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Ricky Smith takes fourth in All American Tournament

By By Mike Giles / outdoors writer
June 14, 2002
Ricky Smith of Collinsville placed fourth in the WBFL All American Tournament last week at Cross Lake near Shreveport, Louisiana. This talented angler finished only one pound and one ounce away from winning $100,000.00. As it was, he wound up with $28,000.00 in cash and prizes including a Ranger bass boat.
Fifty skilled anglers from around the country were competing on one of the toughest lakes anywhere. In addition to that, the lake had a slot monster' as the locals refer to slot fish. There is a fourteen to seventeen inch slot on the lake. Any fish that measured between those marks had to be released immediately.
Well prepared
Smith was more than up for the task at hand however, being educated locally on Okatibbee Lake, which has had a similar slot for several years. Smith's initial goal was to survive the first two rounds of the tournament to make the cut to the final ten anglers. Not only did he make the cut, but he actually caught enough the first day of competition to make the top ten on Saturday although he didn't know it at the time.
On the first day of competition Smith got 6 bites, all of which were keeper fish. He culled down to his best five. The fishing was so tough for most anglers that they struggled to even catch a fish – much less a keeper bass. Smith never caught a slot fish during the tournament.
Smith's primary pattern centered around an old abandoned pier that had approximately 20 boat stalls and which had grass growing around it. This pattern provided him with most of the keepers that ultimately put him in the final round. His secondary or midday pattern proved to be almost as important. Smith found a submerged hump that had about 6 feet of water on top that fell to 12 feet around the edges. Smith caught his opening day kicker fish from this area on a No. 5 Strike King crankbait.
On day two of qualifying , Smith caught three fish with a kicker that was over the slot to boot. This fish was caught on a Tennessee shad colored Strike King crankbait in the area of the submerged hump.
Early weigh-in
On the final day of competition the tourney cutoff time was cut back to 1 p.m., which may have actually cost Smith the victory since he was catching some of his good fish later in the day. That being said, he did catch a couple of keepers early on and his day went quite well. In fact he had two more keepers by lunch and was just one fish from snaring a victory.
With just minutes left in the tournament Smith made one last cast onto the submerged hump with his trusty Strike King crankbait. As soon as he cranked the bait down to the bottom a nice bass nailed it. He had just enough time to reel the bass in and make it to the weigh in. However, just as he got the fish to the boat, it turned sideways and the hook came out. As it turned out Smith came up one fish short of the championship as Eddie Waits took the top spot and the big money. With two trips to the All American tournament under his belt, it's a sure bet that Smith will try again. And who knows, the third time may be the charm.