BENTONVILLE, AR (April 4, 1998) — Gerald Swindle of Warrior, Alabama, has collected $150,000 by winning the Wal-Mart Open, the fourth event of the 1998 Wal-Mart FLW Tour bass fishing series, held on Northwest Arkansas’ Beaver Lake. The tournament, which features the world’s top professional bass anglers competing for a share of a $600,000 purse, is the fourth stop of seven in the $3.65 million series, the most lucrative in fishing history.
Swindle survived two earlier rounds of competition and 149 other anglers enroute to the Wal-Mart FLW Tour victory. The professional angler landed 5 bass, weighing 12 pounds, 15 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.
“During practice, I had been watching birds feeding on gizzard shad, so I changed to a War Eagle spinnerbait with the biggest blade I could find. I caught three fish right away.” Swindle also used an Arkie jig during the final day to fill out his limit.
Dwayne Horton of Knoxville, Tennessee, took second place with a
championship round catch of 5 bass weighing 11pounds, 12 ounces, good for $50,000. Horton caught the majority of his fish flipping jigs.
Rounding out the top five in the Wal-Mart FLW Tour’s professional division were: (3) Mike Watson, Blountville, Tennessee, 10 pounds, 2 ounces, $30,000; (4) Jerry Williams, Conway, Arkansas, 6 pounds, 14 ounces, $25,000; (5) Cecil Kingsley, Lawrence, Kansas, 5 pounds, 14 ounces, $20,000.
The win gives Swindle 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.
Mike Terry of Obion, Tennessee, is leading in the Land O’Lakes
Angler-of-the-Year points race after four tour events with 233 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.
Chris Rand of Davie, Florida, won the amateur division competition which concluded Friday with a two bass catch totaling 6 pounds, 7 ounces. Rand collected $20,000 for the win.
Ray Beck of Beaumont, Texas, is leading 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, caught during the second tour event, 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 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 third year Wal-Mart FLW Tour is the most lucrative bass fishing series in the history of the sport. Highlights of the 1998 tour include: four $400,000 qualifying tournaments, each with a $100,000 first prize; this the $600,000 Wal-Mart Open featuring a $150,000 first place prize; and competitive angling’s richest tournament, the $1 million Forrest Wood Open, June 17-20, in Hartford, Connecticut.
The Wal-Mart FLW Tour is televised on ESPN and ESPN 2. The Beaver Lake event will air on ESPN April 25, 1998, at 12:00 p.m. (E.S.T.)
Place/Angler/Hometown, State/No. of Fish/Pounds/Ounces/Winnings
1 GERALD SWINDLE WARRIOR, AL 12 15 $150,000
2 DWAYNE HORTON KNOXVILLE, TN 11 12 $50,000
3 MIKE WATSON BLOUNTVILLE, TN 10 2 $30,000
4 JERRY WILLIAMS CONWAY, AR 6 14 $25,000
5 CECIL KINGSLEY lAWRENCE, KS 5 14 $20,000