DeLand duo bank Wolfson bass top prize

They work Astor area to locate limit catch

In a field of 468 boats, DeLand anglers Butch McKee and Glen Rogers hooked the $10,000 first-place prize with a five-fish limit weighing 25.26 pounds, anchored by a 7.16-pounder, in the 27th annual Wolfson Children’s Hospital Bass Tournament Saturday at the Palatka riverfront park.

The Volusia County team said they traveled south to the Astor area to find their fish.

“We flipped Spinner-Craws in heavy cover including pads, grass and tree falls,” McKee explained to tournament emcee Mike Oglesbee before a huge huge crowd. “We stayed in that area all day,”

There have been a number of winning and high-placing teams from the DeLand/DeLeon Springs area since the inception of the WCH in 1990. This is the second win for McKee. He and then-partner Buddy Cohrs took the 2004 WCH with a weight of 31.12 pounds. 

Brothers Justin and Clayton Woods from Starke took second-place money of $4,000 with a limit weighing 23.75 pounds, and with the tournament’s second largest bass at 8.81 pounds, added another $1,000 to their winnings.

Clayton said they fished Lake George all day tossing Ribbit’s plastic frogs in the heavy grass beds and boated their big fish about 1 p.m.

Brian Smith and Chuck Hawkins from Jacksonville finished third with a weight of 22.59 pounds to collect $3,000. Smith said they fished the north of the launch site, tossing various lures along grass beds as far as Shands Bridge at Green Cove Springs. 

Chad Willoughby and Alan Hopper of San Mateo took fourth with a limit weighing 21.69 pounds earning $2,500. 

“We moved around all day and the last spot was our best,” said Willoughby. “The were biting well there, but we were running out of time and left active fish to make the weigh-in.” 

Rounding out the top five with a check for $1,750 were John and Travis Kremer of Debary with a limit weighing 20.90 pounds.

Remaining top 10 teams and big fish:

n 6th - Shane Hendricks, Jay Norman - 19.95 pounds - $1,250

n 7th - Ryan Worthington, Trevor Fitzgerald - 19.47 pounds - $1,000.

n 8th - Brent & Richard Myers - 19.36 pounds - $700.

n 9th - Wendell & Dewayne Burke  - 19.32 pounds - $600. Tournament’s    largest bass - 8.89 pounds - $5,000.

n 10th - Bobby Patterson, Chris Aucoin - 19.21 pounds - $500.

n 21st - Jay Daily, Zach Weimer - 17.20 pounds - $150. Third largest bass    8.26 pounds - $1,000.

Following the weigh-in, a raffle was held with dozens of donated merchandise. The tournament completed with the drawing for a 21-foot Bullet Bass Boat, powered by a 225HP Mercury Motor valued at over $55,000. The winner was Sharon Rashad of Jacksonville, the mother of NFL players  Sha’Reff and  Shakeel Rashad.  

Although the WCH is under a mostly new staff, the genesis of this great benefit bass tournament was a handful of Wolfson Plant Facilities volunteers under the direction of Larry and Linda Starling of Green Cove Springs. Larry and Linda’s team worked diligently for 20 years that literally put the Wolfson Children’s Hospital Bass Tournament (WCH) on the map as the nation’s largest one-day bass tournament.

At that time the goal, was to launch the magic number of 600 boats and in the year 2000 they nearly reached it with a 596-boat launch with anglers coming from all over Florida, and nearby southern states. Some came from as far as West Virginia and Wisconsin.