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HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (Aug. 20, 2015) – Fifty of the best professional bass anglers in the world began their four-day competition for a top cash award of $500,000 at the Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart, the world championship of bass fishing, at Lake Ouachita in Hot Springs, Arkansas on Thursday.

Jacob Wheeler of Indianapolis, Indiana, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 16 pounds, 2 ounces to take the early lead after day one of the four-day event. Wheeler now holds a slim 1-pound, 2-ounce lead over Lowrance pro Ishama Monroe of Hughson, California, who caught five bass weighing 15 pounds even, good for second place.

“I was very fortunate today. My practice wasn’t great, and I really wasn’t on a whole lot coming in to the tournament,” said Wheeler, who won the 2012 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Lanier in Duluth, Georgia. “I had a few places out deep and a few places shallow, but I felt like I could catch a pretty good bag if everything worked out. Today, it did. Hopefully I can go out tomorrow and duplicate what I did today.”

Wheeler said that he was threw six different baits throughout the day and managed to catch nine fish, although four of them only weighed 1˝ pounds. He said that he covered a lot of water today and tried to find some new areas to fish tomorrow.

“I did some looking and tried to figure out what was getting hammered by other anglers and what was being left alone,” Wheeler said. “Tomorrow I’m going to fish my same area, but I won’t hesitate to fish some new water. The key will be figuring out how to stay consistent.”

When the 2012 champ was asked if he approached this event just like any other tournament he was quick to point out that the magnitude of this event.

“The Forrest Wood Cup is a totally different tournament,” Wheeler said. “There is so much on the line – not only the money. One of these years, someone is going to become the first ever two-time champion. I know Scott (Martin) wants to win it. I know (Luke) Clausen wants to win it. No one has ever won it twice.

“I love those guys, but I’m going to go out there tomorrow and catch as much as I can to do my best to beat them,” Wheeler went on to say. “It’s going to be an absolute grind – a battle to the end – I can guarantee you that.”

The top 20 pros after day one on Lake Ouachita are:

1st: Jacob Wheeler, Indianapolis, Ind., five bass, 16-2

2nd: Lowrance pro Ishama Monroe, Hughson, Calif., five bass, 15-0

3rd: Brandon Cobb, Greenwood, S.C., five bass, 14-10

4th: Scott Martin, Clewiston, Fla., five bass, 14-6

5th: Brad Knight, Lancing, Tenn., five bass, 14-4

6th: Chris Baumgardner, Gastonia, N.C., five bass, 13-8

7th: Ramie Colson Jr., Cadiz, Ky., five bass, 13-3

8th: Luke Clausen, Spokane, Wash., five bass, 13-1

9th: Mark Daniels Jr., Tuskegee, Ala., five bass, 12-15

10th: John Cox, DeBary, Fla., four bass, 12-0

11th: Matthew Stefan, Junction City, Wis., five bass, 11-12

12th: Chris McCall, Brookeland, Texas, five bass, 11-8

13th: Bryan Thrift, Shelby, N.C., five bass, 11-4

13th: Patrick Walters, Summerville, S.C., five bass, 11-4

15th: Zack Birge, Blanchard, Okla., five bass, 10-14

16th: Clark Wendlandt, Leander, Texas, five bass, 10-10

17th: Livingston Lures pro Stetson Blaylock, Benton, Ark., five bass, 10-9

18th: Livingston Lures pro Andy Morgan, Dayton, Tenn., four bass, 10-5

19th: Quaker State pro Matt Arey, Shelby, N.C., five bass, 10-4

20th: James Biggs, Euless, Texas, four bass, 10-1

For a full list of results visit

Sunny Hawk of Salt Lake City, Utah, leads the co-angler division with five bass weighing 13 pounds, 6 ounces followed by Bryan New in second place with five bass weighing 10 pounds, 15 ounces. Co-anglers are fishing for a top award of $50,000.

The top 20 co-anglers are:

1st: Sunny Hawk, Salt Lake City, Utah, five bass, 13-6

2nd: Bryan New, Belmont, N.C., five bass, 10-15

3rd: Brett Rachal, Monroe, La., five bass, 9-2

4th: Eric Self, Lawndale, N.C., five bass, 8-10

5th: Todd Lee, Jasper, Ala., five bass, 8-9

6th: Bob Burgess, Charleston, W. Va., four bass, 8-6

7th: Joshua Weaver, Macon, Ga., three bass, 7-15

8th: David Hudson, Jasper, Ala., two bass, 7-5

9th: Tee Watkins, East Point, Ky., five bass, 7-1

10th: Chad Randles, Elkhorn, Neb., three bass, 7-0

11th: Jordan Osborne, Longview, Texas, three bass, 6-13

12th: Brandon Bray, Marble Falls, Texas, three bass, 6-8

13th: Billy Billeaud, Lafayette, La., five bass, 6-4

13th: Tom Stark, Angola, Ind., five bass, 6-4

15th: Carl Gillespie, Old Hickory, Tenn., three bass, 6-3

16th: Gary Haraguchi, Redding, Calif., four bass, 5-14

17th: Ryan Bowman, Seneca, S.C., three bass, 5-3

18th: Josh Smith, Hamilton, Ohio, three bass, 4-9

19th: Tim Cales, Sandstone, W. Va., three bass, 4-0

20th: Gettys Brannon, Columbia, S.C., two bass, 3-13

20th: Shane Melton, Kokomo, Ind., two bass, 3-13

Anglers will take off from the Brady Mountain Resort and Marina located at 4120 Brady Mountain Road in Royal, Arkansas, at 7 a.m. each morning at the Folger’s Morning Takeoff. Each days weigh-in will be held at Bank of the Ozarks Arena located at 134 Convention Blvd. in Hot Springs, Arkansas, beginning at 5 p.m.

Fans will be treated to the FLW Expo at the Hot Springs Convention Center on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. prior to the weigh-ins. The Expo includes games, activities and giveaways provided by more than 40 FLW sponsors, the opportunity to shop the latest tackle and outdoor gear from more than 100 exhibitors, Ranger boat simulators, a casting pond and a trout pond for children, as well as the opportunity to meet and interact with top professional anglers, including Hank Parker, Jimmy Houston and Byron Velvick. FLW’s namesake Forrest L. Wood, the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, will also be greeting fans.

On Saturday and Sunday the first 500 children 14 and under each day who are accompanied by an adult will receive a voucher to redeem for a free rod and reel combo courtesy of KATV ABC 7 after the evening’s weigh-in. Also on Sunday one lucky fishing fan will win a brand new Ranger Z520C bass boat with an Evinrude G2 outboard motor courtesy of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. The Ranger Boat giveaway is free to enter but the winner must be present at the conclusion of Sunday’s final weigh-in to win.

Also on Saturday and Sunday, FLW fans will be treated to the Bass & BBQ Festival in conjunction with the FLW Expo. During the two day event, fans will have the opportunity to sample barbecue from 30 of the top teams in the country. The comp [truncated for length]