UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - James River

The Wright stuff

The Wright stuff
Co-angler J.R. Wright of Truckee, Calif., weighs in his winning stringer at Lake Havasu as Stren Series tournament host Chris Jones (right) looks on.

LAKE HAVASU CITY, Ariz. - They say the sport of fishing is a game of ounces. Well, that was never truer than today's co-angler finals at Lake Havasu. After rallying from the seventh-place qualifying position to take the overall lead, J.R. Wright of Truckee, Calif., had to endure one of the most nerve-wrenching co-angler finales in the history of FLW Outdoors.

In the end, Wright eked out a victory by a whopping 3 ounces - making today's 6-ounce differential in the final Pro Division standings look like a blowout.

J.R. Wright of Truckee, Calif., holds up his first-place check after winning the Co-angler Division at Lake Havasu."It's a great feeling but it was kind of stressful," said Wright, who also won the prize for the understatement of the tournament. "I really didn't think I was going to win. It's just the luck of getting the right bites at the right time."

After taking the overall lead with a total catch of 25 pounds, 12 ounces, Wright sat helplessly on the hot seat as fellow competitor Joseph O'Brien approached the stage. After O'Brien hoisted his fish onto the scales, Stren Series tournament host Chris Jones shouted out the result - 25 pounds, 9 ounces.

"Man, your fish couldn't have eaten one more crawdad," Jones joked with O'Brien. "Three ounces. That's it. Three ounces."

As the weigh-in drew closer to its exciting conclusion, Wright had to gut out the results from the top-two day-three qualifiers - Tony Zanotelli and Bob Diehl. However, somewhat improbably, both Zanotelli and Diehl were able to produce exactly zero fish when it counted the most.

As a result, Wright was crowned champion.

"It's just a great feeling," said Wright. "It's probably the best feeling there is. This is the biggest win I've ever had."

J.R. Wright of Truckee, Calif., shows off his first-place co-angler trophy after winning the Stren Series event at Lake Havasu.Wright said that he used a combination of Purple Punisher Robo worms, tube baits and drop shots to land the majority of his catch. He said he targeted rocky points, slowly working the bait back to the boat in about 20 feet of water.

For his efforts, Wright netted a check for $5,000 as well as a brand new, fully equipped Ranger Comanche boat valued at $30,000. In addition, Wright walked away with one heck of a story to tell his friends and family for a long time to come.

O'Brien loses heartbreaker

After not losing a fish all week, Joseph O'Brien of Spanish Springs, Nev., just knew the fish he failed to boat in today's finals was going to come back and haunt him. Unfortunately, he was right.

"This was tough," said O'Brien. "I feel good that I only missed one fish all week. But of course that would have been the fish that won it for me. You just can't miss a fish like that on this lake if you're trying to win a tournament."

However, despite the difficult defeat, O'Brien managed to take away a few nice parting gifts. For starters, O'Brien netted a second-place check for nearly $3,500. Secondly, O'Brien took over the lead in the overall points standings in the Western Division. Thirdly, O'Brien departed Lake Havasu with his second top-five finish in a row in the Stren Series Western Division (thanks to a fifth place finish at the Stren Series Lake Shasta event in January).

"It was just amazing to be able to fish with these guys," said O'Brien. "Overall, this was a great event for me."

Meanwhile, Ted Romero of Lakewood, Calif., finished the Lake Havasu event in third place with a total catch of 25 pounds, 6 ounces. For his efforts, Romero won $2,800.

Fourth place belonged to Sean Kimble of San Leandro, Calif., who registered a four-day catch of 24 pounds, 11 ounces. Kimble netted nearly $2,200 in winnings.

John Weisfuss of Oxnard, Calif., took home fifth place with a total catch of 24 pounds, 3 ounces.

Best of the rest

Rounding out the top-10 co-angler finalists at the Stren Series Lake Havasu event:

6th: Bruce McCune of Anderson, Calif., 23-11
7th: Tony Zanotelli of Redding, Calif., 23-7
8th: Bob Diehl of Yucca Valley, Calif., 22-9
9th: Lester Albury of San Marcos, Calif., 21-13
10th: Clint Anderson of Apple Valley, Calif., 19-7

Wal-Mart Stren Series Western Division action resumes April 16-19 at Clear Lake in Kelseyville, Calif.

Tags: gary-mortenson  co-angler-headline  2008-02-20-lake-havasu 

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