The 2009 Land O’Lakes Angler of the Year title for the National Guard Western Division of the Walmart 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, Ranger pro Zack Thompson of Orinda, Calif., edged out National Guard pro Brent Ehrler of Redlands, Calif., by two points with a total of 749 out of a possible 800.
Those points qualified Thompson for the no-entry-fee 2010 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Lanier in Atlanta, Ga. Thompson and Ehrler were followed by pro Justin Kerr of Simi Valley, Calif., with 723 points, pro Jason Cordiale of Orinda, Calif., with 713 points and pro Robert Lee of Angels Camp, Calif., with 710 points. The Clear Lake event was won by National Guard pro Clifford Pirch, who caught a four-day total of 20 bass weighing 97 pounds, 8 ounces.
“I’ve won a few pro-am tournaments and I’ve even won a BASS Open on Clear Lake, but this is absolutely the biggest accomplishment of my career,” Thompson said. “It’s just an honor; it’s something I’ve been working on since I started fishing competitively. This makes me realize that I can compete and succeed against amazing anglers like Brent Ehrler.”
Thompson started the 2009 FLW Series season off by finishing second at Lake Havasu in late March. At the Series’ next stop, on the Columbia River in June, he took 21st Thompson then finished the season out with a seventh-place effort on the California Delta in September and a 25th-place showing at Clear Lake last week.
“Finishing second at Havasu was a real confidence boost,” he added. “Before the tournament I had only fished the lake three or four times. But the turning point in my season came on day three at Clear Lake. I caught a 6-pounder that morning flipping a Berkley Chigger Craw in the grass. Right then I knew that if I could fill my limit I should have enough to catch Brent. When he came to the scale, he needed 17-11 and he weighed in 17-3. It was exciting, but I was definitely sweating it out.”
As the Western Division Angler of the Year, Thompson will lead the division’s top 20 pros into the 2010 Forrest Wood Cup, slated for Aug. 5-8 on Lake Lanier. The Forrest Wood Cup features the top anglers from the Walmart FLW Tour, Walmart FLW Series, Stren Series, Walmart BFL, and the National Guard FLW College Fishing circuit. The Cup is the richest championship in the sport of competitive bass fishing.
The Land O’Lakes Angler of the Year title in each FLW Series Division 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, and so on.
FLW Outdoors, named after Forrest L. Wood, the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, is the largest fishing tournament organization in the world. FLW Outdoors has also taken fishing mainstream with FLW Fantasy Fishing, offering the largest awards possible in the history of fantasy sports.
For more information about FLW Outdoors and its tournaments, visit FLWOutdoors.com or call (270) 252-1000. For more information about FLW Fantasy Fishing and Player’s Advantage, visit FantasyFishing.com.