BRANSON, Mo. – Chevy pro Anthony Gagliardi of Prosperity, S.C., caught a final-round total of 10 bass weighing 28 pounds, 14 ounces to win $125,000 in the Walmart FLW Tour on Table Rock Lake. Gagliardi outlasted one of the best final fields of top-10 anglers in FLW Outdoors history, who have a combined career earnings of more than $7.8 million which included four Land O’ Lakes Angler’s of the Year, three Forrest Wood Cup champions and the 2008 Rookie of the Year. With nearly a four-day total of 15,000 people in attendance, the final day of the FLW Tour qualifying event in Branson was the largest in FLW Outdoors’ history.
Gagliardi topped his closest rival, Scott Suggs of Bryant, Ark., by 10 ounces to earn the win and 200 points toward qualifying for the $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.
“I was ready to go out and fish today,” said Gagliardi, who notched his third FLW Tour victory. “I haven’t won an event since 2006 [on the FLW Tour] and that was the only cut I made since 2005 so this feels really good.”
Gagliardi caught most of his fish in the White River fishing one creek that he had four or five spots on. He also spent time on the James River this week. “It wasn’t really my plan to run to both of these rivers,” he said. “I don’t like to do a lot of running. I had to run down one and back up the other and that was wasting a lot of time. I was hoping that I was able to figure something out so I would only have to go to one river but that never materialized.
“This week I caught my fish on a Lucky Craft Pointer, he said. “The first two days I fished shallow because the fish were positioned up close to the bank. The second day I struggled but I did the same thing-fishing the bank with a jerkbait.
“I tried to keep moving out deeper as the days went on and at the end of the second day I caught two big fish in 15 to 30 feet of water.”
Gagliardi opened the tournament Thursday in 41st place with five bass weighing 15-4. He jumped to eighth place Friday with a five-bass catch weighing 17 pounds, 15 ounces to advance into the final round of 10 pros with a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 33 pounds, 3 ounces. On Saturday, weights were cleared, and Gagliardi caught five bass weighing 14-6 to advance to the final day of competition in third place. Gagliardi added another five bass weighing 14-8 to his final-round total Sunday.
“I haven’t fished Table Rock before but it’s the same type of water and pattern that I am familiar with and the type of lakes that I fish back home,” he said. “I always have enjoyed fishing clear water and fishing a jerkbait is something that I like. This is actually the first time that I have been able to put together a jerkbait bite in a tournament.”
Suggs caught a final-round total of 10 bass weighing 28-4 to claim second place and $50,000.
“This is a tough loss,” said Suggs, who is the 2007 Forrest Wood Cup champion. “Coming this close and knowing that I lost by ounces is hard.
Suggs caught all of his fish this week on a Berkley Hollow Belly. “Today, I caught all of my fish in 70 to 80 feet of water,” he said. I was able to catch a limit before 9 a.m. all this week but today it seemed that the fish were just slapping at the bait.”
Rounding out the top 10 pros were Scott Canterbury of Springville, Ala. (eight bass, 26-3, $40,000); Dan Morehead of Paducah, Ky. (10 bass, 24-2, $30,000); BP pro David Walker of Sevierville, Tenn. (nine bass, 23-1, $20,000); National Guard pro Brent Ehrler of Redlands, Calif. (six bass, 14-5, $19,000); Febreeze pro Michael Bennett of Lincoln, Calif. (three bass, 6-11, $18,000); Pop Tarts pro Greg Bohannan of Rogers, Ark. (three bass, 5-11, $17,000); Chad Morgenthaler of Coulterville, Ill. (two bass, 4-5, $16,000) and BP pro Shinichi Fukae of Mineola, Texas (zero bass, $15,000).
“BP pro Shinichi Fukae was disqualified for fishing in an area where power boats were not allowed,” said FLW Outdoors CEO and President Charlie Evans. “There may have been a misunderstanding due to the language barrier, but because of the rule violation, his weights for the final round were zeroed out.”
Overall there were 26 bass weighing 69 pounds, 12 ounces caught in the Pro Division Sunday. The catch included three five-bass limits.
Patrick Majors of Rogers, Ark., won the Co-angler Division and $20,000 Saturday with a five-bass limit weighing 14 pounds, 3 ounces followed by Fred Martin of North Little Rock, Ark., in second place with five bass weighing 13-13 worth $10,000.
Majors opened the tournament in 23rd place Thursday with two bass weighing 8-12 while fishing with Lendell Martin Jr. of Nacogdoches, Texas. On Friday he jumped into seventh place on the strength of two bass catch weighing 8-11 while fishing with Kyle Mabrey of McCalla, Ala. He wrapped up his win while fishing with Dan Morehead of Paducah, Ky.
“All I do is fish for fun,” Majors said. “This really is a dream come true. I don’t know what else to say.”
Majors said that every fish except for one this week came off a purple with chartreuse suspended Rogue jerkbait. “What I would do is throw the Rogue out of the back of the boat and give it about 30 to 40 yards and starting jerking it, Majors said. “While the pro is working the bank in the front I am strolling the jerkbait. I do this a lot at home on Beaver Lake.”
Majors said that his wife already has plans for the $20,000 that he won today. “My next step is to go to Beaver Lake and see if I can do it again,” he said.
Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers are Brandon Hunter of Benton, Ky. (four bass, 16-15, $7,500); James Watson of Waynesville, Mo.(three bass, 6-11, $5,000); Zac Cassill of Fairfax, Iowa (one bass, 5-7, $4,000); Frank Divis Sr. of Fayetteville, Ark. (one bass, 2-3, $3,500); Alex Posey of Roswell, Ga. (zero bass, $3,000); Teddy Bradley of Mishawaka, Ind. (zero bass, $2,500); Dearal Rodgers of Camden, S.C. (zero bass, $2,000) and David Lauer of South Bend, Ind. (zero bass, $1,500).
Overall there were 19 bass weighing 51 pounds, 10 ounces caught in the Co-angler Division Saturday. The catch included two five-bass limits.
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.
Coverage of the tournament, hosted by the Branson/Lakes Area 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 19 from 12:30 to 1:30 ET. “FLW Outdoors,” hosted by Jason Harper, is broadcast to approximately 500 million households worldwide, including internationally through agreements with WFN (World Fishing Network) and Matchroom Sport to 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 in 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 BP and Castrol, which will be held July 30-Aug. 2 on the Three Rivers in Pittsburgh, Pa. The prestigious championship and outdoor show hosted by VisitPittsburgh 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.