Stephens wins WBS opener on Lake Murray
ATHENS, Ala. – Michael D. Stephens kicked off a new season of the American Bass Anglers Weekend Bass Series with a major win in the South Carolina Division 9 opener, held Jan. 18, 2014 on Lake Murray in Columbia, S.C.
Running out of Dreher Island State Park in Prosperity, S.C., to fish the 50,000-acre lake, the Gastonia, N.C., angler caught five bass weighing 27.22 pounds for a 5.44-pound average. He anchored his bag with a 6.32-pound kicker. For the first Boater Division victory of the new season, Stephens took home a check for $1,590.
“I fished right around this island for most of the day,” Stephens revealed. “The waves were too big for the boat and I couldn’t go anywhere. I fished rocks all day. I caught most of my fish early in the morning with an Alabama rig. Then, I picked up a crankbait and culled everything on it.”
In second for the boaters, Chris W. Marshall of Forest City, N.C., landed a five-bass tournament limit going 22.25 pounds. He collected $809 for the effort.
“I fished the mid-lake area, mostly with a crankbait,” Marshall explained. “I caught one big one on a spinnerbait at about 1:30 p.m. before my second trolling motor tore up. I went through two trolling motors and lost three hours of fishing, but still caught 22 fish.”
Andy Wicker of Pomaria, S.C., took third for the boaters with five bass going 21.83 pounds. He anchored his catch with a 7.82-pound kicker that won the tournament big bass title. For the effort, Wicker earned $530 with an extra $66 for the big bass.
“We started in the mid-lake area and then ran up the lake a bit,” Wicker said. “I caught one good one up there. I ran down until the water cleared. I caught most of my fish on a crankbait, but my two biggest ones on a jig. I fished rocky cover.”
Glenn “Punk” G. Gentry Jr. of North Augusta, S.C., finished fourth with a five-bass limit for 18.22 pounds. Joseph Toth of Richmond Hill, Ga., rounded out the top five boaters with five bass at 18.08 pounds including a 5.19-pound kicker.
In the Co-Angler Division, Tommy Purvis of Graniteville, S.C., won the first event of the season with three bass going 11.11 pounds for a 3.70-pound average. He sealed his victory with a 4.60-pound kicker to pocket a check for $795.
“We went toward the dam and fished rocks in clear water with a Shad Rap,” Purvis explained. “The water was only two feet deep. I had a ball.”
Taking second for the co-anglers, Michael L. Norris of Myrtle Beach, S.C., brought in a three-bass division limit for 9.83 pounds including a 4.45-pound kicker. He collected $404 for the effort.
“I caught my fish on a Little George,” Norris said. “I’ve had it for about 30 years.”
Sam A. Naib of Atlanta, Ga., placed third among the co-anglers with three bass going 9.20 pounds. He went home with a check for $265.
“I caught all my fish on a shaky head in six to eight feet,” Naib revealed. “The water was stained.”
Ed Parker of Charlotte, N.C., landed in fourth place among the co-anglers with two bass for 7.73 pounds. He anchored his bag with a 5.64-pound kicker that set the division lunker standard. William R. O’Dell of Hodges, S.C., finished in fifth place with three bass at 7.51 pounds.“Two fish was all I could do,” Parker lamented. “It was cold and windy. The big one hit a Rat-L-Trap at about noon. I caught it off a dock on a wind-blown bank.”
Slated for March 22, 2014, the next divisional tournament will be held on Lake Russell out of the Highway 72 ramp near Elberton, Ga. At the end of the season, the best WBS anglers from across the nation will earn an opportunity to fish the 2014 Ray Scott Championship, slated for Wheeler Lake in Decatur, Ala., from Nov. 15-18. The champion boater will receive $100,000 and the co-angler champion will win $50,000. In addition, the top boater could win up to $50,000 in sponsor bonuses with the champion co-angler possibly taking home up to $25,000 in sponsor bonus cash.
As a special Ray Scott Championship bonus, the Boater Division and Co-Angler Division champions will each receive entry fees and sponsorship into the one of two professional bass fishing series of the angler’s choice. The sponsorship includes entry fees into three professional events and sponsorship support. This sponsorship will put the champion within striking distance of one of two professional bass fishing championships.
At WBS events throughout the season, boater and co-angler competitors may also win hefty bonuses from such sponsors as Triton Boats, Mercury Outboards, Royal Purple, MotorGuide and T-H Marine. See www.americanbassanglers.com and click on “Contingency” for details on how to qualify for these bonuses.
For more information on this tournament, call Billy Benedetti, tournament manager, at 256-230-5632 or ABA at 256-232-0406. On line, see www.americanbassanglers.com.
About American Bass Anglers: American Bass Anglers is committed to providing low cost, close to home tournaments for the weekend angler and at the same time offer each competitor an upward path for individual angler progression. For more information about American Bass Anglers, the Weekend Bass Series, the American Fishing Tour or the American Couples Series, visit www.americanbassanglers.com.