Parker Wins ABA National Championship

fishing tournamentsABA National Champion Gene Parker.ABA
Gene Parker returned home to North Carolina with a new boat and national bragging rights for being the winner of the 2011 American Bass Anglers American Fishing Tour National Championship.Battling against all the other top anglers and changing fall weather conditions, Parker led the three-day championship tournament on Lake Murray, a 50,000-acre reservoir near Columbia, S.C., from Day 1. In practice, the Asheville, N.C., angler representing District 9 found a honey hole on the Saluda River, a major tributary to Lake Murray, and milked it for three consecutive five-bass daily limits totaling 35.55 pounds.?I fish Lake Murray several times a year,? Parker said. ?All three of my limits came on a homemade 1/4-ounce white spinnerbait with nickel blades, a Colorado in front and a willow-leaf in the back. I fished the same general area for three days. The bass were all on wood in three to five feet of water near a channel that dropped to about 14 feet deep.?Running out of Dreher Island State Park in Prosperity, S.C., Parker caught eight keepers and brought in five bass weighing 15.79 pounds with a 5.42-pound kicker to take a 1.56-pound Day 1 lead over his nearest competitor. He followed that effort with 10.95 pounds on Day 2 to raise his total to 26.74 pounds. With the temperature falling on a blustery final day, the champ sealed his victory with another limit and 8.81 pounds.?On Day 2, I lost a 5-pounder,? Parker confessed. ?By noon, I only had one keeper and moved to a different area. Just before 3 p.m., I caught four within a 200-yard stretch. On Day 3, the temperature dropped and the wind blew from a different direction. I caught a fish on my first cast and had four fish within 90 minutes. Later, I caught a 3-pounder to finish the limit.?Parker won a new Triton boat package powered by a Mercury outboard with a MotorGuide trolling motor, a package worth $50,000, plus other prizes. In all, the competitors from about 40 states fished for a share of more than $200,000 in cash and prizes. They qualified to fish the national championship tournament by competing in various state events throughout the year.Bobby W. Stanfill, the only other angler besides Parker to catch three consecutive five-bass daily tournament limits, took second with a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 32.88 pounds. Holding fifth place on Day 1 with 12.51 pounds, he moved into second place on Day 2 with an 11.69-pound bag for 24.20 pounds. On the final day, he landed 8.68 pounds.Andy Lake held 12th place with 9.35 pounds including a 4.64-pound kicker on Day 1. On Day 2, he caught 5.48 pounds, dropping to 19th place with 14.83 pounds. On Day 3, he brought in 13.88 pounds, the biggest bag that day, to jump into third with a total of 13 bass going 28.71 pounds.Landing in fourth place, Mike York caught 14 bass for 28.09 pounds. He brought in 13.78 pounds on Day 1 to hold third place. On Day 2, he caught 7.13 pounds, dipping to fifth place with 20.91 pounds. He followed up with 7.18 pounds on the final day.Rounding out the top five anglers, Kenny M. Carroll finished with 13 bass and 27.80 pounds. He held sixth place on Day 1 with 12.16 pounds including a 3.95-pound kicker. Catching 10.95 pounds on Day 2, Carroll advanced to fourth place with 23.11 pounds. He finished with a 4.69-pound effort.Randy J. Heath set the tournament lunker standard with a 5.67-pounder. He finished in 29th place with six bass weighing 15.99 pounds. James Stone caught the biggest bass on Day 1, a 5.48-pounder to earn $3,000. Fishing his first AFT championship tournament, Larry Wright of Warsaw, Mo., landed the biggest bass on the final day. Early on Day 3, the District 49 angler caught a 5.22-pounder He finished in 47th place overall with six bass going 14.55 pounds, but took home a check for $3,000 for his big fish.?We made about a 20-minute ride up the river and there was a boat right where I wanted to fish,? Wright lamented. ?It was a channel swing and I decided to fish in the area anyway. The water was stained like the water I?m used to fishing in Missouri. I caught the big fish within six minutes of starting to fish. My boat was in 3.6 feet of water and the fish came out of water less than two feet deep. It hit a magic craw colored beaver on a 5/0 hook with a 3/16-ounce sinker. When the fish hit, it came out of the brush, went under the boat and almost broke my rod. I thought I had a big catfish. That?s a great way to start a day.?In all the 316 competitors brought in 1,432 keeper bass for a combined weight of 2,412.44 pounds. For more information, call ABA at (888) 203-6222. On line, see a schedule of other upcoming tournaments, click here.

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