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2008 Walmart BFL Great Lakes
By: Glenn Walker
One of the more popular tournament circuits in
the upper Midwest is the Walmart Bass Fishing League, more commonly
known as the BFL’s. The circuit is comprised up of four single day
tournament sand then a two-day super tournament in the fall, in
which the top 20 percent of the field fish on day two. These
tournaments are a boater/non-boater format, in which you see some of
the best sticks on the water! At the end of the year, the top 40
boaters and non-boaters qualify to fish the regional tournament, in
which anglers from other divisions come together to fish for a berth
in the All-American. This tournament is the coveted workings man’s
tournament championship. The regional in which the Great Lakes
division anglers will go to is on Kentucky on October 2-4 and
recently announced was that the 2009 All-American will be on the
Mississippi River, held out of the Quad Cities in Iowa.
This preview of the five tournament sights,
should give anglers, fans and the media an idea of what to expect
from each stop on the 2008 Walmart Great Lakes BFL’s!
Be sure to check out my tournament journal
following each stop of the BFL’s this season, seen only here at
May 3, La Crosse, Wisconsin (Mississippi
River Pools 7-9)
2006 Bassmaster Classic Qualifier and renowned local
favorite for tournaments on the Mississippi River, Jim Johnson,
feels that the longer winter we had will push the spawn back by
about three weeks. More anglers will be looking for those fat
pre-spawn fish and “smallmouth will have more of an influence to the
outcome of the tournament leaders, because once you find them,
you’ve found the mother load of fish” said Johnson. This is because
smallmouth typically school up by size, so if an angler finds on
3lb. fish, most likely they have found a nice school of them. Jim
thinks that it will take 18.5-19.5 lb. to win this event. Take off
and weigh-in for the event will be at Clinton Street Landing with
takeoff starting around 6:00 and weigh-in beginning as early as 2
June 9, 2007
Boater Winner/check weight: Jeff Benson (18 lb. 10 oz.)/12 lb.
Non-boater Winner/check weight: Josh Reynolds (15 lb. 6 oz.)/8 lb.
June 7, Winneconne, Wisconsin (Wolf
River, Winnebago, Fox River, Butte Des Morts, Poygan)
Winneconne system has started off with record breaking snow fall,
high water and a late spring. By the time the BFL arrives to town,
local tournament angler Jim Barczak
expects to still see the water
higher than it has been the last few years. Anglers still might
find fish on beds, but most fish will be in post spawn and moving
towards their typical summer patterns (if there is such a thing on
the Winnebago system). Barczak is always a constant
threat on the Winneconne system and has racked up numerous top ten
finishes and wins and feels “as
the populations of smallmouth continue to improve, he expects some
anglers will come in with nice limits of chunky smallmouth.”
With the long winter and late spring that the Midwest has
seen Jim see’s the 15 lb. plus mark for the winning sack. Take off
and weigh-in for the event will be at Chamber of Commerce Park with
takeoff starting around 5:30 and weigh-in beginning as early as 2
June 30, 2007
Boater Winner/check weight: Steven Johnson (13 lb. 14 oz.)/9lb.
Non-boater Winner/check weight: David Goodyear (12 lb. 6 oz.)/6 lb.
July 19, Wabasha, Minnesota (Mississippi
River Pools 3-5)
Fellow FutureBass Pro-Staff member Tim Domaille puts in
countless hours during the summer months on these tournament waters
and has given us his thoughts for this event. He thinks that it
will take 18 lb. to win and 14 lb. to crack the top ten. “Fishing
should be great on pool four and five this year, with numbers and
quality fish coming out of the grass and pad fields on both pools”
commented Tim. As on all Mississippi pools during the summer
months, smallmouth can be caught on main channel wing dams and
current breaks. Take off and weigh-in for the event will be at the
Wabasha City Ramp at Ike’s Park with takeoff starting around 5:30
and weigh-in beginning as early as 2 p.m.
July 21, 2007
Boater Winner/check weight: Jim Mckie (18 lb. 4 oz.)/12 lb. 2
Non-boater Winner/check weight: Mike Bonewitz (14 lb. 8 oz.)/9 lb.
August 9, Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin
As anglers arrive in Prairie Du Chien there will be several
distinct things going on this time of year on the river. The slop
fishing bite will be in full effect, as will fishing main river rock
for schooling largemouth and smallmouth and the massive eel grass
fields on pool 9 have also produced hefty limits for anglers. About
half the field will make the run and lock up to pool 9, where
previous summer’s have shown that the overall quality of bass are
far more grouped on that pool, than pool 10. But don’t count out
pool 10, quality fish can and will be caught on this pool as well.
I predict that 17-18 lb. will win the event. Take off and weigh-in
for the event will be at Washington Street Landing with takeoff
starting around 5:30 and weigh-in beginning as early as 2 p.m.
August 11, 2007
Boater Winner/check weight: Tom Welch (15 lb. 11 oz.)/12 lb. 2
Non-boater Winner/check weight: Steve Knight (13 lb. 0 oz.)/8 lb.
September 13-14, La Crosse, Wisconsin
(Mississippi River Pools 7-9)
A mixed limit of largemouth and smallmouth is typically how
this event will shake out. Anglers can target a mix of current
swept areas, along with fishing the slop for big fall largemouth.
Johnson notes that “shad migrations through areas are also a dead
giveaway to healthy bass highways.” Finding the right type of
vegetation, bait fish and then presenting the bait effectively, an
angler will be able to catch some of the biggest bass of the year.
Johnson thinks that weights will be right around the spring time
ones, with the cut being around 29 lb. and 36 to 37 lb. will win the
event. Take off and weigh-in for the event will be at Clinton
Street Landing with takeoff starting around 5:30 and weigh-in
beginning as early as 2 p.m.
September 8-9, 2007
Boater Winner/cut weight: Dan Thill (35 lb. 13 oz.)/12 lb. 14
Non-boater Winner/cut weight: Michael Syjud (31 lb. 1 oz.)/8 lb. 11
Good luck to everyone in their
2008 fishing tournaments and trips. I look forward to seeing many
of you on the water and at various tournaments.