USA. Fukae grabs lead in $1.25 Million Wal-Mart Open on Beaver Lake Print E-mail
Saturday, 08 April 2006
Sports fishing news:

Shinichi Fukae of Mineola, Texas, grabbed a 1-pound, 7-ounce lead over Team Bounty pro Craig Powers of Rockwood, Tenn., Friday in the $1.25 million Wal-Mart Open powered by Tyson on Beaver Lake thanks to a five-bass limit weighing 11 pounds, 3 ounces. If he retains his lead Saturday, Fukae will pocket $200,000 and notch his second tour win of the season.

"I don't feel any pressure at all," said Fukae, who won $100,000 at the Wal-Mart FLW Tour season opener on Lake Okeechobee in Clewiston, Fla. "If the fish bite, I'll catch them. If they don't, that's fishing."

Fukae, the tour's 2004 Land O'Lakes Angler of the Year, used a 3/32-ounce Shaky Head jig rigged with a Yamamoto green pumpkin worm. He fished the popular finesse bait around standing timber in the upper reaches of Beaver Lake.

Powers is nipping at Fukae's heels with a five-bass limit weighing 9 pounds, 12 ounces to advance as the No. 2 seed. His pattern of crawling a Bomber Long "A" through timber in 70 feet of water may appear to be slipping, but Powers believes it will hold.

You can't fish a topwater bait in three-foot waves and catch fish," said Powers, who placed second in the 2004 Wal-Mart Open. "All I need is for the wind to quit blowing a tad. If it calms down, I can win."

Third place pro Mark Rose of Marion, Ark., is happy with his limit of 9 pounds, 9 ounces, but he doesn't think he has enough fish left to claim the $200,000 winner's check tomorrow.

"I'm tickled to death to make the top-10 cut," said Rose, who is in his eighth year competing against the world's best bass anglers. "I've been keying in on smallmouths, but I'm not getting the bites I want. I'm only good for about 10 pounds a day and hopefully that will get me a top-five finish."

Rounding out the top five pros are Team Pedigree pro Jeffrey Thomas of Broadway, N.C. (three bass, 5-7) and Mike Wurm of Hot Springs, Ark., (three bass, 5-5).

Richard Strother, 62, of Tyler, Texas, captured the co-angler title and $40,000 Friday with three bass weighing 8 pounds, 11 ounces. He caught two of his fish on a Spot Remover jig and a Zoom finesse worm, but it was his third fish that propelled him to the top of the leaderboard.

"My angler [Thomas] was fishing a big mud flat with very little cover," said Strother, who fishes the Texas Tournament Trail as a pro. "I was throwing a Rat-L-Trap and got hung up on a bush. I pulled on it really hard three times because I never ask my pro to go get a bait. Anyway, the bait popped loose, and that's when my big bass hit."

A retired telephone company employee, Strother said that a good portion of his $40,000 will go to pay his tithe and the rest will go in the bank. He plans to fish the rest of the FLW Tour and is looking forward to the Kentucky Lake tournament presented by Pedigree May 10-13.

Despite catching the only limit in the Co-angler Division, Derek Moyer of Alexandria, Va., finished second with five bass weighing 5 pounds, 2 ounces.

Tyson co-angler Pamela Wood of Bono, Ark., finished in third place with two bass weighing 4 pounds, 2 ounces, making her the highest placing female angler in the tournament.

"This is just confirmation that I'm doing what I should be doing," Wood said. "I just hope that I encourage more women to get involved with the sport. There are no barriers."

Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Chad Parks of Memphis (one bass, 3-3) and Paul Addi of Las Vegas (two bass, 2-9).

Overall, 50 bass weighing 85 pounds, 5 ounces, including four five-bass limits, were caught Friday by the 10 pro and 10 co-angler finalists.

Fukae earned the "Tyson Powerboat of the Day" award along with his partner Wood. The award goes to the pro and co-angler who weigh the heaviest combined catch. Both anglers received $500 thanks to a combined catch of 10 bass weighing 15 pounds, 5 ounces.

Anglers will take off at 7 a.m. Saturday from Prairie Creek Marina and the final weigh-in will be held at the Wal-Mart store located at 4208 Pleasant Crossing Blvd. in Rogers beginning at 4 p.m.

The community is invited to attend the free Family Fun Zone Saturday outside the weigh-in tent in the Wal-Mart parking lot. The Family Fun Zone, which opens at noon, features interactive displays, product samples and games for the entire family to enjoy.

Pros are competing for $200,000 cash and valuable points that could qualify them for a trip to the $1.5 million Wal-Mart FLW Tour Championship in Birmingham, Ala., for a shot at $500,000 cash - the sport's biggest award. Overall, 37 states, Japan and Canada are represented.

Anglers compete in the two-day opening round for one of 10 slots in Friday's competition based on their two-day accumulated weight. Weights are cleared for day three, and co-angler competition concludes following Friday's weigh-in. The top 10 pros continue competition Saturday, with the winner determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from days three and four.

In FLW Tour competition, pros and co-anglers are randomly paired each day, with pros supplying the boat, controlling boat movement and competing against other pros. Co-anglers fish from the back deck against other co-anglers.

Coverage of the Wal-Mart Open hosted by the Rogers Convention and Visitors Bureau will be broadcast to 78 million FSN (Fox Sports Net) subscribers in the United States on May 7 and May 14 as part of the "FLW Outdoors" television program. "FLW Outdoors" airs Sunday mornings at 11 Eastern time. "FLW Outdoors" is also broadcast internationally to more than 350 million households in such countries as Germany, China, South Africa, Australia, Malaysia, Russia, Hungary and the United Kingdom, making it the most widely distributed weekly outdoor-sports television show in the world. Additionally, FLW Outdoors is proud to provide tournament coverage to more than 800,000 servicemembers stationed around the world in 177 countries and aboard Navy ships through broadcasts on the American Forces Network.
Last Updated ( Saturday, 08 April 2006 )
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