FLW Tour to visit Detroit River

Elizabeth Park Marina was a hub of activity on the Detroit River as anglers prepared for FLW Outdoors competition.DETROIT — The $9.5 million Wal-Mart FLW Tour will stop in Detroit July 12-15 for its sixth and final regular-season tournament – the $1.5 million Chevy Open. Held on the Detroit River and hosted by the Detroit Metro Sports Commission, the Metropolitan Affairs Coalition, the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau, the City of Detroit’s Mayor’s Office and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the lucrative tournament will feature 400 anglers from 35 states, Australia, Canada, Italy and Japan, with 200 of the world’s best bass pros fishing for a top award of $200,000 cash. Two hundred co-anglers will compete for a top award of $40,000 cash.


“You can look at this tournament two ways,” said team Chevy pro Kim Stricker of Howell, Mich. “Lake Erie is known for its giant smallmouth. Lake St. Clair is known more for numbers, but Erie is where the tournament will be won. When Erie’s on, it can’t be beat.”


Stricker said anglers will have ample room to fish, as fishable waters include Lake Erie, the Detroit River, Lake St. Clair and the St. Clair River, which connects Lake St. Clair to Lake Huron. Anglers also may fish Canadian waters, which had been off-limits to tournament fishermen since October 2006. The USDA had prohibited fishermen from transporting some species of live fish across international waters because of the risk of spreading viral hemorrhagic septicemia, commonly known as the VHS virus. The federal order was revised in May, however, to allow for catch and release fishing in waters that cross state and international boundaries.


The opening of the Canadian waters should have a significant impact on the tournament, as Stricker predicts two-thirds of the field will cross the international boundary.


Stricker said bass should be in a transitional phase when the tournament begins, as the fish are traditionally spawning until the week of July Fourth, and the majority of anglers could find success dragging a tube and drop-shotting, especially on Lake Erie. Other baits that may produce include soft plastic jerkbaits, spinnerbaits and topwater baits.


While Lake Erie and dragging a tube for smallmouth bass go hand-in-hand, Stricker is quick to point out that smallmouth will not be the only target during the tournament.


“The largemouth bite may surprise some people,” Stricker said. “There will be guys fishing in backwater and weedy areas of the lakes. Typical largemouth techniques – throwing a worm, spinnerbait or soft-plastic jerkbait – will work this time of year. There will even be some frog fishing in some areas of slop and pads. You just have to look for it.”


{mosgoogle right 6838717991}Stricker said anglers should need a two-day weight of 36 pounds to make the cut to the final two days of competition. He based this weight on a previous Stren Series event he fished on the Detroit River in 2005. Stricker weighed in 18 pounds, 4 ounces on the first day of competition, good enough for only 15th place.


Stricker won the 1994 Bassmaster Top 100 tournament on Lake St. Clair with a four-day total of 61 pounds, 15 ounces – an average of 15 ½ pounds a day. Stricker said that average, however, would not hold up in a tournament today, due in large part to the introduction of the goby in the early 1990s.


“The goby is a smallmouth’s preferred forage,” Stricker said. “And they make the smallmouth grow big.


“We should see 20-plus bags of smallmouth come across the stage,” Stricker added. “And there will be guys who will catch 25-pound bags of smallies.”


Anglers will take off at 6:30 a.m. Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, July 12-15, from Elizabeth Park Marina located at 202 Grosse Isle Pkwy. in Trenton, Mich. Thursday and Friday’s weigh-ins also will be held at Elizabeth Park Marina beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday’s weigh-ins will be held at the Cobo Center located at One Washington Blvd. in Detroit beginning at 4 p.m.


Prior to the weigh-ins Saturday and Sunday, FLW Outdoors will host a free Family Fun Zone and outdoor show at the Cobo Center from noon to 4 p.m. each day. The Family Fun Zone is a chance for fishing fans to meet their favorite anglers and review products from Berkley, Lowrance, Ranger, Evinrude, Yamaha and other manufacturers while children are treated to fishing themed games and rides like the Ranger boat simulator. The first 300 children 14 and under visiting the Family Fun Zone Saturday will receive a free FLW Outdoors hat. On Sunday, the first 300 children 14 and under visiting the Family Fun Zone will receive a free rod and reel combo. On Sunday a member of the audience will also win a free trip for two to Hot Springs for the $2 million Forrest Wood Cup championship and outdoor show and a chance to win a $53,000 Ranger Z20 powered by Yamaha. Participants must be present during the 4 p.m. weigh-in Sunday to win.


In FLW Tour competition, pros and co-anglers are randomly paired each day, with pros supplying the boat, controlling boat movement and competing against other pros. Co-anglers fish from the back deck against other co-anglers. The full field of 400 anglers competes in the two-day opening round for one of 10 slots in Saturday’s competition based on their two-day accumulated weight. Weights are cleared for day three, and co-angler competition concludes following Saturday’s weigh-in. The top 10 pros continue competition Sunday, with the winner determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from days three and four.


The total purse for the Chevy Open is $1.5 million, including $10,000 through 60th place in the Pro Division. This makes the event the most lucrative tour-level bass tournament ever hosted in Michigan.


Coverage of the Chevy Open will be broadcast to 81 million FSN (Fox Sports Net) subscribers in the United States on Aug. 26 and Sept. 2 as part of the “FLW Outdoors” television program. “FLW Outdoors” airs Sunday mornings at 11 Eastern time. “FLW Outdoors” is also broadcast internationally to 429 million households in such countries as Germany, China, South Africa, Australia, Malaysia, Russia, Hungary and the United Kingdom, making it the most widely distributed fishing program in the world. Additionally, FLW Outdoors is proud to provide tournament coverage to more than 800,000 servicemembers stationed around the world in 177 countries and aboard Navy ships through broadcasts on the American Forces Network.


With a $9.5 million cash purse, including three $1 million qualifiers and three $1.5 million opens during the regular season, this is the most lucrative FLW Tour season to date. Each event leads up to the $2 million Forrest Wood Cup presented by Castrol, which will be held Aug. 2-5 on Lake Ouachita in Hot Springs, Ark. The prestigious championship and outdoor show hosted by the Hot Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau will feature 81 pros, 81 co-anglers and bass fishing’s largest cash award – a potential $1 million first-place prize for the winning pro.


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.

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