DEL RIO, Texas – Pro Bob Coleman of Washington, Mo., caught a five-bass limit weighing 24 pounds, 15 ounces Friday to capture the lead in the $275,225 Stren Series Texas Division tournament presented by Yamaha on Lake Amistad. With a three-day catch of 15 bass weighing 77-10, he holds a 1-pound, 6-ounce lead over his closest competitor heading into the final day of competition.
“Today was fantastic,” said Coleman, who is 63 years old and one of the oldest anglers competing in FLW Outdoors events. “I’ve been doing the same thing the last three days and things just kept improving. I moved up the ranking everyday. I feel really confident about this. My practice was great and I have just been really fortunate. Although, my slim lead is nothing on this lake. It’s a beautiful fishery with lots of big bass.”
“I think the key to me being where I’m at now is that I have caught a good kicker fish each day that has culled out one of my smaller ones.”
“My plan for tomorrow is to keep doing what I have been doing. I am just going to go fishing and have a great time. If I win, I win. If I don’t, I don’t. I’m just proud to be where I am at.”
Coleman has been fishing staging areas close to visible beds. He has been throwing a Texas-rigged YUM Dinger in 20 feet of water to catch his impressive three-day stinger of bass.
Rounding out the top five pros are yesterdays leader and the FLW Outdoors record holder for the heaviest two-day weight in Stren Series competition, Dan Schoonveld of Mansura, La. (15 bass, 76-4); Rick Turner of Tyler, Texas (15 bass, 74-2); Tim Reneau of Seguin, Texas (15 bass, 65-15); and David Curtis of Trinity, Texas (15 bass, 63-15).
Also clearing the top 10 cut weight of 60 pounds, 1 ounce in the Pro Division are Robert Robinson of Mobile, Ala.; Ronnie Eschete Jr. of Thibodaux, La.; Stephen Johnston of Hemphill, Texas; Barry Smith of Palo Pinto, Texas; and Kellogg’s pro Jim Tutt of Longview, Texas.
Rick Turner also earned $295 for the Snickers Big Bass award in the Pro Division thanks to an amazing 14-pound, 8-ounce giant-of-a-bass he caught on a prototype bait the he is helping to design. With this, Turner also walked his way into the FLW Outdoors record books earning him the first place spot on the list of heaviest tournament fish caught on any level of FLW Outdoors bass competition. He beat the second heaviest fish by a slim 3 ounces which was caught on the California Delta during a Stren Series event in 2006.
Overall there were 826 bass weighing 2,411 pounds, 9 ounces caught by 197 pros Friday. The catch included 136 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 Ballard of Powderly, Texas, leads the Co-angler Division in the chase for a top award of $35,000, including a 519VX Ranger if contingency guidelines are met, thanks to a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 70-10.
“This is amazing, I’m still in awe,” said Ballard, who is leading his closest competitor by a whopping 14-pound, 10-ounces. “It is really surprising. I never expected to have a weight like this. My goal when I first got here was to at least make the top-10 cut. I have fished really similar water over the last three days and everything has just worked like clockwork. Today, It seemed like I couldn’t do anything wrong.”
“My plan for tomorrow is to just go fishing and see how things turn out.”
Ballard has been fan-casting a Texas-rigged Senko around eight feet of water trying to target bedding bass.
Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Neil Herline of Silsbee, Texas (15 bass, 56-00); Wayne Johnston of Port Arthur, Texas (14 bass, 53-7); John Vogt II of Boerne, Texas (15 bass, 53-2); and Michael Herron of Paris, Texas (15 bass, 52-00).
Also clearing the top 10 cut weight of 46 pounds, 7 ounces in the Co-angler Division are Jacob Brown of Clyde, Texas; Robert Ballard of Del Rio, Texas; Clark Franklin of Midland, Texas; Jim Behnken of Floresville, Texas; and Matt Williams of Nacogdoches, Texas.
Rick Parker of Kaufman, Texas, earned $148 for the Snickers Big Bass award in the Co-angler Division thanks to a 9-pound, 12-ounce bass.
Overall there were 650 bass weighing 1,736 pounds, 12 ounces caught by 197 co-anglers Friday. The catch included 77 five-bass limits.
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 6:30 Saturday morning from Lake Amistad Marina, East Diablo Launch Ramp, located at Hwy 90 W. HCR 3 in Del Rio, Texas. Saturday’s final weigh-in will be held at the Wal-Mart store located at 2410 Dodson Street in Del Rio, Texas, beginning at 4 p.m. The takeoff and weigh-in 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 241 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.