BETHEL ISLAND, Calif. – A number of large bass – including many weighing more than 9 pounds and a few weighing more than 10 pounds – were hoisted on the weigh-in stage Thursday in Bethel Island. In the end, local pro Bobby Barrack of Oakley, Calif., caught a five-bass limit weighing 20 pounds, 3 ounces to capture the lead in the $1 million Wal-Mart FLW Series National Guard Western Division tournament on the California Delta with a two-day catch of 10 bass weighing 51-6.
“I didn’t get a lot of bites today,” said Barrack, who sat in second place after the first day of competition. “I never lost a big fish. Of course, I never got the opportunity to.”
Barrack targeted fish with jigs and spinnerbaits in about 7 feet of water and said he is hooking on average eight fish a day.
“I fish for minimal bites and quality bites,” Barrack said. “In an FLW event, that’s what you have to do.”
Barrack said he will continue to fish the way he fished the first two days of competition, but he will tweak his approach a bit.
“I’m not catching as many reaction-bite fish as I would like, so tomorrow I’m going to target those fish,” Barrack said. “I’m going to go looking for the big-bait fish.”
Barrack now holds a 9-ounce lead over second-place pro Ken Mah of Elk Grove, Calif., who managed to haul in a total of 10 bass weighing 50-13 during the first two days of competition.
Rounding out the top five pros are Jim Opalecky of Elk Grove, Calif. (10 bass, 50-2); Michael Rooke of Lake Havasu City, Ariz. (10 bass, 49-9) and Chris Raza of Roseville, Calif. (10 bass, 49-4).
Greg Hines of Lakeside, Ariz., and Jerry Fischer of Lincoln, Calif., split the day’s $500 Snickers Big Bass award in the Pro Division thanks to a pair of 10-pound, 2-ounce fish.
Overall there were 951 bass weighing 2,654 pounds, 8 ounces caught by pros Thursday. The catch included 175 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.
Pat Wilson of Penngrove, Calif., leads the Co-angler Division with a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 39-2 followed by Mike Iloski of Escondido, Calif., in second place with 10 bass weighing 36-7.
Wilson caught five bass weighing 16-10 while fishing with pro Scott Mackenzie of Daly City, Calif., Wednesday and five bass weighing 22-8 while fishing with pro Mike Folkestad of Yorba Linda, Calif., Thursday.
Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Wade Headrick of Middleton, Idaho (10 bass, 35-13); Lewis Southard of Chandler, Ariz. (10 bass, 34-0) and Andy Scholz of Reno, Nev. (10 bass, 33-11).
Tony Peterson of Livermore, Calif., earned $300 for the Snickers Big Bass award in the Co-angler Division thanks to a 10-pound, 11-ounce bass he caught while fishing with pro Bryan Roland of Discovery Bay, Calif.
Overall there were 740 bass weighing 1,798 pounds, 4 ounces caught by co-anglers Thursday. The catch included 98 five-bass limits.
Co-anglers are competing this week for a top award of $25,000. Like the pros, the top 30 co-anglers from both FLW Series divisions after four qualifying events are complete will advance to the East-West Fishoff for a shot at the $2 million, 2008 Forrest Wood Cup.
Anglers will take off at 7:30 each morning from Russo’s Marina located at 3995 Willow Road in Bethel Island, Calif. 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 4893 Lone Tree Way in Antioch, Calif., 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.
Ranger boat test rides, powered by Yamaha and Evinrude, will be given at Russo’s Marina Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The test rides allow the public to experience a Ranger boat ride with a professional angler. Test riders will receive a certificate for free accessories valued at $2,000 when they purchase a Ranger boat powered by Yamaha or Evinrude.
In FLW Series competition, the entire field competes for the first three days, and co-angler competition concludes on day three with the winner determined by the heaviest accumulated three-day weight. The top 10 professionals continue competition on day four, and the winner is 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.
Coverage of the California Delta 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 April 15. “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.