The catch gave him the win by a 2-pound, 15-ounce margin over Andre Moore of Alabaster, Ala., who caught a total of 20 bass weighing 86-13 and earned $48,841.
“It happened on a swimbait,” said Klinger, who increased his career earnings to more than $451,000 with the win. “I’d see a few fish shallow in practice, and every day I’d start seeing more and more. They were shallow either on points and rockpiles or on seawalls.”
Klinger said he saw the fish in about four feet of water and began throwing a bait designed to catch big fish — a swimbait. Klinger said he caught six fish throughout the final day of competition and lost a 5-pounder that would have boosted his final day’s weight.
“Every time I’d come back to a certain spot on the wall I was fishing, I’d mark it — a bush, or by a rock — whatever was on top,” Klinger said. “There would be a 5- to 9-pounder sitting on it.”
Klinger said the dramatic win at Clear Lake also was an emotional one.
“A sponsor couldn’t ask for anything more than to have both their sponsored pro and co-angler win their event,” Klinger said, referring to FLW Series Western Division title sponsor National Guard. “To do it for them here — this one means so much to me.”
Rounding out the top five pros are Chris Zaldain of San Jose, Calif. (20 bass, 85-4, $39,073); Jason Newby of Bakersfield, Calif. (20 bass, 79-10, $29,305) and Randy McAbee Jr. of Bakersfield (20 bass, 75-15, $19,536).
Kelly Kellogg of Kelso, Wash., caught the biggest bass of the tournament in the Pro Division Thursday – an 11-pound, 8-ounce smallmouth – that earned him the day’s Snickers Big Bass award of $488.
Overall there were 50 bass weighing 191 pounds, 9 ounces caught by 10 pros Saturday. The catch included 10 five-bass limits.
Team National Guard co-angler Justin Lucas of Folsom, Calif., claimed his second consecutive FLW Series victory when he won the Co-angler Division and $25,000 Friday with a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 54 pounds, 1 ounce followed by Kenny Williamson of Peoria, Ariz., in second place with 15 bass weighing 50-11 worth $9,835.
Lucas, who won the FLW Series event at the Columbia River in September and became the first co-angler to post the first back-to-back wins in FLW Series competition, opened the tournament in first place Wednesday with five bass weighing 20-8 while fishing with pro Del Orton of Boise, Idaho. On Thursday he maintained his lead on the strength of a five-bass catch weighing 16-2 while fishing with pro Wayne Breazeale of Kelseyville on Thursday. He wrapped up the win Friday with a five-bass catch weighing 17-7 while fishing with pro Lewis Milligan of Roseville, Calif.
“I’ve been so lucky to get such great pros for the six days of these last two events,” Lucas said. “To come out and fish with the best pros in the west and win money while doing it … how can you beat that?
Lucas credits his win to 8-pound Berkley fluorocarbon line and the six-inch Berkley Power Finesse Worm Hand Pour in Triple Margarita color.
“That’s what I caught 80 percent of my fish on,” Lucas said. “It’s been my go-to bait.”
Lucas said he caught about 20 fish Friday and targeted rocks in an area he had fished prior to the start of the tournament.
“I caught two five-pounders and a two-pounder there,” Lucas said. “Then we ran all over the lake and didn’t catch anything, so we went back to that spot and that’s when I caught more fish. A lot more.”
Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Ken Schmitt of Livermore, Calif. (15 bass, 50-10, $8,851); Hideki Maeda of Japan (15 bass, 49-11, $7,868) and Paul Fontaine of Brentwood, Calif. (14 bass, 48-3, $6,884).
Andrew Sanchez of Antioch, Calif., earned $295 for the Snickers Big Bass award in the Co-angler Division thanks to the 13-pound, 2-ounce bass he caught while fishing with pro Shaun Bailey of Lake Havasu City, Ariz. The giant bass, which eclipsed the 13-pound, 1-ounce bass caught in a Stren Series event earlier this year, is the largest bass taken from Clear Lake in an FLW Outdoors event. The bass fell for a Norman crankbait.
FLW Outdoors historically maintains a 98 percent live release rate in all of its bass tournaments. Coverage of the Clear Lake FLW Series tournament, which featured 173 pros and 173 co-anglers representing 17 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 Dec. 30. “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.
After four qualifying events are complete in the National Guard Western Division, the top 30 pros and 30 co-anglers will advance to the BP East-National Guard West Fishoff Feb. 14-16, 2008, where they will face the top 30 pros and 30 co-anglers from the BP Eastern 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.