PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. – Pro Jason Ober of Johnstown, Pa., caught a five-bass limit weighing 17 pounds, 4 ounces Saturday to win the Stren Series Northern Division tournament on Lake Champlain with a four-day total of 20 bass weighing 74-05. For his victory, Ober earned $25,000 cash and a $40,000 198VX Ranger boat powered by Yamaha.
“Oh my goodness, it’s an absolutely awesome feeling; I’m overwhelmed,” said Ober, who won the co-angler division of the Stren Series Southeast Division tournament on Santee Cooper earlier this year. “To compete with great pros like Mike Iaconelli, Pete Gluszek and Chris Baumgardner is such a privilege.”
Ober opened the tournament in forth place Wednesday with five bass weighing 17-15 while fishing the north end of the lake. On Thursday he added another five bass weighing 21-01 using a topwater bait to target smallmouth on the flats to capture his lead. He then caught five bass weighing 18-01 on the north end of the lake Friday to make the crucial top 10 cut in second place.
Ober stayed in the top-four throughout the tournament, but credits his co-angler for much of his success today.
“Today I caught several on a topwater bait, but my co-angler really helped me out by giving me a drop shot,” Ober said. “Drop-shotting a Speed Craw sealed the deal. I caught two fish at a quarter till 2 this afternoon, and still had to leave 30 minutes for the run back.”
Ober said he caught his fish on a crankbait in the top of the grass in about 12 feet of water earlier in the week. “I struggled and rebounded,” Ober said. “The conditions had to be just right to be able to use a topwater bait, and I had to wait until the right time to use it and get in as many casts as I could. I had to change things up today, and it paid off.”
Rounding out the top five pros are Chris Baumgardner of Gastonia, N.C. (20 bass, 73-15, $8,082, plus $5,000 Ranger bonus); John Voyles of Petersburg, Ind. (20 bass, 63-11, $7,274); Gregg Seal of Eldred, Pa. (20 bass, 62-14, $6,466); and Scott Lakey of Augusta, Mich. (20 bass, 62-03, $5,657).
George Lambeth of Thomasville, N.C., caught the biggest bass of the tournament in the Pro Division Friday – a 5-pound, 7-ounce bass – that earned him the day’s Snickers Big Bass award of $243.
Overall there were 48 bass weighing 139 pounds, 14 ounces caught by 10 pros Saturday. The catch included 9 five-bass limits.
Thomas Shafer of Pine City, N.Y., won the Co-angler Division and $5,000, including a 198VX Ranger boat, with a four-day total of 20 bass weighing 62-01.
“I used a variety of baits and switched up throughout the days,” Shafer said. “I started out on a topwater bait today, but that wasn’t working well, so I went to a drop-shot for the better part of the day, and that’s what I caught all my fish on.”
Shafer caught five bass weighing 16-04 Wednesday while fishing 2 miles north of his area Saturday with pro Gregg Seal of Eldred, Pa., to open the tournament in second place. He then caught five bass weighing 15-12 Thursday using tube jigs and drop shots while fishing with pro Randy Yarnall of Womelsdorf, Pa., to capture his lead. On Friday he added five more bass weighing 10-09 to make the top 10 cut in second place while fishing the inland sea with pro Rex Johnsonbaugh of Altoona, Pa. Finally, on Saturday, he sealed the win with a five-bass catch weighing 19-08 while fishing a drop-shot with pro Jason Ober of Johnstown, Pa.
Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Chris Girouard of Epsom, N.H. (20 bass, 56-05, $3,391); Micah Frazier of Newnan, Ga. (20 bass, 55-08, $2,756); Jeff Zeisner of Arva, Ontario (20 bass, 53-09, $2,120); and David Roberts of Sunderland, Mass. (18 bass, 51-05, $1,696).
Scott Wilson of Boyds, Md., caught the biggest bass of the tournament in the Co-angler Division Friday – a 5-pound, 15-ounce bass – that earned him the day’s Snickers Big Bass award of $128.
Overall there were 44 bass weighing 122 pounds, 12 ounces caught by 10 co-anglers Saturday. The catch included 8 five-bass limits.
The next Stren Series Northern Division event, hosted by French Creek Marina, will be held Aug. 20-23 on 1000 Islands in Clayton, N.Y. Boats will launch from French Creek Marina in Clayton and the final weigh-in will be held at the Wal-Mart located at 20823 NY State Route in Watertown.
After four qualifying events are complete in each of the Stren Series’ five divisions, the top 40 pros from each division will advance to the $1 million Stren Series Championship in Branson, Mo., Nov. 5-8 for a shot at $140,000. The highest-finishing pro from each division at the championship will also earn a spot in the $2 million 2009 Forrest Wood Cup, where they will compete against top pros from the Wal-Mart FLW Tour®, Wal-Mart FLW Series®, Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League® and TBF (The Bass Federation) for bass fishing’s biggest prize – $1 million.
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.
The top 40 co-anglers from each Stren Series division will also advance to the championship, where they will fish for as much as $70,000. The highest-finishing co-angler from each division at the championship will then advance to the 2008 Forrest Wood Cup.
FLW Outdoors historically maintains a 98 percent live release rate in all of its bass tournaments.
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.