$1.25 million on the line for world's top bass anglers

ROGERS, Ark., (April 6, 2006) - An opening round total of 10 bass weighing 31-pounds, 4-ounces propelled Team Gain pro Craig Powers of Rockwood, Tenn., to the top of the leaderboard Thursday in the $1.25 million Wal-Mart Open powered by Tyson.

Powers now leads 10 pros into the final round of competition on Beaver Lake, an annual stop for the Wal-Mart FLW Tour and the permanent home of the Wal-Mart Open for the past nine years.

"When you can relax and just go fishing, good things happen," said Powers, who caught five bass weighing 15-9 Wednesday and five bass weighing 15-11 Thursday. "So that's what I did."

Powers' second day catch, anchored by a 6-pound, 8-ounce largemouth, was enough to overcome the 1-pound, 1-ounce lead of Pedigree pro Jeffrey Thomas of Broadway, N.C., who dropped to second Thursday with a two day total of 10 bass weighing 29-10.

A tour veteran with 30 FLW Outdoors top-10 finishes to his credit since 1995, Powers is fishing a technique he pioneered several years ago. He is catching his bass on Bomber Long A that he crawls along the surface over 60 to 70 feet of water to catch schooling bass. In 2004, Powers finished second on Beaver Lake, a mark he would like to overcome this year.

Thomas continued his power-fishing ways to add 13 pounds to his opening day total of 16-10. "My goal was to make the top 10 and go from there," he said.

Rounding out the top five pros are former Bassmaster Classic champion Takahiro Omori of Emory Texas (10 bass, 27-9); former FLW Tour and Ranger M1 champion Darrel Robertson of Jay, Okla. (10 bass, 24-4); and FLW Tour veteran Mike Wurm of Hot Springs, Ark. (10 bass, 23-8).

Also clearing the top-10 cut weight of 21 pounds, 15 ounces are pros Toby Hartsell of Livingston, Texas; Shinichi Fukae of Mineola, Texas; Mark Rose of Marion, Ark.; Clifford Pirch of Pason, Ariz.; and Koby Kreiger of Okeechobee, Fla.

Pro Clay Dyer, 27, of Hamilton, Ala., was born without lower limbs, no arm on his left side and only a partial arm on his right, but that did not stop him from living his dream this week by competing alongside the world's top pro anglers. Dyer, who has fished competitively since the age of 15, caught six bass weighing 8-7 to finish in 159th place. He placed ahead of such well-know pros as FLW Tour winner Kelly Jordon of Mineola, Texas, and Elite Series winner Ishama Monroe of Hughson, Calif.

Pirch earned the Energizer Keeps on Going Award of $500 for coming from behind to make the cut after finishing 105th on opening day with five bass weighing 6-11.

Powers landed the day's Snickers Big Bass award and $750 in the Pro Division plus the overall Snickers Big Bass award of $1,000 for the opening round with his 6-8 bass Thursday.

Derek Moyer of Alexandria, Va., leads the Co-angler Division in the chase for a top award of $40,000 with an opening-round total of 10 bass weighing 18-9. He caught five bass weighing 6-10 to finish 19th Wednesday while fishing with Mike Ellenstein of Newburgh, Ind., then added five bass weighing 11-15 to his total Thursday while fishing with Tyson pro Alfred Williams of Jackson, Miss.

Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Richard Strother of Tyler, Texas (nine bass, 15-13); Chad Parks of Memphis (seven bass, 15-8); Todd Lowe of Greensboro, Ga. (eight bass, 15-0) and Paul Addi of Las Vegas (nine bass, 14-13).

Also clearing the top-10 cut weight of 12 pounds, 14 ounces in the Co-angler Division were Jess Carballo of Danbury, Conn.; Pamela Wood of Bono, Ark.; Greg Fleming of Holly Lake Ranch, Texas; Matthew Parker of Whitesburg, Ga.; and Janet Parker of Little Elm, Texas.

Parks earned the day's Snickers Big Bass award of $375 in the Co-angler Division thanks to a 4-pound bass.

Fujifilm pro Wesley Strader of Spring City, Tenn., caught a limit weighing 11-12 that helped him earn the "Tyson Powerboat of the Day" award along with his partner, co-angler Rob Newell of Tallahassee, Fla., who caught a limit weighing 10-4. The award goes to the pro and co-angler who weigh the heaviest combined catch. Both men received $500 thanks to a combined catch of 10 bass weighing 22 pounds.

Overall, 1,118 bass weighing 1,722 pounds, 15 ounces were caught Thursday, including 119 five-bass limits.

Anglers will take off at 7 a.m. each morning from the Prairie Creek Marina. Friday and Saturday's weigh-in will be held at the Wal-Mart store located at 4208 Pleasant Crossing Blvd. in Rogers beginning at 4 p.m. Following Friday's weigh-in, fans are invited to a free concert powered by Tyson featuring country singing sensation Mark Wills.

The community is invited to attend the free Family Fun Zone Friday and Saturday outside the weigh-in tent in the Wal-Mart parking lot. The Family Fun Zone, which opens at 2 p.m. Friday and noon Saturday, features interactive displays, product samples and games for the entire family to enjoy.

Pros are competing for $200,000 cash and valuable points that could qualify them for a trip to the $1.5 million Wal-Mart FLW Tour Championship in Birmingham, Ala., for a shot at $500,000 cash - the sport's biggest award. Two hundred co-anglers are competing for a top award of $40,000 cash and a trip to the championship. Overall, 37 states, Japan and Canada are represented.

Anglers compete 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 top 10 pros continue competition Saturday, with the winner determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from days three and four.

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.

Coverage of the Wal-Mart Open hosted by the Rogers Convention and Visitors Bureau will be broadcast to 78 million FSN (Fox Sports Net) subscribers in the United States on May 7 and May 14 as part of the "FLW Outdoors" television program. "FLW Outdoors" airs Sunday mornings at 11 Eastern time. "FLW Outdoors" is also broadcast internationally to more than 350 million households in such countries as Germany, China, South Africa, Australia, Malaysia, Russia, Hungary and the United Kingdom, making it the most widely distributed weekly outdoor-sports television show 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, Stratos Owners' Tournament Trail, Wal-Mart FLW Walleye Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Walleye League, Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Series and Wal-Mart FLW Redfish Series. These circuits offer combined purses exceeding $36.9 million through 241 events in 2006. FLW Outdoors also recently announced the addition of a striped bass circuit, which will debut in May.

For more information about FLW Outdoors and its tournament programs, visit FLWOutdoors.com or call (270) 252-1000.

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.