CLEWISTON, Fla. – Dion Hibdon, 32, of Stover, Mo., landed four bass weighing 7 pounds, 10 ounces and boosted his two-day catch to 27-01, to lead the field into the second round of the $500,000 Wal-Mart FLW Tour bass tournament on Lake Okeechobee.
Hibdon overcame chilling cold and gusty winds during the two-day opening round using precise casts and deliberate retrieves. “When the fishing’s tough like it has been the past two days, it’s easy to be distracted,” he said. “You can get in a mode where you just want to make one more cast, and you are not really thinking about it. You just reel it in. But I’m focusing on everything I do.”
Hibdon caught five bass weighing 19-7 fishing hydrilla and eelgrass Wednesday. On Thursday, he fished the same location near Hardy Pond and Dice’s Ditch using a TD Minnow, Poes’ Timber Tiger and Gambler Worm to add to his total.
Also advancing a step closer to the event’s $100,000 first place cash in the pro division are Takahiro Omori of Emory, Texas, with 24-03; Jeff Simes of Punta Gorda, Fla., with 21-10; Craig Powers of Rockwood, Tenn., with 21-06; and Marty Stone of Fayetteville, N.C., with 21-05.
In the co-angler division, Bud Goeke of Pinckneyville, Ill., is leading with five bass weighing 16-04 followed by James Shockey of Wellington, Fla., with 11-15; Robert Vogelsang of Jessup, Md., with 10-13; Ronald Ott of Indianapolis, Ind., with 10-06; and Rob Carstens of Omaha, Ne., with 10-03. Co-anglers are competing for a top prize of $15,000.
Goeke jumped into the top spot after failing to weigh a fish Wednesday. It is the second time he has made such a move to make the top 10 cut. “I just have a great life,” he said. “I can’t believe my good luck.”
Pro Basil Bacon of Springfield, Mo., won $750 for catching the largest bass during the first two days of competition – a 7-pound, 8-ounce largemouth he caught Wednesday. He also won the Coca-Cola Big Bass award of $1,000. At the end of the season, Coca-Cola 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 the pro division start over Friday and fish for one day to secure one of five slots in Saturday’s final round. Co-angler competition ends after Friday’s action.
Competition continues at 8 a.m. Friday at Roland Martin’s Marina located at 920 East Del Monte Ave. in Clewiston followed by a 5 p.m. weigh-in at the Wal-Mart Supercenter located on South Sugarland Highway in Clewiston. Saturday’s takeoff at Roland Martin’s begins at 7 a.m., and the final weigh-in at the Wal-Mart Supercenter begins at 3:30 p.m.
Run by Operation Bass Inc., the world’s largest bass tournament organization, the Wal-Mart FLW Tour historically maintains a 98 percent live release rate. If the FLW Tour continues the rate through 2000, BFGoodrich Tires will donate $25,000 to the Children’s Miracle Network.