Pro anglers set to compete for $125K at FLW Tour on Lake Lanier
Published By OutdoorsFIRST Media Published February 28, 2018
The FLW Tour, the most competitive Tour in professional bass-fishing, returns to the water next week, March 8-11, with the FLW Tour at Lake Lanier presented by Ranger Boats. Hosted by the Gainesville Convention and Visitors Bureau, the tournament will feature 368 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 FLW Tour has visited Lake Lanier four times previously, with 2018 marking the fifth visit in FLW's 23-year history. The fishery has played host to two Forrest Wood Cup championships (2012 and 2010) and Tour events in 2006 and 1999. The total purse for the FLW Tour at Lake Lanier presented by Ranger Boats is more than $930,000, including $10,000 through 60th place in the Pro Division.
"Our community benefits greatly from events like this one that are designed to include the entire family," said Gainesville Tourism Manager Regina Dyer. "In the past six months, fishing has resulted in more than $2 million dollars in economic impact and showcased Lake Lanier as a world-class fishery and prime location for anglers of all ages. We're excited to bring the FLW Tour to town and expect a great week of fun for all fans of fishing and the outdoors."
Anglers will take off at 7 a.m. EST Thursday, Friday and Saturday morning and at 7:45 a.m. DST Sunday morning (Daylight Savings Time begins Sunday) from Laurel Park, located at 3100 Old Cleveland Highway, in Gainesville. Thursday and Friday's weigh-ins, March 8-9, will be held at the park beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday's weigh-ins, March 10-11, will also be held at the park, but will begin at 4 p.m.
"I'm excited to finally showcase the jewel that Lake Lanier is for bass fishing," said local angler Jason Johnson of Dawsonville, Georgia, who is fishing his fourth season as a professional on the FLW Tour. "We've had two Forrest Wood Cups here, but those are always in August - the toughest time of the year to fish. We're hitting the lake at just the right time this year and it's really going to show that Lake Lanier is the best spotted-bass tournament fishery in America. There is not another lake that has the quality and quantity of nice, spotted bass, and I'm anxious to show it off to the world."
Johnson said that recent rain has the water levels completely at full pool and with more rain being forecast before the tournament he expects the largemouth bass to play a larger role than normal.
"If the tournament isn't won strictly on largemouth, the key will be having one or two mixed in each day," he said. "The high water has flooded a lot of trees and sage brush and there is enough water for the largemouth to get up into them. Guys are going to be catching fish with everything that you can throw in your tackle box.
"I think the winner will likely have a four-day total of 63½ to 64 pounds," Johnson went on to say. "I think if you can catch 16 pounds a day, you'll be right there at the end."
Television coverage of the FLW Tour at Lake Lanier presented by Ranger Boats will premiere in high-definition (HD) on NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) April 18 from Noon-1 p.m. EST. The Emmy-nominated "FLW" television show airs on NBCSN, the Pursuit Channel and the World Fishing Network and is broadcast to more than 564 million households worldwide.
Prior to the weigh-ins Saturday and Sunday, March 10-11, FLW will host a free Family Fishing Expo at Laurel Park from noon to 4 p.m. each day. The Expo is a chance for fishing fans to meet their favorite anglers, enjoy interactive games, activities and giveaways provided by FLW sponsors, and learn more about the sport of fishing and other outdoor activities.
Also for youth, the FLW Foundation's Unified Fishing Derby will be held at Laurel Park on Saturday, March 10 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 anyone under the age of 18 and Special Olympics athletes. Rods and reels are available for use, but youth are encouraged to bring their own if they own one. The 1st and 2nd place anglers that catch the biggest fish will be recognized Saturday on the FLW Tour stage, just prior to the pros weighing in.
As part of the FLW Tour's community outreach initiative, FLW Tour anglers will visit students at Chestatee High School in Gainesville on Wednesday, March 7 from 8:30-10 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.
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 368 anglers competes in the two-day opening round. Co-angler competition concludes following Friday's weigh-in, while the top 30 pros based on their two-day accumulated weight advance to Saturday. Only the top 10 pros continue competition Sunday, with the winner determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from the four days of competition.
Throughout the season, anglers are also vying for valuable points in hopes of qualifying for the 2018 Forrest Wood Cup, the world championship of professional bass fishing. The 2018 Forrest Wood Cup will be on Lake Ouachita in Hot Springs, Arkansas, Aug. 10-12 and is hosted by the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism and Visit Hot Springs.