Wal-Mart FLW Tour
Tour Stop #6
Lake St. Clair, Detroit
Day 1, Opening Round
A long way, sure, but worth the trip … Today Rick Parnell of Casselberry, Fla., outmatched everybody else, catching five bass weighing 20 pounds, 4 ounces to take over the lead in the Co-Angler Division. That’s right, the Co-Angler Division. Not only did his enormous catch beat the next best co-angler by almost 5 1/2 pounds, he beat today’s pro leader, Chris Walker of Indianapolis, Ind., by almost 2 pounds. In addition, Parnell took home $750 for winning the co-angler Big Bass award with a fish that weighed a hefty 5 pounds, 7 ounces – a bass that outweighed $1,250 pro Big Bass winner Clark Wendlandt’s 5-pound, 1-ounce fish. Parnell credited his pro partner today, 15th-place Mike Surman, for putting him on such big fish. He also admitted that the Sunshine State vibes in the boat today didn’t hurt. Surman hails from Boca Raton, Fla. Said Parnell, “I had to come all the way to Michigan to get paired with him.”
All heart … While Walker was glad to catch the Pro Division-leading weight of 18 pounds, 8 ounces on day one, he – more than most – was truly just happy to be here. This is Walker’s first FLW tournament of the year. The three-year FLW veteran has spent the bulk of the 2001 season caring for his wife, Jenny, who was suffering from congestive heart failure. Fortunately, Jenny Walker, who was on life support for three months, has recovered well enough so that Walker could fish in the last regular-season FLW event of the year. Here’s to wishing them both well in their respective comebacks.
VanDam on the verge … While Kalamazoo, Michigan’s Kevin VanDam placed 22nd in the Pro Division on day one with a five-bass weight of 14 pounds, 4 ounces, he’s really going to have to work tomorrow to make the top-10 cut – which some have estimated will be around 30 pounds over two days. But if anybody can make a big push, it’s VanDam. He placed second at Lake St. Clair in the last FLW tourney held here, in 1999. “It’s a lot different here now than it was then,” said the pro. “I’ve got to figure out how to get some bigger fish.” Still, barring a major meltdown, VanDam virtually iced his bid for the 2001 Angler of the Year award with his strong performance today. Coming into this event, VanDam’s closest competitor in the standings was Rick Clunn of Ava, Mo., who needed to beat VanDam by 75 places in this event to take over the lead. But Clunn took a middling 73rd place today and needs a minor miracle to pass up VanDam, much less make the cut. But don’t relax just yet, the meditative Clunn seems to have a knack for catching near-miraculous stringers. Last month on the Red River, he bounced back from a weak 88th place on day one with a day-two leading weight of 16 pounds, 4 ounces to finish 17th.
Almost a Survivor … Bud Goeke of Pinckneyville, Ill., placed 10th in the Co-Angler Division today and hopes he can survive into the next round. If anyone knows about trying to survive, it’s Goeke. This week, CBS television network execs informed Goeke that his bid to be a cast member on the nation’s hottest TV show, “Survivor,” was rejected after long consideration. Out of some 50,000 applicants for the next “Survivor” series to be filmed in Africa this summer, Goeke had made it into the final pool of 50 potential survivors. He had even traveled to Chicago for screen tests. Goeke, a 38-year-old retiree who also tried out for the “Survivor” show in Australia, says he’s not letting go of his dream to appear on the hit show. “I’m going to apply for the next `Survivor,'” he said. “When you don’t work, you want adventure. I’m never going to give up.” … Amazingly, Goeke is apparently not the only FLW angler who vied for a spot on “Survivor.” Word around the dock this week is that pro Chris Daniels of Clayton, N.C., also tried out for the same show and also made it into the top 50 finalists – a coincidence about which neither angler knew until this week. Look for more on this tribal tale following the tournament.
Co-angler cross-check … A battle-scarred face familiar to Detroit hockey fans showed up at the weigh-in scale this afternoon. A competitor named Pat Verbeek of Birmingham, Mich., weighed in one bass for 2 pounds, 1 ounce and placed 146th in the Co-Angler Division for day one. Verbeek is better known throughout Michigan and by NHL fans everywhere as the right-winger for the Detroit Red Wings. With a Stanley Cup (with the Dallas Stars in 1999) and two NHL All-Star selections under his belt, Verbeek knows more than a little about winning. But the avid bass angler admitted today that he has his work cut out for him in tomorrow’s second day of FLW competition. Pulling no punches, he said, “I need to catch more fish.”
98: Percentage of the Pro Division field that weighed in fish today. In an outstanding display of Lake St. Clair’s abundance of smallmouth bass, an astounding 172 of 175 pros caught fish today.
93: Number of five-fish limits weighed in by pro competitors today, meaning over half the field caught limits.
“Who cares? I want the autograph of that dude who caught 20 pounds.”
– 159th-place co-angler Mark Whitaker of Memphis, Tenn., referring to Parnell, when asked how he caught his fish today.
– Co-angler Kindle Nelms of Lake City, Fla., responding to the same question. Nelms caught two bass weighing 3 pounds, 14 ounces and placed 119th.
Quick Links, Day 1: