DETROIT, Mich., Thirty-nine year old Pete Thliveros of Jacksonville, Florida, won first place and $200,000 in the Forrest Wood Open, the sixth tournament of the Wal-Mart FLW Tour, held on Lake St. Clair. The event featured a $1 million purse, the largest in competitive bass fishing.
Thliveros survived three rounds of elimination competition and 149 other top professional anglers en route to the Wal-Mart FLW Tour victory. Competing in the final round of competition against Larry Nixon of Bee Branch, Arkansas, Art Ferguson of Rochester, Michigan, David Reault of Livonia, Michigan, and Kevin Van Dam of Kalamazoo, Michigan, Thliveros landed five bass weighing 19 pounds, 13 ounces, to take top honors.
In addition to his win in the Forrest Wood Open, Thliveros also secured a berth in the year-end Wal-Mart FLW Tour’s $450,000 championship, presented by CITGO, to be held on Ft. Gibson Lake in Wagoner, Oklahoma, September 22-25, 1999, where he will compete against 49 other professional anglers for a $250,000 first place cash prize — the largest in fishing history.
Thliveros caught his winning five-bass-limit casting a Zoom tube lure in a green/pumpkin color in the upper mid-lake area of Lake St. Clair in 12 feet of water.
Thliveros was the 1996 FLW Tour Angler-of-the-Year, the first year of the lucrative tournament series. He caught his last, and biggest bass with five minutes left to fish.Since winning Angler-of-the-Year in 1996, I’ve been up and down, said Thliveros. I love this sport so much, I hung-in there in the down times. This is what it’s all about. My son Nick gave me the bait, a Shimmy Shad, that I caught my and biggest fish on. This win is for him.
Runner-up in the Pro Division was Kevin Van Dam of Kalamazoo, Michigan, with five bass weighing 18 pounds, 6 ounces. Van Dam earned $100,000 for second place. Rounding out the final five were: (3) Art Ferguson of Rochester, Michigan, five bass, 17 pounds, 10 ounces, $50,000; (4) David Reault of Livonia, Michigan, five bass, 15 pounds, 14 ounces, $35,000; (5) Larry Nixon, Bee Branch, Arkansas, five bass, 15 pounds, 4 ounces, $30,000.
In other fishing action, the Co-Angler competition ended Friday saw John Bruce of Buford, Georgia, winning first-place with a catch of 17 pounds, 12 ounces. He received $40,000 for the win.
The top five Pros and five Co-Anglers in the Forrest Wood Open will join the winning Pros and Co-Anglers from the five previous Wal-Mart FLW Tour events and the top 40, based on points and pounds in those events, in advancing to the Wal-Mart FLW Tour Championship.
The Wal-Mart FLW Tours Forrest Wood Open event will be televised on ESPN, Saturday, July 17, 1999, at 12:00 noon EDT.
Operation Bass has announced increased purses for the 2000, seven-venue Wal-Mart FLW Tour. The tour will continue to be the richest series in sport fishing history featuring $4.45 million in cash awards. The 2000 series will be highlighted by the Wal-Mart Open and the Forrest Wood Open, both boasting $1 million purses, and four qualifying FLW Tour events sporting $500,000 purses. The $450,000 Wal-Mart FLW Tour Championship will pay the winner $250,000.
The 2000 Wal-Mart FLW Tour schedule will include stops on: Lake Okeechobee, January 26-29, Clewiston, Florida; Pascagoula River, February 16-19, Biloxi, Mississippi; Lake Murray, March 15-18, Columbia, South Carolina; Beaver Lake, April 12-15, Bentonville, Arkansas, (Wal-Mart Open); Mississippi River, May 17-20, Memphis, Tennessee; Pickwick Lake, June 21-24, Florence, Alabama, (Forrest Wood Open); and Red River, September 13-16, Shreveport Bossier, Louisiana, (Championship). The Forrest Wood Open is presented by EverStart Batteries.