DEL RIO, Texas – Pro Rick Turner of Tyler, Texas, caught a five-bass limit weighing 16 pounds, 7 ounces Saturday to win the $275,225 Stren Series Texas Division tournament presented by Yamaha on Lake Amistad with a four-day total of 20 bass weighing 90-9. For his victory, Turner earned $25,000 cash and a $40,000 519VX Ranger boat powered by Yamaha. He also earned $4,500 in Ranger Cup and Powered by Yamaha bonuses for a total of $69,500 in winnings.
“Last year I came down here and caught the biggest stringer of my life, and I never thought I would top that” said Turner, who broke the FLW Outdoors all-time big bass record Friday and earned $295 with a monster 14-pound, 8-ounce largemouth. “This is just a fisherman’s dream come true. I couldn’t be any happier, but I never thought I would win. The leaders had been real consistent this week, and I thought I would need 22 or 23 pounds to win. With my catch being down, I was certain that I didn’t win. It’s just unbelievable.”
Turner opened the tournament in 12th place Wednesday with five bass weighing 21-9. On Thursday he added another five bass weighing 19-6. Then, on the strength of the sixth heaviest single-day catch in Stren Series history – five bass weighing 33-3 – Turner made the crucial top 10 cut in third place Friday with a total of 15 bass weighing 74-2, just 3 pounds, 8 ounces off the lead.
All of Turner’s fish came on a prototype 3/4-ounce football head jig from Buckeye Lures. He rigged the brown jig with a Kicker Fish Kicker Kraw Junior trailer in green pumpkin – the same combination that earned him a fourth place finish in the Texas Tournament Trail event on Lake Amistad in January.
“I was dragging the jig along the bottom in 20 feet of water,” he said. “When it would load up in hydrilla, I would snap it loose, and that seemed to trigger the strikes.”
Turner’s record bass, however, came off a tree in about 22 feet of water. “I thought I was hung in the tree because the jig just sort of loaded up,” he said. “But in this kind of tournament, you don’t want to take any chances, so I set the hook. Even then, I still thought I was hung in the tree until she started to move. When I finally got her in the boat, I just went numb.”
Rounding out the top five pros are Dan Schoonveld of Mansura, La. (20 bass, 89-7, $9,832 plus $5,000 Ranger bonus); Bob Coleman of Washington, Mo. (20 bass, 89-5, $8,849 plus $5,000 Ranger bonus); Tim Reneau of Seguin, Texas (20 bass, 88-15, $7,866); and Stephen Johnston of Hemphill, Texas (20 bass, 83-5, $6,883).
Overall there were 45 bass weighing 145 pounds, 6 ounces caught by 10 pros Saturday. The catch included eight five-bass limits.
Jimmy Ballard of Powderly, Texas, won the Co-angler Division and $35,000, including a 519VX Ranger boat, with a four-day catch that shattered the previous Stren Series Co-angler Division record of 19 bass weighing 84-15 set on Lake Amistad in 2006 by Ed Gold of Broken Arrow, Okla. Ballard’s winning catch of 20 bass tipped the scale to an incredible 93 pounds, 11 ounces – 3-pounds, 2-ounces heavier than Turner’s winning weight in the Pro Division.
“It has been an unbelievable week for me,” said Ballard, who was fishing in just his second Stren Series tournament. “It was one of those weeks were you just get in a zone and everything goes your way. My goal coming in to the tournament was to make the top 10. Winning was just a bonus. With the quality of anglers who are out here, I never expected it.”
Ballard caught five bass weighing 26-1 Wednesday using a Carolina-rigged Brush Hog in green pumpkin while fishing in 20 feet of water with pro Charles Simmons of Waco, Texas, to open the tournament in second place. On Thursday, he caught five bass weighing 15-9 while fishing a green pumpkin Senko in less than 6 feet of water with pro JB Young of Deer Park, Texas. On Friday he added five more bass weighing 29 pounds – the second-heaviest co-angler limit of the tournament – to capture the lead while fishing a green pumpkin Senko in shallow water with pro Kenta Kimura of Livingston, Texas. Finally, on Saturday, he sealed the win with a five-bass catch weighing 23-1 while fishing his green pumpkin Senko in 20 feet of water with Coleman.
“The key was to keep the bait in contact with the bottom at all times,” Ballard said. “You had to make a very slow presentation.”
Ballard rigged his baits with a 1/4-ounce weight when fishing shallow and a 3/4-ounce weight when fishing deep.
Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Michael Herron of Paris, Texas (20 bass, 69-8, $3,947); Matt Williams of Nacogdoches, Texas (20 bass, 67-11, $3,207); Neil Herline of Silsbee, Texas (18 bass, 64-7, $2,467); and Wayne Johnston of Port Arthur, Texas (19 bass, 63-7, $1,974).
Rick Parker of Kaufman, Texas, caught the biggest bass of the tournament in the Co-angler Division Friday – a 9-pound, 12-ounce largemouth – that earned him the day’s Snickers Big Bass award of $148.
Overall there were 37 bass weighing 112 pounds, 13 ounces caught by 10 co-anglers Saturday. The catch included four five-bass limits.
The next Stren Series Texas Division event, hosted by the Sabine County Chamber of Commerce, will be held June 20-23 on Toledo Bend Reservoir in Hemphill. Boats will launch from Frontier Park and Marina located at 360 Frontier Drive in Hemphill, and the final weigh-in will be held at the Wal-Mart located at 155 San Antonio Avenue in Many, La.
After four qualifying events are complete in each of the Stren Series’ five divisions, the top 40 pros from each division will advance to the $1 million Stren Series Championship in Mobile, Ala., Nov. 8-11 for a shot at $140,000. 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.
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.
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.