MINNEAPOLIS – The 2007 Land O’Lakes Angler of the Year title for the National Guard Western Division of the Wal-Mart FLW Series came down to a battle between two seasoned veterans at the fourth and final qualifier of the season on Clear Lake last week. In the end, pro Randy McAbee Jr. of Bakersfield, Calif., edged out 2006 Forrest Wood Cup Champion Brent Ehrler of Redlands, Calif., by 19 points with a total of 763 out of a possible 800.
“This was definitely a goal of mine when the schedule came out,” McAbee said. “Not only to win Angler of the Year but to make the top-30 and qualify for the Forrest Wood Cup through the Fish-Off. But still, with the quality of anglers out West, I never fully expected to be in this position.”
McAbee started the 2007 FLW Series season off by finishing fourth at Lake Havasu in early February. At the Series’ next stop, on the California Delta in March, he finished 11th. McAbee then finished the season out with a 21st-place effort on the Columbia River in September and a sixth-place showing at Clear Lake last week.
“I’ve been on cloud nine since Lake Havasu,” he added. “That tournament at Havasu really boosted my confidence and helped me throughout the year.”
As the Western Division Land O’Lakes Angler of the Year, McAbee will lead the division’s top 30 pros into the FLW Series Fish-Off on Lake Amistad where they will face the top 30 pros from the BP Eastern Division in three days of head-to-head competition to determine who will advance to the 2008 Forrest Wood Cup. McAbee, the No. 1 National Guard Western Division pro, will face the No. 30 BP Eastern Division pro, Team Chevy angler Dion Hibdon of Stover, Mo. Team BP pro David Walker, the No. 1 Eastern Division pro, will face Bobby Barrack of Oakley, Calif., the No. 30 Western Division pro. The No. 2 qualifiers will face the No. 29 qualifiers, etc. The winners of these head-to-head match-ups will proceed to the Forrest Wood Cup along with the top 30 co-anglers based on accumulated weight at the Fish-Off. The pro with the heaviest overall weight will also earn $25,000, and the co-angler with the heaviest overall weight will earn $5,000.
“We might as well start against the best,” McAbee said of the prospects of fishing against Hibdon, one of only five anglers in the history of the sport to have won both the Forrest Wood Cup and the Bassmaster Classic. “It is going to be an honor to compete against a legend like Dion.”
A few notable matchups include No. 9 Eastern Division pro Steve Kennedy of Auburn, Ala., vs. No. 22 Western Division pro Joe Uribe Jr.; No. 16 Eastern Division pro Tommy Biffle of Wagoner, Okla., vs. No. 15 Western Division pro Jimmy Reese of Witter Springs, Calif.; and. No. 25 Eastern Division pro Derek Remitz of Madison, Ala., vs. No. 6 Western Division pro Zack Thompson of Orinda, Calif. Kennedy, Biffle and Remitz are vying for spots in the 2008 Forrest Wood Cup after already qualifying for the 2008 Bassmaster Classic. Only five anglers have won both titles, and no angler has ever won both the Forrest Wood Cup and the Classic in the same year.
The Land O’Lakes Angler of the Year title in each division of the FLW Series is determined by the total accumulated points from four regular-season events. Two hundred points are awarded for a win, 199 for second, 198 for third, etc.
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 tournaments, browse FLWOutdoors.com or call (270) 252-1000.