Jordon opened the tournament with a five-bass limit weighing 17 pounds, 9 ounces to place fifth then climbed to second Thursday with a limit weighing 12 pounds, 15 ounces. On Friday, with the field cut to the top 10 and weights zeroed, he slipped to sixth with a limit weighing just 7 pounds, 13 ounces. His final day heroics, however, boosted his two-day total to 30 pounds, 13 ounces to claim the win.
“This is one of my favorite lakes in the entire country,” said Jordon, who is a three-time Bassmaster Tour winner and three-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier. “I had the most amazing 30 minutes of fishing in my life today. All the fish I weighed in, I caught in 30 minutes. It was just one of those deals where everything just lined up.”
Jordon caught all of his bass Saturday on a Junebug Lake Fork Craw Tube mated to a 1 3/8-ounce tungsten weight that he was flipping into a dense hydrilla mat in an area of the Monkey Box that produced the majority of his fish all week.
While plenty of bass weighing more than 8 pounds where brought to the scales this week, including an 11-pounder caught by Castrol pro Bobby Curtis of Siloam Springs, Ark., and a 10-pound, 2-ounce bass caught by 17-year-old co-angler Stetson Blaylock of Benton, Ark., the “Big O” was relatively stingy due to suspended sediments kicked up by high winds and water from last year’s hurricanes. A recent cold front also contributed to the tough conditions.
Curtis’ bass tied with an 11-pounder caught in 1998 on Sam Rayburn Reservoir by Ray Beck of Beaumont, Texas, as the second largest bass ever caught on the FLW Tour. The record bass weighing 11 pounds, 14 ounces was caught in 1996 on the Santee Cooper Lakes by Jim Nolan of Bull Shoals, Ark.
The angler who catches the overall largest bass during the 2005 season will win a $5,000 Snickers Big Bass award.
Rounding out the top five anglers are Pedigree pro Steve Kennedy of Auburn, Ala. (10 bass, 26 pounds, 9 ounces, $36,000); Yamaha pro Dean Rojas of Grand Saline, Texas (seven bass, 19 pounds, 8 ounces, $25,000); Toshinari Namiki of Mineola, Texas (10 bass, 19 pounds, 5 ounces, $20,000); and Yamaha pro Terry Bolton of Paducah, Ky. (seven bass, 17 pounds, 11 ounces, $18,000).
During the tournament, 2,415 bass weighing a total of 4,165 pounds, 10 ounces were brought to the scale. More than 99 percent of the bass were released alive. If the tour maintains a 98 percent live-release rate throughout the season, Energizer will donate $25,000 to the Children’s Miracle Network.
Toshinari Namiki of Mineola, Texas, earned the Energizer Keeps on Going Award and a $500 Wal-Mart gift card for advancing to the final round as the No. 5 seed after finishing 77th on opening day.
Dwight Ameling of Sebring, Fla., handily won the Co-angler Division title and $20,000 Friday by an astounding 11-pound, 9-ounce margin thanks to a 7-pounder that boosted his five-bass catch to 14 pounds, 13 ounces.
Ameling, who was fishing with Bobby Lane of Lakeland, Fla., during the final round of co-angler competition, was flipping a Texas-rigged watermelon crawdad pegged with a 1-ounce weight. Lane finished the tournament in seventh place with a total of nine bass weighing 14 pounds, 7 ounces.
Anglers were also competing this week for valuable points that determine Land O’ Lakes Angler of the Year standings and the field for the 2005 Forrest L. Wood Championship, set for July 13-16 in Hot Springs, Ark., on Lake Hamilton. The $1.5 million championship presented by Castrol awards the winning pro $500,000 cash, the sport’s largest award, and features a world-class outdoor show with more than 140 booths and displays for everything from crankbaits to bass boats.
Complete coverage of the FLW Tour stop on Lake Okeechobee will be broadcast on Fox Sports Net as part of the “FLW Outdoors” program debuting Feb. 6 at 11 a.m. Eastern time. “FLW Outdoors” will air every Sunday at 11 a.m. on FSN.
Named after the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, Forrest L. Wood, FLW Outdoors administers the Wal-Mart FLW Tour and seven other national tournament circuits offering a combined $30 million in awards through 214 events in 2005. The 27-year-old organization is the purveyor of America’s largest and most prestigious fishing tournaments, including the Wal-Mart FLW Tour, EverStart Series, Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League, Wal-Mart Texas Tournament Trail, Wal-Mart FLW Walleye Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Walleye League, Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Tour and Wal-Mart FLW Redfish Series.
The second FLW Tour stop of 2005, presented by Snickers, will be held February 9-12 on Lake Toho in Kissimmee-St. Cloud, Fla. Seven Up will present the tour’s third stop on the Ouachita River in Monroe, La., March 9-12 followed by the Wal-Mart Open presented by Tyson on Beaver Lake in Rogers, Ark., April 13-16. Wheeler Lake in Decatur, Ala., will host the fifth tour stop, presented by Pedigree, May 11-14 followed by the final regular-season event, a stop presented by Kellogg’s on the Potomac River in LaPlata, Md., June 22-25.
Wal-Mart and many of America’s largest and most respected companies support FLW Outdoors and its tournament trails. Wal-Mart signed on as title sponsor of the FLW Tour in 1997 and today is the title sponsor of all FLW Outdoors events.
For more information on Wal-Mart, visit Wal-Mart.com. For more information on FLW Outdoors and its tournament programs, visit FLWOutdoors.com or call (270) 252-1000. For more information on FSN, visit FoxSports.com.