DECATUR, Ala. (March 26, 2008) – Pro Jake Deeds of El Dorado, Ark., landed five bass weighing 18 pounds, 3 ounces Wednesday to lead day one of the Wal-Mart FLW Series® BP Eastern Division tournament on Wheeler Lake. He now holds a 3-ounce lead in the $1 million tournament featuring 184 pros and 184 co-anglers representing 34 states, Japan and Canada.

“It feels great to be leading,” Deeds said. “To be leading against such outstanding anglers is so incredible; you can’t believe what it means to me.”

Deeds said he was worried going into day two, because his bite has dropped off so much since he prefished.

“I had a very, very good practice,” Deeds said. “It’s the first time I’ve been on Wheeler, and I’ve done exceptionally well. I’ve been averaging about 30 bites a day, and it cut in half today. I still don’t know what went wrong. I’m a little worried because my bite fell off so badly.”

Bryan Thrift of Shelby, N.C., trails Deeds in the No. 2 spot with five bass weighing 18-00.

Thrift caught his limit throwing a Berkley Frenzy Rattl’r lipless crankbait on 17-pound Trilene Fluorocarbon.

Rounding out the top five pros are Tim McDonald of Lexington, Ky. (five bass, 17-13); Jim Dillard of West Monroe, La. (five bass, 17-12) and Keith Combs of Del Rio, Texas (five bass, 17-09).

Deeds earned the day’s $452 Snickers Big Bass award in the Pro Division thanks to a 7-pound, 10-ounce bass. Overall there were 872 bass weighing 1,783 pounds, 14 ounces caught by 180 pros Wednesday. The catch included 164 five-bass limits.

Pros are competing this week for a top award of $125,000 plus valuable points in the hope of qualifying for the BP East-National Guard West Fish-Off and a shot at advancing to the $2 million, 2009 Forrest Wood Cup, where the winning pro will earn as much as $1 million – the sport’s biggest award.

Tournament pros aren’t the only ones winning big this season. With the introduction of FLW Fantasy Fishing™, FLW Outdoors® offers anyone the opportunity to enter for their chance to land the catch of a lifetime with the opportunity to win $7.3 million in cash and prizes. Players can become a virtual pro angler by signing up for Player’s Advantage, providing them with exclusive insider information that could guide them to a $100,000 victory at every Wal-Mart FLW Tour® stop and the Forrest Wood Cup. Player’s Advantage will give them an edge over the competition and increase their shot for a $1 million cash grand prize that will be awarded to the FLW Fantasy Fishing cumulative points winner. Those who visit today can sign up for Player’s Advantage and FLW Outdoors will include a $15 Wal-Mart gift card.

Kurt Chelminiak of Delafield, Wis., leads the Co-angler Division with five bass weighing 15-08 followed by Beecher Strunk of Somerset, Ky., in second place with five bass weighing 14-03.

“We actually caught fish as shallow as 4 feet all the way out to 14 feet,” Chelminiak said. “We were pretty much all over the place, just checking things out. The wind would pick up and we’d trying going shallow, and when it backed off, we’d try it a little deeper.”

Chelminiak caught his bass fishing points in both deep and shallow water while fishing with pro Dion Hibdon of Stover, Mo., who is currently in ninth place with five bass weighing 16-02.

“I caught a 3-pounder with about 10 minutes to go, and I only had four fish going into the end,” Chelminiak said. “It was a big benefit to get that last one right before we came in.”

Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Derrick Snavely of Rogersville, Tenn. (five bass, 14-02); Masayuki Matsushita of Aichi, Japan (five bass, 13-12) and James Falciani of Decatur, Ala., and David Harrison of Huntsville, Ala. (five bass, 12-01).

Jason Seaton of Martinsville, Ind., earned $280 for the Snickers Big Bass award in the Co-angler Division thanks to a 7-pound, 10-ounce bass he caught while fishing with pro Craig Dowling of Grant, Ala.

Overall there were 651 bass weighing 1,111 pounds, 7 ounces caught by 184 co-anglers Wednesday. The catch included 89 five-bass limits.

Co-anglers are competing this week for a top award of $25,000. Like the pros, the top 30 co-anglers from both FLW Series divisions after four qualifying events are complete will advance to the East-West Fish-Off for a shot at qualifying for the Forrest Wood Cup.

Anglers will take off at 7 each morning from Ingalls Harbor located at 802 Wilson St. NW in Decatur. Thursday and 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 2800 Spring Ave. SW in Decatur beginning at 4 p.m. Children will also be treated to a Family Fun Zone prior to Saturday’s weigh-in from noon to 4 p.m. at Wal-Mart. Activities in the Family Fun Zone include the Kellogg’s trout pond, a Ranger boat simulator and assorted fishing-themed games. All activities are free and open to the public.

In FLW Series 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 entire field competes for the first three days, and co-angler competition concludes on day three with the winner determined by the heaviest accumulated three-day weight. The top 10 professionals continue competition on day four, and the winner is determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from all four days.

Coverage of the Wheeler Lake FLW Series tournament will be broadcast to 81 million FSN (Fox Sports Net) subscribers in the United States as part of the “FLW Outdoors” television program airing May 4. “FLW Outdoors” is also broadcast in Canada on WFN (World Fishing Network) and to more than 429 million households in the United Kingdom, Europe, Russia, Australia, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East through a distribution agreement with Matchroom Sport, making it the most widely distributed fishing program in the world. The program airs Sunday mornings at 11 Eastern time in most markets. Check local listings for times in your area.

FLW Outdoors, named after Forrest L. Wood, the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, is the largest fishing tournament organization in the world. In 2008 alone the organization is offering more than 90,000 anglers the chance to win over $40 million through 230 tournaments in 10 circuits targeting bass, walleye, redfish, kingfish and striped bass. FLW Outdoors is also taking fishing mainstream with the largest cash awards in the history of fantasy sports, $7.3 million.

For more information about FLW Outdoors and its tournaments, visit or call (270) 252-1000. For more information about FLW Fantasy Fishing and Player’s Advantage, visit

FLW Outdoors historically maintains a 98 percent live release rate in all of its bass tournaments.