MORGAN CITY, La. (Feb. 12, 2004) – The rain continued Thursday and temperatures dropped, but pro Tom Monsoor of La Crosse, Wis., continued to catch quality bass and jumped from second place to take the heading into the final two days of the $900,000 Wal-Mart FLW Tour stop presented by Lay’s on the Atchafalaya Basin. Monsoor fought the elements to catch a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 32 pounds, 11 ounces.

The rain did not fall as heavy Thursday as compared to Wednesday, but strong, chilly north winds and rising, muddy water affected the day’s catch. Fish continued to scatter as more and more vegetation was inundated. Many of the top anglers still managed to find small areas with clear water where bass were congregated and not moving with the rising water.

“I had five spots going into the tournament, and now I’m down to two,” Monsoor said, “Tomorrow will be interesting. I have caught a lot of fish, so I feel good about my chances. I’m fishing clear water that’s about 2 or 3 feet deep.”

Monsoor, like many pros, is using a jig this week. His technique, however, is a little different. Rather than pitching and flipping, Monsoor is swimming his jig off the bottom.

As it turned out, Monsoor only needed about 7 pounds to make the top-10 cut for Friday’s action, but he wasn’t going to take any chances. “I tried not to let up today,” he said. “There’s no tomorrow if you let up today.”

Rounding out the top five pros were Cody Bird of Granbury, Texas (10 bass, 29 pounds, 13 ounces); Chris Baumgardner of Gastonia, N.C. (eight bass, 26 pounds, 10 ounces); Mark Rose of Marion, Ark. (eight bass, 26 pounds, 5 ounces); and Dean Rojas of Grand Saline, Texas (10 bass, 25 pounds, 6 ounces).

Sean Hoernke of Euless, Texas, caught a 6-pound, 8-ounce largemouth Thursday to win the $750 Snickers Big Bass Award in the Pro Division. Pro Mark Pack of Mineola, Texas, earned $1,000 from Snickers for catching the heaviest bass in either division over the first two days. He landed an 8-pound largemouth Wednesday. Snickers will award an additional $5,000 at the end of the year to the angler who catches the heaviest bass during the regular season. Currently that mark belongs to Rojas, who caught a 10-pound largemouth at the season opener on Lake Okeechobee last month.

With the day’s second heaviest weight in either division, William Bridges of Tallapoosa, Ga., amazingly jumped from 96th (the last place among co-anglers that weighed bass Wednesday) to take the co-angler lead with a two-day total of six bass weighing 17 pounds. He caught five bass weighing 15 pounds, 8 ounces Thursday while fishing with pro Steve Tosh of Waterford, Calif., who caught three bass weighing 10 pounds, 1 ounce. Tosh’s two-day total of eight bass weighing 24 pounds, 2 ounce was good for seventh place in the Pro Division.

“I with I could be paired with Steve again tomorrow,” Bridges said. “That guy is really on some fish. We fished clear water in canals near heavy, matted vegetation. I flipped an 8-inch worm today.”

Along with a 4-pound, 15-ounce largemouth, Bridges also caught a bass that weighed 5 pounds, 13 ounces to win Thursday’s Snickers Big Bass Award and $500 in the Co-angler Division.

Arch Cornett of Huntsville, Ala. (eight bass, 16 pounds, 9 ounces); Greg Gulledge of Monticello, Ark. (eight bass, 15 pounds, 5 ounces); Donald Braud of Woodville, Miss. (five bass, 11 pounds, 12 ounces); and Land O’Lakes angler Judy Israel of Clewiston, Fla. (five bass, 10 pounds, 11 ounces) rounded out the top five co-anglers.

A total of 572 bass weighing 1,377 pounds, 15 ounces were caught Thursday, and 99.8 percent of the fish were weighed in alive. Only 26 limits were caught.

The full field competes in the two-day opening round for one of 10 slots in Friday’s competition based on their two-day accumulated weight. Weights are cleared for day three, and co-angler competition concludes following Friday’s weigh-in. The 10 pros continue competition Saturday, with the winner determined by the heaviest two-day weight.

In FLW Tour 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 four-day tournament is the second of seven FLW Tour events that culminate with the $1.5 million Wal-Mart FLW Tour Championship and Outdoor Show in Birmingham, Ala., Aug. 11-14, where the winning pro earns the sport’s largest cash award, $500,000, and fishing fans are treated to hundreds of displays featuring special offers on everything from crankbaits to bass boats.

Coverage of the Atchafalaya Basin tournament will be broadcast to 65 million Outdoor Life Network subscribers on the “FLW Outdoors” television program. A tournament preview featuring bass-fishing legend Hank Parker will air Feb. 29 at 1 p.m. Eastern time and March 4 at 5 p.m. Eastern time. Fishing fans can watch the tournament weigh-in with hosts Carlton Wing, Taylor Carr and Charlie Evans March 7 at 1 p.m. and March 11 at 5 p.m. Eastern time. Tournament veteran Larry Nixon will host a tournament wrap-up March 14 at 1 p.m. Eastern time and March 18 at 5 p.m. Eastern time.

Anglers take off at 7 each morning from Belle River Park Landing in Belle River except for Friday, when takeoff is at 8. Friday and Saturday’s weigh-ins will be held at the Wal-Mart store located at 973 Highway 90 E. in Bayou Vista at 5 p.m. and 3 p.m., respectively.

The community is encouraged to attend the Family Fun Zone Friday and Saturday outside the weigh-in tent in the Wal-Mart parking lot. The Family Fun Zone features interactive displays, product samples and games for the entire family to enjoy. The Fun Zone will open Friday at 3 p.m. and Saturday at 11 a.m.

Named after the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, Forrest L. Wood, the Wal-Mart FLW Tour is administered by FLW Outdoors, the world’s leading marketer of competitive fishing. Other FLW Outdoors-sanctioned tournament trails are the EverStart Series, the Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League, the Wal-Mart RCL Walleye Tour, the Wal-Mart RCL Walleye League and the Wal-Mart Texas Tournament Trail.

Wal-Mart and many of America’s most respected companies support FLW Outdoors and its six tournament trails.  Wal-Mart has been the title sponsor of FLW Outdoors since 1997.