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Smith qualifies for WBFL All-American Tournament

By By Mike Giles / outdoors writer
May 31, 2002
Ricky Smith of Collinsville will compete for a share of the $345,000 at stake in the 2002 Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League All-American Championship June 6th through 8th at Shreveport Louisiana. Top prize in this prestigious tournament is a cool $100,000.00.
Smith and the other 49 competitors in the boater division will fish on Cross Lake, an 8,600 acre impoundment located just northwest of Shreveport.
Against the odds
Qualifying for the Wal-Mart BFL All-American is a monumental accomplishment, according to Charlie Evans, chief operating officer for FLW Outdoors. According to Ricky Smith, approximately 35,000 anglers start the year out with their sights set on competing in the All-American. Competitors from 22 Wal-Mart BFL divisions qualified for the prestigious tourney by ranking in the top 30 anglers through five regular season tournaments and by finishing eighth or better in one of the five regional championships.
Smith qualified by way of a second place finish in a regional tournament held last fall.
Smith is no stranger to competitive fishing, having won many tournaments locally as well as statewide. In fact, he participated in the 2000 All-American tournament that was held in Hot Springs Arkansas. Smith turned in a fantastic performance in that tourney by placing third overall. He was one three-pound fish away from winning the championship.
Although Smith started competing in bass clubs about 25 years ago, he has only fished competitively in other venues for the last eight or ten years.
According to Smith, fishing is something that everyone can enjoy whether or not they fish competitively. In fact, it is one of the top participant sports in the country.
Proving his skill
A recent day spent on the water with Smith shed some light on how he made it to the All-American tourney. Although a cold front had recently come through and put the bass in the lockjaw mode, he persevered and caught fish. With the help of a Garmin GPS unit installed on his Ranger boat, Smith was able to locate offshore humps and ledges that held a few aggressive fish.
With the skill of a surgeon Smith literally carved up the water and dissected each ledge and piece of structure with his arsenal of crankbaits. On this day a variety of fish fell victim to his skills. He caught several crappie, spotted bass, largemouths and even a hybrid striped bass.
With fishing skills honed to a high degree, Smith should be primed and ready for his chance to be the first Mississippian to win the All-American Championship.

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