Wheeler Grabs Day One Lead At Professional Bass Fishing’s FLW Forrest Wood Cup Presented By Walmart

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Fifty of the best professional bass anglers in the world began their four-day competition for a top cash award of $500,000 at the FLW Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart, the world championship of bass fishing, at Lake Ouachita in Hot Springs, Arkansas on Thursday. Jacob Wheeler weighed in five bass totaling 16 pounds, 2 ounces, to take the early lead in the four-day event.

Fifty of the best professional bass anglers in the world began their four-day competition for a top cash award of $500,000 at the Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart, the world championship of bass fishing, at Lake Ouachita in Hot Springs, Arkansas on Thursday.

Jacob Wheeler of Indianapolis, Indiana, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 16 pounds, 2 ounces to take the early lead after day one of the four-day event. Wheeler now holds a slim 1-pound, 2-ounce lead over Lowrance pro Ishama Monroe of Hughson, California, who caught five bass weighing 15 pounds even, good for second place.

“I was very fortunate today. My practice wasn’t great, and I really wasn’t on a whole lot coming in to the tournament,” said Wheeler, who won the 2012 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Lanier in Duluth, Georgia. “I had a few places out deep and a few places shallow, but I felt like I could catch a pretty good bag if everything worked out. Today, it did. Hopefully I can go out tomorrow and duplicate what I did today.”

Wheeler said that he was threw six different baits throughout the day and managed to catch nine fish, although four of them only weighed 1½ pounds. He said that he covered a lot of water today and tried to find some new areas to fish tomorrow.

“I did some looking and tried to figure out what was getting hammered by other anglers and what was being left alone,” Wheeler said. “Tomorrow I’m going to fish my same area, but I won’t hesitate to fish some new water. The key will be figuring out how to stay consistent.”

When the 2012 champ was asked if he approached this event just like any other tournament he was quick to point out that the magnitude of this event.

“The Forrest Wood Cup is a totally different tournament,” Wheeler said. “There is so much on the line – not only the money. One of these years, someone is going to become the first ever two-time champion. I know Scott (Martin) wants to win it. I know (Luke) Clausen wants to win it. No one has ever won it twice.

“I love those guys, but I’m going to go out there tomorrow and catch as much as I can to do my best to beat them,” Wheeler went on to say. “It’s going to be an absolute grind – a battle to the end – I can guarantee you that.”

The top 20 pros after day one on Lake Ouachita are:

    1st:    Jacob Wheeler, Indianapolis, Ind., five bass, 16-2    
    2nd:    Lowrance pro Ishama Monroe, Hughson, Calif., five bass, 15-0    
    3rd:    Brandon    Cobb, Greenwood, S.C., five bass, 14-10    
    4th:    Scott Martin, Clewiston, Fla., five bass, 14-6    
    5th:    Brad Knight, Lancing, Tenn., five bass, 14-4    
    6th:    Chris Baumgardner, Gastonia, N.C., five bass, 13-8    
    7th:    Ramie Colson Jr., Cadiz, Ky., five bass, 13-3    
    8th:    Luke Clausen, Spokane, Wash., five bass, 13-1    
    9th:    Mark Daniels Jr., Tuskegee, Ala., five bass, 12-15    
    10th:    John Cox, DeBary, Fla., four bass, 12-0
    11th:    Matthew    Stefan, Junction City, Wis., five bass, 11-12    
    12th:    Chris McCall, Brookeland, Texas, five bass, 11-8
    13th:    Bryan Thrift, Shelby, N.C., five bass, 11-4    
    13th:    Patrick Walters, Summerville, S.C., five bass, 11-4    
    15th:    Zack Birge, Blanchard, Okla., five bass, 10-14    
    16th:    Clark Wendlandt, Leander, Texas, five bass, 10-10    
    17th:    Livingston Lures pro Stetson Blaylock, Benton, Ark., five bass, 10-9    
    18th:    Livingston Lures pro Andy Morgan, Dayton, Tenn., four bass, 10-5    
    19th:    Quaker State pro Matt Arey, Shelby, N.C., five bass, 10-4    
    20th:    James Biggs, Euless, Texas, four bass, 10-1

For a full list of results visit FLWFishing.com.

Sunny Hawk of Salt Lake City, Utah, leads the co-angler division with five bass weighing 13 pounds, 6 ounces followed by Bryan New in second place with five bass weighing 10 pounds, 15 ounces. Co-anglers are fishing for a top award of $50,000.

