Stage set for bass fishing’s biggest week

2006 Wal-Mart FLW Tour Championship

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - They've driven thousands of miles, spent weeks studying lake maps and water conditions, and made countless casts in preparation for this moment. Now 48 of the world's top professional anglers are headed to Birmingham where they will square off in head-to-head competition on Logan Martin Lake Aug. 2-5 for a shot at winning $500,000 in their sport's crowning event - the $1.5 million Wal-Mart FLW Tour Championship and Outdoor Show presented by Castrol. Anglers from 28 states and Japan qualified for the championship after competing in six qualifying events stretching from Lake Okeechobee in Florida to Lake Champlain in New York. These qualifiers are seeded according to their Land O'Lakes Angler of the Year rankings and No. 1 will compete against No. 48, No. 2 against No. 47, No. 3 against No. 46, etc. This bracket-style competition has produced some exciting matches that will likely lead to some nail-biting finishes as Arkansas legends Larry Nixon (No. 8) and George Cochran (No. 41) face off in the opening round alongside Gain Rookie of the Year Gabe Bolivar (No. 7) and veteran Gary Yamamoto (No. 42) among others. The complete championship field and head-to-head pairings are posted at FLWOutdoors.com as well as a full details and a schedule of events. Championship contenders will take off from Pell City Lakeside Park, located at 2801 Stemley Bridge Road in Pell City at 7 a.m. each day, and daily weigh-ins will be held at 5 p.m. in the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex Arena. The outdoor show features more than 140 exhibits; fishing seminars by Hank Parker, Forrest L. Wood and other bass-fishing legends; and free daily giveaways running from 2 to 8 p.m. Aug. 2 and 3, noon to 9 p.m. Aug. 4 and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Aug. 5. August 2 is free FLW Outdoors hat day. August 3 is free Stren fishing line day. August 4 is free Berkley tackle day, and Aug. 5 is free rod and reel and free Fujifilm camera day. Daily giveaways are for children 12 and under accompanied by an adult. One lucky fan attending the final weigh-in Aug. 5 will also win a new Ranger Z20 Comanche bass boat powered by Yamaha. Three qualifiers will be drawn for the boat giveaway during each day's 5 p.m. weigh-in, with the final three qualifiers and the eventual winner drawn Aug. 5. Fans must be present to qualify and win. Admission is free, and entry forms will be available at the outdoor show. The week's festivities also include a taping of "The Best Dam Sports Show Period" in the BJCC Arena Friday at 1 p.m. and a free concert presented by Chevy featuring country artist Craig Morgan at 4 p.m. Saturday in the BJCC Arena. Following the two-day opening round, 24 pros advance to the semifinal round based on their two-day accumulated weight. Head-to-head competition continues in the one-day semifinal round, after which 12 pros advance to the final round. The 12 finalists start from zero and compete for one day to determine the winner of the sport's biggest award - $500,000 cash. Even the pro who finishes 48th earns $15,000 just for qualifying. Forty-eight co-anglers, who are paired with the pros and fish from the back deck, will compete for two days, after which the top 24 co-anglers based on accumulated weight advance to the third and final day of co-angler competition. Weights are cleared for the co-angler final round, and the winner takes home $25,000. In addition to the tournament festivities, professional anglers will visit approximately 200 patients ranging in age from 5 to 18 years old at Children's Hospital in Birmingham on Aug. 4 at 10 a.m. Aside from signing autographs and providing a needed break for the children, the anglers hope to cultivate an appreciation of the environment by teaching about the conservation of fish habitat and being respectful of nature. The anglers will also take this opportunity to explain why more than 50 million people pick up their rods and wet a line each year - because fishing is a fun, wholesome activity the entire family can enjoy. Another event coinciding with the 2006 FLW Tour Championship is the National Guard Junior World Championship - a one-day, youth-oriented fishing championship held July 31. The event, in which youths qualify through TBF (The Bass Federation) state programs, is designed to highlight some of the best up-and-coming angling talent in the nation. Each participating TBF state is sending two junior anglers (one in the 11-14 age bracket and another in the 15-18 age bracket). These anglers will fish with the FLW Tour Championship pros on Lake Neely Henry in Gadsden, Ala. The takeoff and weigh-in will be held at the Gadsden City Launch located at 200 Lake St. in Gadsden at 8 a.m. and 3 p.m., respectively. Fishing fans will have the chance to swap fish tales with Team Chevy anglers Larry Nixon, Luke Clausen, Kim Stricker, Dion Hibdon and David Fritts during Chevy Pro Night from 6 to 8 p.m. at Edwards Chevrolet located at 1400 3rd Ave. N. in Birmingham July 31. FLW Tour anglers will also be hosting fishing seminars at more than a dozen Birmingham-area Wal-Mart stores from 6 to 8 p.m. July 31. Named after the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, Forrest L. Wood, FLW Outdoors administers the Wal-Mart FLW Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Series, Stren Series, Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League, Wal-Mart Texas Tournament Trail presented by Abu Garcia, Stratos Owners' Tournament Trail, Wal-Mart FLW Walleye Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Walleye League, Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Series, Wal-Mart FLW Redfish Series and Wal-Mart FLW Striper Series. These circuits offer combined purses exceeding $37.9 million through 249 events in 2006. For more information about FLW Outdoors and its tournament programs, browse FLWOutdoors.com or call (270) 252-1000. Wal-Mart and many of America's largest and most respected companies support FLW Outdoors and its tournament trails. Wal-Mart signed on as an FLW Outdoors sponsor in 1997 and today is the world's leading supporter of tournament fishing. For more information about Wal-Mart, visit Wal-Mart.com. 2006 Wal-Mart FLW Tour Championship details, schedule of events

