No vacancy: Classic field complete

Editor's note: To see final results from the 2012 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Weekend Series National Championship, click here.

ATHENS, Ala. – With the largest bag on the final day, Clifford Albert Collins sealed his victory in the 2012 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Weekend Series National Championship tournament, operated by American Bass Anglers, and earned the right to compete in the Bassmaster Classic.

“I quit fishing for nine years and started back fishing about five years ago,” Collins said. “I’m looking forward to fishing the Classic. It’s a lifelong dream for everyone who fishes this tournament and I’m going to get to live that dream.”

The 48-year-old angler from Nacogdoches, Texas, led the final three days of the four-day championship event, held Nov. 7-10 on Lake Sam Rayburn near Jasper, Texas. Trailing by just three pounds on the first day, Collins took the lead on Day Two and padded it each day after that.

Collins finished the tournament with a perfect four-day limit of 20 bass weighing 86.56 pounds, including a 6.20-pound kicker for a 4.33-pound average. On Day One, Collins held second with 19.96 pounds, before taking the lead with the largest single-day bag in the event at 24.53 pounds on Day Two.

On Day Three, he landed 19.70 pounds to increase his lead into double digits. On the final day, Collins landed the third largest single-day bag, 22.37 pounds, to earn his trip to the 2013 Bassmaster Classic. The Classic will be held Feb. 22-24 on Grand Lake of the Cherokees near Grove, Okla. Collins also won $100,000 as the boater champion.

“Most of my fish came out of eight to 12 feet of water,” he said. “I was fishing a ledge and a channel drop. I fished hard spots where the sand and the clay came together. I also fished some points in 16 to 20 feet of water. I was cranking a 6th Sense 300 DD crankbait and throwing an E2 worm in redbug or plum apple.”

Locking down second place among the 175 boaters, David Curtis of Trinity, Texas, also brought in four consecutive limits to finish with 71.05 pounds. After the first day, Curtis held third with 19.01 pounds. He caught 20.13 pounds Thursday and followed that with a 14.98-pound effort. On the final day, Curtis found five keepers for 16.93 pounds.

In third for the boaters, Stephen Johnston of Hemphill, Texas, finished with 19 bass and 68.53 pounds. He started in eighth with 17.19 pounds, then added 18.88 pounds, 14.63 and 17.83. He topped his 6.21 kicker on Thursday with a 10.20 on Saturday, second largest bass of the tournament.

John Hutchins of Warrenton, Va., finished fourth with 20 bass and 60.07 pounds topped by a 7.08-pound kicker. Nick J. Prvonozac of Warren, Ohio, rounded out the top five boaters with 20 bass going 52.38 pounds.

In the Co-Angler Division, Richard Michalski of West Port, Ky., won with 11 bass weighing 33.05 pounds. Michalski topped 10 pounds on the first and the last days in catching three-bass limits. He fished with Collins on the final two days.

“Everything I caught in four days came on deep-running crankbaits – DD-22s – and big worms fished right on the river ledge,” Michalski said. “Getting to fish for two days with Albert was a joy. He earned his trip to the Classic. He was a real gentleman.

“After he got his limit, he turned the boat, told me where the fish were and let me start culling. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’tbe here.”

As the champion co-angler, Michalski took home a check for $50,000. He plans to fish the BWS circuit in 2013 as a boater.

Michael M. Smith of Laurel Hill, Fla., placed second among the co-anglers with a perfect four-day limit of 12 bass weighing 29.61 pounds. Sammy L. Strong of Orange, Texas, moved up from 14th place to third with a 8.36-pound catch on Day Four and a total of 26.52.

Keith A. Vann of Cedartown, Ga., caught the largest bass in the Co-Angler Division. On the third day, he brought in an 8.18-pounder.

For more information on this tournament, call ABA at (256)232-0406. On line, see

About American Bass Anglers: The Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Weekend Series provides weekend anglers a professionally operated competitive tour with a path the world championship of bass fishing the Bassmaster Classic. American Bass Anglers commitment is to provide 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 and the American Fishing Tour, The Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Weekend Series or the American Couples Series, visit

To see final results from the 2012 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Weekend Series National Championship, click here.