Lucas wins co-angler title, $25,000

TRI-CITIES, Wash. (Sept. 21, 2007) – Pro Charlie Weyer of West Hills, Calif., caught a five-bass limit weighing 14 pounds, 8 ounces Friday to widen his lead in the $1 million Wal-Mart FLW Series National Guard Western Division tournament on the Columbia River. With a three-day catch of 15 bass weighing 43-9, he holds a 5-pound lead over his closest competitor, Clayton Meyer of San Diego, Calif., heading into the final day of competition.

“I did the same thing I’ve been doing the first two days of the tournament,” said Weyer, who is looking for his first FLW Outdoors win by fishing a Carolina-rigged lizard as well as a tube.

Weyer focused on fishing the tube shallow early in the morning and moved out further on the rockpiles as the day progressed and the fish reacted to fishing pressure

“I’m going to do it again and go for the win,” Weyer said. “I’ve never had the chance for a west-coast win like this, so I’m just going to go for it.”

Weyer said he had trouble locking through to his fishing water about 50 miles downriver of Columbia Point Marina on Friday. Barge traffic kept him from getting to his spots until 10:45 a.m., but Weyer said he left his area with his limit by 12:15 p.m. Weyer said he caught a 2 1/2 –pound keeper at the end of the day at the takeoff site to cull his smallest keepers.

“I was just dragging a bait and trying to get my partner his fifth fish and I felt a thunk, and it was a 2 ½-pounder,” Weyer said. “I thought, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.’ I couldn’t believe it.”

Weyer plans to lock through again Saturday and see if his pattern holds up for the win.

“I have to go there,” Weyer said. “There’s too many fish there not to. Plus, Meyer’s fishing right next to me. If he goes, I have to go. It’s going to be an awesome shootout tomorrow.”

Meyer caught a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 38-9 to advance to the final round as the No. 2 seed.

“I’m fishing ridges and outside breaks a little off the shoreline that are holding fish,” Meyer said. “Usually, if I get one bite I’ll get two or three bites where schools are moving through.”

Rounding out the top five pros are Jason Hickey of Weiser, Idaho (15 bass, 37-5); Michael Bennett of Roseville, Calif. (15 bass, 36-2) and Kelly Vineyard of Bend, Ore. (15 bass, 35-4).

Also clearing the top 10 cut weight of 33 pounds, 11 ounces in the Pro Division are Team Bounty pro Ken Wick of Star, Idaho; Neil Russell of Nampa, Idaho; Andre Moore of Alabaster, Ala.; Mitch Ratchford of Kennewick, Wash.; and Leon Knight of Tehachapi, Calif.

Bennett earned the day’s $428 Snickers Big Bass award in the Pro Division thanks to a 4-pound bass he caught.

Overall there were 750 bass weighing 1,243 pounds, 15 ounces caught by 169 pros Friday. The catch included 121 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.

Team National Guard co-angler Justin Lucas of Folsom, Calif., won the Co-angler Division and $25,000 Friday with a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 34 pounds, 8 ounces followed by Brian Stafford of Fairfield, Calif., in second place with 13 bass weighing 29-00 worth $8,943.

Lucas opened the tournament in 16th place Wednesday with five bass weighing 10-6 while fishing with pro Del Orton of Boise, Idaho. On Thursday he jumped to second place on the strength of a five-bass catch weighing 11-14 while fishing with pro Calvin Clark of John Day, Ore. He wrapped up the win Friday with a five-bass catch weighing 12-4 while fishing with pro Brett Leber of Dixon, Calif.

“It is such an honor to be up here,” said Lucas, who increased his FLW Outdoors earnings to more than $67,000 with the win. “It is so hard to win one of these things.”

Lucas spoke with Leber on Thursday night and said he would prefer to throw a Carolina rig during his final day of competition. Leber agreed to help Lucas out, and Lucas quickly caught a two-pound bass, followed by a four-pounder, and filled his limit by 9:30 a.m. Lucas said he caught nine keepers throughout the day and focused on fewer — but quality — bites in pursuit of the win.

Lucas targeted rockpiles in current in the edges of the river channel. The Carolina rig tipped with a creature bait and Berkley fluorocarbon line proved to be just the ticket to Lucas’ first FLW Series win.

“Yesterday I said if I won this tournament, it was going to be for the National Guard, and I dedicate this win to the National Guard and all of the troops overseas,” Lucas said. “So this one’s for you guys.”

Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Edgar Uyema of West Hills, Calif. (14 bass, 29-7, $8,048); Christopher Ricci of Bend, Ore. (15 bass, 26-14, $7,154) and Wade Headrick of Draper, Utah (15 bass, 26-13, $6,259).

Matt Murray of Waterville, Wash., earned $269 for the Snickers Big Bass award in the Co-angler Division thanks to a 4-pound, 15-ounce bass he caught while fishing with pro Moore.

The 10 remaining pros will take off at 6:30 Saturday morning from Columbia Point Marina located at 660 Columbia Point Drive in Richland, Wash. Saturday’s final weigh-in will be held at the Wal-Mart store located at 2801 Duportail St. in Richland 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.

FLW Outdoors historically maintains a 98 percent live release rate in all of its bass tournaments.

Coverage of the Columbia River 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 Nov. 18. “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 241 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 Walmart.com.

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