LAKE HAVASU CITY, Ariz. – Pros Mike Goodwin of Lake Havasu City, Ariz., and Phil Strader of Glide, Ore., are tied for first place going into the final day of competition on Saturday. Both anglers caught an impressive three-day sack weighing 32 pounds Friday to lead the $1 million Wal-Mart FLW Series National Guard Western Division tournament on Lake Havasu.
Goodwin’s bag of three fish weighed 7-2 where Strader’s five-fish limit weighed 10-15.
“Today should have been the day,” said Goodwin, who has led every day of this tournament thus far. “I stumbled a little bit today. I just had some bad luck. I had more bites today than I have the rest of the week combined. I just couldn’t execute.”
“It feels great to be where I am at. I am not going to change anything for tomorrow. Most of the boat pressure will disappear and that should leave me by myself. If I do pull this off, it will be a life changing experience. I’m excited,” he said.
Goodwin is covering a lot of water throughout his day running and gunning from spot to spot targeting natural structure with finesse gear.
I’m right where I want to be,” said Strader, who has only been fishing with FLW Outdoors since 2003 and has already amassed over $20,000 and has captured four top-10 finishes. “If I can get the bites in the morning, I’ll be right there at it. I almost had a perfect day today but I did lose one fish late in the day.”
“My mind is clear and I’m ready for tomorrow. I’m just going to go out have some fun, it’s just fishing,” he said.
Strader’s plan of attack is fishing his two main spots, which are points and breaklines, with finesse jigs. The main structure he is looking for is in the depth range of 3 to 15 feet of water.
Jay Yelas caught a three-day total of 14 bass weighing 29 pounds using a Berkley jig fished in shallow, backwater areas to advance to the final round as the No. 2 seed.
“I push poled for four hours to get the my first spot this morning,” said Yelas, who has put away his big fiberglass bass boat and pulled out his much lighter, aluminum G3 boat to reach his fishing areas. “Once I got back there, I had my limit in about thirty minutes. If the water drops anymore, I won’t be able to get back there tomorrow. I will have to go look for something else.”
Rounding out the top five pros are Mike Phua of Chino, Calif. (14 bass, 28-3); Eric McFarland of Meridian, Idaho (13 bass, 26-15) and Randy Mcabee of Bakersfield, Calif. (13 bass, 24-13).
Also clearing the top 10 cut weight of 21 pounds, 15 ounces in the Pro Division are Gary Dobyns of Yuba City, Calif.; Brent Ehrler of Redlands, Calif.; Neil Russell of Nampa, Idaho; and Chris Zaldain of San Jose, Calif.
National Guard Pro Team angler, Tim Klinger of Boulder City, Nev., earned the day’s $488 Snickers Big Bass award in the Pro Division thanks to a 6-pound, 6-ounce bass.
Overall there were 233 bass weighing 492 pounds, 14 ounces caught by 195 pros Friday. The catch included 8 five-bass limits.
Pros are competing this week for a top award of $125,000 plus valuable points in the hope of qualifying for the BP East-National Guard West Fishoff and a shot at advancing to the $2 million, 2008 Forrest Wood Cup, where the winning pro will earn as much as $1 million – the sport’s biggest award. The top 30 pros from both FLW Series divisions after four qualifying events are complete will advance to the East-West Fishoff, which will be held Jan. 17-19, 2008. The location for the fishoff has not yet been announced. Thirty winners from the fishoff will advance to the 2008 Forrest Wood Cup.
Larry Weaver of Long Beach, Calif., won the Co-angler Division and $20,000 Friday with a three-day total of eight bass weighing 16 pounds, 14 ounces followed by Robert O’Donnell of Payson, Ariz., in second place with three bass weighing 12-1 worth $9,835.
Weaver opened the tournament in 40th place Wednesday with one bass weighing 2 pounds while fishing with pro Danny Locatis of Lake Havasu City, Ariz. On Thursday he jumped to first place on the strength of a five-bass catch weighing 10-8 while fishing with pro Andre Moore of Alabaster, Ala. He wrapped up the win Friday with a two-bass catch weighing 4-6 while fishing with pro Larry Hopper of Tustin, Calif.
“It’s amazing, I can’t even put it into words,” said Weaver, who said he couldn’t have done it without the help of the great pro partners he had all week. “I had a lot of things go my way this week and I am very grateful for that. To beat 194 of some of the greatest anglers in the sport is truly amazing.”
“I just talked to my wife a few minutes ago and she has already started shopping. What’s leftover will be used to ensure my fishing for a little while longer.”
Weaver was throwing a drop-shot rig throughout the entire event targeting submerged structure to catch his bass
Rounding out the top five co-anglers are David Shearrer of Trabuco Canyon, Calif. (six bass, 11-12, $8,851); Rus Snyders of San Mateo, Calif. (seven bass, 11-2, $7,868) and Jacques Fleischmann of Valencia, Calif. (four bass, 10-9, $6,884).
Rodney Rinta of Chehalis, Wash., earned $295 for the Snickers Big Bass award in the Co-angler Division thanks to a 3-pound, 14-ounce bass he caught while fishing with pro Wes Cary of Highland, Calif.
Overall there were 99 bass weighing 198 pounds, 3 ounces caught by 195 co-anglers Friday.
The 10 remaining pros will take off at 7:30 Saturday morning from Lake Havasu State Park/Windsor Park located at 699 London Bridge Road Lake Havasu City, Ariz. Saturday’s final weigh-in will be held at the Wal-Mart store located at 1795 Kiowa Boulevard in Lake Havasu City, Ariz., beginning at 4 p.m. Children will also be treated to a Family Fun Zone prior to Saturday’s weigh-in from noon to 4 p.m. at Wal-Mart. Activities in the Family Fun Zone include the Fujifilm trout pond, a Ranger boat simulator and assorted fishing-themed games. All activities are free and open to the public.
FLW Outdoors historically maintains a 98 percent live release rate in all of its bass tournaments.
Coverage of the Lake Havasu FLW Series tournament will be broadcast to 81 million FSN (Fox Sports Net) subscribers in the United States as part of the “FLW Outdoors” television program airing March 11. “FLW Outdoors” airs Sunday mornings at 11 Eastern time. “FLW Outdoors” is also broadcast internationally to approximately 350 million households in Europe, Africa and Asia, making it the most widely distributed weekly fishing program in the world. Additionally, FLW Outdoors is proud to provide tournament coverage to more than 800,000 servicemembers stationed around the world in 177 countries and aboard Navy ships through broadcasts on the American Forces Network.
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, call (270) 252-1000.