BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Twenty-six years ago Rick Clunn, then hailing from Montgomery, Texas, fished the second professional bass tournament of his career on Beaver Lake in hopes of winning enough money for the drive home. On Saturday, he pocketed $200,000 with a five-bass catch weighing 13 pounds, 1 ounce to win the richest bass tournament in Arkansas history – the $1 million Wal-Mart Open.
“I fished about as flawless as I can at this stage,” said Clunn, who concentrated his efforts near the union of the White River and War Eagle. “The lake being low played right into my hands. I basically used a fall pattern and caught 90 percent of my fish on a crankbait.”
As for his triumphant return to Beaver Lake, Clunn said, “I've got a whole lot more money and not near as far to go.”
Clunn, who is one of the winningest anglers of all time, now lives in Ava, Mo.
By winning the lucrative tournament, Clunn automatically qualifies for the Wal-Mart FLW Tour Championship presented by CITGO Sept. 13-16 in Shreveport, La. There, he will fish against 49 of the world's top bass anglers for $250,000 – the richest championship prize in bass fishing series history.
Second place and $100,000 at the Wal-Mart Open went to Tom Mann Jr. of Buford, Ga., for a five-bass catch weighing 10-4 from the Visa USA boat. Carl Svebek III placed third and collected $50,000 for five bass weighing 8-11 from the Land O'Lakes boat. Dan Morehead of Paducah, Ky., finished fourth and earned $35,000 for a five-bass, 7-10 stringer from the Wrangler boat followed by Gary Klein of Weatherford, Texas, who weighed in five bass that tipped the scales at 7-0 to win $30,000. Klein fished from the Fujifilm boat.
Mann earned the Energizer “Keeps On Going” award for the greatest comeback during the event. He fought back from 46th place after a five-bass catch weighing 8-14 on day one to make the final round.
Boasting a $4.4 million purse, the 2000 Wal-Mart FLW Tour is the most lucrative bass fishing series in history. The fifth stop on the seven-event tour is May 17-20 on the Mississippi River in Memphis, Tenn. Coca-Cola will present the tournament.
The Wal-Mart Open will air May 21 on ESPN at 1:30 p.m. EST.