KISSIMMEE, Fla. (Feb. 20, 2015) – The first tournament of the 20th anniversary season of the Walmart FLW Tour, the most competitive Tour in professional bass-fishing, kicks off March 5-8 with the Walmart FLW Tour at Lake Toho presented by Mercury. Hosted by Experience Kissimmee and the Osceola County Department of Tourism, the tournament will feature 154 of the world’s best bass-fishing professionals and co-anglers casting for top awards of up to $125,000 cash in the pro division and up to $25,000 cash in the co-angler division.
|Anglers launch on Day 1 when the Walmart FLW Tour last visited Lake Toho in February of 2008. (Photo by Rob Newell/FLW)
“I think that the timing of this tournament is going to be perfect,” said 18-year FLW Tour veteran Terry Segraves of Kissimmee, Florida, who will be among the 154 anglers competing. “It’s cold right now, but the warm weather is expected to return in the next few weeks. With the expected sunshine and the full moon, the fish are going to pop. There really isn’t going to be much of a local advantage; we’re going to see a lot of really big fish.”
Tournament anglers will have three days of practice starting on Sunday, March 3, to make the crucial decision on where they will be fishing during the tournament. Lake Toho, Cypress Lake, Lake Hatchineha and Lake Kissimmee all will be in play for tournament competitors.
“There is plenty of shoreline among the four lakes, so the anglers are going to be really spread out,” Segraves said. “Getting through the locks efficiently is going to be the key. The lockmasters do a great job of getting boats through quickly, but the locks will only fit 14 or 15 boats. I think 50- to 75-percent of the field will be locking down.”
Segraves said that swimbaits, crankbaits, spinnerbaits and Rat-L-Traps would all be popular baits thrown by tournament competitors, and that sight-fishing would most likely play a very big role
“The weather conditions are going to be a huge determining factor for the winning weights,” Segraves continued. “If the weather is nice, I think you’ll need to catch an average of 20 pounds through the first two days just to make the top-20 cut and fish the weekend. This tournament has the potential to set some new records.”
In FLW Tour competition, anglers are also vying for valuable points in hopes of qualifying for the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup, the world championship of bass fishing. The 2015 Forrest Wood Cup will be in Hot Springs, Arkansas, Aug. 20-23 on Lake Ouachita and is hosted by Visit Hot Springs. The Forrest Wood Cup Champion could win as much as $500,000 – professional bass-fishing’s richest prize.
Anglers will take off from Big Toho Marina located at 69 Lakeview Drive in Kissimmee at 7:30 a.m. on the first three days of competition and 7:45 a.m. on Sunday’s final take off. Thursday and Friday’s weigh-ins will be held at the marina beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday’s final weigh-ins will be held at the marina beginning at 4 p.m.
Fans will also be treated to the FLW Expo on Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. at Big Toho Marina prior to the final weigh-ins. The Expo includes a Ranger boat simulator, a Youth Fishing Derby, the opportunity to interact with professional anglers, enjoy interactive games, activities and giveaways provided by sponsors, and learn more about the sport of fishing and other outdoor activities. All activities are free and open to the public.
As part of the FLW Tour’s community outreach initiative, FLW Tour anglers will visit 4th- and 5th-grade students at Reedy Creek Elementary on Wednesday, March 4 from 9-10:30 a.m. and high school students at the Osceola County YMCA from 3-4:30 p.m. to teach students about fishing and outdoor activities in their community. During the presentations the pro anglers will reinforce how science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) relate to outdoor activities. The presentation will promote the sport of fishing and outdoor recreation and give youth the information they need to “Get Outdoors. Go Fish!” The week is capped off with the FLW Foundation’s “Get Outdoors. Go Fish!” Youth Fishing Derby at Big Toho Marina on Saturday, March 7 from noon – 3 p.m. The derby is free and open to area youth 15 years of age and younger.
Coverage of the Lake Toho tournament will be broadcast in high-definition (HD) on NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) when Season 20 of “FLW” premieres Sept. 28 from 7 p.m.-8 p.m. ET. The Emmy-nominated “FLW” television show airs on NBCSN, the Pursuit Channel and the World Fishing Network and is broadcast to more than 564 million households worldwide, making it the most widely distributed weekly outdoors-sports television show in the world.