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.
Lane, a pro on the newly formed Pure Fishing team, set the Wal-Mart FLW Tour on fire early in the 2005 season, his rookie season on the FLW Tour, when he made an astounding three top-10 finishes in a row. On the final day of this Stren Series event, Lane will be competing against his brother, Arnie Lane, also of Lakeland. Arnie made the top-10 cut in seventh place, thanks to five bass weighing 11 pounds, 1 ounce. The two Lane brothers were also fishing against a third brother, Christopher Lane of Winter Haven, who narrowly missed the semifinal-round cut in 25th place, and their father, Robert Lane of Lakeland.
"I started out fishing in some mats and got a good bite early," Bobby Lane said. "Then I went on and fished the same pattern I've been fishing all week - flipping isolated weeds." Lane has been flipping a variety of plastics, among them a Berkley Bungee Hog, Gambler Cricket and Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver.
Rounding out the top five pros are Jimmy McMillan of Belle Glade (five bass, 15 pounds, 10 ounces); Bryan Thrift of Shelby, N.C. (five bass, 14 pounds, 2 ounces); Billy Bowen Jr. of Ocala (five bass, 13 pounds, 12 ounces); and Roger Crafton of Boca Grande (five bass, 13 pounds, 8 ounces).
Mark Linn of Sarasota leads the top 10 co-anglers who will advance to the final day in the chase for a top award worth as much as $35,000, including a 519VX Ranger if contingency guidelines are met. He caught five bass weighing 12 pounds, 12 ounces while fishing with pro Bryan Thrift who is currently in third place.
"I've had a different pattern all three days," Linn said. "The first day, I caught them all by flipping, and the next day it was on Senkos. Today, I caught them on spinnerbaits, including an 8-pounder."
Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Mike Goodman of Nebo, N.C. (five bass, 12 pounds, 10 ounces); Judy Israel of Clewiston (five bass, 12 pounds, 3 ounces); Dennis Anderson of Wellington (five bass, 8 pounds, 12 ounces); and Keith J. Carson of Debary (three bass, 8 pounds, 12 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.
Saturday's weigh-in will be held at the Wal-Mart store located at 2101 S. Parrot Ave. in Okeechobee beginning at 4 p.m. Takeoffs and weigh-ins are free and open to the public.
The next Stren Series Southeast Division event will be held Feb. 15-18 on West Point Lake in LaGrange, Ga. Boats will launch from Highland Marina Resort in LaGrange. The Tourism Division of LaGrange Troup County Chamber of Commerce will be hosting the event. Friday and Saturday's weigh-ins will be held at the Wal-Mart located at 803 New Franklin Road in LaGrange.
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, 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 $36.5 million through 235 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.