More than $260,000 in prize money is up for grabs at the FLW Stren Series Bass Tournament that kicked off yesterday, April 16, at Roosevelt Lake.
The angling fray wraps up at 4 p.m. tomorrow with a weigh-in at Walmart.
The public can attend the grand finale Saturday, which will include games, drawings, live music, sponsor booths, television and radio broadcasts and free hot dogs, chips and Pepsi with a donation of choice to the Gracie Lee Haught Children’s Fund at Walmart.
Anyone who has ever watched a tournament weigh-in on the Outdoors Channel or attended one in person knows how festive the events are.
Arizona Game and Fish, Tonto National Forest, Town of Payson, Town of Tonto Basin, Hike, Bike and Run, Rim Country Custom Rods, Walmart, Chapman Chevrolet, Southwest Ranger Boats and possibly Mazatzal Casino will host sponsor booths.
The country and western band of Brooks and Yoder will provide music.
The professionals entered in the tournament are fishing for a top prize of $25,000 plus a 198VX Ranger powered by an Evinrude or Yamaha outboard motor and equipped with a Minn Kota trolling motor, Lowrance electronics and trailer.
Co-anglers are out to hook a 177TR Ranger with an outboard and trailer.
In Stren competition, the professionals supply the boats, fish from the front deck and control boat movement.
Co-anglers fish from the back of the deck and compete against other co-anglers.
Following today’s fishing the anglers will return to the Cholla Recreation Site at 3 p.m., then return to the lake tomorrow, at 6:30 a.m. for another day of fishing.
On Saturday, the final day of the tournament, the top 10 pros and 10 co-anglers return to the lake to battle for prize money.
Payson pro Clifford Pirch, a member of Team National Guard, is predicting tournament tournament anglers should have little trouble weighing in their five fish limits.
“Overall, fishing should be really good,” he said. “It’s hard to say how the fish will act, there will be both spawning and post-spawn fish.”
Among the local anglers entered in the tournament are Levi Armstrong, Ron Bowman, Buddy Randall, Glenda McNeeley, Jon Pelto, Bobby O’Donnell, John Browning, Tracy Purtee and Gibby Orozco.
FLW Outdoors, named after Forrest L. Wood, the founder of Ranger Boats, is the largest fishing organization in the world and is hosting its first-ever tournament at Roosevelt.