The inaugural Wal-Mart Western FLW Series bass fishing tournament made history at Lake Havasu last week. Sponsored by the National Guard, the event featured 200 pros and 200 co-anglers fished the first three days in the hope of making the top 10 cut for each field of anglers.
The purse was more than $1 million, with a top prize of $125,000 for first place in the pro division and $20,000 for 1st in the co-angler class. The western division, sponsored by the National Guard, will include 3 more tournaments: two in California at the Delta and Clear Lake, the third at the Columbia River on the Washington-Oregon border.
The United States is divided into the East and the West series, the major sponsors being the National Guard and BP. The top 30 pros and 30 co-anglers will compete against the best in the other division for the opportunity to fish in the FLW Championships. Not only is a paycheck important to the anglers, but also those all valuable point totals will be the deciding factor on who will fish in the finale.
The Payson area had five entries in the co-angler division (the person who fishes from the back of the boat owned by the pro) all finished in the top half of their classification.
Bobby O'Donnell, owner of Bobcat Concrete, finished in second place and brought home his biggest paycheck ever -- $10,000 -- for a bass tournament.
On Day 1 he caught two bass that weighed an astounding 9-pounds-12-ounces, one of them tagged as the Snickers Big Bass, weighing in at 5-1/2 pounds. With this catch he was able to take a strong lead into Day 2 of the tournament.
O'Donnell was not able to boat any fish on Day 2, so he had to come through on the final day. He had one bite and put a 2-1/2-pound fish into the livewell on the final day, which nailed down second place honors for him.
He will be heading to the California Delta tournament on March 14 for the second leg of the FLW Series.
Keith Hunsinger, Reese Randall, Tracey Purtee and Jon Gunzel will be other co-anglers also making the trip along with National Guard pro, Clifford Pirch. Competitive bass fishing in the West has hit a new milestone for anglers to pursue their dreams! This weekend, take someone fishing and enjoy God's creation.