Pack Leads Wal-Mart FLW Tour Wal-Mart Open on Beaver Lake
May 15th, 2008 by OutdoorsFIRST
Modified May 15th, 2008 at 12:00 AM
ROGERS, Ark. (May 15, 2008) – Mark Pack of Mineola, Texas, stood atop the leaderboard Thursday with five bass weighing 14 pounds, 13 ounces on a closely contested opening day at the $1.5 million Wal-Mart FLW Tour Wal-Mart Open on Beaver Lake. Just 13 ounces separated the leader from a tie for second place in the international competition featuring anglers from 37 states and four countries.
Anglers had no problem catching five-bass limits. In fact, of the 200 pros and 200 co-anglers competing, 157 pros and 48 co-anglers caught limits. A rainy spring has made Beaver Lake almost unrecognizable to returning anglers – its characteristically clear waters are now muddy, with less than 3 feet of visibility in most areas. The lake is 8 feet above normal pool, creating thousands of acres of flooded bass cover.
“There was no sight fishing here, but Texas has a lot of muddy water, so I’m used to this kind of stuff,” said Pack, who has amassed more than $296,000 in career earnings with FLW Outdoors and is currently ranked 38th in the 2008 Wal-Mart FLW Tour standings. “I found them in the real muddy water and probably had to go through 30 fish to catch the five biggest ones.”
Pack stayed within five miles of the marina and caught his limit using a worm and crankbait in 2 feet of water, and believes the forecast for sun Thursday should help him.”I’m running a pattern, and it is really strong right now, so I can run just about anywhere and do it,” Pack said. “I think my pattern will hold up for four days, since it’s not like a sight-fishing deal, where they’ll run out.”
Pack holds a 13-ounce lead over his closest competitors, Jason Reyes of Humble, Texas, and Joel Richardson of Kernersville, N.C., who both caught five bass weighing 14-00.
While Pack focused on power fishing to catch his fish, Reyes opted for finesse fishing and Richardson chose a variety of baits to catch his bass.
“I started out on clear water and had a limit by 9 o’clock,” said Reyes, who is in his second season of Wal-Mart FLW Tour competition. “Then I came back into the dirty water late in the day and caught a couple of really nice fish that culled well for me-a 4 ½- and 2 ½-pounder.”
“I think my pattern will hold up if I keep changing up and fishing a little bit deep and a little bit shallow and find out what they want. The deeper fish are coming from the lower end of the lake, and I didn’t really have many other boats around,” he added.
“I caught some of my fish on spinnerbaits, one on a jig and some on crankbaits,” said Richardson, who has had 20 top-10 finishes since 1995 in FLW Outdoors events and won the Wal-Mart FLW Tour tournament on Lake Okeechobee in 1999. “I was fishing in muddy, shallow water on points and caught a lot of fish, maybe 30 keepers.”
Rounding out the top five pros are Greg Bohannan of Rogers, Ark. (five bass, 13-12) and Sam Newby of Pocola, Okla. (five bass, 13-07).
Rob Digh of Denver, N.C., earned the day’s $1,000 Snickers Big Bass award in the Pro Division thanks to a 6-pound bass he caught on a jig. If that weight holds up Friday as the heaviest of the two-day opening round, he will earn an additional $1,000.
Overall there were 903 bass weighing 1,605 pounds, 1 ounce caught by 200 pros Thursday.
Pros are competing for a top award of $200,000 this week plus valuable points in the hope of qualifying for the $2 million Forrest Wood Cup presented by Castrol in Columbia, S.C., Aug. 14-17, where they could win as much as $1 million – the sport’s biggest award.
Tournament pros aren’t the only ones hoping to win big on Beaver Lake. The Wal-Mart Open is the fourth stop of the year for the most lucrative fantasy sports league in history, FLW Fantasy Fishing™, which offers total awards of $7.3 million, including $100,000 cash guaranteed to the top Fantasy Fishing player following every FLW Tour stop and the Forrest Wood Cup.
To play FLW Fantasy Fishing, simply log on to www.fantasyfishing.com and pick a team of 10 anglers for the next FLW Tour stop. Fans can even become a virtual pro with access to exclusive insider information and tips by signing up for Player’s Advantage, which could help them earn a record $1 million as the FLW Fantasy Fishing cumulative points winner. Player’s Advantage members also receive a complimentary $15 Wal-Mart gift card.
Brett Winborn of Alma, Ark., leads the Co-angler Division with five bass weighing 11-12 followed by Jared Taliaferro of Rogers, in second place with five bass weighing 11-11.
“I caught largemouth in shallow water, flipping a lot of bushes, grass and timber,” Winborn said. “I went to about 25 to 30 small areas.”
Winborn said he felt a little “out of his element” at Beaver Lake with the muddy conditions, but adapted quickly, catching eight or nine keepers.
Winborn took the early lead in the tournament while fishing with Andy Montgomery of Blacksburg, S.C., who is currently in 97th place with five bass weighing 8-03.
Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Ty Hester of Russellville, Ala. (five bass, 11-02); Scotty Villines of Ponca, Ark. (five bass, 10-01) and Mike Drain of Purcell, Okla. (five bass, 9-10).
Winborn earned the day’s $500 Snickers Big Bass award in the Co-angler Division thanks to a 4-pound, 4-ounce bass.
Overall there were 527 bass weighing 794 pounds caught by 200 co-anglers Thursday. Co-anglers are fishing for a top award of $40,000 this week.
Anglers will take off at 6:30 each morning from Prairie Creek Marina located at 1 Prairie Creek Marina Drive in Rogers. Friday’s weigh-in will also be held at Prairie Creek Marina beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday’s weigh-ins will be held at the John Q. Hammons Center, located at 317 W. Walnut St. in Rogers, beginning at 4 p.m.
Prior to the weigh-ins Saturday and Sunday, FLW Outdoors will host a free Family Fun Zone and outdoor show at the John Q. Hammons Center from noon to 6 p.m. each day. The Family Fun Zone offers fans a chance to meet their Fantasy Fishing team anglers face-to-face and review the latest products from Berkley, Lowrance, Ranger, Evinrude, Yamaha and other sponsors while children are treated to giveaways, fishing themed games and rides like the Ranger Boat simulator. Saturday and Sunday children 14 and under visiting the Family Fun Zone will also receive a free rod and reel combo while supplies last. On Sunday, during the final 4 p.m. weigh-in, one lucky member of the audience will win a new Ranger boat. Admission is free and you must be present to win.
Pros and co-anglers are randomly paired each day, and the full field of 400 anglers competes in the two-day opening round for one of 10 slots in Saturday’s competition based on their two-day accumulated weight. Weights are cleared for Saturday, and co-angler competition concludes following Saturday’s weigh-in. The top 10 pros continue competition Sunday, with the winner determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from the final two days.
The Wal-Mart Open is hosted by the Rogers Convention & Visitors Bureau and Bentonville Advertising & Promotion Commission. Coverage of the Wal-Mart Open will be broadcast to 81 million FSN (Fox Sports Net) subscribers in the United States as part of the “FLW Outdoors” television programs airing July 13 and July 20. “FLW Outdoors” is also broadcast in Canada on WFN (World Fishing Network) and to more than 429 million households in the United Kingdom, Europe, Russia, Australia, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East through a distribution agreement with Matchroom Sport, making it the most widely distributed fishing program in the world. The program airs Sunday mornings at 11 Eastern time in most markets. Check local listings for times in your area.
FLW Outdoors, named after Forrest L. Wood, the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, is the largest fishing tournament organization in the world. In 2008 alone the organization is offering more than 90,000 anglers the chance to win over $40 million through 230 tournaments in 10 circuits targeting bass, walleye, redfish, kingfish and striped bass. FLW Outdoors is also taking fishing mainstream with the largest cash awards in the history of fantasy sports, $7.3 million.