Tags: pre-tournament 

/news/2015-03-25-5-pros-to-watch-at-lewis-smith

5 Pros to Watch at Lewis Smith

The second stop of the Walmart FLW Tour season rolls to Lewis Smith Lake – or “Smith” as most refer to it – which is located in northern Alabama. It offers a stark contrast to the first event held on Toho, as the fishery is a clear, deep impoundment with little grass to speak of. Traditionally spotted bass have dominated this tournament due to their abundance and better average size. That will likely be the case again this week, however, largemouth may surprise some people since water temperatures are prime for them to swarm the bank. Smith Lake is often overshadowed by its neighboring lakes of Guntersville and Wheeler but has pumped out several world-class spotted bass over the years. In fact, back in the 1970s and 1980s several world record spots were produced in Smith, and the current 8-pound, 15-ounce Alabama state record was caught from here. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-24-lewis-smith-4-factors-to-consider

Lewis Smith: 4 Factors to Consider

The Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Evinrude on Lewis Smith Lake will give the 154 pros in the field the first multi-species test of the season. Though the pros who made the top 10 at the opener on Lake Toho showcased a wide variety of techniques, everyone was looking for largemouth. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-24-spotted-bass-reign-supreme-at-smith

Spotted Bass Reign Supreme at Smith

When the Walmart FLW Tour visited Alabama’s Lewis Smith Lake in March 2013, Brent Ehrler dominated wire-to-wire by amassing a hefty 60 pound, 9 ounces over four days and besting runner-up Jacob Powroznik by more than 7 pounds. Catching 60 pounds over four days is a pretty stout performance on most bodies of water, but the fact that Ehrler was targeting spotted bass more or less exclusively makes it truly special. In general, spotted bass are a whole lot of fun to catch, but usually don’t grow shoulders thick enough to produce tournament stringers that can rival their cousins, largemouth bass. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-23-last-time-at-lewis-smith

Last Time at Lewis Smith

It’s been two seasons since the Walmart FLW Tour visited Lewis Smith Lake in Jasper, Ala. Now that the Tour has rolled back into town for the start of official practice on “Smith,” as most pros prefer to call this deep, clear reservoir, there’s an important change that could have a real impact on the tournament’s outcome: The umbrella rig is no longer allowed in Tour competition. Last time, a number of top pros relied on the multi-lure rig for the bulk of their catches, and winner Brent Ehrler caught a key kicker with one on the final day. This year’s event will be held a couple of weeks later in the month, which could mean the fish will be a little farther along in their prespawn-to-spawn transition and shallower patterns could be in play (possibly bed-fishing among them; see 2008: Spawners and Spots below). Still, the 2013 event is the best, most current preview of what we can expect to see this week, so we dug a little deeper into the most productive patterns from the last bout on Smith. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-18-college-open-will-be-a-record-setter

College Open will be a Record-Setter

When the first FLW College Fishing Open tournament gets underway out of Moor’s Resort on Kentucky Lake Friday morning, it will make history as the largest college event ever staged. Typically, college tournaments are staged as divisional events where only teams from a particular geographical region can participate, but the Open marks the first time any eligible college team can compete. The response to the new format has been overwhelming. According to FLW College Fishing Tournament Director Kevin Hunt, 184 teams representing colleges and universities from coast to coast are entered (as of this morning), and more might be en route. Teams have until Thursday evening at 6 to register at the rules meeting. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-17-guntersville-setting-up-to-be-a-slugfest

Guntersville Setting Up to be a Slugfest

With the water warming rapidly from the 40s, that side of the big-bass equation seems to be taken care of. However, grass content and water clarity are other matters. Known as a grass lake, Guntersville was obviously grassy until quite recently. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-04-toho-5-factors-to-consider

Toho: 5 Factors to Consider

The Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Mercury on Lake Toho will give the 154 pros in the field a taste of a lake that is relatively unfamiliar compared to places like Lake Chickamauga or homey Okeechobee, where the Tour has made recent or frequent stops. Naturally, many factors will affect the outcome. We singled out five factors that we believe will have the greatest impact on anyone who fishes the Kissimmee Chain this week, from veterans such as Andy Morgan and Cody Meyer to rookies such as William Kemp and Braxton Setzer. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-01-toho-s-mojo

