A full field of 200 pros is competing for as much as $64,500 and valuable points that could qualify them for a trip to the $1 million Stren Series Championship for a shot at $140,000. The highest-finishing pro from each division at the Stren Series Championship will also earn a spot in the new $2 million 2007 Forrest Wood Cup where they will compete against top pros from the Wal-Mart FLW Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Series, Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League and Ranger owners' tournaments for bass fishing's first $1 million top award.
Cold weather has kept the bass bite sluggish, although there has been a general warming trend over the last few days, allowing the bite to pick up somewhat.
"Word has been that the bite was deep," Williams said. "But I haven't been able to get on a deep bite. If I can't see it, I don't like to fish it. So I've been catching all my fish up shallow, with crankbaits and spinnerbaits.
"I'm fishing four or five sweet spots within one large area," Williams continued. "I was done at 11 this morning. After that, I just went looking around for new places."
Rounding out the top five pros are Mike Mortensen of Westland, Mich. (five bass, 15 pounds, 8 ounces); Terry Tucker of Gadsden, Ala. (three bass bass, 12 pounds, 7 ounces); Jason Knapp of Uniontown, Pa. (four bass, 11 pounds, 12 ounces); and Nick Gainey of Charleston, S.C. (two bass, 10 pounds, 12 ounces).
Gainey earned $750 for the Snicker's Big Bass award in the Pro Division thanks to a 7-pound, 13-ounce bass.
Rodger Ray of Social Circle, Ga., leads the Co-angler Division in the chase for a top award worth as much as $35,000, including a 519VX Ranger if contingency guidelines are met. Though Ray only caught two keeper bass Wednesday, one of those fish was an 8-pound, 6-ouncer, giving him a total of 11 pounds, 12 ounces as well as the Snicker's Big Bass award in the Co-angler Division worth $250.
Ray was also fishing shallow water with crankbaits, along with his pro partner, Charlie Williams of LaGrange.
Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Steve Morgan of Grand Bay, Ala. (two bass, 9 pounds, 14 ounces); Mark Denney of Somerset, Ky. (three bass, 9 pounds, 5 ounces); Bill Huston of Sunset, S.C. (two bass, 7 pounds, 9 ounces); and Don Melvin of Tar Heel, N.C. (one bass, 7 pounds, 6 ounces).
Stren Series tournaments are four-day events consisting of three rounds. The entire field competes Wednesday and Thursday, and the top 20 pros and co-anglers - based on two-day accumulated weights - advance to day three. Anglers start at zero Thursday and compete for 10 spots in each division in the final round. Winners are determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from days three and four.
The next Stren Series Southeast Division event will be held March 15-18 on Lake Eufaula in Eufaula, Ala. Boats will launch from Lakepoint State Park in Eufaula. Eufaula/Barbour County Chamber of Commerce and the Alabama Department of Conservation & Natural Resources will be hosting the event. Friday and Saturday's weigh-ins will be held at the Wal-Mart located at 1218 South Eufaula Ave. in Eufaula.
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, Stratos Owners' Tournament Trail, Wal-Mart FLW Walleye Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Walleye League, Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Series and Wal-Mart FLW Redfish Series. These circuits offer combined purses exceeding $36.9 million through 241 events in 2006.
For more information about FLW Outdoors and its tournament programs, visit FLWOutdoors.com or call (270) 252-1000.
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 Wal-Mart.com.