MOBILE, Ala. – Pro Mike Jackson of San Mateo, Fla., caught a final-round total of 10 bass weighing 18 pounds, 1 ounce to win $90,000 in the $1 million Stren Series Championship on the Mobile Delta. Jackson topped his closest rival, pro Greg Bohannan of Rogers, Ark., by 2 pounds to earn the win and qualify for the $2 million Forrest Wood Cup in Columbia, S.C., Aug. 14-17, where the winner will earn as much as $1 million – the biggest award in bass fishing.
“I knew I had a chance to win, after the practice I had,” said Jackson, who is a rookie on the Stren Series. “I have never fished away from home before until this year. I qualified through the Bass Fishing League to fish the Stren Series. I really didn’t have the time or money, but my buddy asked me to fish with him. If he hadn’t encouraged me to fish, then I wouldn’t be here. ”
Jackson caught his bass flipping mats on a Texas-rigged Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver and a Gambler 4-inch Crawdaddy on Spiderwire line with a 1 1/2 ounce weight.
“I only made a 15-minute run from the ramp all week,” Jackson said. “I fished the Three-mile Creek area in 2 1/2 feet of water. I caught a couple of fish running around, but I would say 97 percent of my fish came from the same creek. I fished flats that had household trash everywhere. Anything from a basketball to cans were floating on top of the water. I only saw one boat in the area I fished all week. The water was clean besides the trash on top of the water.”
Jackson opened the tournament in fifth place Thursday with four bass weighing 10-09. On Friday he added another five bass weighing 8-04 and advanced to the final round of 10 pros in third place with a two-day total of nine bass weighing 18-13. On Saturday weights were cleared and Jackson caught five bass weighing 9-03 to advance to the final day of competition in third place. He added another five bass weighing 8-14 to his final-round total Sunday.
“I plan on using the money to fish,” Jackson said. “Ever since I was a little kid this has been my dream.”
Rounding out the top 10 pros are Bohannan (10 bass, 16-01, $35,750); David Curtis of Trinity, Texas (10 bass, 16-00, $35,355); Robert Robinson of Mobile, Ala. (10 bass, 14-14, $20,780); Greg Vinson of Wetumpka, Ala. (10 bass, 14-09, $16,620); Nick Gainey of Charleston, S.C. (10 bass, 13-10, $14,960); Mathew Saavedra of Redding, Ca. (eight bass, 12-12, $9,130); Bobby Lane of Lakeland, Fla. (10 bass, 12-10, $18,300); Bobby McMullin of Pevely, Mo. (five bass, 6-12, $7,470); and Doug Vahrenberg of Higginsville, Mo. (five bass, 5-01, $11,640).
As the highest finishers from their respective Stren Series divisions, Bohannan (Central Division), Curtis (Texas Division), Gainey (Northern Division) and Saavedra (Western Division) will join Jackson (Southeast Division) in the $2 million Forrest Wood Cup presented by Castrol. Curtis also earned the championship’s Ranger Cup powered by Yamaha bonus of $15,000 for a total of $50,355.
Overall there were 41 bass weighing 58 pounds, 13 ounces caught by the 10 finalists Sunday. The catch included seven five-bass limits.
On Saturday, Keith Honeycutt of Temple, Texas, won the Co-angler Division and $62,500 with a five-bass limit weighing 6 pounds, 12 ounces followed by Josh Clark of Horton, Mich., in second place with five bass weighing 5-07 worth $15,565.
Honeycutt’s award included a fully rigged Ranger 198VX plus $15,000 cash and an additional $7,500 cash bonus from Ranger Boats.
“There are no words to describe my feelings right now,” said Honeycutt, who qualified as the No. 16 seed from the Texas Division. “I have fished all over the world in many different circuits, and from a co-angler standpoint, this is the one to win.”
Honeycutt caught his fish in grass and near isolated brush piles.
Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers were Bo Middleton of Elgin, Okla. (three bass, 4-03, $3,735); Chris Hults of Vancleave, Miss. (three bass, 4-02, $5,320); Kenneth Merlock of Mayslanding, N.J. (two bass, 3-05, $2,905); Alan Hults of Gautier, Miss. (two bass, 3-01, $4,490); Teddy Bradley of Mishawaka, Ind. (three bass, 2-14, $6,283); Young Yang of Los Angeles, Ca. (two bass, 2-03, $4,075); Leo Reiter of Goshen, Ind. (one bass, 1-07, $5,868); and Ray Peace of Arlington, Texas (one bass, 1-05, $3,660).
Middleton, who fishes the Texas Division, also won a new Ranger 198VX powered by Evinrude as the 2007 Stren – Evinrude Co-angler of the Year. He won the coveted title with 956 out of a possible 1,000 points earned in four qualifiers and the Stren Series Championship. His closest competitor, Steven McFarland of Mountain Home, Ark., finished second with 912 points. McFarland fishes the Central Division.
On Friday, Yang secured a spot in the Forrest Wood Cup as the only Western Division co-angler 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. On Saturday, Middleton (Texas Division), Honeycutt (Northern Division), and Hults (Southeast Division) also qualified for the Forrest Wood Cup as the highest finishing co-anglers from their respective Stren Series divisions.
Coverage of the tournament 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.