---- — GRAND LAKE, Okla. — Peru’s Ben Wright was “Living the Dream” Sunday.
Wright, a tournament fisherman since 2009, experienced his best day ever on the water when he became the National Champion Co-Angler in the The Bass Federation’s National Championships on Grand Lake.
On Day 3, Wright was paired with Mark Daniels, Jr., who captured the Federation National Championship and was honored as the TBF’s “Living the Dream” angler.
Wright finished with a 3-day total of 62 pounds, 4 ounces. Wright took top honors among the co-anglers with 50 pounds, 13 ounces.
The two also were paired the final day of practice.
“My travel partner, Tom Shimabukuro and I found fish A’Riggin’ in practice that I thought could potentially be winning fish,” recalled Daniels. “Then, the final day of practice me and Ben went out and we kind of solidified that.”
“We found a bunch of areas that looked similar and I went in and pulled a fish off of each one of those spots,” The Californian continued. “I patterned the entire week off that.”
Wright was speechless on stage not only because of his win, but also with the announcement of TBF’s new “Living the Dream” Co-Angler package. Wright will be the first TBF “Living the Dream” co-angler.
“In fishing, there’s a lot of luck, there’s a lot of skill and there’s a lot of luck; this week, I had it,” Wright said. “I knew I was only 11 ounces behind (after Day 2); I knew I was in a position win it.”
Wright struggled, catching two keepers in his first two days of practice until Day 3 when he was paired with Daniels, the eventual champion boater.
“We just started to work some things out, put some things together.”
Wright caught all his fish Alabama Riggin’ a 5-inch, white, curly-tailed grub. “I seemed to get bit better than my other two other boaters just following them in for the second pass on things. They were great fishermen, but I think maybe the fish were keying in on the white. I don’t know, but I got the fish to prove it.”
Both the national champion boater and co-angler fished the third practice day and Day 1 together, it would seem they were on to something big,” Wright added. “I give a lot of credit to Mark, a lot of credit.
“If nothing else, what it did is get my head right. I was struggling in practice and it’s tough to go into a big tournament like this struggling. It put my head in a position where I said ‘Okay, things can work. I’m going to catch fish. I just had to go out and execute.’’’
Daniels and Wright earn coveted spots in the 2013 Forrest Wood Cup and the 2013 BFL All-American in addition to cash and prizes. Daniels, the national champion boater, also will receive the $100,000 Living the Dream package. He will literally “live his dream” fishing as an FLW Tour pro for a year with use of a wrapped Ranger boat and Chevrolet truck, as well as travel expenses, sponsor merchandise and prizes.
Wright realized his biggest pay day yet on the tour, earning $7,500 as the top co-angler.