Crossing the line: the 2018 All American
Cross Lake, near Shreveport, La. is hosting its third T-H Marine BFL All American.(Courtesy Pentaxforums.com)
Kip Carter returns to Cross Lake, joined by a dozen other Georgia anglers all going for one of bass fishing’s biggest prizes
In a shallow-water lake lined with cypress trees, the kind of fishing paradise most of us only dream about, 98 anglers from across the nation will take off at Louisiana’s first light tomorrow morning in search of perhaps tournament bass fishing’s greatest prize–and perhaps the hardest to earn.
At Cross Lake, near Shreveport, Louisiana, a lake roughly one third the size of Lake Sinclair, the top six finishers on the angler and co-angler side of the T-H Marine BFL regionals across the nation will weave their way through the docks, bayous and cypress trees–each boater trying to earn an automatic trip the 2018 Forest Wood Cup and more than $100,000. They will be joined by top anglers from The Bass Federation.
It’s known by most as the “All American”, arguably the oldest and most prestigious tournament in bass fishing (the Cup and Bassmaster Classic notwithstanding). It’s officially known as the FLW T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) All American Championship. The event runs from May 31st through June 2nd–ending just 70 days before the Forest Wood Cup on Lake Quachita in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
This will be the third time the championship will be held at Cross Lake, the others being 2002 and 2011. In that 2011 tournament, the winner was Jacob Wheeler, who has gone on to fame (and fortune) on the Elite Series tour. Wheeler was 20 when he won at Cross Lake.
This year’s tournament will see some familiar faces from Georgia. Leading the Georgia contingent is top pro Kip Carter, a quiet, affable angler who won the BFL Regional at Lake Wheeler. This is Kip’s fifth (or is it 6th?) All American–an incredibly impressive feat in itself. Kip is a supreme competitor and focuses his entire tournament season around earning entry to the T-H Marine All American. Kip, from Mansfield, Ga., has four wins and 43 Top 10 finishes in FLW events. He’s fished over 130 events.
Kip fished in the 2011 tournament at Cross Lake, finishing eighth and winning $10,000. He had 19-4 pounds in that tournament. There are many pulling for this classy young Georgian to finally win one of bass fishing’s biggest and most elusive prizes.
Another well-known Georgia BFL competitor is Greshamville’s John Duvall, who is fishing his second All-American tournament. He earned the spot by finishing fourth in the BFL Wheeler Regional. John, too, has been to the All American, fishing in 2016 at Barkley Lake.
He’s always a contender on a shallow bite–so this lake may set up just right for him. Duvall, who won a BFL Regional at Sinclair in 2015 that punched his ticket to the 2016 All American, is a formidable competitor in any BFL tournament he enters–and he’s also fished the Costa Series Southeast events this past year.
Here is a list of the other Peach State competitors and how they qualified for the T-H Marine BFL All American:
Tyler Morgan, Columbus, Ga.–2nd at the Wheeler Lake Regional
Grant Kelly, Milledgeville, Ga.–sixth at Wheeler
Jeremy Strong, Elberton–second at the Lake Lanier Regional
Rob Jordan, Flowery Branch, Ga.–third at the Lanier Regional
Roger Vinson, Flowery Branch, Ga.–fourth at Lanier
David Nichol, Gainesville, Ga.–fifth at Lanier
Heath Pack, Ellijay, Ga.–sixth at Lanier
Watch out for Vinson & Nichol among this bunch–as they are big sticks at Lanier and are always around the leaderboard–as is young Tyler Morgan, who finished second to Kip Carter at Wheeler. (Personal note: I fished as a co-angler with Roger Vinson many years ago on Lanier and finished 11th, mostly due to Roger’s great sportsmanship and teaching me–on the water–an unusual shallow-water technique we used to fish marinas. He is a first class guy and great competitor).
Daniel Tuten, Byron, Ga.–fifth at the Wheeler Regional
Matthew O’Connell, Brooks, Ga.–second at the Wheeler Regional
Harold Grizzle, Gainesville, Ga.–fourth at Wheeler
Eric Cerny, Alpharetta, Ga.–first at the Lanier Regional
Andrew Nickeson, Valdosta, Ga.–fifth at the Wild Card Tournament
If I were betting on co-anglers in this tournament, I’d bet on Harold Grizzle, who has an amazing record in BFL events.
He has six wins and 16 Top 10’s in only 39 events. That mean’s he’s been in contention to win in more than half of the tournaments he’s entered. This may be Harold’s year.
Best of luck to all the Georgia qualifiers for amateur bass fishing’s greatest prize–the T-H Marine All American. This will be the event’s 35th year–and it promises to be another shootout.
Here are a few other photos of Cross Lake. Stay tuned!