August 14, 2004 by Jeff Schroeder
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Twelve anglers. Eight hours to fish. $500,000 on the line. How would you feel about it?
"I'll tell you what. If you're not nervous today, you must be dead," Clark Wendlandt of Cedar Park, Texas, said before the start of the Wal-Mart FLW Tour Championship's final round at Logan Martin Lake Saturday.
If Wendlandt, the third-richest pro in Wal-Mart FLW Tour history, is nervous, how about the other 11 finalists?
"Fishing for big money is nothing new to me," said Mickey Bruce of Buford, Ga., who is perhaps the most seasoned tournament angler in the field. "But fishing for $500,000, that's something completely different."
Some of the 12 - particularly the newer guys to the tour - seemed to be making a concerted effort to block out that number, $500,000.
Dave Lefebre of Erie, Pa., employed a little sarcasm as his shield: "I'm just going to go out, catch 6 or 7 pounds and be happy with eighth place or something like that."
Jason Kilpatrick of Satsuma, Ala., seemed to be using some sort of Jedi mind trick on himself. "Yeah, the pressure's off now," he said seriously.
And the man of the week, rookie Luke Clausen of Spokane, Wash., stayed cool as ice - at least on the surface: "I think I understand what the fish are doing here. I'm just going to go fishing."
But none of these guys is fooling anybody. Nobody is "just going fishing" today. Every single one of them is competing for the biggest prize in fishing - $500,000 - and only one of them will get it.
Second place? Forget about it. This isn't the Wal-Mart Open or Forrest Wood Open. At the FLW Championship, the difference between first and second place is $450,000. Second place will only earn you twice as much as the co-angler winner, $50,000. Ask Harmon Davis, last year's championship runner-up, about second place.
Like Davis and David Dudley last year, this one is probably going to come down to a matter of ounces. And it's certainly going to sting whomever fills Davis' shoes in second place this year.
Everybody restarted the day at zero; heaviest one-day catch wins. Weights have been tight throughout the week, and that trend should continue Saturday. Most people are saying anywhere from 12 to 14 pounds will win.
Twelve or more pounds of bass: That's what these guys are after. That's what will push these 12 pros to fish as hard as they've ever fished before - no matter what they say into the microphone.
That, and $500,000.
No, it's not just another day of fishing.
Come to the show, win another boat
On Friday, a lucky fan won the first Ranger Z-Series Comanche ever produced, which was unveiled at weigh-in.
Saturday, another lucky fan attending the final weigh-in will win a NASCAR Limited Series Ranger 521VX Comanche powered by Evinrude, courtesy of The Birmingham News and Birmingham Post-Herald.
The outdoor show in conjunction with this week's championship runs from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. Saturday at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex. Friday's weigh-in at the convention center, located at 2100 Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd. in Birmingham, begins at 5 p.m. CDT.
Can't be there? No worries, just log on
Thanks to some innovative technology, bass-fishing enthusiasts have access to all of the sights and sounds of each day's weigh-in from the Aug. 11-14 Wal-Mart FLW Tour Championship at Logan Martin Lake. Fans will get up-to-the-second weigh-in results, live streaming video and real-time audio immediately on "FLW Liveâ„¢" - a new feature on FLWOutdoors.com that brings the live weigh-in format right to your computer screen.
To locate FLW Live, simply go to the FLW Tour home page and click on FLW Live, located on the left-hand navigation bar. The start page will appear. Follow the directions to activate FLW Live.
Sunrise: 6:09 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 63 degrees
Expected high temperature: 80 degrees
Water temperature: 75-82 degrees
Wind: from the north at 10 mph
Humidity: 72 percent
Day's outlook: sunny