed, he followed the fish out of the spawning pockets to isolated structures in the 8-12ft range. “I just had a great tournament, great partners,” Helton continued. “I was blessed to win. It was also a great opportunity to be a part of the winning Arkansas team. The guys are all great; it was an awesome victory.”
Lake Ray Robert shelled out 610 bass last week for a total of 1,523lbs 6ounces. The Arkansas state team led all three tournament days with 85lbs 3ounces, 87lbs 13ounces and 84lbs 15ounces for a team total of 257lbs 15ounces. “Everybody was trying to make adjustments out there and the Arkansas guys were successful, we got it,” Helton said of his team. “Everybody has their own style but everybody just came together and did the best they could for the win. Great team, great coanglers and really that’s what you gotta have, the whole team, a team effort.”
Close behind until the final day, was the Oklahoma state team with 84lbs 14ounces, 68lbs 4ounces and 55lbs 10ounces for a team total of 208lbs 12ounces. Louisiana came in third with 192lbs 13ounces, followed by Missouri, Texas, Kansas, Nebraska and then Mississippi.
Sixteen TBF anglers, the top two from each of the eight states in the Central division, also advanced to the 2014 Federation National Championship. There they’ll go head to head with other TBF division champions from across the US to compete for the national champion titles and the “Living the Dream” prize package, to be awarded to both the national champion boater and coangler. The package includes cash and prizes, paid entry as an FLW Tour Pro in his/her circuit choice and use of a wrapped Ranger Boat and Chevrolet truck for the year, as well as, travel stipends and sponsor merchandise.