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Travis retains TBF Championship lead

North Carolina native nets top spot on Lake Wylie

By David Hart – 25.Apr.2008 – EDITORS NOTE: Statement added by TBF President/CEO Robert Cartlidge

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – One of the top two anglers after the second day of TBF Championship competition traveled across the country. The other practically stepped out his front door. Brian Travis, of Conover, N.C., knows Lake Wylie as well as he knows his own living room, a fact he credits for his first-place standing after Friday’s weigh-in. The other, Ron Hobbs, Jr., of Orting, Wash., spent seven hours in airplanes and airports to get to a lake he had never seen until the official practice day on Wednesday.

Travis, the hometown favorite, brought in another heavy sack of fish to stay in the lead after the second day of The Bass Federation Championship. He continued his pattern of running from one spot to another, racking up a five-bass limit that weighed a respectable 16 pounds, 6 ounces for a two-day total of 31 pounds, 4 ounces. He credits his strong showing to his intimate knowledge of the lake. He placed second in a tournament on the lake in early March and won a BFL a few weeks after that.

“I think I can catch 10 or 12 pounds tomorrow. That might be enough to win,” said Travis, a shift supervisor for a freight company. “I have plenty of places left that still have fish, and I’m not too worried about weekend boat traffic.”

Milkman delivers

Travis is nearly 4 pounds in front of Hobbs, a milkman who makes door-to-door deliveries. He never saw Lake Wylie until the official practice day on Wednesday, the day before the start of the tournament. What he saw on that single day of practice, however, gave him a big boost to his confidence.

“I saw a fish on a bed, and then another and then a couple more as I was trying to figure out where to start. I think I’m a pretty decent sight-fisherman because that’s what I do back home, so I felt pretty good,” he said.

Hobbs, a member of Evergreen Bass Club, brought a limit to the stage of the Charlotte Convention Center that weighed 13 pounds, 11 ounces on the first day. On Friday, he did even better with a 13-pound, 15-ounce limit for a two-day total of 27-10. Like Travis, he feels good about catching a heavy bag on the final day, but he knows he has plenty of ground to make up. Still, he left plenty of quality fish in the water and he knows of at least three big bass on beds.

Washington, D.C. angler Bobby Williams caught five bass on the second day that weighed 12-3 for a two-day total of 25 pounds, 6 ounces. That resulted in a tie with Hollidaysburg, Pa., angler Tom Belinda.

Federation officials originally announced Williams as the winner from the Mid-Atlantic Division, but a review of the rules later in the evening determined that Belinda, not Williams, should advance to the final day. TBF championship tournament director Robert Cartlidge explained that in the event of a tie after the second day, the angler with the heaviest bag overall moves on to the final day. Belinda brought 13 pounds, 15 ounces to the scales on Friday.

“I understand the rules and I accept the final decision,” said Williams. “I’m disappointed, but I strongly believe in the integrity of the TBF and I don’t want to do anything to harm the organization’s reputation. I also don’t want anyone to think I was disqualified for any reason, because that’s not the case. I simply agreed to step down based on the rules.”

A similar tie among co-anglers also resulted in a change in the final day’s line-up for the co-angler division.

Belinda has a half-pound lead over fourth-place angler Robert Crino of South Royalton, Vermont, who is representing the Eastern Division. He has a two-day weight of 24-14. Don Owens, of Ponca City, Okla., is in fifth with 23-14, and Greenfield, IN angler Terry McWilliams is in sixth with 20-15.

Here Comes The Judge

Bill Roberts, who represents the Mid-Atlantic Division as a co-angler, brought a limit to the stage both days and is paired with Travis on the final day. His two-day total weight is 21-11. Despite the pairing, he’s not entirely confident about his ability to pull out a win.

“He’s going to be sight-fishing, so there might be a lot of down time while he tries to catch a bedded bass. There’s not a lot I can do about it, but I’ll just do what I’ve been doing and I hope I can put another limit in the boat,” said Roberts, a federal judge from Fairfax, Virginia. He qualified for the 2007 Forrest Wood Cup through the Ranger Owner’s Tournament held on Kerr Reservoir last year. “I didn’t do so well, so I would really like another chance.”

Ben Gross of Kingman, AZ, is in second place in the co-angler division with 21-8; Mayflower, AR angler Hoyt Akins has a two-day total of 20-11 and is in third; the fourth-place angler is Craig Fredrychowski of Lexington, KY with 19-4; Big Bend, WI angler Jim Jones, who was originally announced as the fifth-place co-angler, was replaced by Brian Belke, of New Lenox, IL after it was determined that Belke’s 11-7 sack on the second day put him ahead of Jones. Tim Austin, the Vermont Bass Federation youth director, is in sixth.

All 12 of the anglers fishing the final day advance to the $1 million BFL All-American, held on Arkansas’ Lake Hamilton in May. The stakes are somewhat higher for the first place anglers, however. The winners of the boater and co-angler division advance to the $2 million Forrest Wood Cup, held on Lake Murray August 14 through 17. The winner of the TBF Championship boater division also wins the TBF Living the Dream Package, which includes $10,000 in cash, sponsor merchandise, entry fees for either the Wal Mart FLW Tour or the Wal Mart FLW Series, the use of a wrapped Chevy tow vehicle and a wrapped boat, and expense money.

The top 12 anglers will launch from Copperhead Island Park at 6:25 for the final day of competition. The weigh-in starts at 3 p.m. at the Charlotte Convention Center and will be held in conjunction with the National Guard Open.

EDITORS NOTE: Statement to the membership by TBF President Robert Cartlidge

“Errors” sometimes happen in anything we do in life. No one dislikes them more than I do.
Due to a slight difference between our written championship rules and the coding in the TBF tournament software, two anglers were inaccurately announced as progressing.
Obviously corrections had to be made, official standings published and the correct anglers placed.
Our anglers did nothing wrong. In fact, both of the displaced anglers told me personally that they felt the written rules must be followed, even though they knew it would keep them from advancing. Bobby Williams and Jim Jones, (the displaced anglers) gained an admirer today for the way they handled themselves. Federation members nationwide should be proud that they have these two anglers in their ranks. Honesty, integrity and doing the “right” thing, are traits that these two TBF members plainly possess. I deeply apologize for any embarrassment that this issue may have caused them.
I was certainly dismayed over it myself. However, written tournament rules are in place to guide, shield and protect all of our anglers, including those due to rightly advance under the rules. To work properly for everyone they must be adhered to. The title of tournament director carries with it a responsibility. For this event, I serve in that role, it is my job to make sure EVERY aspect of the program functions the way it should and in this case it did, the rules were followed to the letter.
Robert L. Cartlidge