Andre Moore defeats bass-fishing powerhouses Clark Wendlandt, Dean Rojas and Darrel Robertson to capture FLW title on Beaver Lake
ROGERS, Ark. – Fishing in only the fifth FLW Tour event of his career, Andre Moore of Scottsdale, Ariz., used a five-fish catch weighing 10 pounds, 6 ounces to upset a highly competitive pro field en route to capturing the Wal-Mart Open title on Beaver Lake as well as the grand-prize check of $210,000.
Not surprisingly, Moore was overwhelmed with the day's events after netting the “biggest win by far” of his young bass-fishing career.
“I'm ecstatic right now; I'm just blown away,” said the 29-year-old Moore, barely able to contain his emotions. “I just had an awesome day today. Everything just went my way. It's just hard for me to believe. I'm usually the king of bad luck.”
Although Moore did manage to let two fish get away during today's contest, his day could hardly be characterized as a textbook case of bad luck. However, his victory did not come easily either. With some of the biggest names in professional bass fishing qualifying for the finals – not to mention two-time FLW Beaver Lake champion Clark Wendlandt – and the pressure mounting by the hour, Moore was forced to survive a tense, two-hour fog delay at takeoff.
“I was really nervous during that delay,” he said. “Because we lost so much time, I decided to give up on one of my big fish because I didn't want to waste half the day trying to catch it.”
However, Moore's luck would soon turn around. As a sight-fishing specialist, Moore had been waiting all week for the fish to move up onto the beds in significant numbers. And sure enough, once he finally hit the water, he found out that his fish had come home to roost – by the dozens.
“I knew if the fish were on the beds today, I had a chance to win,” said Moore.
Using a hodge-podge collection of homemade tube baits, jigs and split-tail grubs, Moore turned in his best outings of the entire tournament.
“A lot of the fish that I wound up catching today, I had been trying to catch all week,” said Moore. “And once I had those five fish in the boat, I said to myself that if I don't win this tournament, it's not because of anything I did. It's because someone else beat me.”
Fortunately for the king of bad luck, no one did.
Hutson steady as a rock
Randall Hutson of Washburn, Mo., saved his best performance for last. After failing to catch a limit all week, Hutson finally managed to get five fish in the boat when it mattered most - in the finals.
“I'm as happy as a lark right now,” said Hutson, whose 9-pound, 13-ounce catch was good enough for second place and a check for $105,000. "I would have liked to have won this tournament, but I'm very happy with where I finished. This is the first day all week that I was able to catch a fish-fish limit, so I'm very happy.”
Hutson, who targeted bedding fish with a black-and-white Lucky Strike flipping tube, said he had a pretty good idea that he didn't have enough fish to claim the top prize upon returning to the weigh-in.
“I really didn't think I had the tournament won, but I had a pretty good idea that I had enough for second or third place,” he said. “Overall, this tournament was a big confidence boost for me. But then again, anytime you get a big check it's a confidence boost.”
Harty nabs third place
With only two years of FLW experience under his belt, Rob Harty of Sachse, Texas, used a 9-pound catch to grab third place in the finals and walk away with $54,500 in prize money.
“It was just a great week,” said Harty, one of the few finalists not to employ a variation of a sight-fishing technique during the four-day event. “I worked really hard today. But it was a lot of fun.”
Harty, who fished a Norman crankbait near roadbeds to land his catch, said he couldn't have been more pleased with the outcome.
"This is the biggest win of my career,” said Harty. "I'm extremely happy."
Wendlandt comes up short in bid for third Beaver Lake title
After winning the FLW Tour event on Beaver Lake in 2001 and 1999, Clark Wendlandt of Cedar Park, Texas, was gunning for a piece of history in today's final. Despite all of the tremendous anglers on the FLW Tour, none had ever captured three tour titles on one lake. Unfortunately for Wendlandt, today's 8-pound, 11-ounce catch was not good enough to add his name to the record books. However, it was more than sufficient for a fourth-place finish and a check for $39,000.
“I knew I needed one more fish to win and I found it with 15 minutes left in the tournament,” said Wendlandt. “Unfortunately, I couldn't get it to bite. But that's just the way it goes.”
However, with 16 FLW semifinal appearances to his credit and four consecutive top-10 FLW finishes on Beaver Lake, Wendlandt was able to take the outcome of today's final day of competition in stride.
“I executed perfectly today, so I really can't complain,” said Wendlandt. “Overall, I had a great week. This is one of my favorite places to fish. I'll be back next year.”
Rojas sight-fishes his way into fifth place
Dean Rojas of Lake Havasu City, Ariz., used an 8-pound, 2-ounce catch to grab fifth place and a check for $33,500.
“Man, I love this lake,” said Rojas. “It reminds me a lot of home. I can't wait to come back to this place next year. It's awesome.”
Best of the rest
Rounding out the top-10 finalists were Mark Pack (sixth) of Mineola, Texas, with a catch of 6 pounds, 1 ounce; Tracy Adams (seventh) of Wilkesboro, N.C., with a catch of 5 pounds, 7 ounces; Bernie Schultz (eighth) of Gainesville, Fla., with a catch of 3 pounds, 12 ounces; Darrel Robertson (ninth) of Jay, Okla., with a catch of 1 pound, 14 ounces; and Jeffrey Thomas (tenth) of Broadway, N.C., with a catch of 0 pounds.
FLW action resumes May 15-18 at Old Hickory Lake in Gallatin, Tenn.