Missouri’s Hibdon takes day-one lead in $500,000 Wal-Mart FLW Tour opener - Major League Fishing

Missouri’s Hibdon takes day-one lead in $500,000 Wal-Mart FLW Tour opener

January 26, 2000 • MLF • Archives

CLEWISTON, Fla. – Gale force northeast winds and bone-chilling temperatures greeted 350 of the world’s best bass anglers Wednesday as the $500,000 Wal-Mart FLW Tour season opener got underway on Lake Okeechobee.

Predictably tough fishing conditions were the rule of the day, however, one angler, 32-year-old Dion Hibdon of Gravois Mills, Mo., returned to Roland Martin’s Marina with five bass weighing 19 pounds, 7 ounces, to take the first day lead.

“It was a little chilly this morning,” said Hibdon, 1999 Evinrude Outdoorsman of the Year. “The water temperature has cooled down the past two days, but it didn’t seem to affect them too bad.”

Unlike most of the anglers, Hibdon is hoping for windy conditions to accompany tomorrow’s cool weather. “When it’s cold down here, the fish hit a moving bait. I don’t know if they are feeding or if it’s just a reactionary bite. But if the wind dies down, it’s going to make it tough.” The coldest day of the year is expected to cool fishing for a second day on Thursday.

The lucrative bass competition features 175 pros and 175 co-anglers, including defending FLW Tour Champion, Darrel Robertson of Jay, Okla., and 1999 Land O’Lakes Angler of the year, David Walker of Cannon, Ky. Both men, who finished the day in 62nd and 91st place respectively, have their sights set on the event’s $100,000 first-place cash in the pro division.

Finishing the day in second and third position in the pro division were Peter Thliveros of Jacksonville, Fla., with five bass weighing 17-8 and Stephen Browning of Hot Springs, Ark., with five bass weighing 15-8.

In the co-angler division, J. Dean of Huntington, W.V., is leading the field in a bid for the top prize of $15,000 with four bass weighing 8-2. Rob Carsten of Omaha, Ne., finished the day in second with two bass weighing 8-0 followed by Jeff Carreker of Stockbridge, Ga., with two bass weighing 6-11.

Pro Basil Bacon of Springfield, Mo., is leading the Coca-Cola Big Bass race with a 7-pound, 8-ounce largemouth. The pro or co-angler who catches the biggest bass during the first two days of competition will receive $1,000 from Coca-Cola. At the end of the season, Coca-Cola also will award $5,000 to the pro or co-angler who catches the biggest bass during the first two days of any FLW Tour event.

Anglers in both divisions will set out again Thursday to add to their first day’s catch in hopes of securing one of 10 slots available in Friday’s second round. During the second round, anglers start over, competing for one day to determine the top five pros who advance to Saturday’s final round. Co-angler competition ends Friday.

Competition continues at 7 a.m. Thursday at Roland Martin’s Marina located at 920 East Del Monte Ave. in Clewiston followed by a 3 p.m. weigh-in at the same location. Friday’s takeoff starts at 8 a.m., and the weigh-in begins at 5 p.m. at the Wal-Mart Supercenter located on South Sugarland Highway in Clewiston. Saturday’s final weigh-in at the Wal-Mart Supercenter begins at 3:30 p.m.

Introduced in 1996, the FLW Tour is named after Forrest L. Wood, the founder of Ranger Boats. Wal-Mart became the tour’s title sponsor in 1997. The 2000 season marks the introduction of NASCAR-style Chevy tow vehicles that match the vivid colors and graphics of Ranger Comanche fishing machines used during the final competition days.