“This one wasn’t about the money,” said Hibdon, who pushed past the $1 million career winnings mark with the win. “Honest to God, it’s not. It’s knowing that I can still do it. It’s for me.”
Hibdon has become a legend in the sport of professional bass fishing over a 27-year fishing career, including 11 years in FLW Outdoors events. He opened the tournament in first place Wednesday with five bass weighing 23-00 that he caught while focusing on grass and docks. On Thursday, he changed tactics and fished for smallmouth and added another five bass weighing 12-12, but slipped to fifth place. Friday’s competition was canceled due to inclement weather, and Hibdon advanced to the top-10 cut. On Saturday he sealed his victory by reverting to the tactics that gave him success on the first day of competition.
Hibdon said he spent 80 percent of his time fishing 6 to 10 feet of water in “clean” grass, or grass that didn’t appear to be covered in algae. The remainder of his time was focused on docks in Malletts Bay. Hibdon said he caught one fish under docks all day Saturday, and it was his biggest fish — and it came 30 minutes before weigh-in. Hibdon had to endure trolling motor problems throughout the day, but still managed to keep his intensity and fish his strengths.
“I still had just enough trolling motor left to where I could kind of keep it turned sideways so I could make the casts under the docks,” Hibdon said. “But when I hooked the big one, it was a nightmare because I didn’t have hardly enough trolling motor to get to her. It was a pretty crazy deal.”
Hibdon said he skipped 1/8- and 3/16-ounce brown Guido Bugs on 15-pound Trilene braid on spinning equipment when he targeted the docks. When he fished grass, he said he used 20-pound Trilene fluorocarbon on casting equipment and a ¾-ounce chartreuse pumpkin jig with a chartreuse pumpkin Zoom Chunk trailer when he targeted the grass. Wolak fished a variation of a shaky-head rig — a Fin-tech Title SHot Jig — to catch the majority of his fish on the final day of competition.
“I did a little bit of messing around with a jerkbait, a spinnerbait, a drop-shot and homemade jigs trying to catch some smallmouth in the morning real quick, because the largemouth didn’t start biting until like 9 or 10 a.m.,” Wolak said. “If you go after the largemouth in the morning, they’re just not there. But then they migrate to the hard cover. “The largemouth were about 8 or 9 feet deep, and the water is just gin clear,” Wolak said. “Sometimes I could see the end of a board or something like that, and I would pitch to it from different angles. The cover would have a shadow on one side of it, and that’s where the fish would be.”
Rounding out the top five pros are Danny Correia of Marlborough, Mass. (15 bass, 52-11, $38,137); team Kellogg’s pro Clark Wendlandt of Leander, Texas (15 bass, 51-13, $28,603) and Joe Lucarelli of New Hampton, N.H. (15 bass, 51-12, $19,068).
Bud Pruitt of Spring, Texas, caught the biggest bass of the tournament in the Pro Division Thursday – a 6-pound, 7-ounce bass – that earned him the day’s Snickers Big Bass award of $476. Overall there were 50 bass weighing 158 pounds, 12 ounces caught by 10 pros Saturday. Every pro caught a five-bass limit.
With the cancellation of day three, Charles Dubroc of Hessmer, La., won the Co-angler Division and $25,000 with a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 32 pounds, 6 ounces followed by Lynn Baciuska of Afton, N.Y., in second place with 10 bass weighing 29-2 worth $9,665.
Dubroc caught five bass weighing 14-13 while fishing with team Folgers pro Anthony Gagliardi of Prosperity, S.C., Wednesday and five bass weighing 17-9 while fishing with pro Gaspare Costabile of Niagra Falls, Ontario, Thursday. Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Jason Perry of Plattsburgh, N.Y. (10 bass, 29-1, $8,698); Dana Perrotte of Winooski, Vt. (10 bass, 28-1, $7,732) and Mark Phillips of Fayetteville, Ark. (10 bass, 27-9, $6,765).
Kurt Chelminiak of Delafield, Wis., caught the biggest bass of the tournament in the Co-angler Division Friday – a 5-pound, 8-ounce bass – that earned him the day’s Snickers Big Bass award of $290.
FLW Outdoors historically maintains a 98 percent live release rate in all of its bass tournaments.
Coverage of the Lake Champlain FLW Series tournament, which featured 380 anglers representing 33 states, Canada and Japan, will be broadcast to 81 million FSN (Fox Sports Net) subscribers in the United States as part of the “FLW Outdoors” television program airing Nov. 4. “FLW Outdoors” airs Sunday mornings at 11 Eastern time.
“FLW Outdoors” is also broadcast internationally to approximately 350 million households in Europe, Africa and Asia, making it the most widely distributed weekly fishing program in the world. Additionally, FLW Outdoors is proud to provide tournament coverage to more than 800,000 servicemembers stationed around the world in 177 countries and aboard Navy ships through broadcasts on the American Forces Network.
The next FLW Series BP Eastern Division tournament, hosted by Florence/Lauderdale Tourism, will be held Oct. 10-13 on Pickwick Lake in Florence, Ala. Boats will launch from McFarland Park in Florence and the final weigh-in will be held at the Wal-Mart located at 3100 Hough Rd. in Florence.
After four qualifying events are complete in the BP Eastern Division, the top 30 pros and 30 co-anglers will advance to the BP East-National Guard West Fishoff Jan. 17-19, 2008, where they will face the top 30 pros and 30 co-anglers from the National Guard Western Division for a shot at advancing to the $2 million, 2008 Forrest Wood Cup. The winning pro at the Forrest Wood Cup will earn as much as $1 million – the sport’s biggest award.
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 of nearly $43 million through 241 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 Walmart.com.
For more information about FLW Outdoors and its tournaments, visit FLWOutdoors.com or call (270) 252-1000.