PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (June 25, 2004) – Team Fujifilm pro Randy Blaukat of Lamar, Mo., caught a five-fish limit of smallmouths weighing 16 pounds, 2 ounces to lead the semifinal round of the $1.25 million Forrest Wood Open presented by Kellogg’s on Lake Champlain – the final regular-season event of 2004 on the Wal-Mart FLW Tour. The tournament, which pays $200,000 to the pro winner Saturday, is still up for grabs. A mere 3 ounces separate the top three pros, and less than 2 pounds separate first from eighth place.

A major cold front passed through the region Thursday evening dropping high temperatures nearly 20 degrees, but anglers familiar with Lake Champlain and other northern fisheries claim weather systems affect northern bass less than southern bass. According to the Friday’s weights, that theory may be true. Of the 10 pros and 10 co-anglers competing in the semifinal round, all but two caught limits. Overall, weights were very similar to day two.

“I was actually a little lost out there today,” Blaukat said. “I have a GPS on the front of my boat, but I didn’t have it today. I had about 80 waypoints loaded into the GPS, so I was fishing blind.

“I mainly fished a tube and jerkbait on big, rocky flats, and I’ll do the same thing tomorrow. I was fishing on the north end of the lake, and I think I’m catching prespawn and postspawn bass.”

Rounding out the top five pros are Stratos pro Dan Morehead of Paducah, Ky. (five bass, 16 pounds, 1 ounce); Evinrude pro David Walker of Sevierville, Tenn. (five bass, 16 pounds); Aaron Martens of Castaic, Calif. (five bass, 15 pounds, 4 ounces); and Jonathan Newton of Rogersville, Ala. (five bass, 15 pounds, 1 ounce).

Twenty-two-year-old Jason Knapp of Uniontown, Pa., won the Co-angler Division with a five-bass limit weighing 14 pounds, 9 ounces. Knapp, an up-and-coming competitor on the FLW Tour, claimed a remarkable $40,000 for the victory.

“This is great,” Knapp said. “What Wal-Mart, Kellogg’s and all the other sponsors are doing for bass fishing is really amazing.

“Our fish were in 2 to 3 feet of water in reeds and cattails. I flipped a tube today on a 1/2-ounce tungsten weight and 50-pound braided line and caught largemouths. We (pro partner Jason Kilpatrick) caught all our largemouths in a bay on the north end of the lake, which is a little different for this lake.”

Charles Ward of Greer, S.C. (five bass, 13 pounds, 13 ounces); Derek Moyer of Alexandria, Va. (five bass, 12 pounds, 3 ounce); Tee Watkins of East Point, Ky. (five bass, 10 pounds, 10 ounces); and Stacey Smith of Stephens City, Va. (five bass, 10 pounds, 3 ounces) round out the top five co-anglers.

The four-day tournament is the sixth of seven FLW Tour events that will culminate with the $1.5 million Wal-Mart FLW Tour Championship Boat and Outdoor Show in Birmingham, Ala., Aug. 11-14, where the winning pro earns the sport’s largest cash award, $500,000, and fishing fans are treated to hundreds of displays featuring special offers on everything from crankbaits to bass boats.

Coverage of the Lake Champlain tournament will be broadcast to 65 million subscribers of the Outdoor Life Network on the “FLW Outdoors” television program. A tournament preview show featuring bass-fishing legend Hank Parker will air June 27 at 1 p.m. Eastern time and July 29 at 5 p.m. Eastern time, and fishing fans can watch the tournament weigh-in with hosts Carlton Wing, Taylor Carr and Charlie Evans Aug. 1 at 1 p.m. and Aug. 5 at 5 p.m. Eastern time. Tournament veteran Larry Nixon will host a tournament wrap-up show Aug. 8 at 1 p.m. Eastern time, and that show will re-air Aug. 12 at 5 p.m. Eastern time.

Anglers will take off from Mooney Bay Marina in Plattsburgh at 6:30 a.m. Saturday. Saturday’s weigh-in will be held at the Wal-Mart store located at 25 Consumer Square in Plattsburgh beginning at 3 p.m. respectively.

The community is invited to attend the Family Fun Zone Saturday outside the weigh-in tent in the Wal-Mart parking lot. The Family Fun Zone features interactive displays, product samples and games for the entire family to enjoy. The Fun Zone opens Saturday at 11 a.m.

The full field competed in the two-day opening round for one of 10 slots in Friday’s competition based on their two-day accumulated weight. Weights were cleared for day three, and co-angler competition concluded following Friday’s weigh-in. The 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.

Named after the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, Forrest L. Wood, the Wal-Mart FLW Tour is administered by FLW Outdoors, the world’s leading marketer of competitive fishing. Other FLW Outdoors-sanctioned tournament trails are the EverStart Series, the Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League, the Wal-Mart RCL Walleye Tour, the Wal-Mart RCL Walleye League and the Wal-Mart Texas Tournament Trail.

Wal-Mart and many of America’s most respected companies support FLW Outdoors and its six tournament trails. Wal-Mart has been the title sponsor of FLW Outdoors since 1997.