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Outdoors: Major bass fishing championships on tap this week on Cross Lake, Red River

The nation’s top weekend and collegiate bass-fishing anglers are set to compete at two of the most prestigious bass-fishing championships in the country in the Sportsman’s Paradise this month — the T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League All-American on Cross Lake, Thursday through Saturday, and the YETI FLW College Fishing National Championship presented by Lowrance C-MAP Genesis on the Red River, Wednesday through Friday.

LSUS is fielding two teams with three Bossier Parish high school graduates in the YETI FLW College Fishing National Championship. Parkway alumni Ryan Antee and Harrison Hopkins make up one team. Benton product JP Kimbrough and North DeSoto grad Jared Rascoe make up the other. Louisiana Tech and Northwestern State are also fielding teams.

An automatic entry to compete at the 2018 Forrest Wood Cup is up for grabs to the winner of each respective event, along with hundreds of thousands of dollars and a brand new Ranger Boat. The events are hosted by the Shreveport-Bossier Sports Commission & Red River Waterway Commission.

“The Red River and Cross Lake are two great fisheries and are the perfect venue to host these two championships,” said FLW Tour pro Jim Dillard of West Monroe, Louisiana. “It’s summertime in Louisiana, so just about all of the bass will be finished with the spawn. Typical Louisiana patterns will be in play – topwaters in the morning and something slower, like a worm or a jig on the bottom, in the afternoon when it gets sunny and hot.”

The 2018 BFL All-American on Cross Lake field will feature the top 98 boaters and co-anglers from across the 24-division BFL circuit competing for a grand prize of up to $120,000 in the boater Division and $60,000 in the co-angler Division. The top boater will receive an invitation to compete for bass fishing’s most coveted prize – the 2018 Forrest Wood Cup – Aug. 10-12 on Lake Ouachita in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

Since its inaugural event in 1983, the BFL All-American championship has visited Cross Lake twice (2002, 2011) in its 35 year history. In 2002, boater Eddie Waits III of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, targeted bass that were suspended in shady areas between cypress trees with a 30-year old crankbait to claim the title. In 2011, then 20-year old boater Jacob Wheeler of Indianapolis, Indiana, became the youngest All-American champion in history by targeting Cross Lake’s plentiful docks and cypress trees to win by a 9-pound margin and jump-start his career as a professional angler.

The 2018 YETI FLW College Fishing National Championship at the Red River will be comprised of the top qualifying teams from each of the 15 regular-season events from around the country, along with the top 20 teams from the annual FLW College Fishing Open. A field of 182 teams representing 105 different colleges and universities – including the first ever all-female team featuring qualifiers from the Savannah College of Art and Design – will be competing for a prize package that includes a new Ranger Z175 boat with a 90-horsepower Mercury or Evinrude outboard. The winning team will compete against each other on Saturday, June 2, in a one-day fish-off at a local body of water that will be revealed on stage, to see which team member will move on to compete against the best bass-anglers in the world at the 2018 Forrest Wood Cup.

“Winning the FLW College Fishing National Championship was the definite jump-start to my career as a professional angler,” said FLW Tour pro Austin Felix, the 2014 College Fishing National Champion for the Minnesota Golden Gopher Bass Club. “Touring the country for College Fishing, it opened my eyes that if you knew how fish reacted to certain situations, regardless of the lake, you could compete. Winning the national championship was a slingshot that gave me the notoriety to get my career off the ground.”

BFL All-American competitors will take off from the American Legion Hall ramp, located at 5315 S. Lakeshore Drive in Shreveport, at 7 a.m. CDT each morning, May 31 to June 2. Weigh-ins each day will be held at the Bass Pro Shops, located at 100 Bass Pro Drive in Bossier City, Louisiana, and will begin at 4 p.m. Takeoffs and weigh-ins are free and open to the public.

The FLW College Fishing National Championship anglers will take off each day, May 30 to June 1, from Red River South Marina, located at 250 Red River South Marina Road, in Bossier City, Louisiana, at 6:30 a.m. CDT. Wednesday and Thursday’s weigh-in will be held at the marina, beginning at 2:30 p.m. Friday’s Championship weigh-in will be held at the Bass Pro Shops, located at 100 Bass Pro Drive in Bossier City, at 3:30 p.m. prior to the Day Two weigh-in of the BFL All-American championship.

Television coverage of the 2018 T-H Marine BFL All-American and the YETI FLW College Fishing National Championship will premiere on NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) later this year. The BFL All-American will premiere Aug. 1, from Noon to 1 p.m. EDT, while the FLW College Fishing National Championship will debut on Aug. 15 from Noon to 1 p.m. The Emmy-nominated “FLW” television show airs on NBCSN, the Pursuit Channel and the World Fishing Network and is broadcast to more than 564 million households worldwide, making it the most widely distributed weekly outdoors-sports television show in the world.

— Joseph Opager, Director or Public Relations, FLW
— Featured photo courtesy LSUS

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