When the weigh-in wrapped up before a capacity crowd of cheering fans, it was Andre Moore of Scottsdale, Ariz., who landed one of the sport’s most coveted titles with a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 24 pounds, 5 ounces.
“I try so hard in these tournaments, and I’m always experimenting,” said Moore, who won the 2002 Wal-Mart Open and used his winnings from that event to form Reaction Innovations bait company. “That is why I founded my company. I never felt like I had the exact right equipment, so I decided to make it.”
Moore opened the tournament with a five-bass limit weighing 11 pounds, 7 ounces to place 28th then climbed to fifth place Thursday with a limit weighing 13 pounds, 10 ounces. On Friday, with weights zeroed and the field cut from 200 pros and 200 co-anglers to the top 10 in each division, Moore continued his rise up the leader board to second place with a limit weighing 14 pounds.
“This is a tough lake,” Moore said. “It really is. The year after I won, I came back the following season and finished in the hundreds. I thought then that maybe Beaver Lake is not so nice to me, but I’ve learned a lot here.”
Moore used a prototype soft plastic bait of his own design to win the 2002 Wal-Mart Open. That bait was eventually named the Sweet Beaver in honor of the tournament lake. This year, Moore used a smaller version of the lure, a Smallie Beaver, and a Flirt finesse worm to win the sight-fishing shootout. On Saturday his limit included a spotted bass, a meanmouth, a smallmouth and two largemouth bass. All of the fish came from Indian Creek and around the dam.
Castrol pro Darrell Robertson of Jay, Okla., a past Forrest L. Wood Championship winner who has earned more than $1 million in FLW Outdoors competition since 1997, added another $100,000 to his total for finishing second. He caught the majority of his fish this week running the banks in Rocky Branch, North Clifty and Big Clifty with a white and chartreuse spinnerbait then fishing beds with watermelon and bubble gum colored lizards. He entered the final day of competition with five bass weighing 14 pounds, 6 ounces, and his two-day total of 10 bass weighed 23 pounds, 12 ounces.
Alton Jones of Waco, Texas (10 bass, 22 pounds, 5 ounces, $50,000); Clifford Pirch of Payson, Ariz. (10 bass, 19 pounds, 15 ounces, $40,000); and Banana Boat pro Kevin Vida of Clare, Mich. (10 bass, 18 pounds, 4 ounces, $30,000) rounded out the top five pros.
Four of the 10 pro finalists fishing Saturday where making their second consecutive top-10 appearance. Robertson finished seventh at the FLW Tour stop on the Ouachita River in Monroe, La., last month; Kellogg’s pro Alvin Shaw of State Road, N.C., finished sixth; Lawry’s pro Jason Kilpatrick of Satsuma, Ala., finished third; and Jeremiah Kindy of Benton, Ark., finished 10th. Five of the finalists – Cody Bird of Granbury, Texas; Mark Pack of Mineola, Texas; Robertson; Moore; and Kilpatrick – also earned previous top-10s on Beaver Lake.
The 10 pro finalists brought seven five-bass limits to the scale Saturday thanks to clear skies and temperatures in the upper 70s – perfect sight-fishing conditions. The total catch of 42 bass Saturday weighed 79 pounds, 8 ounces, and more than 99 percent of the fish were released alive this week. If the tour maintains a 98 percent live-release rate throughout the season, Energizer will donate $25,000 to the Children’s Miracle Network.
Frank Meyer of Marianna, Fla., took top honors and $40,000 in the Co-angler Division Friday with five bass weighing 6 pounds, 12 ounces. He caught the fish on a green pumpkin finesse worm rigged on a Spot Remover jig head while fishing with Kindy. Meyer also used 8-pound-test fluorocarbon line.
Robert Blosser of Poynette, Wis. (four bass, 5 pounds, 3 ounces, $20,000); Jim Blake of Lincoln, Neb. (three bass, 3 pounds, 13 ounces, $10,000); Rob Newell of Tallahassee, Fla. (three bass, 3 pounds, $9,000); and Mary Parnell of Casselberry, Fla. (two bass, 2 pounds, 11 ounces, $8,000) rounded out the top five co-anglers.
Parnell caught the Arkansas meanmouth record of 5 pounds, 4 ounces on Beaver Lake during the 2003 Wal-Mart Open.
In addition to a top award of $200,000 and cash awards of $10,000 through 50th place in the Pro Division, anglers were also competing this week for valuable points that determine Land O’ Lakes Angler of the Year standings and the field for the 2005 Forrest L. Wood Championship, set for July 13-16 in Hot Springs, Ark., on Lake Hamilton. The $1.5 million championship presented by Castrol awards the winning pro $500,000 cash, the sport’s largest payout, and features a world-class outdoor show.
Complete coverage of the Wal-Mart Open Powered by Tyson will be broadcast on FSN May 8 and May 15 as part of the “Wal-Mart FLW Outdoors” television program. “Wal-Mart FLW Outdoors” airs every Sunday at 11 a.m. Eastern time on FSN.
The next stop on the $7.6 million Wal-Mart FLW Tour will be a $900,000 tournament presented by Pedigree on Wheeler Lake in Decatur, Ala., May 11-14. The tournament is hosted by the Decatur Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Named after the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, Forrest L. Wood, FLW Outdoors administers the Wal-Mart FLW Tour and seven other national tournament circuits offering a combined $30 million in awards through 214 events in 2005. The 27-year-old organization is the purveyor of America’s largest and most prestigious fishing tournaments, including the Wal-Mart FLW Tour, EverStart 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 and Wal-Mart FLW Redfish Series.
Wal-Mart and many of America’s largest and most respected companies support FLW Outdoors and its tournament trails. Wal-Mart signed on as title sponsor of the FLW Tour in 1997 and today is the title sponsor of all FLW Outdoors events.
For more information on Wal-Mart, visit Wal-Mart.com. For more information on FLW Outdoors and its tournament programs, visit FLWOutdoors.com or call (270) 252-1000. For more information on FSN, visit FoxSports.com.