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Lonnie Bowlin and Ron Johnson 1st Place!!!

U.S. Anglerís Choice Region 3 Tournament of Champions

U.S. Anglerís Choice Region 3 Tournament of Champions was held March 4th thru the 7th on famed Lake Guntersville, the home of Giant Largemouth Bass. At full pool Lake Guntersville stretches 75 miles from Nickajack Dam to Guntersville Dam, covers 69,100 surface acres and boasts 900 miles of beautiful shoreline. This would be the stage in which over 160 teams would compete, all looking for that winning pattern or area that lend enough weight to take home one of three Legend Boats rigged with Mercury Outboards.

The event was hosted by Jackson County Tourism and official lodging sites for the event were the Comfort Inn and Comfort Inn and Suites in Scottsboro, Alabama. Scottsboro offered teams and families plenty of entertainment while not on the water and some fantastic places to dine. The people living in the Scottsboro community are some of the friendliest you will find anywhere in the country.

Teams gathered Thursday for a first class banquet followed up with a short meeting held at the Scottsboro Goose Pond Civic Center. Southern hospitality was in full force as teams were treated to a fantastic dinner consisting of Southern fried chicken, Pork Chops, country green beans, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, hot rolls and plenty of deserts to top it off.

Following the dinner of and for champions a brief review of the water and event specific rules were covered. Teams were officially welcomed to the community and lake by J.P. Parsons from Jackson County Tourism and the Mayor of Scottsboro Melton Potter. Legend Boats representative Cindy Van Horn congratulated the attendees on their qualification and welcomed all in attendance. The evening was then finalized by recognizing each of the divisional anglers of the year teams and awarding plaques for their accomplishments.

Leading up to the competition teams were dealt with rapidly changing conditions. A cold front had passed through the area Sunday leaving behind freezing temperatures and even some short lived snowfall. This front dropped water temps five to ten degrees in some cases and had fish moving. By Wednesday the temperatures were back on the rise and water temps slowly started to climb.

As teams took off on the first day of competition they found a nearly perfect day with take off temperatures around fifty degrees and warming up to the mid seventies. The weigh-in started at 3pm and it would soon be evident why Anglerís Choice teams have gained the reputation of being the best of the best. Even with the unstable conditions leading up to the event 138 teams would bring fish to the scales and the top 33 teams would weigh bags of over 20lbs on this day.

When the scales closed after day one the Smithland Pool team of Jim Hammersly and Kerry Betz found themselves on top the leader board with a five fish limit that saw the scales reach a whopping 31.61lbs. They had a nearly five pound lead on the second place team of Chad Kerr and Quinton Ingram fishing out of the Mississippi Pool 19 division. Chad and Quinton however would claim Big Bass honors on this day with a 9.70 Guntersville beauty.

Day two started off somewhat overcast but the temps were still rising and the fish were still moving. Teams would have to continue to adjust to stay on top or make a move up the leader board. Day two would see big changes in weights; while some would drop others would put themselves right in the mix and with total weights near fifty pounds over two days the top teams would find themselves separated by only ounces making for an exciting conclusion to an awesome event.

Minutes after the last bag was weighed the results were in. The Southern Illinois Choice division team of Lonnie Bowlin and Ron Johnson would narrowly take the win and were crowned Region 3 Champions. The team brought consistent heavy bags to the scales. On day one they weighed in 24.93lbs and followed it up on day two with 24.90lbs giving them a two day total of 49.83lbs and the win. The team reported having a tough practice but located a flat with grass and shad on it just prior to competition that produced some quality fish. On day one the team caught the majority of their fish on rattle traps and had their fish within two hours in the morning. Day two would be no different as the fish bit early as they ran Chrome and Black traps over the four foot flat. For the win the team takes home a certificate for a new fully rigged Legend Alpha 211 with a Mercury 225 Opti Max.

Kerry Betz and Jim Hammersly 2nd Place

Coming in second place and missing the win by just over a pound was the Smithland Pool Team of Kerry Betz and Jim Hammersly. On day one the team weighed in the big stringer of the tournament, a five fish limit of 31.61 lbs but on day two struggled somewhat by Guntersville standards with a five fish limit of 17.04 lbs giving them a total weight of 48.65 lbs. The team reported catching their fish on traps and swimbaits worked under balls of shad in the mouth of creeks. The depth the team was fishing was approximately ten feet of water. For the second place position the team wins a new fully rigged Legend Alpha 199 with a Mercury 200 Opti Max


Jeff Gee and Steve Majewski
Taking the third place position was the Pool 13 team of Jeff Gee and Steve Majewski. They brought 5 fish to the scales on day one weighing 22.26 lbs and followed it up on day two with a limit weighing 23.74 lbs. giving them a two day total of 46 lbs. even. That was just .05 behind the second place team. The team fished grass in the 4 to 8 foot range near the mouths of creeks and through rattle baits 100% of the time. They are sponsored by Champion boats, Bobs Marine and Falcon Rods. The team wins a new fully rigged Legend LE 195 with a Mercury 150 Opti Max

Coming in fourth place was the Southern Illinois team of Tommy Burns and Darren Frazier. They weighed in a five fish limit on day one seeing the scales reach 20.25 lbs. and bested that weight on day two bringing five fish to the scales weighing in at 25.26 lbs lbs. The team earned checks totaling $3,640.00

Tournament Notables:
861 fish were brought to the scales with a 100% live release. No lost fish!
Total weight of all fish 3,144 lbs
Avg. size bass= 3.65 lbs
Day 1 big bag: Kerry Betz and Jim Hammersly 31.61 lbs.
Day 2 big bag: Jeff Fulkerson and Lance Ricketts 28.84 lbs.
Day 1 big bass: Chad Kerr and Quinton Ingram 9.70 lbs.
Day 2 big bass: Mark Wiese and Jay Hulsey 7.87 lbs.

This was an awesome event for all who attended! If you were unable to fish this season or make it to the championship come join us in 2009! Call 618-496-3610 for a trail near you.