Anglers Choice Team Goes From Alternates To Winners In Bassmaster Team Championship

William Samples and Charles Purcell won the Bassmaster Team Championship last month. Photo by Andy Crawford.

Duo outfished 196 other teams

William Samples and Charles Purcell weren’t supposed to compete in the Bassmaster Team Championship held today on the Harris Chain of Lakes in central Florida.

But officials with the Anglers Choice Team Trail asked them a week ago if they could step in as alternates after another duo that did qualify couldn’t attend. Samples and Purcell made the most of the opportunity and won the Team Championship with a two-day total of 10 bass that weighed 42 pounds, 10 ounces.

Samples and Purcell outlasted a field of 197 teams from 35 states and three foreign countries to earn the win. That number included 14 fishing teams that finished ahead of Samples and Purcell in the Anglers Choice yearly standings.

Samples lives in South Boston, Va., and Purcell hails from just across the border in Townsville, N.C. They won a Nitro Z20 and Mercury 225 Pro XS boat/motor combo valued at $42,000 with their improbable victory.

“Everything just went wrong for us at the beginning of the year, until we pulled it together,” Samples said about their season on the Anglers Choice circuit. “I fell in the water in the first tournament of the year at Smith Mountain Lake. It was 46 degree water. It cost us $5,000. We had a monkey on our back until late spawn, and then we buttoned it up. We won a tournament a couple of weeks ago, and now here we are — winning the Bassmaster Team Championship.”

Fast start, consistency were keys to victory

Samples and Purcell were in second place after Day 1 of the tournament with a five-bass limit that weighed 21-9. They were almost as good today, with a 21-1 limit of five bass.

“We found a spot in practice that I told (Purcell) was going to be a 30-pound hole,” Samples said. “Every fish we weighed came from (within 75 yards) of that hole. The bite started about 10 o’clock and ended about 11:30 a.m. In that hour and a half, there was a flurry.”

“We worked hard for this all year,” Purcell said. “Everything that could go wrong did, until we pulled it together. This is an incredible feeling.”

Matthew Robertson and Wendell Anderson, who are part of the Kentucky Bass Nation Team Trail, had the big bag of the tournament — a whopping 29-1 limit today that helped them finish second with 40-1 overall. It also earned them $14,800 in cash to split.

Adam Dysart and Jayme Copenhaver III of the Chattanooga (Tenn.) Bass Association placed third with 39-15 and won $10,000.

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