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5 Bass / 25-8 lbs Wins Wal-Mart BFL - Toledo Bend
By Patty Schaefer

The Louisiana Division of the Walmart Bass Fishing League tournament was held at Cypress Bend Park on Toledo Bend Lake today. Out of the 71 boaters and 67 co-anglers that participated, over 80% of the field weighed in. The front that was forecasted to come in later in the afternoon blew in furiously around mid morning. Fighting gale force winds and high seas, these anglers pitted against each other for their share of the purse. Ultimately, there is more than $7 million dollars on the line in this newly expanded Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League. Today, ten places were paid on the boater side and nine places paid on the co-angler side with one big bass place per side.

* Whether you're an avid angler or just getting started in the sport of competitive fishing there's a place for you in the Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League. The Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League (BFL) meets the needs of America's fishing masses by providing professionally administered, close to home, affordable events with lucrative cash purses. The league's boater / co-angler format accommodates the skill level of all anglers pitting boaters against boaters and co-anglers against co-anglers. With 130 qualifying events divided into 26 divisions, the Wal-Mart BFL is the nation's largest tournament circuit. In addition to qualifying events, the 2002 WalMart BFL includes eight post-season regional competitions and one major championship - the Wal-Mart BFL All-American.

1st Place Boater (25-8 lbs) - Wayne Ebarb of Toledo Bend enjoyed a landslide win today, weighing in his 5 bass limit which included two back-to-back kickers weighing 7 lbs 6 oz and 7 lbs 4 oz respectively, taking 1st place big bass slot as well. His efforts today sent him home with $2,496.00 in winnings. Throwing crawfish colored traps in 6-8' woody main lake points in the morning then backing out to 10-14' with crawfish colored DD-22's proved to be the winning strategy. Wayne stated that he had an excellent co-boater, Vince Parello, who boated three fish for himself. His Ranger/Mercury stood up to today's challenges taking 4-5' waves over the nose. Wayne fishes with a combination of Ambassadors, Fenwick and Castaways with 12 & 15 lb Berkely Big Game line.

2nd Place Boater (16-1 lbs) - Wade Leblanc of Gonzales, La brought in a solid five fish limit landing him a check for $1,248.00. Wade threw an Old Bayside Craw-2 in watermelon red for his catch. He fished in 8-10' of grass in the backs of coves at the southern end of the lake and reported that the bite was good all day.

1st Place Co-angler (13-7 lbs) - Mike Blanchard of Dulac, LA took first place in his division winning him a check for $1,219.00. Mike said he fished the north end of the lake in 2-4' . The water was stained he reports but the rest of his day was left a little sketchy.

Harley Wilson of Beckville, TX took home a check for $500.00 and honors for being the Ranger Cup winner.

Top 10 Boaters
1st - 25 lbs 8 oz - Wayne Ebarb Many, LA
2nd - 16 lbs 1 oz - Wade Leblanc Gonzales, LA
3rd - 15 lbs 7 oz - Phil Hennigan Center, TX
4th - 13 lbs 3 oz - Jamie Laiche Gonzales, LA
5th - 12 lbs 15 oz - Carl Gautreaux LaFayette, LA
6th - 12 lbs 12 oz - Will Major Port Allen, LA
7th - 12 lbs 2 oz - Conrad Picou Carencro, LA
8th - 11 lbs 9 oz - Mike Cortelloni Many, LA
9th - 10 lbs 7 oz - Art Defraites III Houma, LA
10th-10 lbs 3 oz - Robbie Latuso Gonzales, LA

Big Bass - 7 lbs 6 oz - Wayne Ebarb Many, LA

Top 10 Co-anglers
1st - 13 lbs 7 oz Mike Blanchard Dulac, LA
2nd - 9 lbs 8 oz Bobby Barreraz Center, TX
3rd - 9 lbs 4 oz Milton Breaux Crowley, LA
4th - 8 lbs 13 oz Chad Gautreau Ventress, LA
5th - 8 lbs 9 oz Bryan Jansen Shelbyville, TX
6th - 8 lbs 8 oz Mike Truett Greenwell Springs, LA
7th - 8 lbs 5 oz David Junk Quincy, IL
8th - 7 lbs 12 oz Alejandro Falcon Morgan City, LA
9th - 7 lbs 10 oz Vince Parello Irving, TX
10th - 7 lbs 1 oz Jeremy Moore Broussard, LA

Big Bass - 5 lbs 5 oz Bryan Jansen Shelbyville, TX

226 bass came to the scales today for a total weight of 573 lbs 13 oz. All fish were recovered by the Sabine River Authority LA Shimano barge and live released back into the lake.

For more information on any of the Wal-Mart tournament trails, stop by your nearest Wal-Mart store, call FLW Outdoors at (270) 362-4880 or visit their website at . Sponsors include: Wal-Mart, Faded Glory, Stanley, Alpo, Everstart, BC Powder, BF Goodrich, Conseco, Garmin, Coleman, US Bank, Energizer, Yamaha, Evinrude, Frito Lay, Fuji Film, Kellogg's, Land O' Lakes, Minn Kota, Castrol, Pepsi, Ranger Boats, Shop Vac, Stren, Snickers, Chevy Trucks, Poulan and Weed Eater. Associate Sponsors include: Abu Garcia, Berkley, Eagle Claw, Laker, Plano, Solar Bat

1st place - 1st place boater division winner Wayne Ebarb shows off his back to back 7-6 & 7-4 kickers

2nd place - 2nd place boater division Wade Leblanc with two of his 16-1 lb total limit
< photos by Patty Schaefer>

(L-R) 1st place boater Wayne Ebarb, Ranger Cup winner Harley Wilson, Tournament Director Ronnie Brinegar, 1st place co-angler Mike Blanchard, Big Bass co-angler Bryan Jansen

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