WASHINGTON, D.C. – Team Snickers pro Chris Baumgardner of Gastonia, N.C., caught a final-round total of 10 bass weighing 33 pounds, 5 ounces to win $125,000 in the $1 million Wal-Mart FLW Tour event on the Potomac River. Baumgardner topped his closest rival, David Dudley of Lynchburg, Va., by more than 6 pounds to earn the win and 200 points toward qualifying for the $2 million Forrest Wood Cup in Hot Springs, Ark., where the winner will earn as much as $1 million – the biggest award in bass fishing – Aug. 5.
“It’s a great feeling,” said Baumgardner, who boosted his career FLW Outdoors earnings to more than $423,000 with the victory. “I’ve been wanting to win one of these forever. You think you have it in you to win one, and you’re pretty sure, but you don’t really know until you win one.
“There’s 200 great fishermen out there,” Baumgardner added. “There’s nothing like winning.”
Baumgardner fished an area three to four miles south of Mattawoman Creek near Smallwood State Park and concentrated on a large flat that consisted of milfoil mats. He targeted bass with the lure he’d thrown in previous days of competition – a Rad Lures Chatterbait. Baumgardner employed two colors of Chatterbait – a black and blue and a brown color he calls “Andy” after fellow Tour pro Andy Montgomery of Blacksburg, S.C., who tied the bait’s skirt for him. He used a green-pumpkin trailer on the Chatterbaits.
“It took me 45 minutes to catch my first one,” Baumgardner said. “Then it took me a half hour and then I caught three in about five minutes. That was by 9 a.m. Then I’d go an hour without a bite, then catch two or three. They came in flurries, and I ended up catching 10 or 11 keepers.”
Baumgardner said he remained calm the last two days of competition, despite being so close to his first FLW Tour victory.
“I get nervous the first two days,” Baumgardner said. “That’s when you can really bomb really bad. Once you make the top 10, all you’re trying to do then is win.”
Baumgardner opened the tournament Thursday in 32nd place with five bass weighing 15-6. He jumped to seventh place Friday with a five-bass catch weighing 18 pounds, 10 ounces to advance into the final round of 10 pros with a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 34 pounds. On Saturday, weights were cleared, and Baumgardner caught five bass weighing 16-7 to advance to the final day of competition in first place. Baumgardner added another five bass weighing 16-14 to his final-round total Sunday.
Dudley caught a final-round total of 10 bass weighing 26-9 to claim second place and $50,000.
“I was pretty confident coming into today,” Dudley said. “I think I made a few not-so-wise decisions as far as the times I chose to move from area to area.”
Dudley said he caught a lot of keepers Sunday, but couldn’t get the quality of fish needed to secure the win. Dudley’s bait of choice was a green-pumpkin green flake Zoom Baby Brush Hog, but he managed to catch some fish on a variety of other baits. He targeted grass and wood mid-river near Smallwood State Park.
“My timing of my moves was not right,” Dudley said. “I still caught fish, but when I made my move, I was 30 minutes off. I was close, but no cigar.
“As far as my fishing mechanics, I did OK,” Dudley added. “I have no regrets there.”
With his second-place finish, Dudley surpassed Denny Brauer to claim the fourth spot on the all-time leading money winner’s list with a career winnings total of $2,370,410.
“I hate to lose,” Dudley said. “I don’t know what else to say. If I don’t win, in my opinion, I’ve lost. I hate to lose.
“Ninety percent of (my success) is due to what FLW Outdoors has done to grow this sport to a level that I thought would take years and years to get to, but they did it in 10 years or less,” Dudley added. “I just get chill bumps thinking about it. But I won’t be satisfied until I’m No. 1.”
Rounding out the top 10 pros were Team Berkley pro Bobby Lane of Lakeland, Fla. (10 bass, 24-12, $40,000); Team Bounty pro Ken Wick of Star, Idaho (10 bass, 24-3, $30,000); Mark Davis of Mount Ida, Ark. (10 bass, 23-10, $20,000); Jack Wade of Knoxville, Tenn. (10 bass, 22-14, $19,000); Team A&W pro Shad Schenck of Waynetown, Ind. (10 bass, 21-7, $18,000); Jerry Williams of Conway, Ark. (10 bass, 21-2, $17,000); Team BP pro Ray Scheide of Russellville, Ark. (10 bass, 20-7, $16,000) and Sandy Melvin of Boca Grande, Fla. (nine bass, 14-5, $15,000).
Overall there were 49 bass weighing 113 pounds, 13 ounces caught in the Pro Division Sunday. The catch included nine five-bass limits.
On Saturday, Bob Blosser of Lodi, Wis., won the Co-angler Division and $25,000 with a five-bass limit weighing 13 pounds, 5 ounces followed by Kevin Koone of Greenbrier, Ark., in second place with five bass weighing 10-7 worth $10,000.
Blosser opened the tournament in 19th place Thursday with five bass weighing 12-15 while fishing with pro George Jeane Jr. of Evans, La. On Friday he jumped into seventh place on the strength of a five-bass catch weighing 12-2 while fishing with Jason Reyes of Humble, Texas. He wrapped up his win while fishing with Williams.
“I just had a feeling this morning that this was going to be my day,” said Blosser, who notched his second FLW Tour top-10 finish and first victory. “The first spot we pulled up to, on about my third cast, I caught a 2 1/2-pounder and I thought, `Cool.'”
Blosser’s winning pattern consisted of a 3/8-ounce custom swimming jig made by a friend in La Crosse, Wis., and a slow retrieve. Blosser used a black and blue jig in practice and switched to a white color to try to coax more bites.
“The white was a little better bite, so I switched to chartreuse and they just started eating it,” Blosser said. “So I called up my friend and he next-day aired me a bunch of them.”
Blosser rigged the jig with a chartreuse trailer and reeled the jig slowly across the top of grass. When the jig touched the grass, Blosser snapped the tip lightly to jump the jig off the grass.
Blosser culled his last fish of the day at 12:30 p.m. and then realized he had released his next-to-smallest fish, not his smallest fish. Despite the mistake, Blosser held on to a 3-pound, 9-ounce lead for the win.
“I’ve been doing this for six years now, and I fish the FLW Series as a pro,” Blosser said. “This is probably going to be my last go at the co-angling. I want to fish pro in either the Series or the Tour. I’m not getting any younger.”
Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers were Ken Keirsey of Owasso, Okla. (five bass, 9-12, $9,000); Marc Levesque of Waterbury, Conn. (five bass, 9-3, $8,000); James Dudley of Lynchburg, Va. (three bass, 7-6, $7,000); David Hudson of Jasper, Ala. (two bass, 3-7, $6,000); Mark Myers of Cedar Falls, Iowa (two bass, 2-15, $5,000); Moo Bae of West Friendship, Md. (two bass, 2-13, $4,000); Ken Murphy of Meridian, Miss. (no bass, $3,000) and Mark Spearly of Bellefonte, Pa. (no bass, $2,000).
Overall there were 29 bass weighing 59 pounds, 4 ounces caught in the Co-angler Division Saturday. The catch included four five-bass limits.
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.
The next $ 1.5 million FLW Tour stop, the Chevy Open, will be held on the Detroit River in Detroit, Mich., July 12-15.
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.