"The fishing was good today. I had my limit by 9:30," said Berkley pro Glenn Browne, who has three top-10 finishes on Lake Okeechobee. "After I caught my limit I went exploring for some bigger bites. I wasn't on a whole lot of fish in practice and the area I was in produced a lot of smaller fish. I just happened to luck into some big ones later in the day."
Browne was keeping his productive pattern under wraps for now, saying he was throwing a Berkley Frenzy crankbait in six feet of water. "I started out in practice flipping grass but now, I'm doing something totally different," he said.
Rounding out the top five pros are Matthew Parker of Whitesburg, Ga. (10 bass, 31-00); Arnie Lane of Lakeland, Fla. (10 bass 30-5); and Slim Jim pro Michael Murphy of Gilbert, S.C. (10 bass, 30-3).
Craig Dowling of Many, La., earned $300 for the Snickers Big Bass award in the Pro Division thanks to a 10-pound, 6-ounce bass.
Overall in the pro division Thursday, the anglers weighed in 880 bass weighing 1,664 pounds and 5 ounces which included 149 quality-sized limits.
Pros are competing for as much as $65,000, including a 519VX Ranger powered by Evinrude or Yamaha if contingency guidelines are met, and valuable points toward qualifying for the $1 million Stren Series Championship in Mobile, Ala., Nov. 8-11 for a shot at $140,000. After four qualifying events are complete in each of the circuit's five divisions, the top 40 pros from each division will advance to the championship. The highest-finishing pro from each division at the championship will also earn a spot in the $2 million 2008 Forrest Wood Cup, where they will compete against top pros from the Wal-Mart FLW Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Series, Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League, Ranger Owners Tournament Championship Series and TBF (The Bass Federation) for bass fishing's biggest prize - $1 million.
Austin Spurlin of Fayetteville, Ga., leads the Co-angler Division in the chase for a top award of $35,000, including a 519VX Ranger if contingency guidelines are met. He caught five bass weighing 10-13 while fishing with pro Tony Couch of Buckhead, Ga., Wednesday and five bass weighing 16-2 while fishing with pro Bobby Smith of Panama City, Fla., Thursday for a total of 10 bass weighing 26-15.
"I was shaking so bad when I caught that nine pounder that I had to sit down for a few minutes to calm down," said Austin Spurlin, who is only 20 years old and fishing in his first Stren Series event. "It was a good day. I was throwing a Texas-rigged worm in around the grass mats and everything just seemed to go my way."
Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Aaron Fahnestock of Enterprise, Ala. (nine bass, 22-9); Brady Nelson of Palmetto, Fla. (10 bass, 22-2); Ralph Myhlhousen of Orlando, Fla. (10 bass, 21-4); and Brad Pegram of Henderson, N.C. (seven bass, 20-4).
Austin Spurlin also earned $150 for the Snickers Big Bass award in the Co-angler Division thanks to a 9-pound, 2-ounce bass he caught on a Texas rigged worm.
The top 40 co-anglers from each Stren Series division will also advance to the championship, where they will fish for as much as $70,000. The highest-finishing co-angler from each division at the championship will then advance to the 2008 Forrest Wood Cup.
Anglers will take off at 6:30 each morning from C. Scott Driver Marina located at 10100 W. Highway 78 in Okeechobee, Fla. Friday's weigh-in will be held at the marina beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday's weigh-in will be held at the Wal-Mart store located at 2101 South Parrot Avenue in Okeechobee, Fla., beginning at 4 p.m. Takeoffs and weigh-ins are free and open to the public.
Stren Series tournaments are four-day events consisting of two rounds. The entire field competes Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. At the conclusion of Friday's weigh-in, the field is cut to the top 10 pros and co-anglers based on the heaviest three-day accumulated weights. These anglers continue competition Saturday, with the winners determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from all four days.
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 on 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.