CHARLES COUNTY, Md. – Mark Davis of Mount Ida, Ark., crossed the stage with a five-bass limit weighing 21 pounds, 4 ounces to lead day one of the $1 million Wal-Mart FLW Tour event presented by Snickers on the Potomac River. Davis now holds a 5-ounce lead in the tournament featuring 200 pros and 200 co-anglers from 37 states, Australia and Japan.
“I figured out I could catch some fish on a topwater bait with the cloud cover and a high tide,” said Davis, who won the FLW Tour’s Fort Loudon-Tellico Lakes event at Knoxville, Tenn., March 29-April 1. “It was fast and furious there early, but slowed down after a while.”
Davis said he caught 20 bass throughout the day and had his limit of keepers in the boat by 10 a.m. He culled for the last time at 1 p.m. and said he lost a big fish just before he made his way to weigh-in.
While he caught the majority of his keepers on a topwater frog, he said he also caught other fish deep on soft plastics, but knows his game plan for the second day of competition will change, especially if weather forecasts for sunny skies are accurate.
“What I was doing today will not work tomorrow,” Davis said. “I already know that. I won’t catch a fish using the methods I used today.”
Davis said he plans to fish deep by flipping a worm if the sun shines Friday, but could also reach for a crankbait, something he did not throw during the opening day of the tournament.
“If I can catch 10 or 12 pounds tomorrow, I’ll be fine,” Davis said. “You always feel good with this format with a lead. I can go out tomorrow and have an average day and still make the cut.”
Jack Wade of Knoxville, Tenn., trails Davis in the No. 2 spot with five bass weighing 20-15.
Rounding out the top five pros are Team Berkley’s Bobby Lane of Lakeland, Fla. (five bass, 19-15); Team Bounty’s Ken Wick of Star, Idaho (five bass, 19-12) and Jerry Williams of Conway, Ark. (five bass, 19-10).
Team BP pro Shinichi Fukae earned the day’s $750 Snickers Big Bass award in the Pro Division thanks to a 7-pound, 3-ounce bass he caught on a 5-inch worm on a shaky-head rig. If that weight holds up Friday as the heaviest of the two-day opening round, Fukae will earn an additional $1,000.
Overall there were 810 bass weighing 2,237 pounds, 6 ounces caught by 195 pros Thursday. The catch included 119 five-bass limits.
Pros are competing for a top award of $125,000 this week plus valuable points in the hope of qualifying for the $2 million Forrest Wood Cup presented by Castrol in Hot Springs, Ark., Aug. 2-5, where the winning pro will earn as much as $1 million – the sport’s biggest award. The top 40 pros after six qualifying events will advance to the Forrest Wood Cup.
Donald Tross of Williamsburg, Va., leads the Co-angler Division with five bass weighing 17-3 followed by Ken Murphy of Meridian, Miss., in second place with five bass weighing 16-5.
“I started out throwing a buzzbait early this morning since it was overcast,” said Tross, who is a nine-year veteran co-angler on the FLW Tour. “I threw it all day. As long as the cloud cover is there, the fish will eat a buzzbait all day.
“The biggest fish I caught came on the next-to-last cast of the day,” Tross added. “Everywhere we went we caught fish.”
The five keepers Tross weighed were the only keepers he caught. Tross said he plans to throw the buzzbait again Friday unless the sun shines – then he’ll switch to a chatterbait.
Tross took the early lead in the tournament while fishing with Chris Baumgardner of Gastonia, N.C., who is currently in 32nd place with five bass weighing 15-6.
Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Frank Divis of Fayetteville, Ark. (five bass, 16-3); Moo Bae of West Friendship, Md. (five bass, 14-9) and Bill Gift of Alix, Ark. (five bass, 14-9).
Pete Bridges of Tallapoosa, Ga., earned the day’s $500 Snickers Big Bass award in the Co-angler Division thanks to a 6-pound, 8-ounce bass he caught while swimming a Senko.
Overall there were 514 bass weighing 1,275 pounds, 3 ounces caught by 173 co-anglers Thursday. The catch included 38 five-bass limits.
Co-anglers are fishing for a top award of $25,000 this week.
Anglers will take off at 6:30 a.m. Friday from Smallwood State Park located at 2750 Sweden Point Road in Marbury, Md. Friday’s weigh-in will be held at Smallwood State Park beginning at 3 p.m. Anglers will take off at 6:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday from Anacostia Park located at 1900 Anacostia Drive SE in Washington, D.C. Saturday and Sunday’s weigh-ins will be held at the DC Armory located at 2001 E. Capitol St. in Washington, D.C., next to RFK Stadium, beginning at 4 p.m. For convenience, visitors are encouraged to take Metro. For details on Metro service to the DC Armory, visit www.wmata.com.
Prior to the weigh-ins Saturday and Sunday, FLW Outdoors will host a free Family Fun Zone and outdoor show at the DC Armory from noon to 4 p.m. each day. The Family Fun Zone is a chance for fishing fans to meet their favorite anglers and review the latest products from Berkley, Lowrance, Ranger, Evinrude, Yamaha and other manufacturers while children are treated to fishing themed games and rides like the Ranger Boat simulator. The first 300 children 14 and under visiting the Family Fun Zone Saturday will receive a free FLW Outdoors hat. On Sunday, the first 300 children 14 and under visiting the Family Fun Zone will receive a free rod and reel combo. One lucky person attending the final weigh-in Sunday will even win a trip for two to the Forrest Wood Cup in Hot Springs, Ark., where they could ultimately win a $53,000 Ranger Z20 powered by Yamaha. The drawing for a free vacation getaway to Hot Springs will be held immediately following Sunday’s 4 p.m. weigh-in. Participants must be present to win.
The full field competes in the two-day opening round for 10 slots in Saturday’s competition based on their two-day accumulated weight. Weights are cleared for day three, and co-angler competition concludes following Saturday’s weigh-in. The top 10 pros continue competition Sunday, with the winner determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from days three and four.
In FLW Tour competition, pros and co-anglers are randomly paired each day, with pros supplying the boat, controlling boat movement and competing against other pros. Co-anglers fish from the back deck against other co-anglers.
Coverage of the tournament will be broadcast to 81 million FSN (Fox Sports Net) subscribers in the United States on July 29 and Aug. 5 as part of the “FLW Outdoors” television program. “FLW Outdoors” airs Sunday mornings at 11 Eastern time. “FLW Outdoors” is also broadcast internationally to 429 million households in such countries as Germany, China, South Africa, Australia, Malaysia, Russia, Hungary and the United Kingdom, making it the most widely distributed 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 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.