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Ellis Wins Stren Series event on Santee Cooper Lakes

April 14, 2007

MANNING, S.C. – Pro Ken Ellis of Bowman, S.C., caught a huge five-bass limit weighing 27 pounds, 5 ounces Saturday to win the $275,225 Stren Series Southeast Division tournament presented by Yamaha on the Santee Cooper lakes with a four-day total of 20 bass weighing 86-7. For his victory, the well-know local pro earned $25,000 cash. He also earned the division's Land O'Lakes Angler of the Year title with a total of 745 points.

“I've always wanted to win the points championship,” said Ellis, who entered the tournament second in the Angler of the Year points standings. “It's a real honor to have my name listed alongside all the anglers who have won the title before me.”

Ellis opened the tournament in 48th place Wednesday with five bass weighing 11-8 that he caught on a Texas-rigged trick worm while fishing cypress trees. On Thursday he added another five bass weighing 20-12, including an 8-pound, 12-ounce largemouth, using a Senko and a trick worm. He then caught five bass weighing 26-14 on a Senko and a 4-inch Zoom lizard Friday to make the crucial top 10 cut in first place with a 9-pound lead.

“In order to win one of these things everything has to go well,” Ellis said. “I had a rough opening day, and I was really down because it is rare that you can have a bad day and come back and win. The wind on day two (gusting to 30 mph) helped me climb out of the hole because it kept the weights down for the entire field. It really played to my advantage.”

Rounding out the top five pros are Mark Hutson of Moncks Corner, S.C. (17 bass, 77-6, $9,299); Joseph Kremer of Osteen, Fla. (18 bass, 71-13, $8,370); Bryan Thrift of Shelby, N.C. (20 bass, 70-9, $7,439); and Chuck Howard of Elloree, S.C. (20 bass, 66-11, $6,509).

Thrift also earned Ranger Cup and Powered by Yamaha bonuses of $2,250 as the highest finishing participant in the Range Cup incentive program.

Kremer caught the biggest bass of the tournament in the Pro Division Wednesday – a 9-pound, 2-ounce largemouth – that earned him the day's Snickers Big Bass award of $280.

Overall there were 42 bass weighing 167 pounds, 10 ounces caught by 10 pros Saturday. The catch included eight five-bass limits.

Brad Rodrigue of Pierre Part, La., won the Co-angler Division and $35,000, including a 519VX Ranger boat, with a four-day total of 12 bass weighing 43-8.

“This win is very special to me,” said Rodrigue, who has earned two FLW Outdoors victories since 2003. “I didn't have a real good year, so it's nice to go out on a high note.”

Rodrigue caught two bass weighing 7-11 Wednesday using a Carolina rigged Baby Brush Hog in watermelon/gold color while fishing with pro Lloyd Picket Jr. of Bartlett, Tenn., to open the tournament in 14th place. He then caught four bass weighing 16-14 Thursday using a deep-diving Bomber crankbait in firetiger color while fishing with Thrift to jump into first place. On Friday he added one more bass weighing 1-7 to make the top 10 cut in third place while fishing a Senko with pro Ricky Shumpert of Lexington, S.C. Finally, on Saturday, he sealed the win with a five-bass catch weighing 17-8 while fishing for bedding bass with Hutson. His lures of choice Saturday were a Baby Brush Hog in watermelon/gold and a Zoom Craw in green-pumpkin.

Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Arch Cornett of Huntsville, Ala. (11 bass, 38-15, $3,779); Lloyd Meyers Jr. (eight bass, 29-8, $3,071); Chad Craven of Raleigh, N.C. (11 bass, 26-11, $2,362); and Alan Hults of Gautier, Miss. (nine bass, 23-9, $1,891).

Rodrigue and Ryan Valentine of Jonesboro, Ga., tied for the biggest bass of the tournament in the Co-angler Division with 7-pound, 7-ounce bass. Rodrigue caught his big largemouth Thursday while Valentine landed his big bass Friday. Both anglers earned Snickers Big Bass awards of $142.

Overall there were 15 bass weighing 47 pounds, 5 ounces caught by 10 co-anglers Saturday. The catch included two five-bass limits.

Aaron Fahnestock of Enterprise, Ala., won the Southeast Division Land O'Lakes Co-angler of the Year title Saturday thanks to an eighth place finish. Fahnestock entered the Santee Cooper lakes tournament, the division's final qualifier, as the Co-angler of the Year points leader and finished the season with a total of 741 points.

The top 40 pros from the Stren Series Southeast Division will now advance to the $1 million Stren Series Championship in Mobile, Ala., Nov. 8-11 to compete against top qualifiers from four other Stren Series divisions for a shot at $140,000. 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.

The top 40 co-anglers from the Southeast Division will also advance to the championship, where they will fish against top qualifiers from four other Stren Series divisions 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.

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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