Toho’s Mojo

Rob Newell breaks down the Kissimmee Chain lake by lake for a complete preview of the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Toho. READ MORE »

/news/2015-02-27-5-to-watch-at-toho

5 to Watch at Toho

If you haven’t finalized your FLW Fantasy Fishing team, keep these anglers in mind when you head over to FantasyFishing.com and make your picks. READ MORE »

/news/2015-02-24-tour-opener-timed-right-for-florida-spawn-fireworks

Tour Opener Timed Right for Florida Spawn Fireworks

It’s always nice to kick off a new season with the proverbial bang, but the Walmart FLW Tour might very well mark its 20th anniversary with a Boom. READ MORE »

/news/2015-02-23-toho-s-place-in-tour-history

Toho’s Place In Tour History

The start of the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour on Lake Toho is less than two weeks away. Official practice starts in just six days (kind of makes you wish you lived in Florida, huh?). READ MORE »

/news/2014-10-28-rayovac-flw-series-championship-pros-to-watch

Rayovac FLW Series Championship Pros to Watch

Keystone Light pro Casey Martin isn’t fishing in the Rayovac FLW Series Championship this week on Wheeler Lake, but he was still more than capable of breaking down how the lake should fish. Perhaps more than anything, Martin emphasizes that this Tennessee River impoundment doesn’t fish much like the legendary bodies of water that bookend it. READ MORE »

/news/2014-10-27-2014-rayovac-championship-preview

2014 Rayovac Championship Preview

Two weeks make a big difference in the life of a bass lake. In early October, it seemed that north Alabama’s Lake Wheeler would present more of a challenge than most contestants in the Rayovac FLW Series Championship that begins Thursday might have preferred. Now, however, the 68,000-acre impoundment is laying a generous table for the 140 pros and their co-anglers who’ll participate in the three-day event. READ MORE »

/news/2014-06-02-the-tennessee-river-grand-finale-begins

The Tennessee River grand finale begins

By this time of the season, reality has set in on the Walmart FLW Tour. The 167 pros still in the chase know the score: Most of them will be fishing for checks at Pickwick this weekend and at Kentucky Lake June 26-29. Only a handful will be fishing for a ticket to the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Murray in August. Of this latter group, some already have a fairly good idea that their future travel plans include a summer trip to Columbia, S.C. Several more on the cusp will be disappointed, and a few will be happy. One of them might be the guy the confetti gets dumped on at the final weigh-in of the Forrest Wood Cup. READ MORE »

/news/2014-06-02-4-keys-to-tailrace-success

4 Keys to tailrace success

If you ask Walmart FLW Tour pro Jonathan Newton where the best tailraces are in the country, he’ll tell you the tailraces of lakes Pickwick and Wilson. If you look at the tournament schedule for June, you’ll see the fifth 2014 FLW Tour event and the Walmart BFL All-American will be held at Pickwick and Wilson, respectively. READ MORE »

/news/2012-04-13-low-water-levels-playing-field

Low water levels playing field

RED WING, Minn. – With the National Guard FLW Walleye Tour preparing to kick the 2012 season off on the mighty Mississippi River there is one noticeable difference. What happened to all of the water? With the surprising lack of snow and ice throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin it has left water levels below average for this time of year. READ MORE »

/news/2011-09-22-everstart-series-heads-to-potomac-river

EverStart Series heads to Potomac River

MARBURY, Md. – The EverStart Series is headed to the Potomac River Sept. 29-Oct. 1 for the last of four stops in the Northern Division. READ MORE »

/news/2011-09-16-flw-college-fishing-western-division-headed-to-clear-lake

FLW College Fishing Western Division headed to Clear Lake

CLEARLAKE, Calif. – National Guard FLW College Fishing is headed to Clear Lake Sept. 24 for the fourth and final stop of the Western Division qualifying tournaments. Forty college teams will be competing for a top award of $10,000 to be split between the school and bass fishing club; $7,500 for bass club and $2,500 for their school. READ MORE »

/news/2011-09-16-everstart-series-western-division-to-host-clear-lake-event

EverStart Series Western Division to host Clear Lake event

CLEARLAKE, Calif. – The EverStart Series is headed to Clear Lake Sept. 22-24 for the fourth and final stop in the 2011 Western Division series. The tournament will feature as many as 300 pros and co-anglers competing for top awards up to $35,000 plus a Ranger boat with an Evinrude or Mercury outboard for the pro and a Ranger boat with an Evinrude or Mercury outboard plus $5,000 for the co-angler. READ MORE »

/news/2011-08-09-ouachita-locals-lay-out-the-lake

Ouachita locals lay out the lake

Many bass fishing fans remember the 2007 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita as a stingy, yet historic tournament. In suffocating summertime heat, Scott Suggs took home the top prize despite catching only two keepers the final day. While the weather will once again be oppressive, most signs point to heavier weights this year. Here to explain why are Suggs and fellow Arkansan Mike Wurm, both of whom call Ouachita home. READ MORE »