In the overall competition, Massachusett's Randy Phillips took the win to secure a Classic berth and take home a Skeeter/Yamaha rig valued at more than $60,000.
"It feels great, I'm ecstatic," Phillips said. "I could not have asked for a better tournament, everything turned out great and I'm very excited to go to the Classic; this is my dream."
Despite landing a limit – no certainty this week – Phillips only had 6 pounds, 15 ounces on the final day of competition. But tough conditions prevailed and many of the challengers slipped. Don Hogue of Pasco, Wash., had the lead heading into the final day but fell short, claiming runner-up honors with a three-day total of 29-1.
But Hogue did take solace in the fact that he earned a 2010 Bassmaster Classic berth by way of champion of the Western division.
"This is surreal, it's something you dream about like you dream of going to the moon," Hogue said. "I'm kind of overwhelmed, but I'm sure most of the guys are."
Joining Phillips, the Eastern Division champion, and Hogue in the Classic will be North Carolina's Brent Long (Southern Division), Virginia's Jeff Freeman (Mid-Atlantic), Schmidt and Ohio's Jody Adkins (Northern).
The Classic is scheduled for Feb. 19-21 in Birmingham, Ala., with competition being played out on Lay Lake.