Guntersville, Ala. Oct. 20, 2011 – Pro Paul Elias of Laurel, Miss., weathered cool temperatures and windy conditions to cross the stage Thursday with a five-bass limit weighing 26 pounds even to lead day one of the Walmart FLW Tour Open on Lake Guntersville presented by Mercury. Elias now holds a 4-pound, 13-ounce lead over Marshall Deakins of Dunlap, Tenn., who caught five bass weighing 21-3 in a tournament featuring top anglers from all across the country competing for a top cash prize of up to $125,000 plus valuable points toward qualifying for the 2012 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart, the world championship of bass fishing. The top five anglers in the point standings after the Guntersville event will qualify for the Forrest Wood Cup.

“I was on pins and needles and felt like I could have a good day,” said Elias, who had equipment problems early which prevented him from fishing until about 8:45 a.m. “Right when I got out there everything started going right and the Lord blessed me and made up for the bad morning, I guess.

“I had a pattern going in practice, but I did not expect to catch that much weight,” Elias added.

Elias, a traditional power fisherman, said the wind played a big factor in his early success by moving fish into the area he was fishing. He said he caught a limit every day he practiced, and although he hadn’t been catching heavy weights, he did catch fish consistently.

“I love this lake,” Elias said. “I’ve never won a tournament here, but I’ve come close a lot of times. Everybody knows how I like to fish and when I can catch them that way, I can usually catch them pretty good. If I don’t run out of fish I’ll feel really good.”

Rounding out the top 10 pros after day one on Lake Guntersville are:

3rd: Robert Behrle, Hoover, Ala., five bass, 19-2

4th: Clent Davis, Montevallo, Ala., five bass, 18-6

5th: Bryan Schmitt, Deale, Md., five bass, 17-7

6th: Charles Bebber, Willis, Texas, five bass, 17-4

7th: Russell Lane, Prattville, Ala., five bass, 17-3

8th: Christopher Brasher, Spring, Texas, five bass, 16-11

9th: Kelley Jaye, Dadeville, Ala., five bass, 16-5

10th: National Guard pro Brett Hite, Phoenix, Ariz., five bass, 16-0

10th: Aaron Martins, Leeds, Ala., five bass, 16-0

10th: Troy Morrow, Eastanollee, Ga., five bass, 16-0

For a full list of results visit FLWOutdoors.com.

Schmitt caught the Snickers® Big Bass weighing 6-12 on the pro side to win $500.

Overall there were 496 bass weighing 1,342 pounds, 15 ounces caught by 133 pros Thursday. The catch included 69 five-bass limits.

Mark Horton of Nicholasville, Ky., leads the Co-angler Division with five bass weighing 14-15 followed by Tripp Pittman of Holly Springs, Miss., in second place with five bass weighing 14-0.

Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers are:

3rd: Thomas Rizzo, Rochester, Pa., five bass, 13-1

4th: Ben Due, Mauston, Wis., five bass, 13-0

5th: Ty Hester, Russellville, Ala., five bass, 12-7

6th: Dan Clark, Cleveland, Tenn., four bass, 11-13

7th: Benny Roberts, Jacksboro, Tenn., five bass, 11-10

8th: William Rogers, Hiram, Ga., four bass, 11-8

9th: Charles Ellis, Knoxville, Tenn., five bass, 11-2

10th: Casey Martin, New Market, Ala., five bass, 10-15

For a full list of results visit FLWOutdoors.com.

Horton caught the Snickers® Big Bass weighing 6-13 in the co-angler division to win $250.

Overall there were 192 bass weighing 477 pounds, 14 ounces caught by 97 co-anglers Thursday. The catch included eight five-bass limits.

Co-anglers are fishing for a top award of $25,000 this week plus valuable points that could help them qualify for the 2012 Forrest Wood Cup. The top five co-anglers in the point standings from the four Walmart FLW Tour Open tournaments will qualify.

Anglers will take off from Lake Guntersville State Park located at 7966 Alabama Highway 227 in Guntersville, Ala., at 7 each morning. Friday’s weigh-in will be held at the Lake Guntersville State Park beginning at 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday’s final weigh-in will be held at the Walmart located at 11697 Hwy. 431 S. in Guntersville beginning at 4 p.m.

Fans will be treated to the FLW Outdoors Expo at Walmart on Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. prior to the weigh-ins. The Expo provides the opportunity for fans to interact with professional anglers, ride Ranger boat simulators, 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.

Coverage of the Lake Guntersville tournament will be broadcast in high-definition (HD) on VERSUS. “FLW Outdoors” will air Dec. 4 from 1 to 2 p.m. ET. “FLW Outdoors,” hosted by Jason Harper, is broadcast to more than 500 million households worldwide.

For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow FLW Outdoors on Facebook at Facebook.com/FLWFishing and on Twitter at Twitter.com/FLWOutdoors.

ABOUT FLW OUTDOORS

FLW Outdoors is the best in fishing, on and off the water. Anglers worldwide can compete for millions over the course of 191 tournaments in 2011. FLW Outdoors has taken fishing mainstream with the world’s richest fantasy sports game, FLW Fantasy Fishing presented by Straight Talk, where competitors can play for free as well as sign up for Player’s Advantage to gain an edge. For more information about FLW Outdoors and FLW Fantasy Fishing, visit FLWOutdoors.com or FantasyFishing.com.

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