MORGAN CITY, La. (Jan. 27, 2004) – The $6.8 million Wal-Mart FLW Tour will return to the Atchafalaya Basin Feb. 11-14 for a $900,000 event presented by Frito Lay. The lucrative tournament, featuring a $100,000 cash award for the winning pro, is the first of two regular-season events in 2004 to feature an increased payout of $900,000. As many as 200 of the world’s best bass pros from the United States and Japan are expected to compete in the event, and as many as 200 co-anglers will also compete for a top co-angler award of $20,000 cash.

While competitors may be tempted to peruse the spillways close to the launch site for healthy limits of bass, local pro Ronnie Eschete of Thibodaux hints that hefty 25-pound-plus limits of largemouths will likely be found by anglers willing to venture farther out into the massive stretch of tidal water. According to Eschete, Atchafalaya bass should be on a strong prespawn pattern, lurking around shallow grass beds and other cover in or near brackish water. A variety of lures will bring out the bully in the mean Cajun bass, but Eschete thinks 3/8-ounce jig/craw-worm combos, spinnerbaits and tube lures will produce some of the heavier limits brought to weigh-in.

Anglers take off at 7 each morning from Belle River Park Landing in Belle River except for Friday, when takeoff is at 8. Wednesday and Thursday’s weigh-in will also be held at Belle River beginning at 3 p.m. Friday and Saturday’s weigh-ins will be held at the Wal-Mart store located at 973 Highway 90 E. in Bayou Vista at 5 p.m. and 3 p.m., respectively.

The community is encouraged to attend the Family Fun Zone Friday and Saturday outside the weigh-in tent in the Wal-Mart parking lot. The Family Fun Zone features interactive displays, product samples and games for the entire family to enjoy. The Fun Zone will open Friday at 3 p.m. and Saturday at 11 a.m.

The full field competes 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 10 pros continue competition Saturday, with the winner determined by the heaviest two-day weight.

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.

The Atchafalaya Basin event is the second stop of the most lucrative FLW Tour season to date, as the popular tournament series features a $6.8 million purse in 2004, including two $500,000 events, two $900,000 events and two $1.25 million Open events during the regular season. Each event leads up to the historic $1.5 million Wal-Mart FLW Tour Championship, which will be held Aug. 11-14 on Logan Martin near Birmingham, Ala. The prestigious championship features 48 pros, 48 co-anglers and bass fishing’s largest guaranteed cash award – a $500,000 first-place prize for the winning pro. Held in conjunction with the tournament is a world-class outdoor show, featuring booths and displays for everything from crankbaits to bass boats.

Coverage of the Atchafalaya Basin tournament will be broadcast to 65 million subscribers of the Outdoor Life Network on the “FLW Outdoors” television program. A tournament preview show featuring bass-fishing legend Hank Parker will air Feb. 29 at 1 p.m. Eastern time and March 4 at 5 p.m. Eastern time, and fishing fans can watch the tournament weigh-in with hosts Carlton Wing, Taylor Carr and Charlie Evans March 7 at 1 p.m. and March 11 at 5 p.m. Eastern time. Tournament veteran Larry Nixon will host a tournament wrap-up show March 14 at 1 p.m. Eastern time, and that show will re-air March 18 at 5 p.m. Eastern time.

The third regular-season FLW Tour stop will be held March 10-13 on Old Hickory Lake in Gallatin, Tenn., followed by the Wal-Mart Open on Beaver Lake near Rogers, Ark., March 31-April 3. Kentucky Lake near Benton, Ky., will host the fifth tour stop May 12-15 followed by the Forrest Wood Open on Lake Champlain near Plattsburgh, N.Y., June 23-26.

Named after Forrest L. Wood, the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, the Wal-Mart FLW Tour is administered by FLW Outdoors, the world’s leading marketer of competitive fishing. Other FLW Outdoors-sanctioned tournament trails are the EverStart Series, the Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League, the Wal-Mart RCL Walleye Tour, the Wal-Mart RCL Walleye League and the Wal-Mart Texas Tournament Trail.

Wal-Mart and many of America’s most respected companies support FLW Outdoors and its six tournament trails.  Wal-Mart has been the title sponsor of FLW Outdoors since 1997.