BETHEL ISLAND, Calif. – Pro Mike Gutierrez of Salinas, Calif., caught a five-bass limit weighing 29 pounds, 7 ounces Wednesday to lead the opening day of the $275,225 Stren Series Western Division tournament presented by Yamaha on the California Delta.
“I was really lucky today,” said Gutierrez, who is fishing in his first ever Stren Series event. “Today was a lot better than I had expected. I am only trying to consistently target fish in the 5 pound range and I happened to get a few good bites. After I got these fish I just went prefishing for the rest of the event.
“I threw a combination of three baits. A top-water bait, a swimbait and flipped some soft-plastics around flats in deeper water. If the weather stays like it is and the wind doesn’t blow, I’m going to try and use this same approach the rest of the week. I need the sun to make my fish sit where I want them to.”
Rounding out the top five pros are Mike O’Shea of San Ramon, Calif. (five bass, 27-14); Mike Folkestad of Yorba Linda, Calif. (five bass, 27-13); Mike Goodwin of Lake Havasu City, Ariz. (five bass, 27-3); and Michael Tuck of Antelope, Calif. (five bass, 27-00).
Dr. Jeffery Archer of Reno, Nev., earned $268 for the Snickers Big Bass award in the Pro Division thanks to a impressive 12-pound, 3-ounce beauty of a bass.
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.
Bob Brown of Logandale, Nev., leads the Co-angler Division in the chase for a top award of $35,000, including a 519VX Ranger if contingency guidelines are met. He caught five bass weighing 25-3 while fishing with pro Mike O’Shea, who is currently in second place.
“Today was great. This is one of the largest bags I have ever caught,” said Brown, who has only been bass fishing competitively for a short time after giving up being a professional bull rider in a number of national rodeo circuits. “I have been here prefishing with Bobby Barrack and Michael Tuck and they have really taught me how to catch these fish behind these pros. They have shown me what to throw in so many different scenarios. I think I am prepared for just about anything. Today, I just followed their direction and everything worked.
“Tomorrow I am just going to get in the boat and go wherever my boater goes and apply what they have taught me to the areas I am fishing.”
Brown said that most of his bigger fish came off a topwater frog early in the day. He also said that he and his partner both had their limits by noon Wednesday.
Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Curt Dowhower of Ripon, Calif. (five bass, 24-9); Billy Dehart of Pleasanton, Calif. (five bass, 19-9); Young Yang of Los Angeles, Calif. (five bass, 18-9); and James Cadell of Escalon, Calif., and Steve Marino of Salida, Calif. tied for fifth place, (five bass, 17-15).
Dowhower also earned $138 for the Snickers Big Bass award in the Co-angler Division thanks to an 8-pound, 13-ounce bass.
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 7 each morning from Russo’s Marina located at 3995 Willow Road in Bethel Island, Calif. Thursday and 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. Takeoffs and weigh-ins 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 Walmart.com.
For more information about FLW Outdoors and its tournaments, visit FLWOutdoors.com or call (270) 252-1000.