AUSTIN, Texas (Feb. 18, 2007) – Pro Aaron Hastings of Middletown, Md., caught a final-round total of 10 bass weighing 19 pounds, 9 ounces to win $125,000 in the $1 million Wal-Mart FLW Tour event presented by Kellogg’s on Lake Travis. Hastings topped his closest rival, Bryan Thrift of Shelby, N.C., by more than 2 pounds to lead all FLW Tour pros in the chase for the $2 million Forrest Wood Cup in Hot Springs, Ark., where the winner will earn as much as $1 million – the biggest award in bass fishing – on Aug. 5.
“It doesn’t get any better than this,” said Hastings, who was competing in his first ever FLW Tour top-10. “I am totally pumped about this. I am also a pretty good rhythm fisherman, so hopefully I can carry over some of this momentum to Knoxville. I had total faith in my ability this week; I just had to keep my confidence up. I fished slow, stayed patient, got the right bites, and it all paid off.
“Winning such a prestigious event is great, but I would love to close my eyes right now and be home with my family in Maryland. Family is really what this sport is about,” he said.
Hastings opened the tournament Thursday in ninth place with five bass weighing 11-1. He then stayed in ninth place Friday with a five-bass catch weighing 10 pounds and advanced to the final round of 10 pros with a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 21-1. On Saturday weights were cleared and Hastings caught five bass weighing 9-15 to advance to the final day of competition in first place. Hastings added another five bass weighing 9-10 to his final-round total Sunday to win his first FLW Tour title.
Hastings fished in the same area all week covering all the same water and structure everyday. The only thing he changed was his baits. In the first round, he was throwing tubes and jigs around contour breaks in 15 to 25 feet of water. In the final round his bite changed drastically, forcing him to fish smaller with drop-shot rigs and finesse worms.
Thrift caught a final-round total of 10 bass weighing 17-15 to claim second place and $50,000.
“This is awesome,” said Thrift, who was fishing floating boat docks all week with football head jigs and drop-shots. “I’m not greedy. I will settle for second place and $50,000.
“I am getting married July 21, so this money will definitely not go to waste, it will probably go toward a new house,” he said.
Rounding out the top 10 pros were Craig Dowling of Madison, Ala. (nine bass, 15-5, $40,000); Kellogg’s pro Clark Wendlandt of Leander, Texas (seven bass, 13-11, $30,000); PTSI Quality Transportation pro Ron Shuffield of Bismark, Ark. (seven bass, 13-8, $20,000); Ott Defoe of Knoxville, Tenn. (nine bass, 11-5, $19,000); Kellogg’s pro Dave Lefebre of Union City, Pa. (nine bass, 11-3, $18,000); Castrol pro Darrel Robertson of Jay, Okla. (six bass, 10-14, $17,000); BFGoodrich Tires pro Jerry Green of Del Rio, Texas (seven bass, 10-9, $16,000) and BP pro Tracy Adams of Wilkesboro, N.C. (six bass, 6-9, $15,000).
Overall there were 46 bass weighing 77 pounds, 1 ounce caught in the Pro Division Sunday. The catch included eight five-bass limits.
Sunday’s festivities also included the CBS 42 Celebrity Challenge tournament featuring Austin area residents fishing with FLW Tour pros and local celebrities. The team of Fujifilm pro Joel Richardson, Bonifacio Velasquez and Spike from the Round Rock Express won the Celebrity Challenge with a three-bass catch weighing 5-10. In honor of the team’s win, CBS 42 donated $5,000 to the FishAmerica Foundation to benefit Lake Travis conservation projects. Velasquez also received $500 for winning the tournament.
On Saturday, Frank Divis Sr. of Fayetteville, Ark., won the Co-angler Division and $25,000 with five bass weighing 8 pounds, 11 ounces followed by Doug Caldwell of Kane, Pa., in second place with five bass weighing 6-14 worth $10,000.
Divis opened the tournament in 37th place Thursday with four bass weighing 5-8 while fishing with pro Fred Cantaoi of Lakeport, Calif. On Friday he jumped to ninth place on the strength of a five-bass catch weighing 6-9 while fishing with National Guard pro Jonathon Newton of Rogersville, Ala. He wrapped up his win while fishing with Hastings.
Divis won the tournament using a drop-shot rigged Bassmedics finesse worm in watermelon candy color. He qualified for the final round, however, using a PJ’s Finesse Baits 3/4-ounce football head jig – the same bait that has earned him more than $130,000 in his career. Divis fished the jig with a Net Bait Paca chunk trailer.
Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers were Gain angler Jess Caraballo of Danbury, Conn. (three bass, 3-7, $9,000); Timothy Sisk of Cherryville, N.C. (two bass, 3-3, $8,000); Ken Murphy of Meridian, Miss. (two bass, 2-6, $7,000); Castrol angler Mark Phillips of Fayetteville, Ark. (two bass, 2 pounds, $6,000); Joan Arnal of Barcelona, Spain (one bass, 1-1, $5,000); Adam Lock of Metropolis, Ill. (one bass, 14 ounces, $4,000); Shawn Stewart of Pflugerville, Texas (no bass, $3,000) and Clint Bridges of Round Rock, Texas (no bass, $2,000).
Coverage of the Lake Travis 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 18 and 25. “FLW Outdoors” airs Sunday mornings at 11 Eastern time. “FLW Outdoors” is also broadcast internationally to more than 350 million households in the United Kingdom, Europe, Russia, Australia, Africa, Asia and the Middle East, 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.
The next FLW Tour stop, presented by BP, will be held on Fort Loudoun Lake in Knoxville, Tenn., March 29-April 1.
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 exceeding $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.