BAINBRIDGE, Ga. (Jan. 31, 2007) – Pros Clark Smith Jr. of Pell City, Ala, and Greg Vinson of Wetumpka, Ala., both weighed in 17 pounds, 10 ounces Wednesday to co-lead the opening day of the $275,225 Stren Series Southeast Division tournament on Lake Seminole.
“I was lucky,” said Smith, who weighed in five fish to grab a share of the lead. “Those fish I weighed in are the only five I caught today, and I caught them the hour before we came in.”
A cold front came through the area during the day, making the bite tough for most anglers. Rain is predicted for most of Thursday’s competition.
“I don’t think the weather will really have any effect on me,” said Smith, who fished crankbaits over grass to catch his limit. “And being in the lead … it doesn’t really count until it’s over. I’m just going to go fishing.”
Vinson caught his biggest fish early and then didn’t get a bite for the next five hours. However, he remains optimistic that the weather will bring success for anglers.
“It seems like they’re moving a little closer in to spawning areas with this weather,” said Vinson, who weighed four fish to secure his share of the lead. “They’re really in a pre-spawn pattern, and I think the rain will make the fish more aggressive. I think overall everybody will have a better day tomorrow once this front passes through.”
Rounding out the top five pros are Mike Cox of Huntsville, Ala. (four bass, 17-9); Ron Klys of Gainesville, Fla. (five bass, 16-9); and Tony Davis of Williston, Fla. (five bass, 14-4).
Mark Peiser of Indianapolis, Ind., earned $295 for the Snickers Big Bass award in the Pro Division thanks to a 9-pound, 2-ounce bass he caught just before weigh-in.
Overall there were 258 bass weighing 622 pounds, 9 ounces caught by pros Wednesday. The catch included 10 five-bass limits.
Pros are competing for as much as $65,000, including a 519VX Ranger powered by Evinrude or Yamaha if contingency guidelines are met, and valuable points toward qualifying for the $1 million Stren Series Championship in Mobile, Ala., Nov. 8-11 for a shot at $140,000. After four qualifying events are complete in each of the circuit’s five divisions, the top 40 pros from each division will advance to the championship. The highest-finishing pro from each division at the championship will also earn a spot in the $2 million 2008 Forrest Wood Cup, where they will compete against top pros from the Wal-Mart FLW Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Series, Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League, Ranger Owners Tournament Championship Series and TBF (The Bass Federation) for bass fishing’s biggest prize – $1 million.
Jimmy Anderson of Davie, Fla., leads the Co-angler Division in the chase for a top award of $35,000, including a 519VX Ranger if contingency guidelines are met. He caught four bass weighing 13-2 while fishing with pro Vinson. Only one limit was weighed in by a co-angler.
“My day started off slow, but the quality was there,” Anderson said. “My first fish weighed over six, and my pro already had one boated that weighed over five.”
Vinson and Anderson both caught their fish using crankbaits offshore. Unlike most anglers Wednesday, Anderson cited the weather as a key to his success.
“Today the weather was good for us,” Anderson said. “It was sunny and the wind put a ripple on the water, and that really helped us.
“I’ve got to fish hard the rest of the tournament,” Anderson added. “I know it’s a tough bite. I’m trying to mentally picture what I need to do and keep my head in the game.”
Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Alan Hults of Gautier, Miss. (five bass, 11-10); Billy Roberson of Rincon, Ga. (three bass, 10-6); Brad Pegram of Henderson, N.C. (two bass, 9-7); and Byron Thornton of Valdosta, Ga. (three bass, 8-13).
Jerry Lamb of Mims, Fla., earned $148 for the Snickers Big Bass award in the Co-angler Division thanks to a 7-pound, 1-ounce bass.
Overall there were 113 bass weighing 267 pounds, 1 ounce caught by co-anglers Wednesday.
The top 40 co-anglers from each Stren Series division will also advance to the championship, where they will fish for as much as $70,000. The highest-finishing co-angler from each division at the championship will then advance to the 2008 Forrest Wood Cup.
Anglers will take off at 7:30 each morning from Bainbridge Earl Mae Boat Basin located at 100 Basin Circle in Bainbridge, Ga. Thursday and Friday’s weigh-in will be held at the marina beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday’s weigh-in will be held at the Wal-Mart store located at 500 E. Alice St. in Bainbridge, Ga., beginning at 4 p.m. Takeoffs and weigh-ins are free and open to the public.
Stren Series tournaments are four-day events consisting of two rounds. The entire field competes Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. At the conclusion of Friday’s weigh-in, the field is cut to the top 10 pros and co-anglers based on the heaviest three-day accumulated weights. These anglers continue competition Saturday, with the winners determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from all four days.
FLW Outdoors historically maintains a 98 percent live release rate in all of its bass tournaments.
Named after the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, Forrest L. Wood, FLW Outdoors administers the Wal-Mart FLW Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Series, Stren Series, Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League, Wal-Mart Texas Tournament Trail presented by Abu Garcia, Ranger Owners Tournament Championship Series, Wal-Mart FLW Walleye Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Walleye League, Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Series, Wal-Mart FLW Redfish Series and Wal-Mart FLW Striper Series. These circuits offer combined purses of nearly $43 million through 238 events in 2007.
Wal-Mart and many of America’s largest and most respected companies support FLW Outdoors and its tournament trails. Wal-Mart signed on as an FLW Outdoors sponsor in 1997 and today is the world’s leading supporter of tournament fishing. For more information about Wal-Mart, visit Wal-Mart.com.
For more information about FLW Outdoors and its tournaments, visit FLWOutdoors.com or call (270) 252-1000.