North American Fishing Guides

VanDam Leads $500,000 Wal-Mart FLW Tour Event

BENTON, Ky. (May 15, 2003) – Pro Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich., caught 10 bass over two days that weighed 37 pounds, 10 ounces to lead the 10 pros who advanced to Friday’s semifinal round of the $500,000 Wal-Mart FLW Tour event on Kentucky and Barkley lakes. His five-bass catch Thursday weighing 18 pounds, 2 ounces propelled him past day-one leader and second-place contender Tom Monsoor of La Crosse, Wis., by 1 pound, 2 ounces.

The event, presented by Energizer, began Wednesday with 175 pros and 175 co-anglers vying for top awards of $100,000 and $15,000, respectively. Anglers seemed undeterred by the rain-swollen reservoirs, as more than 2,300 pounds of bass crossed the weigh-in stage Thursday despite exceptionally high water that rose another foot overnight.

VanDam’s tournament-leading sack of bass contained only largemouths that he did not find until late in the morning. “I’m fishing really, really shallow water as well as water up to 8 feet deep,” he said. “I’m using mostly vertical presentations, flipping and pitching. The fish are changing, though, and what I’m doing is not going to get better; it’s going to get worse. I’d like it to rain a lot.”

VanDam, known for his rapid-fire fishing style, says he has been fishing slowly this tournament but covering a lot of water. He’s been successful at catching bass that have moved into flooded trees. “The high water has probably helped me, especially compared to the guys who have experience here,” he said. “The fish are where the turkeys were gobbling. But they’re biting, and when you’ve got it going on, you don’t need to let off. (Letting off) has cost me before, and it won’t cost me again.”

VanDam has enjoyed superstar status in professional bass fishing in recent years but is currently experiencing a relatively sub par year. He entered the Kentucky Lake event ranked 78th in FLW Tour points standings.

“Good tournaments have been few and far between this year,” said VanDam, who was the 2001 Land O’Lakes Angler of the Year. “I knew I needed these last few tournaments to be good in order to make the championship. I’ve had a lot of second-place finishes in the past, and I’d like a win.” Rounding out the top five pros are Monsoor (10 bass, 36 pounds, 8 ounces); Gary Yamamoto of Mineola, Texas (10 bass, 32 pounds, 5 ounces); Terry Baksay of Monroe, Conn. (10 bass, 31 pounds, 15 ounces); and Todd Ary of Birmingham, Ala. (10 bass, 31 pounds, 13 ounces).

Randall Green of Braselton, Ga., leads the Co-angler Division thanks to his two-day catch of 10 bass weighing 27 pounds, 6 ounces. He used a Brush Hog to catch five bass Thursday that weighed 11 pounds, 5 ounces.

Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Quint Bourgeois of Knoxville, Tenn. (eight bass, 25 pounds, 5 ounces); Johnny Taylor of Kodak, Tenn. (10 bass, 24 pounds, 15 ounces); Rodney Chmolack of Phenix City, Ala. (nine bass, 24 pounds, 4 ounces); and Derek Yamamoto of Mesa, Ariz. (10 bass, 22 pounds, 1 ounce).

Pro Robert Beatty of Clermont, Fla., earned the Snickers Big Bass Award and $750 Thursday thanks to a 7-pound, 2-ounce bass. Pamela Wood of Bono, Ark., claimed the $500 Snickers Big Bass Award on the co-angler side with a 6-pound, 6-ounce bass.

Competitors hauled in 995 bass Thursday, including 103 five-bass limits, to make this event the most successful FLW Tour event on Kentucky Lake in terms of catch weight and number of bass caught. Anglers caught 1,981 bass over two days, compared to 1,457 in 1998. These fish weighed more than 4,800 pounds, nearly 200 pounds heavier than the catch weight five years ago, and the top 10 anglers still have two days of fishing left.

The Kentucky Lake event, which ranks as the most lucrative bass tournament in state history, is the fifth of six regular-season Wal-Mart FLW Tour events that lead to the James River in Richmond, Va., Sept. 10-13 for the $1.5 million Jacobs Cup world championship of bass fishing. The top 48 pros and 48 co-anglers based on year-end points standings will advance to the Jacobs Cup, where the winning pro will receive $500,000, the largest guaranteed cash award in the history of professional bass fishing. With a total of $5.76 million on the line this season, the road to Richmond, Va., is paved with gold.

Anglers take off from Kentucky Dam Marina at 7:30 a.m. Friday and 6:30 a.m. Saturday. Friday and Saturday’s weigh-ins will be held at the Wal-Mart store located at 310 W. Fifth St. in Benton beginning at 5 p.m. and 3 p.m., respectively.

The community is encouraged to attend daily takeoffs and weigh-ins as well as the Family Fun Zone, located outside the weigh-in tent at the Wal-Mart parking lot. With games, interactive displays and product giveaways, the Family Fun Zone offers enjoyment for fishing fans of all ages. The Family Fun Zone opens Friday at 3 p.m. and Saturday at 11 a.m.

Coverage of the Kentucky Lake tournament will be featured on the “FLW Outdoors” television show, which is broadcast to 55 million subscribers on the Outdoor Life Network. The program features fishing legends Hank Parker and Larry Nixon alongside hosts Charlie Evans, Carlton Wing and Taylor Carr. Parker’s preview of the Kentucky Lake tournament airs Saturday at 6 p.m. and again Sunday at noon CST. Tournament highlights from Kentucky Lake will air May 24 and 25 followed by a tournament recap featuring Nixon May 31 and June 1.

Anglers from 34 states, Canada , Japan and Mexico are competing in the tournament. Weights are cleared for Friday’s competition, and co-anglers compete for one day to determine the winner. Pros continue competition Saturday, with final positions determined by Friday and Saturday’s combined catch weight.

The Wal-Mart FLW Tour features a pro/co-angler format in which the pro supplies the boat, fishes from the front deck against other pros and controls boat movement. Co-anglers fish from the back deck against other co-anglers. Anglers who receive weight credit in a tournament earn points, with 200 points awarded to the winner, 199 points for second, 198 for third, and so on. Points determine angler standings.

Wal-Mart and many of America’s most respected companies support FLW Outdoors and its six tournament trails. Wal-Mart has been the title sponsor of FLW Outdoors since 1997. For a complete list of FLW Outdoors sponsors and for more information about the premier products and services they offer, please visit

FLW Outdoors and the Wal-Mart FLW Tour are named after the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, Forrest L. Wood.

FLW Outdoors

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