ROGERS, Ark. – The last time Andre Moore won Beaver Lake’s Wal-Mart Open, he was able to parlay his $200,000 in winnings into a successful bait company founded in good part on the bait, ultimately named the Sweet Beaver, that led him to win that event. This week he rode the Sweet Beaver’s little brother, the Smallie Beaver, to the same result and became just the second pro ever to repeat victory at the Wal-Mart FLW Tour’s annual big-time payout event.
The pro from Scottsdale, Ariz., caught 10 bass weighing 24 pounds, 5 ounces in the two-day final round and narrowly edged out Jay, Oklahoma’s Darrel Robertson by 9 ounces for the $200,000 win.
“That’s awesome. That is awesome,” Moore said. “I really don’t know how to feel right now. Man, my baits really came through for me in this tournament.”
As the second pro to repeat victory at Beaver Lake, Moore is making a serious play for Clark Wendlandt’s title of “Mr. Beaver Lake.” Wendlandt, from Cedar Park, Texas, first accomplished the feat by winning here in 1999 and 2001. But Moore, who first won this event in 2002, now shares bragging rights with some rare company. With another $200,000 under his belt, Moore nearly joined the half-million-dollar club with a career total of $493,800 in FLW Outdoors earnings.
Fishing near Beaver Dam and in Indian Creek, Moore managed to land six keeper bass Saturday and culled out to a five-bass limit worth 10 pounds, 5 ounces. Sight-fishing exclusively in 5 to 12 feet of water, he caught all of his fish – which included an array of smallmouth, largemouth, spotted and meanmouth bass – on a Smallie Beaver creature bait in a color he called “white trash.”
“My strategy this morning was to go for smallmouth and get a limit,” he said. “I wanted four or five in the boat right away, which I did, then I’d go after some big ones. But after about 11 o’clock, I thought I’d blown this tournament. I couldn’t get any big fish to bite.”
But he persevered and put several decent largemouths in the boat, then caught one nice smallmouth on his last cast of the day.
But he still didn’t think he’d won it.
“I thought for sure that Darrel was going to have a big one,” Moore said.
He did, but not big enough. In the end, Moore – fishing about a quarter-mile from the spot on Beaver Lake that last led him to victory and ultimately spawned his bait company, Reaction Innovations – rode one of those baits back into history.
“I try so hard in these tournaments, and I’m always experimenting. That is why I founded my company,” he said. “I never felt like I had the exact right equipment, so I decided to make it.”
Day-three leader Robertson had victory slip through his fingers Saturday. He caught five bass weighing 9 pounds, 6 ounces and finished second with a two-day total of 23-12. But on his last cast of the day he had about a 2-pound spotted bass on his line, and it just didn’t quite make it into the livewell.
“I brought it in, swung it in, and it bounced up and hit the windshield of the boat and fell back in (the water),” he said. “My thought was, ‘Oh, man, I bet that hurt.’ Then I thought, ‘That was a $100,000 fish right there.’”
It turned out to be just that, with Robertson falling short of victory by just 9 ounces.
Still, with $100,000 for second place, the former FLW Championship and Ranger M1 winner pushed his FLW Outdoors career earnings to over $1.2 million. This was his 15th top-10 finish in FLW Outdoors tournaments.
Robertson returned to the Clifties area of Beaver Lake to sight-fish Saturday. Unlike the first two days, where he threw a spinnerbait toward the bank, he caught his fish on a bubblegum lizard Saturday.
He also battled a pinched nerve in his neck that had bothered him all week.
“I didn’t get too nervous about it,” he said. “I had a job to do today, and that was to find five fish. Today I caught a couple good fish on a little lizard.”
Catching the heaviest limit Saturday was Alton Jones of Waco, Texas. His 11-pound, 1-ounce sack wasn’t quite enough, however, and he finished in third place with a final total of 22-5. He earned $50,000.
“I know one thing that might have hurt me: that 16-incher that I had to let go yesterday,” he said, referring to a fish that he released Friday because it was foul-hooked. “But I’m thankful, regardless.”
FLW rookie Clifford Pirch of Payson, Ariz., who led the opening round, finished in fourth place and collected $40,000 with a final-round total of 19 pounds, 15 ounces. Saturday, he caught a limit weighing 8-13.
“Those early (bass), they’re really friendly. They bit pretty quick in the morning,” said Pirch, who used a Kinami Bug on day four. “I’m looking forward to (the rest of the season). Spawn and postspawn, that’s my better time.”
Kevin Vida of Clare, Mich., finished fifth and collected $30,000 with a final total of 18 pounds, 4 ounces. His limit Saturday, which included a nice smallmouth kicker he caught off a bed, weighed 9-3.
“I probably needed to catch that fish a couple days ago when it had a few more ounces in its belly,” he said, referring to the postspawn female.
Rest of the best
Rounding out the top 10 pros finishers at Beaver Lake’s Wal-Mart Open:
6th: Cody Bird of Granbury, Texas, 16-7, $28,000
7th: Alvin Shaw of State Road, N.C., 15-1, $26,000
8th: Jason Kilpatrick of Satsuma, Ala., 12-3, $24,000
9th: Jeremiah Kindy of Benton, Ark., 9-15, $22,000
10th: Mark Pack of Mineola, Texas, 3-11, $20,000
AOY standings update
With a 20th-place finish this week, J.T. Kenney of Frostburg, Md., took over the top spot in the points race for Land O’Lakes Angler of the Year with 714 points. Rookie sensation Bobby Lane of Lakeland, Fla. – incidentally, Kenney’s roommate on tour – fell to fourth place with 689 points. Sandwiched between them are Matt Herren of Trussville, Ala., in second place with 693 points and Brent Chapman of Lake Quivira, Kan., in third with 690.
The next Wal-Mart FLW Tour event, the fifth of the season, is scheduled for Wheeler Lake near Decatur, Ala., May 11-14.