FLORENCE, Ala., June 6, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- via PRWEB - Pro angler Jeff Gustafson of Keewatin, Ontario, Canada, caught the biggest bass of his life Thursday – a huge 10-pound, 12-ounce monster – to anchor his five-bass limit and grab the lead after day one of the Walmart FLW Tour at Pickwick Lake presented by Straight Talk Wireless.
Gustafson now holds a slim 15-ounce lead over ledge-fishing guru Randy Haynes of Counce, Tenn., heading into day two of the four-day event, hosted by Florence/Lauderdale Tourism, that features 165 of the best bass-fishing anglers in the world competing for a top cash award of up to $125,000.
"I've never been in this position before, but it feels pretty awesome," said Gustafson, who is fishing his second season as a professional at the sport's highest level. "This place is a lot of fun. I've been fishing in Mexico five or six times and fished all over Florida, but I've never caught a bass over 10 pounds. It was a pretty special experience."
Gustafson said that he fished around the ledges in the mid-lake area, but tried to target areas that were more subtle and didn't have as much pressure.
"I was one of the last boats out today, so the couple of spots that I wanted to start on were loaded up," Gustafson said. "I just don't have the nerve to pull up on everybody. On the last day of practice I found a spot that was pretty inconspicuous, or so I thought. I left and every 10 minutes another boat was pulling in there. That kind of turned me on to looking for the more subtle spots."
Gustafson said that his main baits were a crankbait and a jig. He said that he would use his crankbait to find the fish, then once he located them he would go after them with the jig. He also weighed in one fish on a swimbait.
"I caught probably 40 fish throughout the day, but by 10 a.m. I only had two," Gustafson said. "I'm not sure if they started moving water, but it picked up around lunchtime and was good for a few hours. I got on a spot where my co-angler and I both were literally catching them every cast. I caught the big one, then I caught two 3-pounders on a crankbait on the same cast.
"Tomorrow I've got an early boat draw," Gustafson went on to say. "I've got a spot in mind that I want to start on then after that it's just go with the flow. I have five or six spots that I never made it to today just because I was pretty happy with my weight and I didn't want to burn anything up. Hopefully I can put another solid limit together."
The top 10 pros after day one on Pickwick Lake are:
1st: Jeff Gustafson, Keewatin, Ontario, Canada, five bass, 24-8
2nd: Randy Haynes, Counce, Tenn., five bass, 23-9
3rd: Richard Peek, Centre, Ala., five bass, 23-1
4th: Michael Neal, Dayton, Tenn., five bass, 23-0
5th: Greg Hackney, Gonzales, La., five bass, 22-4
6th: Robbie Dodson, Harrison, Ark., five bass, 21-11
7th: Casey Ashley, Donalds, S.C, five bass, 21-0
8th: Shane Lehew, Charlotte, N.C., five bass, 20-9
8th: Walmart pro Wesley Strader, Spring City, Tenn., five bass, 20-9
10th: Jason Lambert, Pickwick Dam, Tenn., five bass, 20-2
For a full list of results visit FLWOutdoors.com.
Gustafson also won the Bridgford Big Bass Award on the pro side Thursday with his monster bass weighing 10 pounds, 12 ounces to win $500.
Overall there were 703 bass weighing 2,333 pounds, 14 ounces caught by 165 pros Thursday. The catch included 121 five-bass limits.
Pros are competing for a top award of up to $125,000 this week plus valuable points in the hope of qualifying for the 2014 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart, the world championship of bass fishing. The top 35 anglers in the point standings from the six events on the 2014 Walmart FLW Tour will qualify. The 2014 Forrest Wood Cup will be in Columbia, S.C., Aug. 14-17 on Lake Murray and is hosted by Capital City Lake Murray Country. The winning angler in that event will win $500,000 – professional bass-fishing's richest prize.
Cody Kelley of Conway, Ark., leads the co-angler division with five bass weighing 19 pounds, 8 ounces followed by Jimmy Kowalski of Lake Placid, Fla., in second place with five bass weighing 19-5.
The top 10 co-anglers are:
1st: Cody Kelley, Conway, Ark., five bass, 19-8
2nd: Jimmy Kowalski, Lake Placid, Fla., five bass, 19-5
3rd: John Jacobs, Birmingham, Ala., five bass, 18-2
4th: Daniel Buswell, Newnan, Ga., five bass, 17-13
5th: Nick Hensley, Cumming, Ga., five bass, 17-8
6th: Brad Roberts, Faubush, Ky., five bass, 16-10
7th: Alan Woodford, Winslow, Ind., five bass, 16-9
8th: Kyle Monti, Okeechobee, Fla., five bass, 15-9
9th: Dennis Kirby, Lakeland, Tenn., five bass, 15-1
10th: Eric Self, Lawndale, N.C., five bass, 14-12
10th: Ronald Young, Winter Haven, Fla., five bass, 14-12
For a full list of results visit FLWOutdoors.com.
Kowalski caught Thursday's Bridgford Big Bass in the co-angler division weighing 7-12 to win $250.
Overall there were 527 bass weighing 1,297 pounds, 12 ounces caught by co-anglers Thursday. The catch included 60 five-bass limits.
Co-anglers are fishing for a top award of $25,000 this week plus valuable points that could help them qualify for the 2014 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart. The top 35 co-anglers in the point standings from the six events on the 2014 Walmart FLW Tour will qualify.
Anglers will take off from McFarland Park located at 200 James M. Spain Drive in Florence at 6:30 a.m. each morning. Friday's weigh-in will be held at McFarland Park beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday's final weigh-ins will be held at Walmart located at 2701 Cloverdale Road in Florence beginning at 4 p.m.
Fans will also be treated to the FLW Expo at Walmart on Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. prior to the final weigh-ins. The Expo includes Ranger boat simulators, a Chevy Truck Tour, the opportunity to interact with professional anglers, enjoy interactive games, activities and giveaways provided by sponsors, and fans can learn more about the sport of fishing and other outdoor activities. All activities are free and open to the public. Also on Sunday, country music star Chris Janson will perform a free live concert on the Walmart weigh-in stage at 3 p.m.
Coverage of the Pickwick Lake tournament will be broadcast in high-definition (HD) on NBC Sports Network when "FLW" airs Aug. 10 from 11 a.m.-12 p.m. ET. The Emmy-nominated "FLW" television show is hosted by Jason Harper 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 FLWOutdoors.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/FLWFishing and on Twitter at Twitter.com/FLWFishing.
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 2014 over the course of 229 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 weekly outdoors-sports television show in the world. For more information about FLW visit FLWOutdoors.com and look for FLW on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube.
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FLW Joe Opager +1 (612) 337-1989