Irwin Jacobs – Chairman and CEO
As chairman and chief executive officer of the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, Irwin L. Jacobs serves as the leader of FLW and visionary founder of FLW Fantasy Fishing.
FLW is, without question, the purveyor of America’s largest and most prestigious fishing tournaments, including these notable circuits: Walmart FLW Tour, EverStart Series, Walmart Bass Fishing League, National Guard FLW Walleye Tour and National Guard FLW College Fishing. Jacobs, leading FLW into its 17th season, heads an organization that offers millions of dollars in cash and prizes through the nearly 200 professional bass and walleye tournaments it operates annually.
FLW’s tournament portfolio includes the world championship of bass fishing: the Forrest Wood Cup – a no-entry-fee event that offers the richest bass-fishing championship payout in the world. No one has contributed more than Jacobs to putting the sport on the fast track. Winners’ checks of $100,000, $200,000 and $500,000 are now commonplace in fishing tournaments thanks to his efforts.
As founder of FLW Fantasy Fishing, Jacobs has taken the popularity of professional angling to the next level. Launched in 2007, this series of fantasy tournaments complements Jacobs’ vision to grow fishing beyond the 50 million anglers who participate in the sport annually and build it into a sport that is as much a part of the American psyche as Monday Night Football and NASCAR.
With FLW Fantasy Fishing, Jacobs offers fishing fans throughout the world, regardless of ability and/or experience, the opportunity to compete for unprecedented amounts of cash and merchandise. Fantasy Fishing has awarded more than $10 million in four years, and in 2008 Michael Thompson won FLW Fantasy Fishing’s grand prize and was crowned the first $1 million cash winner in fantasy sports history.
Jacobs has received recognition for his efforts and contributions to the sport of competitive fishing throughout his career and in 2010 was inducted into the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame and the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame. Jacobs saw the organization he started honored as well with FLW being inducted into the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame.
Today Jacobs continues to tap into the buying power of the nation’s fishing enthusiasts through new
ventures in business and sports. Throughout his career, Jacobs has owned and/or controlled multiple large, small and start-up companies. However, he remains a passionate and relentless innovator, linking sports and business for the benefit of sponsors, fans and anglers alike.
Forrest L. Wood
Forrest L. Wood is the namesake behind FLW® and its fishing tournaments, including the prestigious Forrest Wood Cup.
Born in 1932 in the tiny town of Flippin, Ark., Wood’s passion for angling, boat building, boat safety and wildlife conservation made him a legend in his industry. Known internationally as the “Father of the Modern Bass Boat,” Wood founded the now-famous Ranger® Boat Company in 1968. A well-known angler and guide, he brought innovation to the simple boat design of his day. Over time, Wood heightened his passion for angling and boat building by helping to pioneer the competitive sport of bass fishing. He fished the Bass Circuit and qualified for two Bassmaster Classics.
Trisha Blake – President of Marketing
Serving as the president of the marketing division for FLW since 2010, Trisha Blake has been a key contributor to the success and growth of the organization in her 15 years with the company. Blake was named senior vice president and chief marketing officer of FLW in 2004 and served as vice president of corporate affairs prior to that.
In her role, Blake oversees the sponsorship, creative, interactive and communications departments as well as the marketing and strategic plans for FLW, an enormous organization that operates bass and walleye fishing circuits. Blake also works closely with the operations division to maximize activation and exposure for the organization and its partners, tournaments and events.
Blake has been an integral component in the development and growth of FLW Fantasy Fishing, which was launched in 2007 and has awarded the largest prizes in the history of fantasy sports. FLW Fantasy Fishing allows anyone, regardless of ability, to compete, follow the sport and win great prizes. This phenomenon continues to increase exposure for fishing beyond the 50 million-plus anglers that participate annually and has attracted fantasy sports competitors from 123 countries throughout the world.
Blake has two children with her husband, Robert.
Kathy Fennel – President of Operations
Kathy Fennel was appointed president of the operations division for FLW in 2010. Fennel oversees the day-to-day operations, making sure FLW continues to provide prestigious, well-organized tournaments of which participants, fans and sponsors are proud to be a part.
Fennel has been a key figure with the organization since 1982 and has become one of the most influential people in the fishing industry. Her strength and experience was recognized in 1996 when she was promoted to operations manager. The following year she was appointed vice president of operations, and in 2004 she was promoted to executive vice president and chief operating officer.
Fishing has been a major component of Fennel’s personal and professional life. She grew up in western Kentucky, where fishing plays a major role in the local economy, and she has played a pivotal role in numerous tournament innovations such as improved live-release techniques, automated weigh-in procedures and establishing tournament formats for television broadcast.
The growth of FLW has Fennel overseeing and working directly with tournament directors, site solicitation, logistics, information technology, FLW Bass Fishing and FLW Walleye Fishing magazines, “FLW” television, angler management and numerous other daily responsibilities.
She also works with the marketing division to ensure exposure for the organization and its tournaments, events and partners.