Chase for the $1 million Stren Series Championship, $2 million Forrest Wood Cup set to begin

OKEECHOBEE, Fla. (Dec. 19, 2005) - The $6 million Stren Series is headed to Lake Okeechobee Jan. 4-7 for the season-opening event, a $262,125 Southeast Division tournament launching from Okee-Tantie Marina in Okeechobee.

Anglers competing in the Pro Division will fish for a top award worth as much as $64,500, including a 519VX Ranger boat powered by an Evinrude or Yamaha outboard and equipped with Minn Kota trolling motor, Lowrance electronics, and EverStart batteries plus $10,000 cash. Pros will have the chance to earn an additional $10,000 bonus award from Ranger if contingency guidelines are met. Ranger will award another $3,000 to the winner if he or she is a participant in the Ranger Cup program, or $1,500 to the highest-finishing Ranger Cup participant. Yamaha will match 50 percent of Ranger Cup earnings if the participant meets "Powered by Yamaha" guidelines.

Co-angler competitors cast for a top award worth as much as $35,000, including a 519VX Ranger if contingency guidelines are met.

Competitors will also be vying for valuable points that could earn them a trip to the $1 million Stren Series Championship in Decatur, Ala., for a shot at $140,000 in the Pro Division and $70,000 in the Co-angler Division. The highest-finishing pro and co-angler from each division at the Stren Series Championship will also earn a spot in the new $2 million 2007 Forrest Wood Cup, where top pros from the Wal-Mart FLW Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Series, Stren Series, Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League and Ranger owners' tournaments will compete for bass fishing's first $1 million top award.

The Lake Okeechobee season opener in 2005 produced some impressive catches. Though hurricane damage had removed extensive amounts of aquatic vegetation, anglers still caught plenty of fish. A&W pro J.T. Kenney of Daytona Beach caught a five-bass limit weighing 32 pounds, 12 ounces on day one - breaking the Stren Series record for a one-day catch - then went on to post a two-day total of 48 pounds, 14 ounces, which broke the Stren Series record for the heaviest two-day catch. Kenney ultimately finished second behind local favorite Daryl Deka of Wellington.

"The lake is going to be a lot different this year than it was last year," Kenney said. "We'll catch plenty of fish. Lots more areas have opened up, and anglers will have the chance to spread out a little more than they did last year. Some of the traditional areas may not produce as well, but there are new areas available. There will be more ways to catch them this year than by just flipping."

Anglers will take off from Okee-Tantie ramp at 7:30 each morning. Wednesday and Thursday's weigh-ins will also be held at the marina, which is located at 10430 Highway 78 W. in Okeechobee, beginning at 3 p.m. Friday and Saturday's weigh-ins will be held at the Wal-Mart store located at 2101 S. Parrot Ave. in Okeechobee beginning at 4 p.m. Takeoffs and weigh-ins are free and open to the public.

Two hundred pros and 200 co-anglers will compete for two days to determine the top 20 pros and top 20 co-anglers who advance to the semifinal round based on their two-day accumulated weight. Weights are cleared on day three and anglers compete for 10 spots in each division in the final round. Winners on day four are determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from days three and four.

In Stren Series competition, pros supply the boats, fish from the front deck against other pros and control boat movement. Co-anglers fish from the back deck and compete against other co-anglers. Every angler who receives weight credit in a tournament earns points that determine angler standings. Two hundred points are awarded to the winner, 199 points for second, 198 points for third, and so on. The top 40 pros and top 40 co-anglers from each of the Stren Series' five divisions - Central, Midwest, Northeast, Southeast and Western - will advance to the $1 million Stren Series Championship on Wheeler Lake Nov. 1-4. The top 10 pros and top 10 co-anglers from each division also qualify for the 2007 FLW Series, where they can compete for a share of $6.5 million.

Each Stren Series division features four regular-season tournaments.

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, Wal-Mart FLW Walleye Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Walleye League, Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Series and Wal-Mart FLW Redfish Series. These circuits offer combined purses exceeding $36.5 million through 235 events in 2006.

For more information about FLW Outdoors and its tournament programs, visit FLWOutdoors.com or call (270) 252-1000.

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.