Overall, the entire field of 400 anglers from 14 states, as well as Mexico, Japan and Australia, had a near-record day with 1,751 bass weighing 4,693 pounds, 11 ounces crossing the weigh-in stage - a collective performance good for third in the FLW Outdoors' record books behind catches of 4,874-05 on Lake Champlain in New York and 5,071-08 on Lake Amistad in Texas last season.
"It was just one of those days," said Opalecky. "Every bite was a big bite and they came all the way to the boat. I fished hard and made a lot of casts."
Opalecky caught his fish in 4 to 6 feet of water on a crankbait. His total weight is even more amazing considering he went almost four hours without a bite.
"My first cast was a 5-pounder, and I thought, 'This might turn out to be a pretty good day,'" Opalecky said. "I was fortunate enough to get enough good bites early to keep doing what I was doing all day long. By 9:30, I had 21 pounds, and I didn't catch another fish until about 1 p.m."
Opalecky switched to a bigger crankbait and soon caught his biggest fish - a 9-pound, 5-ounce bass.
"I fished close and didn't burn a lot of gas," Opalecky said. "I had a great day. Today was one of those days you dream about."
Local angler Bobby Barrack of Oakley, Calif., trails Opalecky in the No. 2 spot with five bass weighing 31-3.
"I started out about 30 miles south of Russo's Marina and caught a couple of nice fish," Barrack said. "Then we moved a little further south and caught another nice fish and then started working our way back by spot-hopping. I'm using a new Dandy Baits prototype bait. I had four of them when I started, but now I'm down to two. Hopefully they'll hold up for the rest of the tournament.
"I'm going to do pretty much the same thing in different areas tomorrow," Barrack added. "I'm running through areas, and if there is boat traffic around, then I'm off to the next area. I'm just trying to keep it simple."
Rounding out the top five pros are Ronald Hobbs Jr. of Graham, Wash., (five bass, 27-12); Michael Rooke of Lake Havasu City, Ariz. (five bass, 27-2) and Chris Raza of Roseville, Calif. (five bass, 27-0).
Opalecky earned the day's $500 Snickers Big Bass award in the Pro Division thanks to his 9-pound, 5-ounce bass.
Overall there were 961 bass weighing 2,835 pounds, 15 ounces caught by pros Wednesday. The catch included 181 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 Fishoff and a shot at advancing to the $2 million, 2008 Forrest Wood Cup, where the winning pro will earn as much as $1 million - the sport's biggest award. The top 30 pros from both FLW Series divisions after four qualifying events are complete will advance to the East-West Fishoff, which will be held Jan. 17-19, 2008. The location for the fishoff has not yet been announced. Thirty winners from the fishoff will advance to the 2008 Forrest Wood Cup.
Mike Iloski of Escondido, Calif., leads the Co-angler Division with five bass weighing 23-7 followed by Tim Demecs of Peoria, Ariz., in second place with five bass weighing 19-5.
"It was tough for me early," said Iloski. "I didn't get my first fish until about 10:30. And then by 1:30 I had my limit."
Iloski caught his bass flipping and throwing a variety of soft plastics while fishing with pro Randy Potter of Camas, Wash., who is currently in 49th place with five bass weighing 16-13.
Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Michael Spencer of Alpine, Calif. (five bass, 18-9); Andy Scholz of Reno, Nev. (five bass, 18-5) and Jerreth Bain of Kennsaw, Ga. (five bass, 18-4).
Kirk Beardsley of Huntington Beach, Calif., earned $300 for the Snickers Big Bass award in the Co-angler Division thanks to a 9-pound, 15-ounce bass he caught while fishing with pro Brian Carpenter of Livermore, Calif. Overall there were 790 bass weighing 1,857 pounds, 12 ounces caught by co-anglers Wednesday. The catch included 114 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 Fishoff for a shot at the $2 million, 2008 Forrest Wood Cup.
Anglers will take off at 7:30 each morning from Russo's Marina located at 3995 Willow Road in Bethel Island, Calif. 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 4893 Lone Tree Way in Antioch, Calif., 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 Fujifilm trout pond, a Ranger boat simulator and assorted fishing-themed games. All activities are free and open to the public.
Ranger boat test rides, powered by Yamaha and Evinrude, will be given at Russo's Marina Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The test rides allow the public to experience a Ranger boat ride with a professional angler. Test riders will receive a certificate for free accessories valued at $2,000 when they purchase a Ranger boat powered by Yamaha or Evinrude.
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.
FLW Outdoors historically maintains a 98 percent live release rate in all of its bass tournaments.
Coverage of the California Delta 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 April 15. "FLW Outdoors" airs Sunday mornings at 11 Eastern time. "FLW Outdoors" is also broadcast internationally to approximately 350 million households in Europe, Africa and Asia, making it the most widely distributed weekly fishing program in the world. Additionally, FLW Outdoors is proud to provide tournament coverage to more than 800,000 servicemembers stationed around the world in 177 countries and aboard Navy ships through broadcasts on the American Forces Network.
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 presented by Abu Garcia, Ranger Owners Tournament Championship Series, Wal-Mart FLW Walleye Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Walleye League, Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Series, Wal-Mart FLW Redfish Series and Wal-Mart FLW Striper Series. These circuits offer combined purses of nearly $43 million through 238 events in 2007.
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.
For more information about FLW Outdoors and its tournaments, visit FLWOutdoors.com or call (270) 252-1000.