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Hubert Stafford of Colquitt, Ga., won $7,867 for his two-day weight of bass of 26 pounds, 14 ounces in the FLW Chevy Wildcard event at Ingalls Harbor in Decatur.
Daily photo by John Godbey
Hubert Stafford of Colquitt, Ga., won $7,867 for his two-day weight of bass of 26 pounds, 14 ounces in the FLW Chevy Wildcard event at Ingalls Harbor in Decatur.

Stafford hooks heaviest bass
Athens’ Moody makes All-American field, too

By Paul Stackhouse
sports@decaturdaily.com · 340-2462

Mission accomplished.

That would be a good way to describe Sam Moody’s feelings after finishing in second place in the FLW Chevy Wildcard bass tournament Saturday at Ingalls Harbor.

While money is the main thing that most tournament bass anglers shoot for, this event was a stepping stone to bigger bucks.

The top six anglers in the boater division and the top six in the co-angler division receive invitations to fish in the FLW All-American on May 29-31, 2008, on the Connecticut River in Hartford, Conn.

The co-angler division is designed for participants who don’t use their own boats in a tournament. The co-angler must fish from the back of the boat, and he or she does not receive the opportunity to fish where he wants to unless the boater agrees to it.

The winner of the All-American pockets $140,000, plus he or she earns a berth in the FLW Tour championship in August, where first place is $1 million.

Hubert Stafford of Colquitt, Ga., won $7,867 and a berth in the All-American tournament for finishing in first place here Saturday.

Stafford had 12 pounds, 9 ounces Friday and won the event after bringing 14 pounds, 5 ounces to the scales Saturday.

Moody of Athens, who led the boater field after Day 1 with a weight of 20 pounds, 6 ounces, fell to second with his two-day total of 26 pounds, 9 ounces. Moody received a $3,934 check.

The Wildcard is part of the FLW Bass Fishing League circuit.

If an angler fished in all five tournaments in his BFL region and did not qualify for a regional event, he was invited to fish the Wildcard for a final chance at moving up the circuit ladder.

Anglers fishing in this weekend’s event did not have to pay an entry fee. However, they could put $200 in a money pot that is divided among the top 54 places for a chance at winning more than their contribution.

On the co-angler side, the ante was a $100 contribution, which paid 52 places.

On the co-angler side, Anthony Coggins of Sylacauga had a two-day weight of 16 pounds, 2 ounces to claim first place and a check for $3,690. He also received an invitation to the All-American.

Two weeks ago, Moody fished in the FLW Series Pickwick Lake tournament, where he claimed $11,000 for finishing 12th.

“I wouldn’t be telling the truth if I said I wasn’t real excited right now,” Moody said smiling after weighing in Saturday. “Winning some money in this tournament is great, but getting into the All-American is the big thing here. That’s what everybody here is shooting for. The All-American is a big deal, and it gives you a chance to fish FLW’s championship. You only win $1 million for winning the championship.”

Moody said he fished the same location Saturday where he caught his fish Friday, but his co-angler partner found his rod bending more than Moody’s. Tournament rules allow you to weigh in a limit of five bass. The fish must be 12 inches in length or longer.

Moody caught a limit Friday, but said it wasn’t meant to be on the final day. He and his partner were throwing a Carolina-rig.

“I only caught four fish today, and I didn’t lose any,” said Moody, who lost by only 5 ounces. “If I catch No. 5, get my limit, well, things would have been a lot different today.

“At my fishing spot, my partner caught a limit. He also caught a 4-6 largemouth. But hey, that’s fishing. I did all I could do to win this tournament. But I’m still extremely happy with the outcome.”

Decatur’s Luke Kyle was in fifth place on the boater side Friday with a limit of bass weighing 12 pounds, 6 ounces. He managed only 6 pounds, 8 ounces Saturday and settled for 12th place and $874.

“I caught some of my fish down river in the shallows where the shad were pushed up on the bank so I could catch them with a Rat-L-Trap and other crankbaits and topwater baits,” Kyle said. “I knew I could catch 6-7 pounds but I also knew I was going to have to upgrade to make the top six cut.

“I tried tight-lining a jig in deeper water but I just couldn’t get the bigger fish to bite. I was hoping to finish in the top six, but I would be real happy just making the top 25. I’m 22 years old fixing to be 23, and I’m fortunate enough to be able to be here fishing today instead of having to be somewhere else. I’m thankful for just being here.”

Stafford said he didn’t have to work hard to find his tournament-winning fishing hole.

“Actually, I found this 9-foot-deep shell bed by accident,” Stafford said. “That’s where I caught most of my better fish. I caught about 15-17 keepers today throwing all plastics. I started culling around 8 this morning.

“After weighing in my fish, I had no idea that I would win this thing. I felt confident I would make the All-American, but it sure does feel good to come in first place. I’ve never won a tournament like this one, and I’ve been working for something like this a long time.”

Besides Stafford and Moody, the final four to make the All-American on the boater side are Kentucky’s Brian Wilson (23-12, $2,973), Kevin Snider of Kentucky (23-1, $2,098), Georgia’s Brian Cox (22-7, $1,661) and Georgia’s Michael Conley (21-13, $1,486).

Rounding out the top six co-anglers who earned a berth in the All-American tournament are Ryan Cullop of West Virginia (16-0, $1,845), North Carolina’s William Vaughn (15-3, $1,393), Indiana’s Mike Patridge (14-12, $984), Florida’s Kenneth Hunnicutt (14-6, $779) and Marvin Mobley of Florida (14-5, $697).

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