RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. (Aug. 15, 2009) It came down to the wire Saturday, but in the end Team Iams pro Vic Vatalaros one-fish catch Saturday of 1 pound, 9 ounces was enough to win the Walmart FLW Series® BP Eastern Division tournament on Lake Dardanelle…
RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. (Aug. 15, 2009) It came down to the wire Saturday, but in the end Team Iams pro Vic Vatalaros one-fish catch Saturday of 1 pound, 9 ounces was enough to win the Walmart FLW Series® BP Eastern Division tournament on Lake Dardanelle. Vatalaros four-day catch of 15 bass weighing 39-4 earned him more than $119,000.
The catch gave him the win by a solid 6-pound, 6-ounce margin over Nate Wellman of Jenison, Mich., who caught a total of 14 bass weighing 32-14 and earned $47,331.
It was a lot of work, said Vatalaro, who now has won more than $643,000 in FLW Outdoors events. I had to look around a lot. This was my first time ever being here and I ended up looking for current breaks and ended up finding the fish.
Vatalaro said he fished a Texas-rigged Berkley Finesse Worm with a 1/8-ounce weight and a 3inch Berkley Chigger Craw on the back of a 1/2-ounce War Eagle jig to catch his fish all four days of competition.
Vatalaro said the key to his win was a niche technique, something a little bit different than other anglers may be trying. He said he liked to find a unique pattern for every tournament he fishes to improve his chances for a win. On Lake Dardanelle, Vatalaro targeted drain areas in the Illinois Bayou area that had current in four to 12 feet of water. Vatalaro said side-imaging electronics were vital to finding the underwater drains.
Its kind of a neat deal, Vatalaro said. I knew it was back there. I looked at the GPS and could see water back there, so I just went up to it, looked along the bank and then side-imaged it, and its a pipe you can drive your boat through underwater. You can see it perfect. Its an open spot and you can see the concrete coming down and the concrete on the top. I mean, its awesome.
Although Vatalaro has won nearly a quarter of a million dollars over the course of his career, the Kent, Ohio, pros Dardanelle win was his first major win.
Ive talked every year about trying to make top 10s and put myself in a position (to win) and to finally make an FLW win is the best, Vatalaro said. Its unbelievable.
This feels great, Vatalaro added. To be able to fish against the best guys in the world right here and beat them thats the deal, you know?
Vatalaro opened the tournament in 13th place Wednesday with four bass weighing 9-7. On Thursday he added five bass weighing 18-5 to move into first place. He then caught five bass weighing 9-15 Friday to make the crucial top 10 cut in first place.
Rounding out the top five pros are Chad Prough of Chipley, Fla. (11 bass, 31-14, $37,865); Team Kelloggs pro Dave Lefebre of Union City, Pa. (16 bass, 31-14, $28,399) and Tommy Martin of Hemphill, Texas (13 bass, 29-13, $18,932).
Jeff Magee of Mendenhall, Miss., caught the biggest bass of the tournament in the Pro Division Thursday a 6-pound, 2-ounce bass that earned him the days Folgers Big Bass award of $430.
Alan Hults of Gautier, Miss., won the Co-angler Division and $23,000 Friday with a three-day total of 10 bass weighing 27 pounds even followed by Team BP co-angler Kevin Koone of Greenbrier, Ark., in second place with 12 bass weighing 24-10.
Hults caught three bass weighing 5-11 while fishing with pro O.T. Fears of Sallisaw, Okla., Wednesday and four bass weighing 16-14 while fishing with pro Ricky McLemore of Pine Bluff, Ark., Thursday. He wrapped up the win Friday with a three-bass catch weighing 4-7 while fishing with Clausen.
My brother won the last tournament at Eufaula and some of the guys at work were picking at me and wanting to know if Chris was coming to this tournament, said Hults, who now has won more than $164,000 in FLW Outdoors events. I told them no, and they told me Id have a chance.
We just like to fish and share a lot of information, Hults added.
Hults said he began the tournament junk fishing by fishing banks and caught fish on a trick worm, ribbon-tail worm and a Berkley PowerBait Chigger Craw. The second day Hults said he fished a 10-inch Berkley Power Worm. On the third day of competition, Hults said he caught one fish on a Berkley PowerBait Chigger Craw and the other two keepers on a shaky-head rig. Hults credited his pro anglers with being a big factor in the win.
Every one of the guys were around fish, Hults said. You cant catch them if youre not around them, and we were lucky enough to be around them every day. Yesterday I had three five-pounders, and thats just unbelievable as much as everybodys been struggling.
Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Derek Yasinski of Senoia, Ga. (eight bass, 18-8); Team National Guard co-angler Pat Lay of Cleveland, Tenn. (five bass, 13-13) and Micah Frazier of Newnan, Ga. (five bass, 13-6).
Hults caught the biggest bass of the tournament in the Co-angler Division Thursday a 5-pound, 4-ounce bass that earned him the days Folgers Big Bass award of $286.
Coverage of the Lake Dardanelle tournament, hosted by the Russellville Advertising and Promotion Commission, will be broadcast in high-definition (HD) on VERSUS, the network which brings anglers the best fishing programming on television featuring the most-trusted authorities on the water. The Emmy-nominated FLW Outdoors, will air Sept. 27 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. ET. FLW Outdoors, hosted by Jason Harper, is broadcast to approximately 500 million households worldwide, including internationally through agreements with WFN (World Fishing Network) and Matchroom Sport to such countries as Canada, 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.
The next FLW Series BP Eastern Division tournament, hosted by the Columbia County Georgia Convention and Visitors Bureau, will be held Sept. 16-19 on Clarks Hill Lake in Appling, Ga. Boats will launch from Wildwood Park in Appling and the final weigh-in will be held at the Walmart located at 4469 Washington Rd. in Evans, Ga.
FLW Outdoors, named after Forrest L. Wood, the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, is the largest fishing tournament organization in the world. FLW Outdoors also is taking fishing mainstream with FLW Fantasy Fishing, offering the largest awards possible in the history of fantasy sports, $10 million in cash and prizes. Sign up for Players Advantage for only $10 to get your edge and win.
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 Players Advantage, visit FantasyFishing.com.