KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Carl Svebek III of Siloam Springs, Ark., caught a five-bass limit weighing 17 pounds, 8 ounces Friday to capture the lead in the Wal-Mart FLW Tour’s $1 million event on Lake Toho with a two-day catch of 10 bass weighing 35-02. He now holds a 2-pound, 10-ounce lead in the tournament featuring 400 anglers representing 35 states, Mexico, Italy, Spain, Australia and Japan.
“I just wanted to catch all I could today,” said Svebek, who has earned more than $492,000 in career winnings with FLW Outdoors. “With the caliber of fisherman out here, I didn’t want to take any chances. I had about 11 or 12 pounds early in the day. I knew that would be close, so I kept fishing until I got a big bite.
“I am staying on Toho and only running a couple of miles,” Svebek said. “I managed to catch 15 keepers today with most of the fish being pre-spawn.”
Svebek’s bait of choice was a wacky-rigged Gambler Sweebo Worm, which he fished slowly and methodically.
“I am breaking down the areas that I am fishing and making long casts,” he said. “I let the bait sink and twitch it a few times until I get a bite. I am really hard at it, just keeping my head down and disciplining myself to slow down. Hopefully, tomorrow I will get out there and keep the momentum going.”
Ron Shuffield of Bismarck, Ark., advanced to the final round of 10 pros in the No. 2 spot with a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 31-08.
Rounding out the top five pros who will continue competition Saturday and Sunday are Randy Hadden of Jacksonville, Fla. (nine bass, 30-05); Shinichi Fukae of Mineola, Texas (10 bass, 30-03); and Brett Hite of Phoenix, Ariz. (10 bass, 28-14).
Also clearing the top-10 cut weight of 23 pounds, 4 ounces and adding to this already power-packed top-10 field are Pat Fisher of Buckhead, Ga.; Bryan Thrift of Shelby, N.C.; Shad Schenck of Waynetown, Ind.; Andy Morgan of Dayton, Tenn.; and Dan Morehead of Paducah, Ky.
Hadden earned the day’s $750 Snickers Big Bass award in the Pro Division thanks to a 8-pound, 8-ounce bass. He also won an extra $1,000 for having the biggest bass of the tournament.
Overall there were 576 bass weighing 1,050 pounds, 13 ounces caught by 171 pros Friday. The catch included 55 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 Columbia, S.C., Aug. 14-17, where the winning pro will earn as much as $1 million – the sport’s biggest award.
Tournament pros aren’t the only ones winning big this season. With the introduction of FLW Fantasy Fishing™, which offers $7.3 million in cash and prizes, FLW Outdoors® presents anyone with the opportunity to land the catch of a lifetime. Players in the lucrative new fantasy sports league can become virtual pros by signing up for Player’s Advantage, which provides exclusive insider information that could guide them to a $100,000 victory at every FLW Tour stop and the Forrest Wood Cup. Player’s Advantage will give them an edge over the competition and increase their shot for a $1 million cash grand prize that will be awarded to the FLW Fantasy Fishing cumulative points winner. Those who visit FantasyFishing.com today can sign up for Player’s Advantage and receive a complimentary $15 Wal-Mart gift card.
Bryan Talmadge of Pell City, Ala., leads the Co-angler Division with an opening-round total of 10 bass weighing 23 pounds, 5 ounces, followed by Garrett Olivotti of Rockford, Ill., in second place with seven bass weighing 19-14.
“Today, I just went out and wanted to get a limit,” Talmadge said. “I had to do a little something different. I didn’t use the same baits I did yesterday.
“Today, I threw a Senko and caught eight keepers,” he added. “My partner decided to stay on Toho all day, which gave me extra time to get all the fish I needed.”
Rounding out the top five co-anglers are David Givens of Hernando, Fla. (eight bass, 19-05); Todd Lee of Jasper, Ala. (six bass, 16-10) and Spencer Shuffield of Bismarck, Ark. (nine bass, 15-15).
Also clearing the top-10 cut weight of 14 pounds, 14 ounces in the Co-angler Division are Trevor Fitzgerald of Ocklawaha, Fla.; Mike Drain of Purcell, Okla.; Louis Manata of Columbia, Miss.; Sean Stepp of Stafford, Va.; and Casey Gallagher of Pulaski, Wis.
Doug Caldwell of Kane, Pa., earned $500 for the day’s Snickers Big Bass award in the Co-angler Division thanks to a 7-pound, 14-ounce bass he caught while fishing with pro Dwayne Horton of Knoxville, Tenn.
Overall there were 326 bass weighing 569 pounds, 9 ounces caught by 140 co-anglers Friday. The catch included 12 five-bass limits.
Co-anglers are fishing for a top award of $25,000 this week.
Anglers will take off at 7 a.m. Saturday and Sunday from Kissimmee Lakefront Park located at 101 Lake Shore Blvd. in Kissimmee. Saturday and Sunday’s weigh-ins will be held at Silver Spurs Arena in Osceola Heritage Park, located at 1875 Silver Spur Lane in Kissimmee, beginning at 4 p.m.
Prior to the weigh-ins, FLW Outdoors will host a free Family Fun Zone and outdoor show in the Exhibition Building at Osceola Heritage Park from noon to 6 p.m. each day. The Family Fun Zone offers fans a chance to meet their Fantasy Fishing team anglers face-to-face and review the latest products from Berkley, Lowrance, Ranger, Evinrude, Yamaha and other sponsors while children are treated to giveaways, fishing themed games and rides like the Ranger Boat simulator. Children 14 and under visiting the Family Fun Zone Sunday will also receive a free rod and reel combo while supplies last, and one lucky member of the audience will win a new Ranger boat during the final 4 p.m. weigh-in Sunday. Admission and parking are free, and you must be present to win.
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. The full field competes Thursday and Friday for 10 slots in Saturday’s competition based on their two-day accumulated weight. Weights are cleared Saturday, and co-angler competition concludes following Saturday’s weigh-in with the winner determined by the day’s heaviest catch. The top 10 pros continue competition Sunday, with the winner determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from the final two days.
Coverage of the tournament will be broadcast to 81 million FSN (Fox Sports Net) subscribers in the United States as part of the “FLW Outdoors” television program airing March 30. “FLW Outdoors” is also broadcast in Canada on WFN (World Fishing Network) and to more than 429 million households in the United Kingdom, Europe, Russia, Australia, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East through a distribution agreement with Matchroom Sport, making it the most widely distributed fishing program in the world. The program airs Sunday mornings at 11 Eastern time in most markets. Check local listings for times in your area.
FLW Outdoors, named after Forrest L. Wood, the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, is the largest fishing tournament organization in the world. In 2008 alone the organization is offering more than 90,000 anglers the chance to win over $40 million through 230 tournaments in 10 circuits targeting bass, walleye, redfish, kingfish and striped bass. FLW Outdoors is also taking fishing mainstream with the largest cash awards in the history of fantasy sports, $7.3 million.
For more information about FLW Outdoors and its tournaments, browse FLWOutdoors.com or call (270) 252-1000. For more information about FLW Fantasy Fishing and Player’s Advantage, visit FantasyFishing.com.