Lakecaster Online

Thornhill Wins BFL Cowboy Tournament on Toledo Bend
By Donald Gervais

Most couples spent Valentine's Day celebrating over a romantic dinner or in front of a toasty fireplace, not so for the Pineville couple, Richard and Dana Thornhill. The couple braved the cold weather on Toledo Bend Reservoir to compete in the first event of the Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League (BFL) 2004 tour, Cowboy Division. It was a sweet day for the duo as Richard captured first place in the boater division and Dana captured Big Bass honors and 12th place in the non-boaters division.
The weather was anything but sweet for the 171 boater and 166 non-boaters who launched from Frontier Park amid temperatures in the mid 30's, with on and off rain. A bass fisherman's worst nightmare condition is rising, cold muddy water and that is what the anglers faced. Only nine anglers managed to bring five-string limits to the weigh-in, seven on the boater side and two from the non-boater division.
Richard Thornhill managed to bring in a limit that tipped the scale at 16-pounds and 14 ounces to earn the first place paycheck of $4,456. Richard caught his fish in Negreet Creek, on the Louisiana side of the lake, fishing a ½-ounce Pelican Lure- black, blue and purple jig, which was tipped with a Strike King 3X chunk.

Richard used Shimano reels, loaded with 17-pound test P-Line and Castaway rods to pitch the jig in four feet of water. "I pitched towards the buck brush but the fish were holding off from them," said the event winner. He said that he caught fish throughout the day and culled twice. It was the first tournament win for the angler.

While Richard was fishing in Negreet Creek, Dana, a non-boater, fished with her partner north of Patroon Creek. Her only fish of the day was also caught on a Pelican Lure Jig and 3X chunk trailer. Dana's only bite of the day was a 6-pound 10-ounce fish that she caught at 12:30 P.M. in 14 feet of water. She too was fishing with Shimano reels, Castaway rods and P-line. Dana's one fish earned her a check for Big Bass for the non-boater division worth $415 and the tie in 12th place check of $197. It was the first time that the couple had placed in the money as they did.

Donaldsonville angler Gary Fields captured first place in the non-boater division with a five fish limit weighing 12-pounds and 13-ounces. Fields, who led the Louisiana BFL amateur division last year, caught his fish north of Housen Bay using a Carolina-rigged lizard. Fields fished with Shimano reels, spooled with 17-pound test P-line and Castaway rods. He said that the boat was in 14-feet of water and he cast to the fish located in the 6-8 foot depth. Most of his fish came at mid-day on a plastic lizard, whose color he called "secret." Field earned a check for $2,185 for his effort.

Boater Larry D. Byrd, of Lake Charles, managed to bring but three fish to the scale, however a 9-pound Toledo brute anchored the creel. Byrd's catch earned him Big Bass honors in the boater division and second place with 16-pounds and 8-ounces.

Byrd credits his Lowrance electronics, on his Triton boat/ Mercury motor bass rig, to help locate points in the south part of the lake. He used a crankbait in 14-15 feet of water to entice his catch. Byrd gear included Shimano rods and reels, spooled with 10-pound P-Line.

Rounding off the top six finishers in the boater division were: Glen Freeman, of Converse, La, in third place with 16-pounds and 5 ounces; Brandon Baker, Beaumont in 4th with 15-pounds 10 ounces; Thomas A. Rogers, of Fort Worth 5th place with 13-pounds and 15 ounces; and in 6th place, Trey Morgan of Goldonna, La with 13-pounds and 10 ounces.

The other top six non-boater finishers included: second place, John E. Peebles of Seabrook, Tx with 11-pounds and 14-ounces; third place, Richard Hooter of Nachitoches, La; with 9-pounds and 13 ounces; fourth was taken by Bill Clem of Plano, Tx with 9 pounds and 8 ounces; Kelly Watterson of Pollok, Tx claimed 5th with 9-pounds and 5- ounces; and claiming sixth spot was Mike Young of Lewisville, Tx with 8-pounds and 11 ounces.

The Sabine River Authority of Louisiana provided their Shimano Live Release boat for the tournament. No fish fatality was reported in the event. Boaters weighed in 218 fish while non-boaters brought 110 fish to the scales.

BFL tournament director Ron Brinegar announced that there were still openings for the remaining four events of the Cowboy Division schedule, two tournaments each of Toledo Bend and Lake Sam Rayburn. Interested anglers are asked to contact the BFL headquarters by calling 270-252-1000 or by going online to www/

There is no off-limit times for the BFL events, pairing are done by a drawing the night prior to the tournament. Entrance fee for boaters is $150, non-boaters is $75, plus a $25 BFL membership fee. The top 30 anglers in each division qualify for the regional championship. The top six anglers in each region qualify to fish the All-American Championship, with $100,000 going to the winner.

Sponsors of the Wal-Mart BFL events include: Ranger Boats, Schick Quatro, Pedigree dog food, Garmin electronics, Field and Stream Magazine, Land O Lakes, Lawry's, Fujifilm, Banana Boat, Shop-Vac, Chevy Trucks, Snickers, Tyson Foods, EverStart Batteries, 7-Up, US Bank, Kellogg's, Energizer, BF Goodrich, Lays, Castrol, Poulan, Oberto, Faded Glory, Weed Eater, Minn Kota and Evinrude.

Donald Gervais is a Northwestern State University Journalism School graduate, a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and lives on Toledo Bend Lake.

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