May 1, 1999 • MLF • Archives

GILBERTSVILLE, Ky. The world’s best professional bass anglers are headed for Memphis, Tennessee, to compete in the fourth event of Operation Bass’ $4 million, 1999 Wal-Mart FLW Tour, May 19-22, 1999, on the Mississippi River. The tournament is the fourth stop of seven for the tour that is the most lucrative competitive bass fishing series in history, and the richest tournament in Tennessee history.

The $471,500 Mississippi River event, presented by Evinrude Outboards®, will take place on Mud Island and features 300 world class anglers (150 professional and 150 co-anglers) fishing in a four-day, elimination competition, with a $100,000 first place cash award at stake in the Professional Division.

The all-star field of anglers, comprised of the sport’s biggest names, will compete the first two days for one of 10 slots (10 pros and 10 co-anglers) available in the second round of fishing action. On day three, the 10 pros and 10 co-anglers start over, fishing one day for the heaviest limit. The top five pros, based on total weight, advance to the final round of competition on Saturday. Co-angler competition ends at the conclusion of day three. First prize in the co-angler competition is $15,000.

In addition to $100,000, the winner, from each division earns a berth in the $450,000 Wal-Mart FLW Tour Championship, presented by CITGO, September 22-25, 1999, on Ft. Gibson Lake at Wagoner, Oklahoma, where the winner receives the largest first place cash award in pro angling – $250,000.

The highest-finishing Ranger boat owner, from each division, in each tournament will qualify to enter the $3.5 million Ranger M1 Millennium tournament, the richest bass event in history, with a $1 million first-place cash prize at stake. The Ranger owner who catches the largest bass in each division over the course of the season will also qualify for the Ranger Millennium tournament.

Weigh-ins will be held daily beginning at 3:00 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday at the Mud Island amphitheatre in Memphis. Friday’s weigh-in will begin at 5:00 p.m. at Mud Island, and Saturday’s show will begin at 3:30 p.m., with the Family Fun Zone activities beginning at 11:00 a.m.The Family Fun Zone features games, contests, prizes, exhibits, and a fishing tournament for kids.

David Walker of Cannon, Kentucky, is leading in the Land O’Lakes Angler of the Year points race with 245 points. Points are awarded to anglers after the first two days of FLW competition based on ranking at that time. Bernie Schultz of Gainesville, Florida, is second with 204 points, and Alton Jones of Waco, Texas, trails in third with 196. The Land O’Lakes Angler of the Year will be featured on a special edition box of Wheaties later in the year.

The third and final days of each event feature the top pros fishing from the new Ranger Comanche fishing machines. The boats represent the newest advances in craftsmanship and technology, and feature dynamic, NASCAR-like, sponsor-centered styling from bow to stern.

All tour events are scheduled to be televised on ESPN approximately two weeks after the tournament. The Wal-Mart FLW Tour Memphis event will be televised on ESPN, June 5, 1999, at 1:30 p.m. EDT.

Remaining stops on the 1999 Wal-Mart FLW Tour include: Lake St. Clair (Forrest Wood Open), St. Clair, Michigan (presented by EverStart Batteries), June 23-26; Ft. Gibson Lake, Wal-Mart FLW Tour Championship (presented by CITGO), Wagoner, Oklahoma, September 22-25.

Winning pros and co-anglers from the first five Wal-Mart FLW Tour events, the top five pros and co-anglers from the Forrest Wood Open, and the top 40 pros and co-anglers, based on points and pounds, in the six qualifying events will qualify for the Wal-Mart FLW Tour Championship.

All tournaments operated by Operation Bass are catch and release events. Uniroyal will donate $25,000 to the Children’s Miracle Network at the end of the season if the Wal-Mart FLW Tour maintains a 98 percent live release rate. After four events, the Wal-Mart FLW Tour’s live release rate is over 99 percent.

Sponsors of the 1999 Wal-Mart FLW Tour include: Wal-Mart, Coca-Cola, Land O’Lakes, CITGO Petroleum Products, Chevy Trucks, Uniroyal Tires, Fujifilm, EverStart Batteries, Eveready Flashlights, Black and Decker, Coleman Company, Ranger Boats, Mitchell Rods and Reels, Spiderwire, Evinrude Outboard Motors, Evinrude Electric Trolling Motors, Eagle Electronics, Timex Expedition, Wrangler, Chex Mix, Hamburger Helper, US Bank-VISA, and Wheaties.