MONROE, La. (March 11, 2005) – Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge in southern Arkansas was the place to be Friday for anglers competing in the final round of the $900,000 Wal-Mart FLW Tour stop presented by 7 UP on the Ouachita River. All 10 boats made the 60 mile run north from the launch site at Forsythe Park in Monroe. When they returned, it was Toshinari Namiki, 38, of Tokyo who led the pro field with a five-bass limit weighing 20 pounds, 7 ounces.

The four-day event, which concludes Saturday, began with 200 pros and 200 co-anglers in the hunt for top awards of $100,000 and $20,000 cash, respectively, and was narrowed to the top 10 anglers in each division Thursday evening.

A cold front that passed through the region Wednesday made fishing somewhat tougher on competitors Thursday, as the number of limits dropped from 95 to 48. Weights also declined from 13 catches over 15 pounds to six. Things picked up again Friday, however, as anglers who survived the cut caught eight limits, including four over 15 pounds. The stage is now set for a showdown Saturday, as conditions are improving and just 2 pounds, 6 ounces separate the top two contenders.

“Conditions have changed every day,” said Namiki, who finished fourth at the FLW Tour season opener on Lake Okeechobee. “I think that I am lucky because I had one kicker fish, a 7-pounder. Matt (Herren) is fishing more consistent. I had a lucky bite. What will happen tomorrow? I don’t know.”

Namiki would not divulge his technique, but he did say that buck brush and trees are his targets in Felsenthal and that he is fishing within sight of another competitor.

Matt Herren of Trussville, Ala., caught five bass weighing 18 pounds, 1 ounce on a prototype Davis M-Series jig with a Net Bait chunk trailer to secure the No. 2 spot heading into the final day of competition, while Mike Hawkes of Sabinal, Texas, caught five bass weighing 16 pounds, 2 ounces to grab the No. 3 spot.

Lawry’s pro Jason Kilpatrick of Satsuma, Ala. (five bass, 15 pounds) and Castrol pro Darrel Robertson of Jay, Okla. (five bass, 12 pounds, 5 ounces) rounded out the top five pros.

Another angler to watch is FLW Tour rookie Bobby Lane of Lakeland, Fla., who is making this third top-10 appearance in as many tournaments – a feat unmatched in FLW Tour history. Lane is currently sixth with four bass weighing 10 pounds, 12 ounces.

James Davis Jr., 34, of Ferriday, La., took top honors and $20,000 in the Co-angler Division with five bass weighing 13 pounds, 4 ounces. He caught the fish on a 3/8-ounce chartreuse and white Excalibur spinnerbait while fishing buck brush in Felsenthal with Robertson.

“I never let up,” said Davis, who fishes the Pro Division of the Texas Tournament Trail and last month missed a $73,500 win on Lake Amistad by just 1 ounce after catching an incredible 10 bass weighing 45 pounds, 2 ounces during the two-day event. “There was never a point that I thought I had it won, because I’ve been beaten before with 20 pounds in the livewell. If I’m catching them, I figure somebody else is, too.”

Davis has earned an EverStart Series and three TTT top-10s since 2001.

Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Merle Wells Jr. of Hammond, N.Y. (four bass, 8 pounds, 12 ounces, $10,000); Todd Lee of Jasper, Ala. (three bass, 7 pounds, 12 ounces, $9,000); Roy Altman Jr. of Augusta, Ga. (four bass, 4 pounds, 4 ounces, $8,000); and Bruce Dale of Jamestown, Ohio (two bass, 3 pounds, 11 ounces, $7,000).

Anglers will take off from Forsythe Park in Monroe at 7 Saturday morning. Saturday’s weigh-in will be held at the Wal-Mart store located at 2701 Louisville Avenue in Monroe 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 Friday, and pros will continue competition Saturday with the winner determined by the heaviest two-day weight.

In addition to a top award of $100,000 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 FLW Tour is broadcast to 82 million FSN subscribers as part of the “FLW Outdoors” television program. “FLW Outdoors” airs Sundays at 11 a.m. Eastern time.

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