MOBILE, Ala. – Pro Greg Vinson of Wetumpka, Ala., caught a five-bass limit weighing 12 pounds, 3 ounces Friday to capture the lead in the $1 million Stren Series Championship on the Mobile Delta. With a two-day catch of 10 bass weighing 23-02, he holds a 4-pound, 5-ounce lead over second place pro Spiderwire angler Bobby Lane of Lakeland, Fla., who managed to haul in a total of 10 bass weighing 18-13 during the first two days of competition. The winning pro will earn as much as $140,000 Sunday.
“This feels like home,” said Vinson, who qualified as the No. 8 seed in the Southeast Division. “This is where I like to fish and what I am used to. I caught 9 to 10 pounds by 11 this morning, so I started pre-fishing for tomorrow. The bite was extremely slow today. However, looking at tomorrow, I am confident that there are fish in my areas and plenty of good fish. I have about 10 to 12 spots that I have been fishing and will hit tomorrow.”
Vinson is fishing current breaks and cover in the Alabama River to catch his limit.
Rounding out the top five pros who will continue competition Saturday and Sunday are Mike Jackson of San Mateo, Fla. (nine bass, 18-13); Greg Bohannan of Rogers, Ala. (10 bass, 18-12); and Bobby McMullin of Pevely, Mo. (10 bass, 18-00).
Also clearing up the top-10 cut weight of 15 pounds, 11 ounces were pros David Curtis of Trinity, Texas; Robert Robinson of Mobile, Ala.; Mathew Saavedra of Redding, Ca.; Nick Gainey of Charleston, S.C.; and Doug Vahrenberg of Higginsville, Mo.
Derek Hicks of Rocky Face, Ga., and Doug Riha of Thousand Oaks, Ca., each earned $375 for the Snickers Big Bass award in the Pro Division thanks to a 4-pound, 7-ounce bass.
Overall there were 558 bass weighing 792 pounds, 12 ounces caught by 147 pros Friday. The catch included 71 five-bass limits.
Chris Hults of Vancleave, Miss., leads the Co-angler Division in the chase for a $70,000 payday. He caught five bass weighing 5-15 while fishing with pro Dan Schoonveld of Mansura, La., Thursday and five bass weighing 8-04 while fishing with pro Lance Vick of Mineola, Texas, Friday for a total of 10 bass weighing 14-03.
“I am really nervous going into tomorrow,” said Hults, who has 12 top-10 finishes in his career with FLW Outdoors. “Anything could happen, with the weights being zeroed. My plan is to do what I have been doing and that is to fish real slow and throw hard plastics.”
Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Ray Peace of Arlington, Texas (10 bass, 11-15); Bo Middleton of Elgin, Okla. (10 bass, 11-13); Teddy Bradley of Mishawaka, Ind. (eight bass, 11-05); and Young Yang of Los Angeles, Ca. (nine bass, 11-03).
Also clearing the top-10 cut weight of 10 pounds, 2 ounces in the Co-angler Division were Josh Clark of Horton, Mich.; Leo Reiter of Goshen, Ind.; Kenneth Merlock of Mayslanding, N.J.; Keith Honeycutt of Temple, Texas; and Alan Hults of Gautier, Miss.
Kevin Roberts of West Chester, Ohio, earned $375 for the Snickers Big Bass award in the Co-angler Division thanks to a 4-pound, 4-ounce bass.
Overall there were 287 bass weighing 368 pounds, 3 ounces caught by 120 co-anglers Friday. The catch included 19 five-bass limits.
Saavedra secured a spot in the 2008 Forrest Wood Cup as the only Western Division pro to make the top-10 cut Friday. The remaining four divisions are still up for grabs since there are multiple qualifiers from each division in the top 10. On the co-angler side, Yang secured a spot in the Forrest Wood Cup as the only Western Division qualifier to make the top-10 cut. Kevin McKnight of Versailles, Mo., finished 11th, missing the cut by 3 ounces, but still advanced to the Forrest Wood Cup as the highest finisher from the Central Division. Co-angler qualifiers from the remaining three divisions will be determined Saturday.
Anglers will take off at 7 a.m. Saturday and Sunday from the Chocolotta Bay Ramp, located at 1595 Battleship Parkway in Mobile, followed by 4 p.m. weigh-ins at the Arthur R. Outlaw Mobile Convention Center, located at One S. Water St.
Prior to the weigh-ins, FLW Outdoors will host a free Family Fun Zone and outdoor show at the Arthur R. Outlaw Mobile Convention Center 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 100 children 14 and under to visit the Family Fun Zone Saturday will receive a free pair of Solar Bat sunglasses. On Sunday, the first 200 children 14 and under visiting the Family Fun Zone will receive a free rod and reel combo. Admission to all activities is free.
In Stren Series Championship 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, hosted by Mobile Bay Convention and Visitors Bureau, will be broadcast to 81 million FSN (Fox Sports Net) subscribers in the United States on Jan. 13 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, browse FLWOutdoors.com or call (270) 252-1000.