HENDERSON, Nev. – Extreme Pringles pro Sean Minderman of Spokane, Wash., caught a five-bass limit weighing 6 pounds, 11 ounces Friday to widen his lead in the $1 million Wal-Mart FLW Series National Guard Western Division tournament on Lake Mead. With a three-day catch of 15 bass weighing 32-00, he holds an 2-pound, 8-ounce lead over his closest competitors, Roy Hawk of Salt Lake City, Utah, and Jason Hickey of Weiser, Idaho, heading into the final day of competition with 29 pounds, 8 ounces each.
“Today was a mentally tough day,” Minderman said. “I caught a lot of little fish today that were all smallmouths. I was constantly measuring the fish to see if they were big enough to keep. They were all around the same size which made it really difficult to cull. I went looking for the big bites and never got them. After three days of competition I started running out of fish.”
Minderman revealed that he fished in 3 to 6 feet of water and stayed on the trolling motor all day. He said he figured out the smallmouth pattern and fished on the windy side of a rocky point.
“I need to look somewhere else to get a big fish. I have been fishing for a backup spot and going into tomorrow I have to do something different,” Minderman said. “I might go back to my practice spots and work some of those areas or I might just wake up tomorrow and see which way the wind is blowing and go from there.”
Minderman said that today he was happy to get a limit and it could have easily turned bad.
“I plan to do something different in the morning because the last to mornings have been slow. I will go back around my key area and maybe go north. Once, I start catching some fish I will go with that pattern.”
Rounding out the top five pros are David Kromm of Fairfield, Calif. (15 bass, 29-04) and David Giliebe of Stockton, Calif. (15 bass, 28-08).
Also clearing the top 10 cut weight of 27 pounds, 12 ounces in the Pro Division are National Guard pro Tim Klinger of Boulder City, Nev.; Rusty Salewske of Alpine, Calif.; Jimmy Reese of Witter Springs, Calif.; Ken Wick of Star, Idaho; and National Guard pro Brent Ehrler of Redlands, Calif.
Justin Kerr of Simi Valley, Calif., earned the day’s $309 Snickers Big Bass award in the Pro Division thanks to a 3-pound, 7-ounce bass.
Overall there were 417 bass weighing 649 pounds, 12 ounces caught by 105 pros Friday. The catch included 65 five-bass limits.
Pros are competing this week for a top award of $125,000 plus valuable points in the hope of qualifying for the BP East-National Guard West Fish-Off and a shot at advancing to the $2 million, 2009 Forrest Wood Cup, 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™, FLW Outdoors® offers anyone the opportunity to enter for their chance to land the catch of a lifetime with the opportunity to win $7.3 million in cash and prizes. Players can become a virtual pro angler by signing up for Player’s Advantage, providing them with exclusive insider information that could guide them to a $100,000 victory at every Wal-Mart 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 FLW Outdoors will include a $15 Wal-Mart gift card.
Christopher Ricci of Bend, Ore., won the Co-angler Division and $20,000 Friday with a three-day total of 14 bass weighing 22 pounds, 2 ounces followed by Boris Antolos of Torrance, Calif., in second place with 14 bass weighing 21-08 worth $6,315.
Ricci opened the tournament in 26th place Wednesday with five bass weighing 6-01 while fishing with pro Jim Davis of Plumas Lake, Calif. On Thursday he jumped to 11th place on the strength of a five-bass catch weighing 7-04 while fishing with pro Ken Wick of Star, Idaho. He wrapped up the win Friday with a four bass weighing 8-13 while fishing with pro Randy Potter of Camas, Wash.
“This was an awesome week,” Ricci said. “I owe this win to all the pros that I had. Today, Randy told me that we were fishing for me to win since he was out of the race. He gave me plenty of water to fish and allowed me to have the first cast. That’s the caliber of pros that FLW has. That’s why I am where I am today.”
Ricci caught his bass on two key baits this week a Berkley Power Hawg and a 3-inch Berkley Power Craw on Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon Line.
“In practice I was throwing the Power Craw and I was getting nearly 40 bites a day. So I felt good throwing it,” Ricci said. “I was very confident in my Berkley baits and I had a feeling I would win after I starting throwing them.
“I am so pumped about this win and I love fishing FLW Outdoors tournaments. It is a great organization and I am so happy to be apart of it.”
Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Justin Lucas of Folsom, Calif. (14 bass, 21-03, $5,682); Aaron Leon of Henderson, Nev. (12 bass, 20-04, $5,051) and Tucker Clarke of San Diego, Calif. (14 bass, 20-02, $4,419).
Michael Sisco of Henderson Nev., earned $191 for the Snickers Big Bass award in the Co-angler Division thanks to a 4-pound, 7-ounce bass he caught while fishing with pro Cory Dispensiero of Palmdale, Calif.
Overall there were 255 bass weighing 377 pounds, caught by 105 co-anglers Friday. The catch included 18 five-bass limits.
The 10 remaining pros will take off at 6:30 Saturday morning from Callville Bay-Forever Resorts in Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Saturday’s final weigh-in will be held at the Wal-Mart store located at 300 E. Lake Mead Drive in Henderson, beginning at 4 p.m. Children will also be treated to a Family Fun Zone prior to Saturday’s weigh-in from noon to 4 p.m. at Wal-Mart. Activities in the Family Fun Zone include the Kellogg’s trout pond, a Ranger boat simulator and assorted fishing-themed games. All activities are free and open to the public.
Coverage of the Lake Mead FLW Series 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 July 6. “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, call (270) 252-1000. For more information about FLW Fantasy Fishing and Player’s Advantage, visit FantasyFishing.com.
FLW Outdoors historically maintains a 98 percent live release rate in all of its bass tournaments.