“I haven’t been nervous all week, because I haven’t had a place to go,” said Robertson, who has earned 14 top-10 finishes in FLW Outdoors competition, including a $600,000 victory at the 1999 Ranger M1 and a $260,000 victory at the 1999 FLW Tour Championship. “I just put my trolling motor down everyday and run the bank looking for bedding fish.”
Robertson caught the majority of his fish in Rocky Branch, North Clifty and Big Clifty to lead a field of 10 finalists that includes five anglers who have earned multiple top-10 finishes on Beaver Lake. Two anglers – Cody Bird of Granbury, Texas, and Mark Pack of Mineola, Texas – have earned three top-10s on the lake, and Andre Moore of Scottsdale, Ariz., won the Wal-Mart Open as a tour rookie in 2002.
“These bed fish are the toughest I’ve ever fished for,” said Moore, who trails Robertson by just 6 ounces heading into the final day of competition. “I’m proud whenever I catch one.”
Moore used his winnings from the 2002 Wal-Mart Open to help start a bait company he named Reaction Innovations. The company’s premier lure, the Sweet Beaver, is named after the prototype bait Moore used to win the last time he made a top-10 cut on Beaver Lake. He is using a smaller version of the lure, a Smallie Beaver, and a Flirt finesse worm this week.
Overall, 63 bass weighing 113 pounds, 1 ounce where brought to the scale Friday, including eight five-bass limits.
Alton Jones of Waco, Texas, caught five bass weighing 11 pounds, 4 ounces using a Yum Mega Tube in bluegill color to secure the No. 3 spot heading into the final day of competition with five bass weighing 11 pounds, 4 ounces.
Day three leader Clifford Pirch of Payson, Ariz. (five bass, 11 pounds, 2 ounces) and Kellogg’s pro Alvin Shaw of State Road, N.C. (four bass, 9 pounds, 4 ounces) rounded out the top five pros.
Frank Meyer of Marianna, Fla., took top honors and $40,000 in the Co-angler Division 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 pro Jeremiah Kindy of Benton, Ark. Meyer also used 8-pound-test fluorocarbon line.
“I knew the fishing would be tough,” said Meyer, who has earned four FLW Tour top-10s since 2002. “I had 8 pounds, 2 ounces on day one and 7 pounds, 7 ounces on day two, so I figured someone would be close to that today. I never thought I had it wrapped up, even when there was only one guy left.”
Rounding out the top five co-anglers are 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).
Anglers will take off from Prairie Creek Marina at 7 Saturday morning. Saturday’s weigh-in will be held at the Wal-Mart store located at 2110 West Walnut in Rogers beginning at 3 p.m.
The community is invited to join the worlds’ top bass anglers as they celebrate the FLW Tour’s 10th anniversary in the Family Fun Zone outside the weigh-in tent in the Wal-Mart parking lot. The free Family Fun Zone, which opens at 11 a.m., features interactive displays, product samples and games for the entire family to enjoy.
Weights were cleared for Friday’s competition, and pros will continue competition Saturday with the winner determined by the heaviest two-day weight.
In addition to a top award of $200,000 and cash awards of at least $10,000 through 50th place in the Pro Division, anglers are also competing 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.
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.