Florence, Ala. (Feb. 16, 2002) — Chevy pro Larry Nixon, Bee Branch, Ark., proved why he ranks as one of bass fishing’s all-time greats Saturday by winning his second Wal-Mart FLW Tour event in as many years. He won the event despite chilly conditions on Lake Wheeler that put anglers representing 34 states and Japan to the test.
“I got into a lull for about four or five years ago,” said Nixon, who caught five bass weighing 16 pounds, 9 ounces to win $110,000 in the final round of the four-day tournament presented by Pepsi and Frito-Lay. “I just got complacent and didn’t really care, but now I want to win. Right now I’m loving it.”
Nixon entered Friday’s semifinal round of 20 pros in fourth place with a two-day opening-round total of eight bass weighing 22 pounds. He then squeaked into Saturday’s 10-man final round in 10th place after catching five bass weighing 5 pounds, 15 ounces that tied him with Mike Hawkes, Sabinal, Texas. Nixon broke the tie based on his fourth-place opening-round standing. Contestants in the final two rounds started from zero and fished for the heaviest five-bass limit each day.
Nixon caught his winning limit in First Creek using a ½-ounce black and blue Strike King jig with a pork trailer. He was the only angler fishing the south end of the lake during the final round.
“I started to fish the Elk River, but then I turned around,” Nixon said. “I didn’t want to go up there and die, so I decided to fish some totally new water.”
Second place and $40,000 went to two-time top-10 finisher Aaron Martens, Castaic, Calif., for his four-bass catch weighing 8 pounds, 15 ounces. Yamaha pro Alton Jones, who led the first three days, finished third with three bass weighing 8 pounds, 9 ounces worth $24,500. Team Stanley pro Scott Martin, Clewiston, Fla., (five bass, 8 pounds, 8 ounces, $20,000) and Team Land O’Lakes pro Keith Williams, Conway, Ark., (five bass, 7 pounds, 10 ounces, $17,500) rounded out the top-five anglers.
Competition began Wednesday with a 350-angler field comprising 175 pros and 175 co-anglers who fish from the back of the pros’ boats. Co-angler Doug Caldwell, a four-time top-five finisher and mayor of Kane, Pa., won $15,000 Friday plus a $1,000 Castrol bonus with three bass weighing 4 pounds, 12 ounces.
The next stop on the seven-event, $5.1 million Wal-Mart FLW Tour is Lake Ouachita near Hot Springs, Ark., March 13 to 16. Like Lake Wheeler, the tournament presented by Alpo features a $550,000 purse with $110,000 going to the winning pro.
At the end of the season, the top 48 pros and co-anglers advance to the Wal-Mart FLW Tour Championship featuring a new, bracketed style format and an $800,000 cash purse. More than $300,000 was added to the championship purse for 2002. The winning pro receives $260,000 — the largest cash award of any professional bass fishing series.
Named after Ranger Boats founder, Forrest L. Wood, the Wal-Mart FLW Tour is run by FLW Outdoors, the world’s leading marketer of competitive fishing tournaments. The organization operates 170 tournaments through the Wal-Mart FLW Tour, EverStart Series, Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League, Wal-Mart Texas Tournament Trail, Wal-Mart RCL Walleye Circuit and Ranger M1. FLW Outdoors will award anglers up to $22 million in 2002.
Sponsors of the 2002 Wal-Mart FLW Tour are Wal-Mart, ALPO Pet Foods, BFGoodrich Tires, Castrol, Chevy Trucks, Coleman, Conseco, Eagle Electronics, Energizer, EverStart Batteries, Evinrude, Faded Glory, Frito-Lay, Fujifilm, Kellogg’s, Land O’Lakes, Maxwell House, Minn Kota, Pepsi, Poulan, Ranger Boats, Shop-Vac, Snickers, Stanley Works, US Bank, Weed Eater and Yamaha Outboards. Associate sponsors are Abu Garcia, Act II, Berkley, David Sunflower Seeds, Eagle Claw, Laker, Plano and Solar Bat.
Story Courtesy of FLW Outdoors