“I am very happy with my weight today. It is definitely more than I expected,” said Minderman, who has earned more than $127,000 in career earnings with FLW Outdoors events and finished first at the 2003 Stren Series Lake Mead event. "I was culling fish by 8:30 a.m. and the very first fish I caught was the Snickers Big Bass of the day.
“I caught another big one around 9:30 a.m. and I really wanted to try and catch more but I decided to conserve the fish in that area. I didn’t want to catch them all on the first day. So, I went looking in other areas for more big fish but on this lake I was happy with two quality bass.”
Minderman remained tight-lipped about the exact technique he used to land his stringer, but did say he caught 15 keepers off two cuts in an area that he had never been to before. He said that is locating fish in about 3 to 15 feet of water.
“I was thinking I could catch 12 pounds today and with that second big fish I knew that I would get to that weight," Minderman said. “I plan to go back to the same area tomorrow and try to cover some new areas that I found in practice that I didn’t go to today. I am shooting for 12 to 13 pounds to stay on top.”
Rounding out the top five pros are Michael Free of Milton, Wash. (five bass, 12-01); Jason Hickey of Weiser, Idaho (five bass, 11-10) and Sean Stafford of Fairfield, Calif. (five bass, 11-10).
Jim Hawkes of Apache Junction, Ariz., and Minderman each earned $154 for the day’s Snickers Big Bass award in the Pro Division thanks to a 4-pound, 1-ounce bass.
Overall there were 429 bass weighing 748 pounds, 12 ounces caught by 101 pros Wednesday. The catch included 70 five-bass limits.
Pros are competing this week for a top award of $125,000 plus valuable points in the hope of qualifying for the BP East-National Guard West Fish-Off and a shot at advancing to the $2 million, 2009 Forrest Wood Cup, where the winning pro will earn as much as $1 million – the sport’s biggest award.
Tournament pros aren’t the only ones winning big this season. With the introduction of FLW Fantasy Fishing™, FLW Outdoors® offers anyone the opportunity to enter for their chance to land the catch of a lifetime with the opportunity to win $7.3 million in cash and prizes. Players can become a virtual pro angler by signing up for Player’s Advantage, providing them with exclusive insider information that could guide them to a $100,000 victory at every Wal-Mart FLW Tour® stop and the Forrest Wood Cup. Player’s Advantage will give them an edge over the competition and increase their shot for a $1 million cash grand prize that will be awarded to the FLW Fantasy Fishing cumulative points winner.
Those who visit FantasyFishing.com today can sign up for Player’s Advantage and FLW Outdoors will include a $15 Wal-Mart gift card.
Chris Bozarth of Henderson, Nev., leads the Co-angler Division with five bass weighing 9 pounds followed by John Browning of Payson, Ariz., and Matthew Thompson of Newhall, Calif., who are currently tied for second place with five bass weighing 8-08.
“What a great way to start off the tournament,” said Bozarth, who if fishing in his first event with FLW Outdoors. “It was a tough day. I was just glad to get five today.”
Bozarth caught his bass while fishing with Pringles Minis pro Gabe Bolivar of Ramona, Calif., who is currently in 24th place with five bass weighing 9-03.
“I caught nine fish total today with one key bait. When the wind picked up I targeted points and they really started biting, Bozarth said. “Tomorrow, my goal is to get five quality fish and stay on top of the leader board. I have confidence going into the second day throwing my key bait. We will see how good it does two days in a row.”
Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Tommy Cardoza of Lakeport, Calif. (five bass, 8-07) and JR Wright of Truckee, Calif. (four bass, 8-05).
Wes Carey of Highland, Calif., and Mike Iloski of Escondido, Calif., each earned $95 for the Snickers Big Bass award in the Co-angler Division thanks to a 3-pound, 9-ounce bass.
Overall there were 264 bass weighing 406 pounds, 4 ounces caught by 90 co-anglers Wednesday. The catch included 21 five-bass limits.
Co-anglers are competing this week for a top award of $25,000. Like the pros, the top 30 co-anglers from both FLW Series divisions after four qualifying events are complete will advance to the East-West Fish-Off for a shot at qualifying for the Forrest Wood Cup.
Anglers will take off at 6:30 each morning from Callville Bay-Forever Resorts in Lake Mead. Thursday and Friday’s weigh-in will be held at the marina beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday’s weigh-in will be held at the Wal-Mart store located at 300 E. Lake Mead Drive in Henderson, beginning at 4 p.m. Children will also be treated to a Family Fun Zone prior to Saturday’s weigh-in from noon to 4 p.m. at Wal-Mart. Activities in the Family Fun Zone include the Kellogg’s trout pond, a Ranger boat simulator and assorted fishing-themed games. All activities are free and open to the public.
In FLW Series competition, pros and co-anglers are randomly paired each day, with pros supplying the boat, controlling boat movement and competing against other pros. Co-anglers fish from the back deck against other co-anglers. The entire field competes for the first three days, and co-angler competition concludes on day three with the winner determined by the heaviest accumulated three-day weight. The top 10 professionals continue competition on day four, and the winner is determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from all four days.
Coverage of the Lake Mead FLW Series tournament will be broadcast to 81 million FSN (Fox Sports Net) subscribers in the United States as part of the “FLW Outdoors” television program airing July 6. “FLW Outdoors” is also broadcast in Canada on WFN (World Fishing Network) and to more than 429 million households in the United Kingdom, Europe, Russia, Australia, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East through a distribution agreement with Matchroom Sport, making it the most widely distributed fishing program in the world. The program airs Sunday mornings at 11 Eastern time in most markets. Check local listings for times in your area.
FLW Outdoors, named after Forrest L. Wood, the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, is the largest fishing tournament organization in the world. In 2008 alone the organization is offering more than 90,000 anglers the chance to win over $40 million through 230 tournaments in 10 circuits targeting bass, walleye, redfish, kingfish and striped bass. FLW Outdoors is also taking fishing mainstream with the largest cash awards in the history of fantasy sports, $7.3 million.
For more information about FLW Outdoors and its tournaments, visit FLWOutdoors.com or call (270) 252-1000. For more information about FLW Fantasy Fishing and Player’s Advantage, visit FantasyFishing.com.
FLW Outdoors historically maintains a 98 percent live release rate in all of its bass tournaments.