A vast fishery stretching some 605 miles, including the lower portion known as Black River, the Ouachita River offers bass anglers endless opportunities. Various water clarities, both river and backwater situations and mixes of vegetation and timber will provide for an entertaining shootout on the richly historic waterway. “The system fishes real tough when the water is high like it is right now,” said FLW Tour pro Chad Morgenthaler of Coulterville, Ill. “But if you can find a small isolated backwater area, you can catch a good limit.”
The fish should be in a prespawn stage or even well into the spawn depending on how the weather lines up in the next several weeks. Regardless, Morgenthaler indicates the fishery is loaded with 3-pound bass and anglers shouldn’t have trouble finding keeper bass. “I’m not sure how locking through will affect this tournament, as I’ve never been able to lock out of this system before,” he said. “I hear you can catch a real big bag on Felsenthal if the conditions are right.”
While Morgenthaler readily admits that 20-pound limits will be caught in the tournament if the weather cooperates, he believes 22-25 pounds could be enough to make the final round cut.
Anglers will take off each morning at 7 from Forsythe Park in Monroe. Wednesday and Thursday’s weigh-ins will also be held at the park at 3 p.m. Friday and Saturday’s weigh-ins will be held at the Wal-Mart store located at 2701 Louisville Avenue, beginning at 5 p.m. and 3 p.m., respectively.
The community is invited to attend the free Family Fun Zone Friday and Saturday outside the weigh-in tent in the Wal-Mart parking lot. The Family Fun Zone, which opens at 3 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. Saturday, features interactive displays, product samples and games for the entire family to enjoy.
The full field competes in the two-day opening round for one of 10 slots in Friday’s competition based on their two-day accumulated weight. Weights are cleared for day three, and co-angler competition concludes following Friday’s weigh-in. The top 10 pros continue competition Saturday, with the winner determined by the heaviest two-day weight.
In FLW Tour 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 Ouachita River event marks the third stop of the most lucrative professional bass-fishing trail in the world, as the popular tournament series features a $7.6 million purse in 2005, including four $900,000 events and two $1.25 million open events during the regular season. Each event leads up to the $1.5 million Forrest L. Wood Championship and Outdoor Show, which will be held July 13-16 on Lake Hamilton near Hot Springs, Ark. The prestigious championship features 48 pros, 48 co-anglers and bass fishing’s largest guaranteed cash award – a $500,000 first-place prize for the winning pro. Held in conjunction with the tournament is a world-class outdoor show featuring 140 booths and displays for everything from crankbaits to bass boats.
Coverage of the Ouachita River tournament will be broadcast to 82 million Fox Sports Net (FSN) subscribers as part of the “FLW Outdoors” television program. “FLW Outdoors” airs Sunday mornings at 11 Eastern time on Fox Sports Net (FSN).
The fourth regular-season FLW Tour stop, the Wal-Mart Open on Beaver Lake near Rogers, Ark., will be held April 13-16. Wheeler Lake near Florence, Ala., will host the fifth tour stop May 11-14 followed by the Chevy Open on the Potomac River in Charles County, Md., June 22-25.
Named after the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, Forrest L. Wood, FLW Outdoors administers the Wal-Mart FLW Tour and seven other national tournament circuits offering a combined $30 million in awards through 214 events in 2005. The 27-year-old organization is the purveyor of America’s largest and most prestigious fishing tournaments, including the Wal-Mart FLW Tour, EverStart 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 and Wal-Mart FLW Redfish Series.
For more information on 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 title sponsor of the FLW Tour in 1997 and today is the title sponsor of all FLW Outdoors events. For more information on Wal-Mart, visit Wal-Mart.com.