Hopper, Kinney take FBN state tourney
Alan Hopper of San Mateo and Matt Kinney of Bunnell captured the Florida BASS Federation Nation (FBN) two-day State Championship last Saturday and Sunday at Palatka Riverfront Park with a total weight of 39.92 pounds. They will lead the top three FBN qualifying teams to the BASS Federation National Championship in Paris, Tenn., on Kentucky Lake Nov. 30-Dec.2.
As members of the Bass Capital Bassmasters of Putnam County, one of FBN’s Northeast Division clubs, the duo’s knowhow and experience on the St. Johns River proved to be too much for the 45 teams from all over the state.
They took the day-one lead by seven and one-quarter pounds, and followed up Sunday with 15.0 pounds, holding off the second place team of fellow Bass Capital anglers Robert Stumpe and Dustin Hall of Palatka by nearly six pounds.
“We fished a lot of areas on both days, and used a variety of baits,” said Hopper. “It was river and lake fishing,” Kinney added.
The champs brought the second largest bass to the scales on day one weighing 6.72 pounds, and the top bass on Sunday that tipped the scales at 6.98 pounds.
The largest bass of the weekend was caught on Saturday by Steven Thames, VP of the Northeast Division and a member of Gainesville’s Bassmasters of Gator Country. The lunker weighed 7.66 pounds that Thames said he hooked on a Culprit Worm.
Runnersup Stumpe and Hall were pretty much closed-mouth about where and how they caught their total weight of 34.23 pounds. Stumpe told David Driggers, emcee and President of the FBN, and spectators at weigh-in that they fished from the City Dock launch south to Lake George.
For the number three team of Joel Price and Dustin Snelson of Leesburg, familiarity was not a factor s.
“We have fished only a total of three days on the St. Johns,” said Price. “We fished what looked like good spots with worms and crankbaits,” and it paid off. We are really looking forward to fishing the National Championship.”
Jerry Shawver and Dan Irish of First Coast Christian Bass Club, Jacksonville, took fourth with 28.16 pounds. Rounding out the top five was Chad Dorland and Andrew White of Marion County Bassmasters with 23.34 pounds.
The nationals consist of Federation teams from all over the nation. It is a three-day event that the entire number will be fishing for the single prize of an invitation to the world’s most prestigious professional bass tournament March 24-26 in Houston, Texas.