HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Team BP co-angler Judy Israel of Wimauma, Fla., the only woman to ever win a Tour-level event, notched her second co-angler title Saturday in the $1.1 million Walmart FLW Tour Chevy Open on Lake Guntersville. Israel won the Co-angler Division and $40,000 with a five-bass limit weighing 17 pounds, 11 ounces followed by Team National Guard co-angler Justin Lucas of Folsom, Calif., in second place with five bass weighing 16-4 worth $15,000.
“Three out of my four practice days I didn’t catch a fish,” Israel said. “I caught a total of three fish. I went into this tournament not knowing what I was going to do.”
Israel, 63, said she relied on two baits, a square-bill crankbait and a Berkley Frenzy Rattl’r during the tournament. Israel got a confidence boost from the baits Friday after a slow start.
“On Friday, at about 1 p.m. I had four fish,” said Israel, who became the first woman to win a Tour event at the 2004 Atchafalaya event. “I caught my big one on a lipless crankbait. When I caught it, I told Carl (Svebek) `It’s got to be eight pounds. It’s so big. It’s so big.’
“Afterward, I started thinking it was smaller than that,” Israel continued. “I thought it was only a 7-pounder. And then I put my fish on the scales and was shocked to know that I had over 26 pounds and the big one was over nine pounds. That turns out to be my largest sack and my largest fish I’ve ever weighed in an event. I’m ecstatic.”
Israel said Saturday she missed her first fish of the day, caught two fish and then didn’t get another bite for a “long time.”
“Then my pro (Tom Mann Jr.) went shallower and there was no grass there,” Israel said. “I kept feeling little tree stumps or something there. I caught three fish in six casts on a red lipless crankbait.”
Israel said her first victory on the FLW Tour was sweet, but Saturday’s win was more special.
“I have such a passion for this sport,” said Israel, who taught school in the Bronx in New York City before she retired. “I love it. My love for the sport goes back to my father who took me flounder fishing in Long Island Sound when I was 2 years old.”
Pro Scott Canterbury of Springville, Ala., caught a five-bass limit weighing 20 pounds, 11 ounces Saturday to capture the lead in a top-10 field that includes some of the greatest pro anglers in the world. Canterbury now holds a 2-pound, 10-ounce edge over his closest competitor, Sam Newby of Pocola, Okla., heading into the final day of competition in the Chevy Open. If he holds on for the win, Canterbury will pocket $200,000.
“Today was a really tough day,” said Canterbury, who is fishing in his second season on the FLW Tour. “I had to work extra hard to catch what I caught. I hope I’ve left a lot for tomorrow. It’s been a great week so far; maybe they’ll reload tonight.”
Canterbury said he has been using three different lipless crankbaits to target grass in varied depths in the north Sauty area.
“I’ve got a couple of other areas down a bit further down the lake that I’ve been catching them, so I feel good about getting a limit,” Canterbury said. “I feel good about it.”
Newby caught four fish weighing 18 pounds, 1 ounce to advance to the final day of competition as the No. 2 seed.
“I lost a pretty good one in the first 10 or 15 minutes,” said Newby, who has won more than $668,000 in FLW Outdoors events. “Then it got pretty slow. It was pretty tedious today. We didn’t get a lot of bites, but when you did get a bite, it was a good one.
“I lost one today that was huge, but that happens when you’re fishing with a lipless crankbait,” said Newby, who caught three of his fish on a lipless crankbait and one on a jig. “I’m going to go back to my area and spend as much time there as my gut tells me. If they’ll bite at that spot, I’ll win this thing easily.”
Rounding out the top 10 pros are Team National Guard pro Ramie Colson Jr. of Cadiz, Ky. (five bass, 15-2); John Tanner of Quitman, Texas (five bass, 15-0); Team BP pro David Walker of Sevierville, Tenn. (five bass, 14-13); David Fritts of Lexington, N.C. (three bass, 14-4); Tom Mann Jr. of Buford, Ga. (four bass, 9-15); Team Castrol pro Mike Surman of Boca Raton, Fla. (four bass, 8-15); Team Castrol High Mileage pro David Dudley of Lynchburg, Va. (two bass, 7-15) and Craig Dowling of Grant, Ala. (three bass, 7-15).
