Hoernke Leads National Guard Open on Lake Norman - Major League Fishing

Hoernke Leads National Guard Open on Lake Norman

April 26, 2008 • MLF • Archives

Hudson wins co-angler title, $40,000

charlotte, N.C. (April 26, 2008) – Sean Hoernke of Magnolia, Texas, caught five bass weighing 13 pounds, 5 ounces Saturday to retain his lead in the $1.5 million Wal-Mart FLW Tour National Guard Open on Lake Norman. He now holds a 10-ounce advantage over his closest competitor, BP pro Jim Moynagh of Carver, Minn., heading into the final day of competition.

“This is going to be an ounces horse race to the end,” said Hoernke, who has earned 16 top-10s in FLW Outdoors competition. “Anybody can win. The guy in ninth place can win this thing. Just because I’m here in first doesn’t mean a thing. I have to get up and work harder tomorrow. My goal is to catch a better bag than I did today, and that is possible. The fish are out there to do it. It’s just my job to go out and catch them.”

Hoernke opened the tournament Thursday with a 15-pound limit that put him in second place. He added five more bass weighing 12-11 to his catch Friday to advance to the final round in first place with a two-day, opening-round total of 10 bass weighing 27-11.

Two key patterns for Hoernke this week have been catching bass that are feeding on spawning shad near a dock suspended over a river channel early in the morning and then sight fishing. He is using a white jig around the dock.

“The shad spawn didn’t hit that good today,” he said. “I did catch one key fish that helped, but it’s still not going. I feel that any day it could turn back on, though. If it does, I think it would be over pretty quick. I had a real fast limit the first day, when the shad were going, but that’s up to the shad, not me.”

Moynagh caught five bass weighing 13 pounds, 5 ounces to advance to the final day of competition as the No. 2 seed.

Rounding out the top 10 pros are Scott Canterbury of Odenville, Ala. (five bass, 11-06); Art Ferguson of St. Clair Shores, Mich. (five bass, 10-13); Snickers pro Greg Pugh of Cullman, Ala. (five bass, 10-13); Castrol pro Mike Surman of Boca Raton, Fla. (five bass, 10-06); Berkley pro Glenn Browne of Ocala, Fla. (five bass, 9-13); Bud Pruitt of Houston, Texas (five bass, 8-09); National Guard pro Brent Ehrler of Redlands, Calif. (five bass, 8-06) and Snickers pro Chris Baumgardner of Gastonia, N.C. (three bass, 4-03).

Browne, Canterbury and Pugh all made the top-10 cut earlier this month at the FLW Tour stop on Lewis Smith Lake in Birmingham, Ala. This is only the second time in Tour history that three pros have made back-to-back top-10s at the same time. The first time it happened was in 2005 when Kellogg’s pro Alvin Shaw of State Road, N.C.; Castrol pro Darrell Robertson of Jay, Okla.; and Land O’Lakes pro Jeremiah Kindy of Benton, Ark., finished in the top 10 on Beaver Lake in Rogers, Ark., and the Ouachita River in Monroe, La.

Overall there were 48 bass weighing 100 pounds, 5 ounces caught in the Pro Division Saturday. The catch included nine five-bass limits.

Pros are competing for a top award of $200,000 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 they could win as much as $1 million – the sport’s biggest award.

Tournament pros aren’t the only ones hoping to win big on Lake Norman. The National Guard Open is the third stop of the year for the most lucrative fantasy sports league in history, FLW Fantasy Fishing™, which offers total awards of $7.3 million, including $100,000 cash guaranteed to the top Fantasy Fishing player following every FLW Tour stop and the Forrest Wood Cup. To play FLW Fantasy Fishing, simply log on to www.fantasyfishing.com and pick a team of 10 anglers for the next FLW Tour stop. Fans can even become a virtual pro with access to exclusive insider information and tips by signing up for Player’s Advantage, which could help them earn a record $1 million as the FLW Fantasy Fishing cumulative points winner. Player’s Advantage members also receive a complimentary $15 Wal-Mart gift card.

