(Mar 31, 2016 - Rogers, AR)
The third tournament of the 21st season of the Walmart FLW Tour, the most competitive circuit in professional bass-fishing, kicks off April 14-17 with the Walmart FLW Tour at Beaver Lake presented by Jack Link’s. Hosted by Visit Rogers, the tournament will feature 167 of the world’s best bass-fishing professionals and co-anglers casting for top awards of up to $125,000 cash in the pro division and up to $25,000 cash in the co-angler division.
The Walmart FLW Tour has visited Beaver Lake 17 times, with 2016 marking the 18th visit in FLW’s 21-year history. One angler who is looking forward to the Tour’s annual return to the 28,000-acre White River impoundment is Quaker State pro Matt Arey of Shelby, North Carolina, who has won this tournament in each of the last two seasons.
“Beaver Lake has always been my favorite lake that we go to on Tour, way before I had any success,” said Arey, who has more than $720,000 in career earnings in FLW competition. “The lake is so versatile and offers a lot of diversity. You can fish the shallow, stained water in the river targeting bushes and wood or you can fish the clean water in the lower end and see 20 feet deep. It’s a great pattern lake and you can really fish your strengths. I always look forward to this tournament.”
Arey said that the water levels have pretty much returned to normal after being very high a few months back, but that water clarity could be different for Tour anglers this year.
“Certain sections of the lake that are normally clear have dirtier water this year,” he said. “It could confuse some people. The lake is fishing really well right now, though. In local tournaments there over the past few weeks 19- and 20-pound stringers have been winning, while anglers who catch 13 or 14 pounds aren’t cashing checks.
“The smallmouth also tend to always be a wildcard in this tournament,” Arey continued. “I’m a firm believer that you can’t win there without catching largemouth, but it seems like somebody always sneaks into the top 10 by targeting the smallmouth. Putting together multiple limits of smallmouth over a multi-day tournament is extremely tough.”
With 17 previous visits to Beaver Lake, the bait selection amongst the FLW Tour pros isn’t much of a secret. For anglers fishing the lower lake – nearer to the dam – most fish will be caught on drop-shot rigs, swimbaits, grubs and jerkbaits. Finesse will rule in the clear, deep waters. The same baits will play in the mid-lake area as in the lower end, but some pros will speed up with spinnerbaits and Storm Wiggle Warts on staging banks or around wood cover. Upstream, the brush bite is best with buzzbaits, Texas-rigged creature baits and swimbaits.
“I think if you can average 14 to 14½ pounds a day, you’ll be right there at the end,” Arey went on to say. “I think that if somebody can catch 60 pounds, that will probably seal it up.”
In FLW Tour competition, anglers are also vying for valuable points in hopes of qualifying for the 2016 Forrest Wood Cup, the world championship of bass fishing. The 2016 Forrest Wood Cup will be on Wheeler Lake in Huntsville, Alabama, Aug. 4-7 and is hosted by the Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Pros Robert Pearson of Herndon, Virginia, and Kenneth “Boo” Woods of London, Kentucky, withdrew from competition at the Beaver Lake event. Pearson was recently involved in an automobile accident and was instructed to not fish or participate in any strenuous activities for at least 30 days. He has not yet decided if he will re-join the Tour for the remaining three regular-season events. Woods withdrew from the Beaver Lake event to stay home with his family after his wife recently gave birth. Woods is expected to return to competition at the next FLW Tour event in May, at Pickwick Lake. The FLW Tour event at Beaver Lake will fish 167 pros and co-anglers.
Anglers will take off from the Prairie Creek Park Marina located at 9300 N. Park Road in Rogers at 6:30 a.m. each day of competition. Thursday and Friday’s weigh-ins will be held at Prairie Creek Park beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday’s final weigh-ins will be held at Walmart, located at 2110 W. Walnut St., in Rogers beginning at 4 p.m.
Fans will also be treated to the FLW Expo on Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. at Walmart prior to the final weigh-ins. The Expo includes a 100-yard Lew’s Casting Lane, the opportunity to interact with professional anglers, enjoy interactive games, activities and giveaways provided by FLW sponsors, and learn more about the sport of fishing and other outdoor activities. All activities are free and open to the public.
As part of the FLW Tour’s community outreach initiative, FLW Tour anglers will visit students at Westside Elementary School in Rogers on Wednesday, April 13, from 8-10 a.m. to introduce students to fishing and outdoor activities in their community. During the presentations the pro anglers will reinforce how science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) relate to outdoor activities as well as boating safety. The presentation will promote the sport of fishing and outdoor recreation and give youth the information they need to “Get Outdoors. Go Fish!”
FLW Tour pros will also be visiting youth patients at Mercy Hospital, located at 2710 S. Rife Medical Lane in Rogers on Wednesday, April 13 from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Quaker State pro Jimmy Houston will be joined by fellow Tour anglers to interact with guests, snap photos with patients and share fishing stories.
Also for youth, the FLW Foundation’s Unified Fishing Derby will be held at the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) Bentonville Community Lake, located at 2805 West Oak St., in Rogers on Saturday, April 16, from 9-11 a.m. The event is hosted by FLW Foundation pro Cody Kelley along with other FLW Tour anglers, and is free and open to area youth 15 years of age and younger and Special Olympics athletes. Rods and reels are available for use, but youth are encouraged to bring their own if they own one. All bait is provided by the DMF Bait Company.
FLW is the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, providing anglers of all skill levels the opportunity to compete for millions in prize money in 2016 across five tournament circuits. Headquartered in Benton, Kentucky, with offices in Minneapolis, FLW conducts more than 235 bass-fishing tournaments annually across the United States and sanctions tournaments in Canada, China, Mexico and South Korea. FLW tournament fishing can be seen on the Emmy-nominated “FLW" television show, broadcast to more than 564 million households worldwide, while FLW Bass Fishing magazine delivers cutting-edge tips from top pros