Walmart FLW Tour pro Chad Prough of Chipley, Fla., crossed the stage Thursday with a five-bass limit weighing 35 pounds, 3 ounces to lead day one of the Walmart FLW Tour presented by Evinrude on Lake Okeechobee. Prough now holds a 5-pound, 15-ounce lead over Duracell/Gillette pro Jacob Powroznik of Prince George, Va., who caught five bass weighing 29-4 in a tournament featuring 320 anglers from all across the country, Canada and Spain.
“This is the biggest bag of fish I have ever caught,” said a stunned Prough, whose biggest sack of the day, up until now, also came from Lake Okeechobee and weighed 20 pounds, 13 ounces. “I found an area where the females were looking for beds, I didn’t want to spook them so I was making long casts with topwater baits. I was basically in two areas, my biggest two came from the same area and the other three were from another spot. I probably culled 10 times today, it was crazy. I started the day with 16-pounds and just kept culling up.
“I plan to go to those same areas tomorrow and I am hoping if the weather stays nice they will hold up. It will probably be a little slower, but I am hoping a few of those big females will still be there. My biggest challenge now is keeping my head in the game and staying focused.
“This has been the most incredible day, I can’t even describe it.”
In a day that was described as phenomenal, over 50 20-pound sacks of fish were brought to the scales by pro anglers. Lake Okeechobee showed her true colors as big fish after big fish were weighed. Of the 160 pro anglers, 159 of them caught five-bass limits. It didn’t seem to matter how or where they were fishing, everyone was catching fish; clear water, stained water, on beds, moving onto beds, flipping, pitching, swimbaits, it all worked. Time after time the words, “I thought I was having a good day until I came to the scales” were uttered by the best of the best in bass fishing.
Rounding out the top-10 pros after day one on Lake Okeechobee are:
3rd: Cheez-It pro Shinichi Fukae, Palestine, Texas, five bass, 29-0
4th: Fred Roumbanis, Bixby, Okla., five bass, 27-9
5th: Pete Thliveros, St. Augustine, Fla., five bass, 27-8
6th: Brandon McMillan, Belle Glade, Fla., five bass, 27-0
7th: Takahiro Omori, Emory, Texas, five bass, 26-2
8th: Shad Schenck, Waynetown, Ind., five bass, 25-12
Chevy pro Bryan Thrift, Shelby, N.C., five bass, 25-12
10th: Trevor Fitzgerald, Belleview, Fla., five bass, 25-8
For a full list of results visit www.FLWOutdoors.com
Cheez-It pro Shinichi Fukae caught the Snickers® Peanut Butter Squared Big Bass weighing 11 pounds on the pro side to win $500.
Overall there were 797 bass weighing 2,729 pounds, 5 ounces caught by 160 pros Thursday.
Pros are competing for a top award of up to $125,000 this week plus valuable points in the hope of qualifying for the 2012 Forrest Wood Cup, the world championship of bass fishing. The top five anglers from the four Walmart FLW Tour Open tournaments will qualify.
Ron Buck of Port Saint Lucie, Fla., leads the co-angler division with five bass weighing 23-12, followed by Aymon Wilcox of Lauderdale Lakes, Fla., in second place with five bass weighing 22-9.
“It doesn’t matter where you go, Lake Okeechobee is fishing big,” said Buck, who finished in eighth-place at last month’s EverStart Series event on Lake Okeechobee. “I was able to cull all of my keeper fish. Late afternoon is when the bite really turned on. I was using Gambler’s 10-inch Worm June Bug. I was swimming my bait to females that were moving up into beds.”
Rounding out the top-10 co-anglers are:
3rd: Ryan Richardson, Golfstwon, N.H., five bass, 20-14
4th: Richard McCrory, Point-Clare, Qc., five bass, 19-11
5th: Chip Brooks, Bradenton, Fla., five bass, 19-10
Kazuki Kitajima, Aventura, Fla., five bass, 19-10
7th: Marlon Crowder, Tampa, Fla., five bass, 18-5
8th: Larry Mullikin, Lauderhill, Fla., five bass, 18-0
9th: Glen Pickering, Whitby, Ont., five bass, 17-10
Jeff Zeisner, Arva, Ont., five bass, 17-10
For afull list of results visit www.FLWOutdoors.com
Tommy Lee of Canada, Ont., caught the Snickers® Peanut Butter Squared Big Bass weighing 8-5 in the co-angler division to win $250.
Overall there were 765 bass weighing 1,700 pounds, 12 ounces caught by 159 co-anglers Thursday. The catch included 145 five-bass limits.
Co-anglers are fishing for a top award of $25,000 this week plus valuable points that could help them qualify for the Forrest Wood Cup in 2012.The top five co-anglers from the four Walmart FLW Tour Open tournaments will advance.
Anglers will take off from Roland & Mary Ann Martin’s Marina & Resort located at 920 East Del Monte Ave. in Clewiston at 7 each morning. Friday’s weigh-in will be held at the marina beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday’s final weigh-in will be held at Walmart located at 1005 West Sugarland Hwy. in Clewiston beginning at 4 p.m.
Fans will be treated to the FLW Outdoors Expo at Walmart in Clewiston on Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. prior to the final weigh-ins. The Expo includes Ranger boat simulators, the opportunity to interact with professional anglers, enjoy interactive games, activities and giveaways provided by sponsors, and learn more about the sport of fishing and other outdoor activities. Plus, fans can enjoy a free performance by up-and-coming country star Colt Ford on Sunday at 3 p.m. prior to the final weigh-in. All activities are free and open to the public.
Coverage of the Lake Okeechobee tournament will be broadcast in high-definition (HD) on VERSUS. “FLW Outdoors”, will air March 20 from 1 to 2 p.m. ET. “FLW Outdoors,” hosted by Jason Harper, is broadcast to approximately 500 million households worldwide.
ABOUT FLW OUTDOORS
FLW Outdoors is the largest fishing tournament organization in the world offering anglers worldwide the opportunity to compete for millions over the course of 191 tournaments in 2011. FLW Outdoors has taken fishing mainstream with the world’s richest fantasy sports game, FLW Fantasy Fishing presented by Straight Talk, where competitors can play for free as well as sign up for Player’s Advantage to gain an edge. For more information about FLW Outdoors and FLW Fantasy Fishing, visit FLWOutdoors.com or FantasyFishing.com.