Wheeler Lake is a sprawling fishery along the Tennessee River covering 67,000 acres and offering bass anglers more than 1,000 miles of shoreline and aquatic vegetation. The lake is relatively deep – averaging 20-25 feet in depth. While the tournament can be won on Wheeler Lake alone, the general consensus is that a portion of the field will lock through to Lake Guntersville.
“The bass will be in the postspawn mode,” said Pedigree pro Greg Pugh of nearby Cullman, Ala. “I feel like a lot of people will lock up to Guntersville, but it’s going to be a wide-open tournament. You’ll be able to catch bass just about any way you like to fish.” Pugh notes that there may be some fish still cruising and protecting fry, and anglers may still have some sight-fishing opportunities. Anglers, however, will employ a variety of techniques from flipping and pitching in the grass beds to throwing spinnerbaits and topwater lures over them during the course of the event. Even deep cranking and Carolina-rigging will play key roles in the event.
“I think you’ll need at least 17 pounds a day to make the cut,” Pugh said. “It’s going to be a great tournament as long as we don’t get a lot of rain and flood out some areas.”
Anglers take off each morning from Riverwalk Marina at 7. Wednesday and Thursday’s weigh-ins will also be held at the marina beginning at 3 p.m. Friday and Saturday’s weigh-ins will be held at the Wal-Mart store located at 2800 Spring Avenue SW in Decatur 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.
This is the most lucrative FLW Tour season to date, as the popular tournament series celebrates its 10th anniversary with a $7.6 million purse, 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 Wheeler Lake tournament will be broadcast to 82 million FSN subscribers as part of the “FLW Outdoors” television program. “FLW Outdoors” airs Sunday mornings at 11 a.m. Eastern time.
The Potomac River Open in Charles County, Md., will host the regular-season finale – the Chevy Open – on 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.