Behind Monsoor in second is two-time Beaver Lake champion and Kellogg’s pro Clark Wendlandt of Cedar Park, Texas. The two are catching their bass in different ways, as Monsoor is primarily swimming a jig while Wendlandt is using a crankbait. Monsoor not only has his most lucrative payday to date on the line but also his first FLW Tour win. Wendlandt has scored three FLW Tour wins over the course of his career.
“I’m just fishing,” said Monsoor, who has 24 FLW Outdoors top-10 finishes to his credit, including a runner-up finish earlier this season at the FLW Tour event on the Atchafalaya Basin. “I’m swimming a jig, and (the fish) seem to like it here. These guys are great here, and I’m just happy to make the top 10 – whatever happens, happens. I get to fish one more day, and I’m as happy as I can be.”
Monsoor’s biggest advantage may lie in the fact that his productive jig pattern is among his greatest strengths. “About 20 years ago I figured out how to catch fish swimming jigs, so I started making my own,” he said. “I learned I can use it deep on these clear lakes, and the fish showed me they like it around here deep.”
Rounding out the top five pros are Wendlandt (five bass, 11 pounds, 8 ounces); Shinichi Fukae of Osaka, Japan (five bass, 10 pounds, 7 ounces); Tim Klinger of Boulder City, Nev. (five bass, 10 pounds, 1 ounce); and Yamaha pro Mark Hardin of Canton, Ga. (five bass, 9 pounds, 3 ounces).
Rick Turner of Tyler, Texas, earned $40,000 Friday as winner of the Co-angler Division thanks to his one-day total of five bass weighing 7 pounds, 13 ounces. He bested the co-angler field by a scant 3 ounces.
“I had a great day,” said Turner, a Wal-Mart Texas Tournament Trail standout who is fishing his second season on the FLW Tour. “I fished with Tim Klinger and we caught quite a few fish; I had eight keepers total. I caught them on a Spot Remover and a 4-inch green pumpkin Zoom Finesse Worm. We caught fish from 5 feet to 17 feet, probably.”
Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Clayton Reitz of Morton, Ill. (five bass, 7 pounds, 10 ounces, $20,000); Mike Jones of Lebanon, Mo. (five bass, 5 pounds, 10 ounces, $10,000); Mike Hawks of Woodlawn, Va. (two bass, 2 pounds, 15 ounces, $9,000); and Jason Knapp of Uniontown, Pa. (two bass, 2 pounds, 4 ounces, $8,000).
The tournament, which is presented by Tyson Foods, began Wednesday with 200 pros and 200 co-anglers competing for two days for one of 10 slots in Friday’s competition. Pro Division competition continues Saturday. The tournament is one of three FLW Tour events in 2004 with cash purses of more than $1 million, including the $1.5 million Wal-Mart FLW Tour Championship, set for Aug. 11-14 on Logan Martin Lake in Birmingham, Ala. The winning pro at the championship will earn $500,000 cash, the sport’s largest guaranteed cash award.
Prairie Creek Marina in Rogers will host the final takeoff at 6:30 a.m. Saturday. The final weigh-in will take place at the Wal-Mart store located at 2110 W. Walnut in Rogers beginning at 3 p.m.
Jason Abram of Chuckey, Tenn., earned the Energizer Keeps on Going Award and a $500 Wal-Mart gift card for advancing to the final round as the No. 7 seed after finishing 92nd on opening day.
Craig Powers of Rockwood, Tenn., earned the Shop-Vac Clean Sweep Award and a selection of four Shop-Vac products for advancing to the finals as the No. 1 seed with 10 bass weighing 27 pounds, 9 ounces.
Wendlandt earned the Schick Close Shave Award, a $100 Wal-Mart gift card and a selection of Schick products for advancing to the finals in the last qualifying position.
Coverage of the Wal-Mart Open 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 April 18 at 1 p.m. Eastern time and April 22 at 5 p.m. Eastern time. Fishing fans can watch the tournament weigh-in with hosts Carlton Wing, Taylor Carr and Charlie Evans April 25 at 1 p.m. and April 29 at 5 p.m. Eastern time. Tournament veteran Larry Nixon will host a tournament wrap-up May 2 at 1 p.m. Eastern time and May 6 at 5 p.m. Eastern time.
The winner of the FLW Tour stop on Beaver Lake will also be featured on “FLW Outdoors Presented by Wal-Mart” on Sunday from 9-11 a.m. Eastern time. The cutting-edge radio program hosted by Keith Lebowitz and Tony Casillas is broadcast live on the World Wide Web at FLWOutdoors.com. The show is also broadcast throughout Texas and parts of Oklahoma on Fox Sports 1190 AM KFXR in Dallas. Listeners who would like to ask a question of any show guest can e-mail the question to firstname.lastname@example.org. The show will broadcast live Sunday from the Wal-Mart Supercenter at 3919 N. Mall Ave. in Fayetteville.
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.