HUNTSVILLE, Ala.–Randy Howell of Littleton, North Carolina, has collected $100,000 by taking first place in the third event of the 1998 Wal-Mart FLW Tour bass fishing series held on Huntsville’s Wheeler Lake.
The tournament, presented by Evinrude, which features the world’s top professional bass anglers competing for a share of a $400,000 purse, is the third stop of seven in the $3.65 million series, the most lucrative in fishing history.
Howell survived two earlier rounds of competition and 149 other anglers en route to the Wal-Mart FLW Tour victory. The professional angler landed 5 bass, weighing 9 pounds, 11 ounces, in the final round of competition to edge out the four other anglers competing in the final round of the professional division and clinch the title.
“I only had two fish all day, until the last 30 minutes when I caught three fish off a rock bluff. I caught my last fish, the one that won it for me, with only a minute of fishing time left.” Howell caught his winning stringer using Deep Little N crankbaits and Carolina-rigged Ficht Frys.
Rickey Clunn of Glorieta, New Mexico, took second place with a championship round catch of 5 bass weighing 9 pounds, 9 ounces, good for $40,000. Clunn fished the uppermost ends of creeks using Bill Norman Deep Little N crankbaits and ounce Stanley jigs. “I have mixed emotions about losing this tournament,” said Clunn, “the competitive side of me wanted to win, but the human side of me wanted Randy to win.”
Rounding out the top five in the Wal-Mart FLW Tour’s professional division were: (3) Marty Stone, Kernersville, North Carolina, 8 pounds, 9 ounces, $20,000; (4) Clark Wendlandt, Cedar Park, Texas, 7 pounds, 14 ounces, $15,000; and (5) Basil Bacon, Springfield, Missouri, 3 pounds, $10,000.
The win gives Howell an automatic berth in the year-end Wal-Mart FLW Tour Championship, presented by CITGO, September 16-19, 1998, in Moline, Illinois, where the winner will receive $250,000, the largest first place cash prize in sport fishing history.
Rickey Clunn of Glorieta, New Mexico, is leading in the Land O’Lakes Angler-of-the-Year points race after three tour events with 209 points. The winner of the angler-of-the-year competition will receive an Evinrude-powered Ranger bass boat and be featured on a special edition package of Wheaties, the first angler to appear on the cereal box in its 74-year history.
Darrell Stevens of Roseland, Virginia, won the amateur division competition which concluded Friday with a 2 bass catch totaling 5 pounds, 2 ounces. Williams collected $15,000 for the win.
Ray Beck of Beaumont, Texas, is the leader in the Spiderwire amateur Angler-of-the-Year race by weighing in the heaviest one- day catch of the season. Beck’s five bass limit totaling 20 pounds, 6 ounces, is the heaviest single day amateur weight recorded on the tour thus far this year. The amateur angler-of- the-year on the Wal-Mart FLW Tour wins a fully-rigged Ranger bass boat, powered by an Evinrude Ficht outboard. Beck is also leading in the Coca-Cola Big Bass year long contest. His bass weighing 11 pounds, caught during the second tour event on the Sam Rayburn Reservoir, is the largest fish recorded on the tour this season. Coca-Cola will award $5,000 to the angler landing the biggest bass during the 1998 tour.
The Wal-Mart FLW Tour is televised on ESPN and ESPN 2. The Huntsville event will air on ESPN March 28, 1998, at 1:00 p.m. (E.S.T.)