LEXINGTON, S.C. Mike Wurm of Hot Springs, Arkansas, pocketed $100,000 by winning the second event of the 1999 Wal-Mart FLW Tour bass fishing series on Lake Murray. The tournament, which features the world’s top professional bass anglers competing for a share of a $471,500 purse, is the second stop of seven in the $4 million series, the most lucrative in fishing history.
Wurm survived two earlier rounds of competition and165 other anglers en route to the Wal-Mart FLW Tour victory. The professional angler landed five bass, weighing 18 pounds, 1 ounce in the final round of competition to outdistance the four other anglers competing in the final round of the professional division and clinch the title.
“I had these fish in the boat by 9:10 this morning,” Wurm said. “But, I thought everyone else was catching them like I was, so I was a nervous wreck the rest of the day because I never caught another fish.”
Wurm caught his winning limit – the largest of the tournament – by running a crankbait as close as possible to the posts of boat docks. His fish during previous rounds were caught mainly with a carolina-rigged plastic worm.
Mark Davis of Mount Ida, Arkansas, took second place with a championship round limit weighing 7 pounds, 7 ounces, good for $35,000.
Rounding out the top five in the Wal-Mart FLW Tour’s professional division were: (3)Larry Nixon, Bee Branch, Arkansas, two bass, 6 pounds, 11 ounces, $20,000; (4) Don Stevens, Otsego, Michigan, three bass, 5 pounds, 9 ounces, $16,000; (5) Dan Morehead, Paducah, Kentucky, 0 pounds, 0 ounces, $14,000.
The win gives Wurm an automatic berth in the year-end Wal-Mart FLW Tour Championship, presented by CITGO, September 22-25, 1999, in Wagoner, Oklahoma, where the winner will receive $250,000, the largest first place cash prize in sport fishing.
Rounding out the top 10 Pros were: (6) Randall Hutson, Washburn, Missouri, two bass, 4-0, $12,000; (7) David Walker, Cannon, Kentucky, one bass, 2-5, $10,000; (8) Ben Lee, Columbia, South Carolina, one bass, 1-7, $9,000; (9) Jim Moynagh, Carver, Minnesota, one bass, 1-2, $8,000; (10) Alton Jones, Waco, Texas, 0 bass, 0-0, $7,000.
David Walker of Cannon, Kentucky, and Rick Lillegard of Atkinson, New Hampshire are tied for the lead in the Land O’Lakes Angler of the Year points race with 135 points. Points are awarded to anglers after the first two days of competition based on ranking at that time. Alton Jones of Waco, Texas, is following in second place with 129 points, Craig Powers of Rockwood, Tennessee, is in third with 124 points, followed by Mark Hardin of Canton, Georgia, with 114 points. The Land O’Lakes Angler of the Year will be featured on a special edition box of Wheaties later in the year.
John Little of Hope, Arkansas, won the co-angler division competition which concluded Friday with a 5 bass catch totaling 9 pounds, 6 ounces. Little collected $15,000 for the win.
Rounding out the top 10 Co-Anglers were: (2) Gary Cunningham, Coumbia, South Carolina, 5-14, $5,000; (3) Troy Johnson, Royal Pa.lm Beach, Florida, 1-12, $4,000; (4) Todd Lee, Jasper, Alabama, 1-0, $3,000; (5) Terrry Chapman, Cornelius, North Carolina, 0-0, $2,000; (6) Scott Martin, Clewiston, Florida, 0-0, $1,800; (7) Steven Traylor, Hillsboro, Illinois, 0-0, $1,600; (8) David Smith, Jr., Edmond, Oklahoma, 0-0, $1,400; (9) Tom Hunley, Stamping Ground, Kentucky, 0-0, $1,200; (10) Brad Cline, Shakopee, Minnesota, 0-0, $1,000.
Rick Lillegard of Atkinson, New Hampshire, landed a 7 pound, 2 ounce bass Wednesday to earn big bass honors for the event. Lillegard received $1,000 from Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola will award $5,000 to the angler landing the biggest bass during the 1999 tour.
The fourth year Wal-Mart FLW Tour is the most lucrative bass fishing series in the history of the sport. Highlights of the 1999 tour include: four $471,500 qualifying tournaments, each with a $100,000 first prize; the $641,000 Wal-Mart Open featuring a $150,000 first place prize; and competitive angling’s richest tournament, the $1 million Forrest Wood Open, June 23-26, in Detroit, Michigan.
The Wal-Mart FLW Tour is televised on ESPN and ESPN 2. The Lake Murray tournament is scheduled to air on ESPN, Saturday, March 27, 1999, at 6 p.m. EST. The event was hosted by the Capital City Lake Murray Country Regional Tourism District.
Operation Bass promotes catch-and-release in all of its events. If the Wal-Mart FLW Tour maintains a 98 percent release rate throughout the 1999 season, Uniroyal will donate $25,000 to The Children’s Miracle Network. The current live release rate is over 99 percent.