Pros are competing for as much as $64,500 and valuable points that could qualify them for a trip to the $1 million Stren Series Championship for a shot at $140,000. The highest-finishing pro from each division at the Stren Series Championship will also earn a spot in the new $2 million 2007 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 and Ranger owners' tournaments for bass fishing's first $1 million top award.
Folkestad's strong lead has come with a variety of lures. Many of his bass have fallen for the unique, undulating action of a Mission Fish swimbait. Others have taken a liking to Berkley Gulp! Worms and Sinking Minnows. One of Folkestad's primary lures, however, has been a Folkestad Special Roboworm.
"The last two days have been phenomenal," Folkestad said. "I seem to be making good choices. There won't be any excuses if I don't do well tomorrow.
"I stayed away from some of the areas I usually fish today, but there are some excellent anglers out here who know the lake well. I didn't want to see if they were in there or not. Tomorrow, I just want to go fishing."
Cold, rainy conditions, which muddied up the north end of the lake, have dashed many hopes for record-breaking catches at Clear Lake this week. However, that's not to say anglers haven't caught a load of fish, as evidenced by Folkestad's two-day weight. Day one saw a catch of nearly 4,000 pounds of bass. On day two, anglers caught 1,673 bass weighing 3,887 pounds, 5 ounces. In fact, all 400 pro and co-anglers weighed in at least one bass on day two.
One of those bass was an impressive 12-pound, 7-ounce lunker caught by co-angler Terry Stark of Sacramento, Calif., which ranks as the fourth heaviest bass caught in the history of FLW Outdoors events and the heaviest thus far of 2006. The big bass was caught on a 4 1/2-inch purple Roboworm and earned Stark $250 for the big-bass award in the Co-angler Division.
"I got absolutely lucky with that fish," Stark said. "I caught it with a Roboworm on a drop-shot and 6-pound test up next to a dock on my last cast of the day. It took me about five minutes to get it in. It made three hard runs and I had to open my bail and just let it go. My pro missed it with the net the first time but got it the second time. It was just barely skin-hooked in the corner of the mouth."
Rounding out the top five pros are Jimmy Reese of Witter Springs, Calif. (10 bass, 37 pounds, 3 ounces); Jim Lyon of Reno, Nev. (10 bass, 36 pounds, 8 ounces); Gary Dobyns of Yuba City, Calif. (10 bass, 36 pounds, 4 ounces); and William Mcaninch of Sylmar, Calif. (10 bass, 36 pounds, 3 ounces).
Reese earned $750 for the Snicker's Big Bass award in the Pro Division thanks to a 9-pound, 11-ounce bass.
Brett Baldwin of Horseshoe Bend, Idaho, leads the Co-angler Division in the chase for a top award worth as much as $35,000, including a 519VX Ranger if contingency guidelines are met. He caught 10 bass weighing 31 pounds, 2 ounces.
Baldwin has been catching his bass on a spinnerbait fished very slowly. "They've been really picky," he said. "You've got to put the bait right in front of them as slow as you can." Baldwin fished with pro Brett Davies of Sacramento, Calif., on day two.
Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Philip Garcia of Yuba City (10 bass, 30 pounds, 11 ounces); Brandon Craner of Buhl, Idaho (10 bass, 29 pounds, 8 ounces); Jim Tatum of Bishop, Calif. (10 bass, 28 pounds, 10 ounces); and Jason Billmaier of Las Vegas (10 bass, 28 pounds, 5 ounces).
Stren Series tournaments are four-day events consisting of three rounds. The entire field competes Wednesday and Thursday, and the top 20 pros and co-anglers - based on two-day accumulated weights - advance to day three. Anglers start at zero Thursday and compete for 10 spots in each division in the final round. Winners are determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from days three and four.
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, Stratos Owners' Tournament Trail, Wal-Mart FLW Walleye Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Walleye League, Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Series and Wal-Mart FLW Redfish Series. These circuits offer combined purses exceeding $36.9 million through 241 events in 2006.
For more information about 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 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.