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Ellis lead Stren Series event on Santee Cooper Lakes

April 13, 2007

MANNING, S.C. – Pro Ken Ellis of Bowman, S.C., caught a five-bass limit weighing 26 pounds, 14 ounces Friday to capture the lead in the $275,225 Stren Series Southeast Division tournament presented by Yamaha on the Santee Cooper Lakes. With a three-day catch of 15 bass weighing 59-2, he holds a 9-pound, 3-ounce lead over his closest competitor heading into the final day of competition.

“Things went well today,” said Ellis, who is a local guide and past winner of a Stren Series event on the Santee Cooper Lakes. “We had really good weather that allowed me to fish the stuff I have been wanting to but couldn't because of the wind all week. I found some stuff in a little deeper water and the fish were moving in there really well. I caught my limit really quick this morning and left it for tomorrow.”

“I feel pretty confident with this lead going into the final day but everyday is different and hopefully I can figure them out. If I can catch a good limit again tomorrow I think I could win.”

Ellis was throwing a combination of a Senko and a trick worm around deeper pockets with submerged stumps and brush that is surrounded by shallower water to catch his bass.

Rounding out the top five pros are Joseph Kremer of Osteen, Fla. (13 bass, 49-15); Mark Hutson of Moncks Corner, S.C. (12 bass, 49-4); Ricky Shumpert of Lexington, S.C. (15 bass, 47-8); and Bryan Thrift of Shelby, N.C. (15 bass, 46-15).

Also clearing the top 10 cut weight of 44 pounds, 13 ounces in the Pro Division are Nicholas Turner of Jones, Ala.; Chuck Howard of Elloree, S.C.; Pedigree pro Greg Pugh of Cullman, Ala.; Berkley pro Glenn Browne of Ocala, Fla.; and Ryan Worthington of Middleburg, Fla.

Chris Lane of Winter Haven, Fla., earned $280 for the Snickers Big Bass award in the Pro Division thanks to a 8-pound, 1-ounce bass.

Overall there were 425 bass weighing 1,287 pounds, 4 ounces caught by 179 pros Friday. The catch included 47 five-bass limits.

Pros are competing for as much as $65,000, including a 519VX Ranger powered by Evinrude or Yamaha if contingency guidelines are met, and valuable points toward qualifying for the $1 million Stren Series Championship in Mobile, Ala., Nov. 8-11 for a shot at $140,000. After four qualifying events are complete in each of the circuit's five divisions, the top 40 pros from each division will advance to the championship. The highest-finishing pro from each division at the championship will also earn a spot in the $2 million 2008 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, Ranger Owners Tournament Championship Series and TBF (The Bass Federation) for bass fishing's biggest prize – $1 million.

Arch Cornett of Huntsville, Ala., leads the Co-angler Division in the chase for a top award of $35,000, including a 519VX Ranger if contingency guidelines are met, thanks to a three-day total of six bass weighing 26-6.

“I've been having a rough year so far and hopefully this lead going into the final day will help me out mentally,” said Cornett, who has amassed over $57,000 in career earnings with FLW Outdoors fishing only as a co-angler. “If I could pull this win out, it would help me tremendously. I had a great partner that really took care of me. He noticed early that he wasn't going to be in contention so he did his best to help me out and keep me in this.”

“We went into several backwater places today and when the weather warmed up it really pulled the fish back up in those areas. My plan for tomorrow is leave all my rods but my Senko rod at home and go with what has been working.”

Cornett was throwing a Senko around submerged brush, Lilly pads and cypress trees in backwater areas to catch his bass.

Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Lloyd Meyers Jr. of Jacksonville, Fla. (seven bass, 26-4); Brad Rodeigue of Pierre Part, La. (seven bass, 26-00); Chad Craven of Raleigh, N.C. (10 bass, 21-4); and Kenneth Hunnicutt of Jacksonville, Fla. (six bass, 20-13).

Also clearing the top 10 cut weight of 17 pounds, 8 ounces in the Co-angler Division are Alan Hults of Gautier, Miss.; Tim Endris of Gibsonton, Fla.; Aaron Fahnestock of Enterprise, Ala.; David Iglesias of Crystal River, Fla.; and T. Mike Evans of Deatsville, Ala.

Ryan Valentine of Jonesboro, Ga., earned $142 for the Snickers Big Bass award in the Co-angler Division thanks to a 7-pound, 7-ounce bass.

Overall there were 136 bass weighing 359 pounds, 14 ounces caught by 146 co-anglers Friday. The catch included four five-bass limits.

The top 40 co-anglers from each Stren Series division will also advance to the championship, where they will fish for as much as $70,000. The highest-finishing co-angler from each division at the championship will then advance to the 2008 Forrest Wood Cup.

Anglers will take off at 6:30 Saturday morning from John C. Land III Landing located at County Road S-14-260 in Summerton, S.C. Saturday's final weigh-in will be held at the Wal-Mart store located at 481 West Boyce Street in Manning, S.C., beginning at 4 p.m. The takeoff and weigh-in are free and open to the public.

Stren Series tournaments are four-day events consisting of two rounds. The entire field competes Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. At the conclusion of Friday's weigh-in, the field is cut to the top 10 pros and co-anglers based on the heaviest three-day accumulated weights. These anglers continue competition Saturday, with the winners determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from all four days.

FLW Outdoors historically maintains a 98 percent live release rate in all of its bass tournaments.

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 presented by Abu Garcia, Ranger Owners Tournament Championship Series, Wal-Mart FLW Walleye Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Walleye League, Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Series, Wal-Mart FLW Redfish Series and Wal-Mart FLW Striper Series. These circuits offer combined purses of nearly $43 million through 241 events in 2007.

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 Walmart.com .

For more information about FLW Outdoors and its tournament programs, browse FLWOutdoors.com or call (270) 252-1000.

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