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Berkeley Co. bus driver wins boat in fishing tournament

October 14, 2009|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

HEDGESVILLE, W.VA. -- A Berkeley County School bus driver's three-day catch of 14 bass weighing 31 pounds, 15 ounces won him a $40,000 Ranger boat in a Potomac River fishing tournament last weekend, according to event organizers.

Charlie Russler, 32, of Hedgesville, W.Va., was the co-angler division winner of the Walmart Bass Fishing League (BFL) Potomac River Regional Championship at Smallwood State Park in Marbury, Md., according to FLW Outdoors magazine.

On Saturday, the tournament's final day, Russler was paired with the event's top boater, Steve Miller of Mechanicsville, Va. In BFL competition, boaters supply the boat and compete from the front deck against other boaters and co-anglers compete from the back deck against other co-anglers, according to the magazine's Web site.

The win qualified Russler to compete in the BFL All-American presented by Chevrolet in May 2010, which features a $1 million purse and a top award of $140,000 in the boater division and $70,000 in the co-angler division, the Web site said.

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The winning boater and winning co-angler at the All-American will advance to the Forrest Wood Cup in Atlanta in 2010, according to the Web site.

Russler said bass fishing is more of a "passion" than a hobby, and that he would fish full time if he were successful enough to net more winnings.

Russler, who has no sponsors, said he had to save up his work leave to compete in the event.

When asked to share any secrets to catching bass, Russler said the most successful fishermen spend a substantial amount of time on the water.

"They're spending every day on the water and figuring out what it takes to catch them," he said.

Russler was followed in the co-angler division by Scott Howard of Huddleston, Va. (15 bass weighing 29 pounds, 10 ounces), Jerry Pyles of Middletown, Md. (15 bass weighing 29 pounds, 6 ounces), Jason Tolliver of Bolt, W.Va. (15 bass weighing 29 pounds, 3 ounces) and Scott Goodson of Fredericksburg, Va. (14 bass weighing 28 pounds, 9 ounces), the magazine's Web site said.

FLW Outdoors is named after Forrest L. Wood, the founder of Ranger Boats.

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