BRANSON, Mo. – Pro David Curtis of Trinity, Texas, caught a five-bass limit weighing 13 pounds, 2 ounces Thursday to retain the lead in the Stren Series Championship on Table Rock Lake. With a two-day catch of 10 bass weighing 30-03, he holds a 4-ounce lead over second place pro Lendell Martin Jr. of Nacogdoches, Texas, who managed to haul in a total of nine bass weighing 29-15 during the first two days of competition. The winning pro will earn as much as $140,000 Saturday.
“Today, I just had four keepers,” said Martin, who qualified through the Texas Division. “I had to change what I was doing today and go practicing. Yesterday, I caught most of my fish on a jig and it didn’t seem to work as well today.”
Martin didn’t have a fish in the boat at 11 this morning and had to make a change. “I started fishing points and slowing down,” said Martin. “In order to catch largemouths you have to slow down and try to make them bite.
“Tomorrow, I plan on fishing deep early and then going shallow in the afternoon. It seems that the shad is moving shallow later on in the day and it is pulling the largemouths up.”
Rounding out the top five pros who will continue competition Friday and Saturday are Ott Defoe of Knoxville, Tenn. (10 bass, 28-06); Bobby McMullin of Pevely, Mo. (10 bass, 26-01); and Ricky Scott of Van Buren, Ark. (10 bass, 25-15).
Also clearing up the top-10 cut weight of 23 pounds, 15 ounces were pros Robbie Dodson of Harrison, Ark.; Duracell pro Brennan Bosley of Benton, Ark.; Kellogg’s team angler Greg Bohannan of Rogers, Ark.; Michael Iaconelli of Runnemede, N.J.; and Rick Martin of Cherry Valley, Ill.
Toby Hartsell of Livingston, Texas, earned $750 for the Snickers Big Bass award in the Pro Division thanks to a 6-pound, 1-ounce bass.
Overall there were 489 bass weighing 1,140 pounds, 15 ounces caught by 153 pros Thursday. The catch included 42 five-bass limits.
Stephen Smith of Glenwood, Ark., leads the Co-angler Division in the chase for a $70,000 payday. He caught three bass weighing 12-11 while fishing with pro Rick Barham of Southaven, Miss., Wednesday and three bass weighing 6-14 while fishing with pro Jeff Billings of Clearlake, Calif., Thursday for a total of eight bass weighing 19-09.
Smith was the last co-angler to come to the weigh-in stage today and he said it was well worth the wait.
“Today was really tough,” said Smith, who has five top-10 finishes in his career with FLW Outdoors. “I caught a lot of fish but not a lot of keepers. I have used a crankbait and a jig this week but the three bass that I had today all came off a jig.”
Smith said that he is flipping a heavy jig into trees to catch his Table Rock bass. “I caught some fish on a finesse jig earlier this week but with the wind today it wouldn’t stay down,” he said.
Rounding out the top five co-anglers are James Watson of Waynesville, Mo. (seven bass, 18-06); Shawn Murphy of Nicholasville, Ky. (seven bass, 15-00); Tommie Goldston of Gardnerville, Nev. (seven bass, 15-00); and Keith Honeycutt of Temple, Texas (six bass, 14-07).
Also clearing the top-10 cut weight of 13 pounds, 8 ounces in the Co-angler Division were John Skipper of Dothan, Ala.; Austin Spurlin of Peachtree City, Ga.; Brian Somrek of Calvert City, Ky.; Roger Hogg of Lafayette, Ind.; and Janie Bladow of Houston, Ala.
John Woodroof of Lynchburg, Va., earned $375 for the Snickers Big Bass award in the Co-angler Division thanks to a 5-pound, 8-ounce bass.
Overall there were 234 bass weighing 537 pounds, 11 ounces caught by 122 co-anglers Thursday. The catch included five five-bass limits.
Defoe secured a spot in the 2009 Forrest Wood Cup as the only Southeast Division pro to make the top-10 cut Thursday. Also, Iaconelli will be headed to the Forrest Wood Cup as the only Northern Division angler to make the cut. Cody Meyer of Redding, Calif., finished in 26th, missing the cut by 2 pounds, 6 ounces, but still advanced to the Forrest Wood Cup as the highest finisher from the Western Division. The remaining two divisions are still up for grabs since there are multiple qualifiers from each division in the top 10. On the co-angler side, Goldston secured a spot in the Forrest Wood Cup as the only Western Division qualifier to make the top-10 cut. Scot Keefe of Hinesburg, Vt., finished 24th, missing the cut, but still advanced to the Forrest Wood Cup as the highest finisher from the Northern Division. Co-angler qualifiers from the remaining three divisions will be determined Friday.
Anglers will take off from State Park Marina, located at Highway 165 South in Branson, at 7 each morning. Friday and Saturday’s weigh-ins will be held at the Branson Convention Center, located at 200 West Main Street in Branson, along with the Stren Series Championship Family Fun Zone and Outdoor Show. The Family Fun Zone, which opens at 2 p.m. on Friday and noon on Saturday, features interactive displays, product samples and games for the entire family to enjoy. On Saturday, the first 200 children 14 and under will be treated to a free rod and reel combo. Weigh-ins both days will begin at 4 p.m. Admission to all activities is free.
The full field competes in the two-day opening round for 10 slots in Friday’s competition based on their two-day accumulated weight. Weights are cleared for day three, and co-angler competition concludes following Friday’s weigh-in. The top 10 pros continue competition Saturday, with the winner determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from days three and four.
In Stren Series Championship 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 winning pro will earn an Evinrude- or Yamaha-powered Ranger 198VX equipped with Lowrance electronics and a Minn Kota trolling motor plus $50,000 cash. If the winner is the original owner of a qualifying Ranger boat powered by an Evinrude or Yamaha outboard that is used during the tournament, he will also receive a $25,000 bonus from Ranger and an additional $25,000 Evinrude or Yamaha bonus for a total award of $140,000. The winning co-angler will receive a fully rigged Ranger 198VX plus $15,000 cash. If the winning co-angler meets Ranger and Evinrude or Yamaha contingency guidelines, he will also receive bonuses totaling $15,000 for a total award of $70,000. For a complete list of the championship purse, please visit FLWOutdoors.com.
The Stren Series Championship is being hosted by the Branson/Lakes Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. For more information, visit explorebranson.com or call (417) 334-4084.
The top 10 pros and 10 co-anglers from each division will also qualify for the 2009 Walmart FLW Tour® and Walmart FLW Series®, bass fishing’s top professional circuits. The highest-finishing pro and co-angler from each division at the Stren Series Championship will also qualify for the $2 million 2009 Forrest Wood Cup, where pros will fish for as much as $1 million – the most lucrative award in bass fishing.
Tournament anglers aren’t the only ones winning big this season. With the introduction of FLW Fantasy Fishing™, FLW Outdoors® offered 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 could become a virtual pro angler by signing up for Player’s Advantage, which provided them with exclusive insider information that could have guided them to a $100,000 victory at every Walmart FLW Tour® stop and the Forrest Wood Cup. Player’s Advantage gave them an edge over the competition and increased their shot for the $1 million cash grand prize awarded to the FLW Fantasy Fishing cumulative points winner. Visit FantasyFishing.com today to find out more information and to register for next season.
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. FLW Outdoors also took 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.