ROGERS, Ark. – Mark Pack of Mineola, Texas, pocketed $200,000 Sunday in the Wal-Mart Open on Beaver Lake with a final-round, two-day total of 10 bass weighing 21 pounds, 10 ounces. He earned the hard-fought victory with 3 pounds, 7 ounces to spare over Wal-Mart pro George Cochran of Hot Springs, Ark., who finished in second place and earned $50,000 with 10 bass weighing 18-03.
“The key today was having a little bit of current,” said Pack, who has made five top-10 appearances on the FLW Tour since 2001, including four on Beaver Lake. “The shad balled up, which concentrated the fish.”
Pack opened the tournament Thursday with a 14-pound, 13-ounce limit that put him in first place. He added five more bass weighing 10-03 to his catch Friday to advance to the final round in third place with a two-day, opening-round total of 10 bass weighing 25-00. On Saturday he caught five bass weighing 7-05 to enter the final day in seventh place.
Pack caught his bass from two spots today, catching his limit by 7:30 a.m. with a prototype Lake Fork Tackle Hyper Worm on the back of a 3/16-ounce homemade jig.
“I had a steady retrieve; the tail of that worm would just be flopping back-and-forth, so I was basically swimming it,” Pack said. “I caught my fish off points with mainly rock, rubble and sand – most were off ramps that were flooded in 3 feet of water.”
Pack said he caught a lot of fish flipping during the first two days of competition.
“Yesterday I thought maybe I’d go flipping today,” Pack said. “If I’d done that, it would’ve been a big mistake. This has been a dream of mine since I was young.”
Rounding out the top 10 pros were Greg Bohannan of Rogers, Ark. (10 bass, 17-14, $40,000); Mike Hawkes of Sabinal, Texas (10 bass, 17-10, $35,000); Matt Arey of Shelby, N.C. (10 bass, 16-12, $30,000); Kyle Mabrey of McCalla, Ala. (10 bass, 15-01, $28,000); Sam Newby of Pocola, Okla. (10 bass, 14-13, $26,000); Dan Morehead of Paducah, Ky. (nine bass, 14-07, $24,000); Alvin Shaw of State Road, N.C. (six bass, 6-14 , $22,000); and Richard Strother of Tyler, Texas (five bass, 6-13, $20,000).
Overall there were 46 bass weighing 78 pounds, 8 ounces caught in the Pro Division Sunday. The catch included 8 five-bass limits.
Tournament pros aren’t the only ones winning big this season. The Wal-Mart Open is the fourth 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.
On Saturday, co-angler Stetson Blaylock of Benton, Ark., claimed his first FLW Tour victory after winning an FLW Series event on Pickwick Lake in October and the FLW Series East-West Fish-off on Lake Amistad in February. Saturday’s win, courtesy of a five-bass catch weighing 10-09, boosted Blaylock to the number eight position in the 2008 Wal-Mart FLW Tour co-angler standings.
Blaylock opened the tournament in 35th place Thursday with five bass weighing 7-00 while fishing with pro Tommy Martin of Hemphill, Texas. He then added five more bass weighing 9-14 Friday after fishing with Rob Kilby of Hot Springs, Ark., to advance to the final round in second place with 10 bass weighing 16-14. He wrapped up his win Saturday while fishing with Newby.
“It feels good to win,” said Blaylock, who has had four wins and 15 top-10 finishes in FLW Outdoors events. “I’ve won a couple of Series events in the last seven or eight months, but there’s no comparison to what this feels like.”
Blaylock said he caught all his fish close to Prairie Creek Marina, flipping a Berkley 5-inch black neon tube into trees and flooded grass along steep banks.
“I fished a BFL tournament last week at Greers Ferry where I flipped a tube all week,” Blaylock said. “The water was high and dirty – just like it is here. I finished seventh there with 10 pounds, 6 ounces, so I thought I’d try the same thing up here.”
Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers were Gregory Auzenne of Panama City, Fla. (three bass, 7-06, $10,000); Steven Meador of Bella Vista, Ark. (five bass, 6-08, $9,000); Danny Faught of Rogers, Ark. (five bass, 5-04, $8,000); Bill Jarvis of Carthage, Miss. (three bass, 5-03, $7,000); Burl Smith of Prairie Grove, Ark. (two bass, 3-02, $6,000); Chad Pipkens of Holt, Mich. (two bass, 3-00, $5,000); Bryan Talmadge of Pell City, Ala. (one bass, 2-06, $4,000); Jared Taliaferro of Rogers, Ark. (one bass, 2-05, $3,000); and David Lauer of South Bend, Ind. (zero bass, $2,000).
Coverage of the Wal-Mart Open hosted by the Rogers Convention & Visitors Bureau and Bentonville Advertising and Promotion Commissionwill be broadcast to 81 million FSN (Fox Sports Net) subscribers in the United States as part of the “FLW Outdoors” television programs airing July 13 and July 20. “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.
The next $1 million FLW Tour stop will be held on Fort Loudon-Tellico Lakes in Knoxville, Tenn., June 19-22.
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 www.flwoutdoors.com or call (270) 252-1000. For more information about FLW Fantasy Fishing and Player’s Advantage, visit www.fantasyfishing.com.