In the Co-angler Division, David Hudson of Jasper, Ala., claimed his first FLW Tour victory after qualifying for the top-10 a record 15 times with five bass weighing 8-2. Prior to Saturday’s win, Hudson had finished in every top-10 position except for first. He earned $40,000 for the win and boosted his career earnings to $141,260 – an FLW Tour co-angler record.

Hudson opened the tournament in fourth place Thursday with five bass weighing 10-10 while fishing with pro Steve Redding of Plano, Texas. He then added five more bass weighing 8-12 Friday after fishing with BP pro JT Kenney of Port Charlotte, Fla., to advance to the final round in fourth place with 10 bass weighing 19-06. He wrapped up his win Saturday while fishing with Baumgardner.

“This has been a long time coming. I’ve been close a lot of times, but I’ve never actually closed the deal, and today was real close,” Hudson said. “I’ve had some great coaches. I’m giving credit to Jay (Yelas), Mark Davis and guys like that. I’ve roomed with them and practiced with them, and that stuff rubs off on you.”

Hudson caught his fish on a green-pumpkin and purple 4-inch Yum Dinger that he wacky-rigged on a 1/16-ounce jig head.

Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers are Mark Swink of Shelby, N.C. (five bass, 8-1, $10,000); Chad Pipkens of Holt, Mich. (four bass, 7-12, $9,000); Deirdre Davison of Tega Cay, S.C. (five bass, 6-15, $8,000); Andrew Lemle of Perrysburg, Ohio (four bass, 6-14, $7,000); Beecher Strunk of Somerset, Ky. (four bass, 6-7, $6,000); Teddy Bradley of Mishawaka, Ind. (three bass, 6-2, $5,000); Shane Lehew of Charlotte (three bass, 4-13, $4,000); Butch Zadlo of Boone, N.C. (three bass, 3-11, $3,000); and Dirk Davenport of Delaware, Ohio (one bass, 1-11, $2,000).

Overall there were 37 bass weighing 60 pounds, 8 ounces caught in the Co-angler Division Saturday. The catch included three five-bass limits.

Only Lake Champlain in Plattsburgh, N.Y., and the Potomac River in Washington, D.C., produced more fish than Lake Norman. The 200 pros and 200 co-anglers fishing the lake during the opening round, which ended Friday, caught a total of 3,181 bass. The bass weighed 6,054 pounds, 7 ounces (ninth in Tour history) and more than 99 percent of the fish were released alive.

Anglers will take off at 6:30 Sunday morning from Blythe Landing located at 15901 NC Highway 73 in Huntersville, N.C., for the final day of competition. Sunday’s weigh-in will be held at the Charlotte Convention Center, located at 501 S. College St. in Charlotte, beginning at 4 p.m.

FLW Outdoors will host a free Family Fun Zone and outdoor show at the Charlotte Convention Center from noon to 6 p.m. 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 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. Admission is 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 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.

The National Guard Open is hosted by the Charlotte Sports Commission, Visit Lake Norman and Visit Charlotte. The tournament is being held in conjunction with The Bass Federation National Championship presented by the National Guard on Lake Wylie. The final weigh-in for the TBF National Championship, which featured the best of the nation’s TBF club anglers, was held at the Charlotte Convention Center on Saturday at 3 p.m. Brian Travis of Conover, N.C., won the Boater Division with a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 45-09, and Craig Fredrychowski of Lexington, S.C., won the Co-angler Division with 14 bass weighing 26-11.

Coverage of the National Guard Open will be broadcast to 81 million FSN (Fox Sports Net) subscribers in the United States as part of the “FLW Outdoors” television programs airing June 15 and June 22. “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, visit www.flwoutdoors.com or call (270) 252-1000. For more information about FLW Fantasy Fishing and Player’s Advantage, visit www.fantasyfishing.com.