History was made in the bass fishing world last week when the top pros who qualified for the Forrest L. Wood Championships competed on Lake Ouchita near Hot Springs, Arkansas.
They were fishing for the top prize of $1 million where there was a total payout of more than $2 million to all the fishermen. This is the biggest payout in bass fishing history.
The qualifiers were determined by the top point producers at various levels of FLW events throughout the country. There were a total of 80 professional anglers of which 40 were from the tour, 30 from the series, six from the Stren level, and the final four spots were from the federations throughout the country.
To be one of the Forrest L. Wood championship qualifiers is the goal after a long season on the tournament trail.
The tournament was a who's who of the world class fishermen where six different Bassmaster Classic champions were represented and eight previous Forrest L. Wood champions in the field.
It could easily become a little intimidating to some of the younger pros who had qualified. Although, once the tournament began, it goes right back to who can catch the biggest weight for a 5-fish limit.
The fishing forecast was tough with light weights being predicted and not many 5-fish limits coming to the scale. That is exactly what happened on day one.
Anyone who caught a limit was in position to make the cut after day two. As predicted, day two was tougher yet and the final 10 fishermen would be determined by one or two big bites.
Two Arizona anglers made a real run to make the cut to 10 for the final days of fishing.
Clifford Pirch of Payson ended up 13th, while Brett Hite of Phoenix was 15th and both received healthy paychecks for their finishes.
They were the highest finishes among the western contingent in the championships and plan to be there again next year for another try at winning the Forrest L. Wood title.
Besides the tournament there were also four days where thousands attended the convention center where every major fishing corporation and numerous smaller enterprises had displays of the latest fishing equipment on the market.
Bass fishing seminars were conducted by the pros, which kept the crowd's attention until the weigh-ins.
Probably the biggest hit among the children was the FLW Fun Zone that entertained the youngsters with youth boat rides, climbing towers, inflated slides, a fishing pond, and plenty of free food and other giveaways.
I might add, the adults in attendance also had plenty of entertainment throughout the show. A Forrest L. Wood championship is a true family event with activities for all ages and culminated with a free concert by country and western singer Tracy Byrd.
The FLW is dong it right in making professional bass fishing a signature event in the world of fishing. This weekend enjoy God's creation and take a friend fishing.