UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Lake Erie

Quick Bites: Wal-Mart Open, Beaver Lake, Day 4

Quick Bites: Wal-Mart Open, Beaver Lake, Day 4
Todd and Karen Reynolds enjoy their new Ranger boat with 2-year-old son Alex.

Wal-Mart FLW Tour
Beaver Lake, Rogers, Ark.
Final round, Sunday

Reynolds get a new rig ... It took four attempts, but a winner finally emerged in the Ranger 177TR giveaway. The lucky man was Todd Reynolds of Elkins, Ark. By entering the raffle and attending the final weigh-in, Reynolds has a new rig to take his wife, Karen, and 2-year-old son, Alex, fishing in. In fact, it took Alex very little time to acclimate to his new boat. Within 15 minutes, the young lad had already figured out the tilt and trim function on the Evinrude outboard - much to the dismay of Dad, who was already coddling his new toy.

1988 or 2008? ... The 2008 Wal-Mart Open was a throwback bass tournament. Elder statesmen such as George Cochran, Larry Nixon, Jimmy Houston and Ron Shuffield Wal-Mart pro George Cochran took second and earned $50,000. thrived in Beaver's coffee-colored waters. While many of the young guns on the FLW Tour played bumper boats in the scarce clear water, the veterans got to spread out in the mud. Rather than dangling and twitching shaky heads, spinnerbaits and jigs were the go-to lures for the old-timers. A quick glance at the leaderboard and you might think it's 1988 instead of 2008. The difference, of course, would be the payouts. In 1988, Shuffield wouldn't have received $10,500 for 46th place. But he also wouldn't have paid $3.69 for a gallon of fuel, either.

Okeechobee burning ... It is hard to believe when looking at the flooded, dirty Beaver Lake, but Lake Okeechobee in southern Florida is still in a severe drought. In fact, parts of the lake are in the midst of a serious grass fire. Three days ago, the fire jumped a canal - putting the Moore Haven RV Park and Marina at risk temporarily. For the past few days, the residents of Moore Haven have been dealing with a thick cloud of smoke. According to the TCPalm, the fire has now grown to over 21,000 acres. "When that muck gets on fire, you can't put it out," said Okeechobee resident Koby Kreiger. "With the wind and the sun, it just burns and burns." It's hard to believe, but in time, the fire will actually be good for the lake - burning excess vegetation, bushes and silt down to the hard, sandy bottom. Consequently, the fish will have ample areas to spawn in the future. And when the water level does come up, the native grasses will return. "It needs to rain north and west of Okeechobee; then it will eventually find its way to the lake, not the ocean," Kreiger added.

Qualifying for his third FLW top 10 of 2008, Andy Morgan of Dayton, Tenn., is in fifth place with a three-day total of 40 pounds, 1 ounce.AOY update ... After four qualifiers, the leading candidates in the 2008 Land O'Lakes Angler of the Year race are beginning to emerge. Coming into this tournament, Andy Morgan led with 568 points. Morgan finished 36th at Beaver and, with 733 points, is clinging to his lead with two events remaining. Seven points back from Morgan, Berkley pro Glenn Browne moved up one spot from third to second. After day one on Beaver, Browne was in 113th place. On day two he caught 11-5 and moved up all the way to 34th, salvaging his potential AOY campaign. "I usually do decent or mediocre on the first day and much better on the second day," said Browne. "I'm a second-day fisherman. If I just keep fishing consistent, I think I've got a shot at this." He's followed by two-time AOY Clark Wendlandt with 710 points and Chevy pro Luke Clausen with 709 points. Rounding out the top five is Bryan Thrift, the 2007 Duracell Rookie of the Year, with 689 points.

Collegiate bass fishing on the horizon ... FLW Outdoors announced Thursday it will be administering a collegiate bass-fishing circuit in 2009. The yet-to-be-named circuit will offer lucrative scholarships in 20 one-day qualifying events, five televised two-day regional championships, a televised three-day national championship and berths into the $2 million Forrest Wood Cup. Participation is free to all full-time students who belong to a university-recognized fishing club. FLW Outdoors will provide boats and observers for all participants, who will compete as two-person teams in each qualifier. The national champions will be invited to the Forrest Wood Cup, where they will be provided use of a Chevy truck and Ranger boat wrapped in their school colors. "This is really big news," said Bodi Drake, a University of Arkansas environmental science major. "It gives college students the chance to compete for a national championship and for scholarships. I'd love to see a Razorback-wrapped Ranger boat heading to the Forrest Wood Cup."

Quick numbersPro winner Mark Pack shows off his kicker bass Sunday.

4: Number of top-10 finishes on Beaver Lake for pro winner Mark Pack.

5: Number of keeper bass caught each day by co-angler champion Stetson Blaylock, who never once culled.

8: Number of five-bass limits caught by the Pro Division on Sunday.

9: Number of seasons before Pack's first FLW Tour victory.

14-5: Weight, in pounds and ounces, of the second heaviest pro stringer from the entire tournament, caught on day four by Pack.

19: Number of keeper bass caught by Cochran on day four.

Sound bites

"I was in the Heinz 57 boat, and I was playing ketchup all day." - 10th-place pro Richard Strother.

"I've been praying for that every night." - Pro Dan Morehead, on the rumor that the FLW Tour will return to Kentucky Lake in 2009. Local pro Greg Bohannan finished third and won $40,000.

"Once I got him on the floor, the hook came out; that's when I used my nose-guard instincts." - third-place pro Greg Bohannan, who played college football for Arkansas Tech University and had no problem tackling a Beaver Lake bass.

"I'm happy they came out, because now I have somebody to drive me home." - exhausted pro Matt Arey, who was surprised by his wife and parents Saturday.

"I designed a spinnerbait just for Wal-Mart, called the little Mr. Money Spinnerbait, and I threw only that one bait all week." - Cochran.

Tags: brett-carlson  quick-bites  2008-05-15-beaver-lake 

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