This is a big week for the ULM Warhawks, and I don’t mean fall football practice.
Here’s a hunt: there’s a big $45,000 Ranger 520 Commanche Bass Rig wrapped in ULM Maroon and Gold with a big Warhawk decal sitting in ULM fisherman Paul Clark’s driveway, waiting to get in a really BIG game! Next week, it will be the “home” base for Clark, who is one of 46 anglers casting for the $500,000 first prize and other cash prizes and awards in the FLW Forrest Wood Cup, the world championship of bass fishing, on the Red River in Shreveport. The boat is one of the “perks” of making it to this prestigious event. Not bad. Clark took the boat out to the Ouachita River yesterday afternoon for his first ride in the rig. For those that don’t know, Forrest L Wood (FLW) is the founder of Ranger Bass Boats and a legend in the bass fishing world.
Twenty years ago, no one would have dreamed a fishing tournament could have so many activities, such big prize money and draw people from all over the country. Well, it does (for a complete schedule of events, go to:
Paul qualified for the event as the leader of ULM’s National Championship team earlier this year (his former ULM teammate Brett Pruett also qualified for the co-anglers division of the Wood Cup). Co-Anglers fish in the back of the boat for separate cash and prizes.
Paul will be fishing against pros who fished their way to the top of the grueling FLW pro circuit the past 10 months. Names like Jimmy Houston, Ish Monroe, David Dudley, Larry Nixon, David Fritts, Scott Martin, Zell Rowland and Jay Yelas to name a few. They are legends of the pro fishing game.
“I feel pretty honored just to fish against those guys like that,“ he said. “I grew up watching those guys on TV winning money and now I’m going to be on the Red River watching them try and take money away from me. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
Paul has spent around 20 days on the Red this summer, mostly on weekends since he just started his first full-time job. He works for Womack Construction in Harrisonburg and they didn’t even hesitate when the new employee asked for a week off to “go fishing”! He did laugh, though, when he said they were a little bit nervous that if he did too well, he might just become a pro fisherman instead of coming back to work. It would be a nice option…
“I’m starting to get pretty worked up about it, “Clark said yesterday afternoon. “This is a big deal and I’m honored to get to do this. I’m just glad to be there, but I’m definitely not going to just do alright. I’m going to try and make something out of it.” I like that attitude!
More on Paul and the Wood Cup in tomorrow’s blog…