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.
"I've been trying to catch a limit early on a Rat-L-Trap before going flipping for a big fish," McMillan said of his pattern. "Today, I did catch a big fish." Indeed, McMillan landed a 10-pounder on Thursday, good for the Snicker's Big Bass award and $750.
McMillan has been fishing his home waters in the south end of the lake, and believes his fish are in a transition phase. "Most of the smaller fish are schooling," McMillan said, "but I think the big one was getting ready to go onto the bed."
Rounding out the top five pros are Timothy Little of Acworth, Ga. (10 bass, 33 pounds, 7 ounces); Casey Ashley of Donalds, S.C. (10 bass, 33 pounds, 1 ounce); Bryan Thrift of Shelby, N.C. (10 bass, 30 pounds, 13 ounces); and Lance Oligschlaeger of La Vergne, Tenn. (10 bass, 30 pounds, 13 ounces).
Brad Rodrigue of Pierre Part, La., leads the Co-angler Division for the second day in a row 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 total bass weighing 24 pounds, 13 ounces while fishing with pro Yancy Windham of Gordo, Ala.
"The first day, I fished with Bill Terry (of Vero Beach) and caught my fish on a Fluke and Senko. Today, Yancy wanted me to catch five early so I could stay in the hunt," Rodrigue said. "I had my limit in the boat by 11 a.m." Rodrigue threw crankbaits, Zoom Brush Hogs and spinnerbaits to catch his day-two limit.
Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Jason Luszcak of Palos Hills, Ill. (nine bass, 24 pounds, 8 ounces); Lance Henderson of Ft. Ogden (10 bass, 25 pounds, 5 ounces); Mark Linn of Sarasota (seven bass, 21 pounds, 1 ounce); and Tom Ridley of Valdosta, Ga. (10 bass, 19 pounds, 3 ounces).
Dennis Anderson of Wellington earned $250 for the Snicker's Big Bass award in the Co-angler Division thanks to an 8-pound, 12-ounce bass.
Anglers caught a total of 1,462 bass weighing 2,477 pounds, 5 ounces on the second day of the event.
Friday and Saturday's weigh-ins will be held at the Wal-Mart located at 2101 S. Parrot Ave. in Okeechobee beginning at 4 p.m. Takeoffs and weigh-ins are free and open to the public.
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.
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.