The top 20 co-anglers are:

    1st:    Sunny Hawk, Salt Lake City, Utah, five bass, 13-6    
    2nd:    Bryan New, Belmont, N.C., five bass, 10-15    
    3rd:    Brett Rachal, Monroe, La., five bass, 9-2
    4th:    Eric Self, Lawndale, N.C., five bass, 8-10    
    5th:    Todd Lee, Jasper, Ala., five bass, 8-9    
    6th:    Bob Burgess, Charleston, W. Va., four bass, 8-6
    7th:    Joshua Weaver, Macon, Ga., three bass, 7-15    
    8th:    David Hudson, Jasper, Ala., two bass, 7-5    
    9th:    Tee Watkins, East Point, Ky., five bass, 7-1
    10th:    Chad Randles, Elkhorn, Neb., three bass, 7-0
    11th:    Jordan Osborne, Longview, Texas, three bass, 6-13    
    12th:    Brandon Bray, Marble Falls, Texas, three bass, 6-8
    13th:    Billy Billeaud, Lafayette, La., five bass, 6-4    
    13th:    Tom Stark, Angola, Ind., five bass, 6-4    
    15th:    Carl Gillespie, Old Hickory, Tenn., three bass, 6-3    
    16th:    Gary Haraguchi, Redding, Calif., four bass, 5-14    
    17th:    Ryan Bowman, Seneca, S.C., three bass, 5-3    
    18th:    Josh Smith, Hamilton, Ohio, three bass, 4-9    
    19th:    Tim Cales, Sandstone, W. Va., three bass, 4-0    
    20th:    Gettys Brannon, Columbia, S.C., two bass, 3-13            
    20th:    Shane Melton, Kokomo, Ind., two bass, 3-13

Anglers will take off from the Brady Mountain Resort and Marina located at 4120 Brady Mountain Road in Royal, Arkansas, at 7 a.m. each morning at the Folger’s Morning Takeoff. Each day's weigh-in will be held at Bank of the Ozarks Arena located at 134 Convention Blvd. in Hot Springs, Arkansas, beginning at 5 p.m.

Fans will be treated to the FLW Expo at the Hot Springs Convention Center on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. prior to the weigh-ins. The Expo includes games, activities and giveaways provided by more than 40 FLW sponsors, the opportunity to shop the latest tackle and outdoor gear from more than 100 exhibitors, Ranger boat simulators, a casting pond and a trout pond for children, as well as the opportunity to meet and interact with top professional anglers, including Hank Parker, Jimmy Houston and Byron Velvick. FLW’s namesake Forrest L. Wood, the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, will also be greeting fans.

On Saturday and Sunday the first 500 children 14 and under each day who are accompanied by an adult will receive a voucher to redeem for a free rod and reel combo courtesy of KATV ABC 7 after the evening’s weigh-in. Also on Sunday one lucky fishing fan will win a brand new Ranger Z520C bass boat with an Evinrude G2 outboard motor courtesy of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. The Ranger Boat giveaway is free to enter but the winner must be present at the conclusion of Sunday’s final weigh-in to win.

Also on Saturday and Sunday, FLW fans will be treated to the Bass & BBQ Festival in conjunction with the FLW Expo. During the two day event, fans will have the opportunity to sample barbecue from 30 of the top teams in the country. The competition is sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society and is a part of a yearlong points race to find the best barbecue in the nation. A $5 donation will give fans five tickets to redeem for pulled pork and rib samples from the competing teams. All fans who buy sampling tickets will help determine the “Fishermen’s Favorite” Award, which goes to the team that collects the most votes. Awards will be presented before the Forrest Wood Cup weigh-ins Saturday and Sunday at Bank of the Ozarks Arena. The total payout for the two-day competition is $10,000.

Live concerts will also be a huge part of the Bass & BBQ festival and the FLW weigh-ins. Shari Bales & Southbound will perform outdoors at the competition on Saturday from 2 to 3 p.m., while the Luke Williams Band will play at the same time Sunday. Country music superstar Justin Moore will headline the festivities with a free live concert on the Walmart weigh-in stage in Bank of the Ozarks Arena on Sunday, starting at 4 p.m. The Valory Music Company recording artist has four No.1 hits, including “Small Town USA,” “If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away” and “Til My Last Day.”

The Folger’s Morning Takeoffs, FLW Expo, Bass & BBQ event, live concerts and weigh-ins are all free and open to the public.

Coverage of the Forrest Wood Cup will be broadcast in high-definition (HD) on the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) when “FLW” airs December 6 from 7 - 8 p.m. ET. The Emmy-nominated "FLW" television show airs on NBCSN, the Pursuit Channel and the World Fishing Network and is broadcast to more than 564 million households worldwide, making it the most widely distributed weekly outdoors-sports television show in the world.

For complete details and updated information visit FLWFishing.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/FLWFishing and on Twitter at Twitter.com/FLWFishing.

ABOUT FLW
FLW is the industry’s premier tournament-fishing organization, providing anglers of all skill levels the opportunity to compete for millions in prize money nationwide in 2015 over the course of 240 tournaments across five tournament circuits, four of which provide an avenue to the sport’s richest payday and most coveted championship trophy – the Forrest Wood Cup. FLW tournament fishing can be seen on the Emmy-nominated “FLW" television show and is broadcast to more than 564 million households worldwide, making it the most widely distributed outdoors-sports television show in the world. For more information about FLW visit FLWFishing.com and look for FLW on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

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Joe Opager
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