Mickey Bruce of Buford, Georgia, pocketed $100,000 by winning the third event of the 1999 Wal-Mart FLW Tour bass fishing series on Lake Lanier. The tournament, which features the world's top professional bass anglers competing for a share of a $471,500 purse, is the third stop of seven in the $4 million series, the most lucrative in fishing history.
Bruce, fishing from the CITGO boat in the final round, survived two earlier rounds of competition and165 other anglers en route to the Wal-Mart FLW Tour victory. The professional angler landed five bass, weighing 15 pounds, 13 ounces in the final round of competition to outdistance the four other anglers competing in the final round of the professional division and clinch the title.
“This win probably won't sink in for a couple of weeks,” Bruce said. “I just did my best and let the chips fall where they may.”
Bruce caught his winning limit slow-rolling a Stanley spinnerbait in the Chestatee River.
Fishing from the EverStart boat, Tom Mann, Jr. of Buford, Georgia, took second place with a championship round, five bass catch weighing 12 pounds, 2 ounces, good for $35,000.
Rounding out the top five in the Wal-Mart FLW Tour's professional division were: (3) Johnny McCombs, Morris, AL, Black & Decker boat, four bass, 10 pounds, 1 ounce, $20,000; (4) Johnny LeSesne, Blue Ridge, GA, Timex boat, three bass, 5 pounds, 4 ounces, $16,000; (5) Jim Nolan, Bull Shoals, Arkansas, Fuji Film boat, one bass, 1 pound, 13 ounces, $14,000.
The win gives Bruce an automatic berth in the year-end Wal-Mart FLW Tour Championship, presented by CITGO, September 22-25, 1999, in Wagoner, Oklahoma, where the winner will receive $250,000, the largest first place cash prize in sport fishing.
David Walker of Cannon, Kentucky, is leading the Land O'Lakes Angler of the Year points race with 209 points. Points are awarded to anglers after the first two days of competition based on ranking at that time. Roland Martin of Clewiston, Florida, and Mark Hardin of Canton, Georgia, are tied for second place with 165 points, Mickey Bruce of Buford, Georgia, is in third with 155 points, followed by Craig Powers of Rockwood, Tennessee, with 150 points. The Land O'Lakes Angler of the Year will be featured on a special edition box of Wheaties later in the year.
The highest-finishing original Ranger boat owner in each tournament will qualify to enter the $3.5 million Ranger M1 Millennium tournament, the richest bass event in history, with a $1 million first-place cash prize at stake. The Ranger owner who catches the largest bass in each division over the course of the season will also qualify for the Ranger Millennium tournament.
Ronald Ott of Indianapolis, Indiana, won the co-angler division competition which concluded Friday with a winning catch totaling 3 pounds, 6 ounces. Ott collected $15,000 for the win.
Jim Moynagh of Carver, Minnesota, landed a 10 pound, 4 ounce bass to earn big bass honors for the event. Moynagh received $1,000 from Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola will award $5,000 to the angler landing the biggest bass during the 1999 tour. Moynagh is currently leading the year-long big bass contest.
The Wal-Mart FLW Tour is televised on ESPN and ESPN 2. The Wal-Mart FLW Tour Lake Lanier event will be televised on ESPN, Saturday, April 3, at 6 p.m. EST.
Sponsors of the 1999 Wal-Mart FLW Tour include: Wal-Mart, Coca-Cola, Land O'Lakes, CITGO Petroleum Products, Chevy Trucks, Uniroyal Tires, Fujifilm, EverStart Batteries, Eveready Flashlights, Black and Decker, Coleman Company, Ranger Boats, Mitchell Rods and Reels, Spiderwire, Evinrude Outboard Motors, Evinrude Electric Trolling Motors, Eagle Electronics, Timex Expedition, Wrangler, Chex Mix, Hamburger Helper, and Wheaties. The Lake Lanier event of the Wal-Mart FLW Tour was hosted by the Gainesville-Hall County Convention and Visitor's Bureau.