Teamwork Pays Off for Coble; Wins Bassmaster Series Championship and Final Classic Berth

Jeff Coble, of Manson, N.C., won the inaugural ESPN Outdoors Bassmasters Series Championship and secured the final spot in the 2006 CITGO Bassmaster Classic.

KISSIMMEE, Fla.— Though Jeff Coble of Manson, N.C. was the clear-cut winner of the inaugural ESPN Outdoors Bassmaster Series Championship on Saturday, he’s thanking another competitor for helping him clinch the win. Coble, who closed the tournament with a three-day total of 27 pounds, 11 ounces, credited his long-term fishing partner and friend David Wright, who also competed and ended in fourth place with 26-1.

Coble said he and Wright, friends for more than 10 years, routinely practice together, devise pre-tournament strategies and offer tips to each other during tournaments. That sharing of information is legal in BASS tournaments so long as both individuals are competing.

The two also agreed — a long time ago — to split their earnings evenly. “David and I have fished together for about 10 years,” Coble explained. “We work together and split all of our prize money right down the middle.” So how does a partnership — that includes estimated earnings of nearly $1 million — work?

“When money is involved like this, you have to be really good friends,” Wright said. “I mean that.”

Still, while Coble will share his $100,000 top prize with his partner, he won’t be able to split the priceless opportunity that came with it: the last available berth into the 2006 CITGO Bassmaster Classic, on West Lake Tohopekaliga in Kissimmee, Feb. 24-26.

Coble joins 50 other anglers already qualified for the Bassmaster Classic.

While the 2002 Bassmaster Classic competitor flipped a Zoom Craw throughout most of this championship tournament, he may need to change his strategy for the Classic — and if Wright is familiar with the waters, BASS rules prohibit him from helping.

“I didn’t really fish that great this week, to tell you the truth,” Coble said. “I was miserable out there today, but it is all about the decisions you make on the water the whole week.”

Also, non-boater Chris Woodward of Williamson, Ga., finished the tournament with 13-05, winning his class and taking home $50,000.

Other top N.C. fishermen included; 4. David Wright of Lexington, 26-01, $4,500; 15. Mike McDonald of Randleman, 12-05, $1,000; Will Petty of Charlotte, 9-11, $850; 36. Pat Golden of High Point, 5-07, $750; Denny Moore of Winterville, 1-05, $750. Non-boater Division: 36. Bobby Gregory of Fuquay Varina, 2-11, $375; 38. Kevin Lynch of Claremont, 2-03, $375.