The only tournament in FLW Tour history to produce more bass was the 2004 stop on Lake Champlain, where anglers caught 1,811 fish. That same event set the tour's weight record at 4,481 pounds, 3 ounces. Lake Champlain also holds the No. 2 spot in overall weight with 4,082 pounds, 6 ounces crossing the scale in 2002. The 2002 Champlain tournament slipped to third in number of bass, however, with 1,638 fish, trailing Wednesday's incredible catch on the Potomac by 68 fish. All 200 pros and 196 co-anglers competing Wednesday caught bass, including 180 limits in the Pro Division and 95 limits in the Co-angler Division. All of which proves that Charles County is home to some of the best bass fishing in the nation.
Land O'Lakes pro Jerry Williams of Conway, Ark., made the most of a fantastic opening day to take the early lead with five bass weighing 20 pounds, 4 ounces followed by Todd Faircloth of Jasper, Texas, in second with five bass weighing 18 pounds, 15 ounces and Michael Iaconelli of Runnemede, N.J., in third with five bass weighing 18 pounds, 12 ounces.
"I had no idea what I was going to do today," said Williams, who has earned five FLW Tour top-10 finishes, including four in his 1998 rookie season. "It took a while to figure things out, but after that, we caught a lot of fish. My third spot held all of the bigger fish, and they really turned on when the tide started out. After that, I culled three or four 3-pounders."
Williams caught the majority of his bass by flipping a jig to grass in 2 feet of water.
Greg Hackney of Gonzales, La. (five bass, 18 pounds, 4 ounces) and Kellogg's pro Sam Newby of Pocola, Okla. (five bass, 18 pounds, 1 ounce) rounded out the top five pros.
Danny Correia of Marlborough, Mass., earned the day's Snickers Big Bass award of $750 in the Pro Division with a 6-pound, 9-ounce largemouth.
Land O'Lakes Angler of the Year points leader and 7 UP pro JT Kenney of Frostburg finished a disappointing 70th place on opening day with five bass weighing 12 pounds, 14 ounces, leaving the door wide open for Hackney, Anthony Gagliardi of Prosperity, S.C., and Toshinari Namiki of Hachioji-City, Japan, to take the title from him.
Coming into the event, Gagliardi, Hackney and Namiki trailed Kenney by 2, 16 and 23 points, respectively, in the No. 2, 3 and 4 positions. After opening day, however, Hackney holds a 66 point lead on Kenney. Namiki now holds a 57 point lead on Kenney and trials Hackney by 9 points. And Gagliardi holds a 36 point lead on Kenney, but trails Hackney and Namiki by 30 and 21 points, respectively. Tides can change rapidly on the Potomac, however, so the race is still up for grabs.
In the Co-angler Division Chris Koester of Winston Salem, N.C., leads the field with five bass weighing 16 pounds, 9 ounces. He fished with Lawry's pro Jason Kilpatrick of Satsuma, Ala., who caught five bass weighing 10 pounds, 9 ounces and is currently 129th on the pro side.
Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Robert Blosser of Poynette, Wis. (five bass, 15 pounds, 15 ounces); Terry Chapman of Cornelius, N.C. (five bass, 15 pounds, 3 ounces); Thomas Greene of Germantown (five bass, 14 pounds, 9 ounces); and Dino Caporuscio of Coto De Caza, Calif. (five bass, 14 pounds, 7 ounces).
Bill Rogers of Jasper, Texas, claimed the Snickers Big Bass award and $500 in the Co-angler Division with a 6-pound, 2-ounce bass that he caught while fishing with pro Robert Karbas Jr. of Wake Forest, N.C., who is currently in 18th with five bass weighing 15 pounds, 11 ounces.
More than 98 percent of the bass were released alive.
Anglers will take off each morning from Smallwood State Park in Marbury at 6:30 a.m. Thursday's weigh-in will also be held at the park beginning at 3 p.m. Friday and Saturday's weigh-ins will be held at the Wal-Mart store located at 40 Drury Drive in LaPlata beginning at 5 p.m. and 3 p.m., respectively.
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 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 11 a.m. Saturday, features interactive displays, product samples and games for the entire family to enjoy.
Tom Arnold, Chris Rose and John Salley will be appearing in the Family Fun Zone from 2 to 4 p.m. Friday for a special taping of the FSN hit "Best Damn Sports Show Period," which airs weeknights at 10:30 p.m. Arnold, Rose and Salley will interview FLW Tour anglers and prominent sports figures from the Washington, D.C., area. Spectators could possibly make an appearance on the show as well, so you won't want to miss this opportunity.
Monte Burke, author of "Sowbelly, the Obsessive Quest for the World Record Largemouth Bass," will also be in the Fun Zone autographing copies of his new hit book.
Following Thursday's competition, the field will be narrowed from 200 competitors per division to 10, and weights will be cleared for Friday's competition. Co-angler competition concludes Friday based on the heaviest one-day weight, and pros continue competition Saturday with the winner determined by the heaviest two-day weight. The winning co-angler earns $40,000 while the winning pro earns $200,000. Pros finishing as low as 50th place earn $10,000.
The top 48 pros and top 48 co-anglers in the Land O'Lakes Angler of the Year points standings following this event will advance to the Forrest L. Wood Championship 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. Pros earn a minimum of $15,000 just for qualifying.
Complete coverage of the Chevy Open presented by Kellogg's will be broadcast to 82 million FSN subscribers as part of the "Wal-Mart FLW Outdoors" television program July 24 and 31. "Wal-Mart FLW Outdoors" airs Sundays at 11 a.m. Eastern time. Additionally, "Wal-Mart FLW Outdoors" is broadcast by the American Forces Network to 800,000 service men and women stationed around the world in 177 countries and aboard naval ships. Saturday's final weigh-in will also be broadcast live to Wal-Mart stores nationwide by the Wal-Mart Television Network.
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.