June 23, 2001 by Jeff Schroeder
Wal-Mart FLW Tour
Tour Stop #6
Lake St. Clair, Detroit
Day 4, Pro Finals
Away-from-hometown favorite ... After four long years of contending performances on the FLW Tour without reaching the top, fan favorite Larry Nixon of Bee Branch, Ark., finally took home a victory. The $200,000 Forrest Wood Open's not a bad one to get either, especially here in Detroit where fishing fans seems to love him. "I want to thank all you folks for supporting me," an appreciative Nixon said above the roar of the crowd in the weigh-in tent. "You're unreal. You're not from Arkansas, but you're great!"
High performance ... In addition to the win, Nixon also picked up the Shop-Vac High Performance award for catching the heaviest amount of weight over the first three days. He caught 46 pounds, 15 ounces of bass in competition from Wednesday through Friday.
Breaking a leg ... Runner-up David Dudley of Manteo, N.C., might have just missed the brass ring, but he still took home a cool $100,000 in winnings and also put on one of the most entertaining fishing performances of the day for the TV cameras. Dudley, who was wearing a cast on his leg throughout the tourney due to a skateboarding accident (of all things), caught his limit of fish by 6:23 a.m. and was culling by 6:30. On one of the bigger smallmouths, the lively fish ran him around the boat during the retrieve. "C'mon, man," he begged the bass, "Don't do this to a cripple!"
Sapping the awards ... Jimmy Millsaps of Canton, Ga., had his best FLW tournament ever, and he reaped the rewards for it. His third-place finish garnered him $50,000. Plus, he won the Energizer Keeps-On-Going award for coming back from a 36th-place start on day one to make the finals, and he took home the Conseco Step-Up award for making the largest jump in personal best finishes. His previous highest finish was ninth place.
Salute to St. Clair ... Mickey Bruce of Buford, Ga., wasn't too disappointed in his fourth-place finish. While he fell short of repeating his son John's Co-Angler Division victory here two years ago, his five bass weighing 16 pounds, 3 ounces, kept him just as much in contention as everyone else. Like many anglers here this week, Bruce was just thrilled with the chance to compete on productive Lake St. Clair. "The first thing I asked when the new schedule came out was: When do we get to go to Lake St. Clair?" he said. "I love coming here. I tell you, it'll make your thumb raw out there."
Deep fishing ... While Steve Daniel of Clewiston, Fla., finished fifth, he said, "This is the most fun I believe I've ever had in a bass tournament." For Daniels, a past winner on tour, the reward comes from his appreciation of the art of fishing, not necessarily from the winning. "The most fun about fishing is going out and trying to find new ways to catch them," he explained. "It's a never-ending deal. There's always a new way to do things."
Here's the stat sheet on legendary Larry Nixon:
328,200: Amount, in dollars, of FLW career earnings
5: Number of top-10 finishes
4: Number of top-fives (including a fifth place at the last FLW Lake St. Clair in 1999)
1: Number of victories
"This is the first time all five cameramen came in and said their fisherman won the tournament."
- TV producer Jerry McKinnis, commenting on the impressive stringers brought in by today's pro finalists. All five of them caught a five-fish limit, and the difference between first and fourth place was a mere 1 pound, 15 ounces.
"I don't know what I'd do with $200,000."
- David Dudley, contemplating a possible victory before fishing on Saturday.
"C'mon, sweetie, I want to do some investing with Conseco if I win this tournament!"
- Dudley, after thinking about it overnight, urging a feisty smallmouth he had on the line to cooperate and get in the boat. Incidentally, he was fishing out of the Conseco tournament Ranger at the time.
Quick Links, Day 4: