Ward Wins Stren Series Event On Kentucky and Barkley Lakes

Category: Tournament

 Jul 26th, 2008 by OutdoorsFIRST 

Modified Jul 26th, 2008 at 12:00 AM

Pro Mike Ward of Paris, Tenn., caught a five-bass limit weighing 16 pounds, 11 ounces Saturday to win the Stren Series Central Division tournament on Kentucky/Barkley Lakes with a four-day total of 20 bass weighing 78-05. For his victory, Ward earned $25,000 cash and a $40,000 198VX Ranger boat powered by Yamaha. He also earned $4,500 in Ranger Cup and Powered by Yamaha bonuses for a total of $69,500 in winnings.

"It feels good right now, but I'm sure it will feel great when it sinks in," said Ward, who now has notched 13 top-10 finishes in FLW Outdoors competition. "I live here and practiced only three days for this. I know where they live and have been fishing the ledges enough that it just boils down to figuring out where you're going to go for the tournament."

Ward said he caught seven keepers Saturday near the Paris bridge and credits a Strike King jig as the bait that won the tournament, although another bait produced the big bite on Saturday.

"Today I picked up a Norman DD 22 crankbait and caught my two best fish," Ward said. "I like to throw a crankbait a lot.

"It was one keeper every 45 minutes," Ward added. "So it's not like I sacked them up."

Ward opened the tournament in third place Wednesday with five bass weighing 22-02. On Thursday he added another five bass weighing 20-08 capture the lead. He then caught five bass weighing 19-00 Friday to make the crucial top 10 cut in first place.

Rounding out the top five pros are Michael Wooley of Collierville, Tenn. (20 bass, 70-11, $8,917 plus $5,000 Ranger bonus); Zack Bull of Lakeland, Tenn. (20 bass, 70-09, $8,026 plus $5,000 Ranger bonus); Team Berkley pro George Jeane Jr. of Evans, La. (18 bass, 67-13, $7,134); and Sam Lashlee of Camden, Tenn. (20 bass, 66-14, $6,242).

Zachary King of Clarksville, Ark., caught the biggest bass of the tournament in the Pro Division Thursday – a 6-pound, 10-ounce largemouth – that earned him the day's Snickers Big Bass award of $268.

Overall there were 44 bass weighing 130 pounds, 11 ounces caught by 10 pros Saturday. The catch included seven five-bass limits.

Chris Darby of Mount Ida, Ark., won the Co-angler Division and $35,000, including a 198VX Ranger boat, with a four-day total of 20 bass weighing 54-10.

"This is awesome," said Darby, who now has nine top-10 finishes in FLW Outdoors events. "I'm speechless. It's taken a long time. My pros were so good and around fish and they were so good to fish with. Every one of them helped me."

Darby said two baits were key for him during the tournament – a big redbug worm and a peanut butter and jelly-colored football-head jig. Darby said he also threw a crankbait on the last day of competition and had two or three fish hit it, but he couldn't keep the fish buttoned up.

Darby said he caught six keepers Saturday off of ledges near the Paris bridge. Darby's boater kept the boat in 22 to 28 feet of water and made casts to ledges in 12 feet of water.

"(Ward's) fish were coming right on top of the ledges early in the day, but as the day went on they moved to the sides of the ledges," Darby said.

Darby caught five bass weighing 16-06 Wednesday using while fishing with pro Danny Pierce of Greenbrier, Ark., to open the tournament in fourth place. He then caught five bass weighing 14-08 Thursday while fishing with pro Tommy Williams of Shepherdsville, Ky., to move into second place. On Friday he added five more bass weighing 13-07 to make the top 10 cut in first place while fishing with pro Jeff Taylor of Olmstead, Ky. Finally, on Saturday, he sealed the win with a five-bass catch weighing 10-05 while fishing with pro Mike Ward of Paris, Tenn.

Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Shawn Murphy of Nicholasville, Ky. (19 bass, 49-00, $3,659); Ben Jackson of Paducah, Ky. (16 bass, 45-03, $2,973); Roger Walters of Madisonville, Ky. (16 bass, 43-00, $2,287); and Justin Swast of Pevely, Mo. (14 bass, 38-15, $1,830).

Steve Dozier of Dover, Tenn., caught the biggest bass of the tournament in the Co-angler Division Thursday – a 6-pound, 11-ounce largemouth – that earned him the day's Snickers Big Bass award of $138.

Overall there were 25 bass weighing 58 pounds, 14 ounces caught by 10 co-anglers Saturday. The catch included three five-bass limits.

The next Stren Series Central Division event, hosted by the Tri County Lodging Association, will be held Oct. 8-11 on Lake of the Ozarks in Osage Beach, Mo. Boats will launch from Grand Glaize Recreation Area in Osage Beach and the final weigh-in will be held at the Wal-Mart located at 4252 Highway 54 in Osage Beach.

After four qualifying events are complete in each of the Stren Series' five divisions, the top 40 pros from each division will advance to the $1 million Stren Series Championship in Branson, Mo., Nov. 5-8 for a shot at $140,000. The highest-finishing pro from each division at the championship will also earn a spot in the $2 million 2009 Forrest Wood Cup, where they will compete against top pros from the Wal-Mart FLW Tour®, Wal-Mart FLW Series®, Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League® and TBF (The Bass Federation) for bass fishing's biggest prize – $1 million.

Tournament pros aren't the only ones winning big this season. With the introduction of FLW Fantasy Fishing™, FLW Outdoors® offers anyone the opportunity to enter for their chance to land the catch of a lifetime with the opportunity to win $7.3 million in cash and prizes. Players can become a virtual pro angler by signing up for Player's Advantage, providing them with exclusive insider information that could guide them to a $100,000 victory at every Wal-Mart FLW Tour® stop and the Forrest Wood Cup. Player's Advantage will give them an edge over the competition and increase their shot for a $1 million cash grand prize that will be awarded to the FLW Fantasy Fishing cumulative points winner. Those who visit FantasyFishing.com today can sign up for Player's Advantage and FLW Outdoors will include a $15 Wal-Mart gift card.

The top 40 co-anglers from each Stren Series division will also advance to the championship, where they will fish for as much as $70,000. The highest-finishing co-angler from each division at the championship will then advance to the 2008 Forrest Wood Cup.

FLW Outdoors historically maintains a 98 percent live release rate in all of its bass tournaments.

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.

For more information about FLW Outdoors and its tournaments, visit FLWOutdoors.com or call (270) 252-1000. For more information about FLW Fantasy Fishing and Player's Advantage, visit FantasyFishing.com.

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