Overall there were 40 bass weighing 132 pounds, 11 ounces caught in the Pro Division Saturday. The catch included four five-bass limits.
Pros are competing for a top award of $200,000 this week plus valuable points in the hope of qualifying for $2 million Forrest Wood Cup presented by Castrol and BP, which will be held July 30-Aug. 2 on the Three Rivers in Pittsburgh, Pa., where they could win as much as $1 million – the sport’s biggest award.
Israel opened the tournament in 30th place Thursday with four bass weighing 11-1 while fishing with Bryan Thrift of Shelby, N.C. On Friday she jumped into first place on the strength of a five-bass catch weighing 26-8 while fishing with Team Castrol pro Carl Svebek of Siloam Springs, Ark. She wrapped up her win while fishing with Mann.
Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers are Bill Bade of Omaha, Neb. (three bass, 9-4, $7,500); Kevin Koone of Greenbrier, Ark. (two bass, 8-3, $5,000); Thomas Helton of Charleston, Tenn. (three bass, 7-9, $4,000); Greg Schultz of Wayzata, Minn. (two bass, 6-12, $3,500); Terry Chapman of Stanley, N.C. (two bass, 6-3, $3,000); Fred Martin of North Little Rock, Ark. (two bass, 5-12, $2,500); Scott Gibson of Wiggins, Miss. (one bass, 5-9, $2,000) and Sam Mitchiner of Garner, N.C. (one bass, 2-2, $1,750).
Overall there were 26 bass weighing 5 pounds, 5 ounces caught in the Co-angler Division Saturday. The catch included two five-bass limits.
Anglers will take off at 7 a.m. Sunday from Lake Guntersville Resort State Park Resort in Guntersville, Ala., located at 1155 Lodge Drive in Guntersville. Sunday’s weigh-in will be held at the Von Braun Center located at700 Monroe St. in Huntsville, Ala., beginning at 4 p.m.
In conjunction with the weigh-in Sunday, FLW Outdoors will host a free Family Fun Zone and outdoor show at the Von Braun Center beginning at noon. 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 on Sunday will receive a free rod and reel combo while supplies last. One lucky member of the audience will even win a new Ranger boat during the final 4 p.m. weigh-in Sunday. 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 in the two-day opening round for one of 10 slots in Saturday’s competition based on their two-day accumulated weight. Weights are cleared for day three, and co-angler competition concludes following Saturday’s weigh-in. The top 10 pros continue competition Sunday, with the winner determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from days three and four.
The total purse for the Chevy Open event at Lake Guntersville is more than $1.1 million, including $10,000 through 50th place in the Pro Division.
Coverage of the tournament, hosted by the Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau, will be broadcast on Versus, the network which brings anglers the best fishing programming on television featuring the most-trusted authorities on the water. The Emmy-nominated “FLW Outdoors,” will air April 5 from 12:30 to 1:30 ET. “FLW Outdoors,” hosted by Jason Harper, is also broadcast internationally through agreements with WFN (World Fishing Network) and Matchroom Sport to more than 429 million households in such countries as Canada, Germany, China, South Africa, Australia, Malaysia, Russia, Hungary and the United Kingdom, making it the most widely distributed weekly outdoor-sports television show in the world.
The FLW Tour will award more than $8 million cash to the world’s top bass anglers in 2009. Regular season competition includes three qualifiers and three opens. Each event takes anglers a step closer to the $2 million Forrest Wood Cup presented by Castrol, which will be held July 30-Aug. 2 on the Three Rivers in Pittsburgh, Pa. The prestigious championship and outdoor show hosted by Visit Pittsburgh will feature 77 pros, 77 co-anglers and bass fishing’s largest cash award – a potential $1 million first-place prize for the winning pro.
FLW Outdoors, named after Forrest L. Wood, the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, is the largest fishing tournament organization in the world. FLW Outdoors also is taking fishing mainstream with FLW Fantasy Fishing, offering the largest awards possible in the history of fantasy sports, $10 million in cash and prizes. Sign up for Player’s Advantage for only $10 to get your edge and win.
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