Eckford Wins 2018 Championship
ATHENS, Ala. – The 2018 American Bass Anglers' American Fishing Tour National Championship on Lake Hartwell near Anderson & Greenville, SC was concluded on Friday October 26th in an unexpected manner. Due to unforeseen weather conditions including high winds and rough waves, the third day of competition was canceled at approximately 7:45am on site at the Green Pond ramp after a delayed launch. The current standings from Day 2 were verified and locked in as the final results for the championship event.
Lance Eckford of Troutman, NC managed to score a massive catch of 18.70 pounds on the second day that immediately jumped him up the leader-board to 1st place, locking in an overall total of 26.92 pounds. As the overall leading competitor in the event, Eckford scored an incredible prize with a brand new Triton 21TrX boat fitted with a Mercury motor, MotorGuide trolling motor, Garmin electronics, and various T-H Marine products.
“I'm definitely excited about the win, especially as the director of AFT Division 14,” Eckford stated. “They supported me and the trail all year long so I want to thank all of those guys. I was blessed on day 2, finding all those fish during practice. After having to scrounge to find fish on day 1, the second day definitely helped a lot. My second day fish kept biting on a white buzz bait with a King Thumper swim bait as a trailer hook that really saved me from the first day.”
Russell Clark from Abbeville, SC finished in second place in the competition after closing in an overall total of 25.18 pounds. Clark landed in second place on both days of competition and was locked into his high-placing finish due to the cancellation of Day 3. Clark took home a check of $5000 for his second place finish.
“I'm so excited to be standing here now. At the beginning of the week I knew I would be happy just to make it into the money,” Clark explained. “I had two patterns going on. I started fishing deep in about 50-55 feet of water catching my limit, then would move shallow that let me catch a couple more nice ones. Both days I landed in second for the biggest bass, and it felt like I was getting punched in the gut by being outed by just a couple of ounces. Staying second in big bass both days and second place in the tournament both days isn't bad at all.”
Coming in third place Jason Burroughs from Hodges, Sc finalized a total weight of 24.73 pounds. Burroughs was the highest finishing Angler of the Year among all national local divisions, earning him a brand new Triton 21TrX boat fitted with a Mercury motor, MotorGuide trolling motor, Garmin electronics, and various T-H Marine products.
“It was a different week for me, as I normally fish totally offshore on Lake Hartwell,” Burroughs said. “It is a great offshore fishery here, but since the lake turned over I decided to fish shallow the whole tournament even though some of my friends were fishing extremely deep or throwing top water baits. I was throwing the Rat-L-Trap and swimming a crawl in the very backs of creeks. I have to thank the support of Buckeye Lures and their amazing baits that kept me getting that next bite.”
The top 10 competitors or the event were rounded out by the following anglers:
4th – Reid McGinn – Fort Mill, SC - 23.21 lbs
5th – Donald Kneece – Saluda, SC - 22.78 lbs
6th – Danny Ashley – Donalds, SC - 22.66 lbs
7th – Kameron Harbin – Abbeville, SC - 22.18 lbs
8th – Joe McDonie – Guyton, GA - 22.15 lbs
9th – Michael Cronin – Kingston, GA - 21.76 lbs
10th – Donald Griffith – Robertsdale, AL - 21.18 lbs
Darren Ashley was the highest-finishing non-boater during the event, totaling out with 16.79 pounds. Ashley did not land within the top 25 of all competitors, but remaining as the non-boater with the best overall weight secured a prize of its own. Resulting in this event finish, Ashley took home a brand new Triton 19TrX boat fitted with a Mercury motor, MotorGuide trolling motor, Garmin electronics, and various T-H Marine products.
The two largest bass of the event were caught by Joe Schonhoff from Slidell, LA and David Huie of Dallas, GA. Huie caught his 4.73 pound bass on Day 1, while Schonhoff caught his 5.56 pound kicker on Day 2. Both anglers took home cash prizes of $2750 for catching the largest bass on each day of competition.
During the awards banquet held the evening of October 26th on the campus of Clemson University in Pendleton, SC the 2018 American Bass Anglers Hall of Fame inductees were presented. This year's newest members include John Simonof of Jacksonville, AR, Rhonda Ford of Cave Spring, GA and Tom Dupois of Terryville, CT. Each of these fine individuals have proven themselves as incredible anglers while continuing to support the American Bass Anglers and its many endeavors, providing a strong framework for the road ahead.
About American Bass Anglers: American Bass Anglers is committed to providing low cost, close to home tournaments for the weekend angler and at the same time offer each competitor an upward path for individual angler progression. For more information about American Bass Anglers, the ABA Open Series, the American Fishing Tour or the American Couples Series, visit www.AmericanBassAnglers.com.
ABA is sponsored by Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Sirius XM Marine Weather Radio, GEICO, Garmin, Power-Pole, T-H Marine, Hydrowave, Maui Jim, Abu Garcia, Berkley,
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