"The weather has been hot down here lately," said Team BP pro J.T. Kenney of Daytona Beach, Fla., who fished in the Stren Series Southeast Division opener on Lake Okeechobee last week. "But Mother Nature has a way of working things out, so we could have a cold front move through the area. If we do, the lake is so low that there's nothing for the fish to hide in, and it will be a tough bite."
According to Kenney, low water levels have a lot of the lake's grass on dry ground, so flipping matted grass will not be as big of a factor as in past tournaments. Kenney expects to see similar weights in the FLW Series event as weights posted in the recent Stren Series tournament, where Glenn Browne of Ocala, Fla., won $65,000 with a four-day catch of 20 bass weighing 60 pounds, 2 ounces.
"As low as the lake is, cold-weather fishing just won't be good," Kenney said. "We are pulling for warm weather, which would give us a late-spawn pattern, but if it turns out to be cold, the tournament will be more of a canal and ditch event. We'll just have to wait and see."
Anglers will take off from Roland & Mary Ann Martin's Marina & Resort located at 920 E. Del Monte Avenue in Clewiston, Fla., at 7 each morning. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday's weigh-ins will also be held at the marina beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday's final weigh-in will be held at the Wal-Mart store located at 1005 West Sugarland Highway in Clewiston, Fla., beginning at 4 p.m. Children will also be treated to a Family Fun Zone prior to Saturday's weigh-in from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Wal-Mart. Activities in the Family Fun Zone include the Fujifilm trout pond, a Ranger boat simulator and assorted fishing-themed games. All activities are free and open to the public.
The entire field competes for the first three days of FLW Series events. Co-angler winners are determined on day three based on the heaviest accumulated three-day weight. The top 10 professionals continue competition on day four, and the winner is determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from all four days.
In FLW Series competition, pros and co-anglers are randomly paired each day, with pros supplying the boat, controlling boat movement and competing against other pros. Co-anglers fish from the back deck against other co-anglers. The total purse for the Lake Okeechobee tournament is $1 million, including $10,000 through 50th place and $2,000 through 75th place in the Pro Division. Ultimately, all anglers in the tournament will also be competing for valuable points in the hope of qualifying for the BP East-National Guard West Challenge and a shot at advancing to the $2 million, 2008 Forrest Wood Cup, where the winning pro will earn as much as $1 million - the sport's biggest award.
Coverage of the Lake Okeechobee FLW Series tournament will be broadcast to 81 million FSN (Fox Sports Net) subscribers in the United States as part of the "FLW Outdoors" television program airing March 4. "FLW Outdoors" airs Sunday mornings at 11 Eastern time. "FLW Outdoors" is also broadcast internationally to approximately 350 million households in Europe, Africa and Asia, making it the most widely distributed weekly fishing program in the world. Additionally, FLW Outdoors is proud to provide tournament coverage to more than 800,000 servicemembers stationed around the world in 177 countries and aboard Navy ships through broadcasts on the American Forces Network.
Named after the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, Forrest L. Wood, FLW Outdoors administers the Wal-Mart FLW Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Series, Stren Series, Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League, Wal-Mart Texas Tournament Trail presented by Abu Garcia, Ranger Owners Tournament Championship Series, Wal-Mart FLW Walleye Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Walleye League, Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Series, Wal-Mart FLW Redfish Series and Wal-Mart FLW Striper Series. These circuits offer combined purses of nearly $43 million through 238 events in 2007.
Wal-Mart and many of America's largest and most-respected companies support FLW Outdoors and its tournament trails. Wal-Mart signed on as an FLW Outdoors sponsor in 1997 and today is the world's leading supporter of tournament fishing. For more information about Wal-Mart, visit Wal-Mart.com.
For more information about FLW Outdoors and its tournaments, visit FLWOutdoors.com or call (270) 252-1000.