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Dion Wins Wal-Mart FLW Tour Millennium Championship
By Ed Snyder


09/16/2000 - Wal-Mart SuperCenter, Shreveport, LA .... In a surprise, but not unexpected finish, Dion Hibdon, of Stover MO, managed to put together a four day bass pattern to wrangle the Wal-Mart FLW "Millennium" Championship from a star studded tournament field of 50 anglers to collect the $250,000 first place bounty, the "largest" bass tournament first place payout in Professional Bass "History!"

FLW Championship ReCap:Day-1- 09/13/2000 - Shreveport, LA. .... Anglers from 22 states, and Japan, set the pace on the Red River Wednesday during opening day of the Wal-Mart FLW Tour Championship, as Paul Elias of Pachuta, Miss., put five bass on the scale weighing 18 pounds, 4 ounces. Bernie Schultz of Gainesville, Fla., landed five bass that tipped the scales at 15 pounds, 14 ounces to finish second for the day. In the Co-Angler Division, Tom Hunley of Stamping Ground, Ky., led with five at 13-12.

Day-2-09/14/2000 - SHREVEPORT, LA. .... Bernie Schultz of Gainesville, FLA, would lead the Pro/lineup for Friday's 3rd round of the Wal-Mart FLW Tour Championship after catching a 2-day Red River catch of 10 bass weighing 25 pounds. Joining Schultz in competitive lead for the largest cash prize in tournament fishing - $250,000 - would be Tom Hunley of Stamping Ground, Ky., Co-angler Division leader with eight bass weighing 18-3. (Co-Angler competition ends Friday).

Day-3-Gusty, shifting winds and dropping temperatures announced the seasons first cold front as the top 10 anglers jostled for position in the top 5 cut for final day competition and the winning portion of the $250,000 in prize money. As the days weigh-in collected the anglers efforts at the Wal-Mart SuperCenter in Shreveport LA, 1st place Pro/lead went to Larry Nixon of Bee Branch Ark, who fished a large slough area with spinner-baits for the "aggressive" early bite then slowed down to fish a TX rigged worms along the edges of the lily-pads or isolated grass-clumps. Second place Pro/Lead went to Tommy Biffle of Wagoner OK, who fished a thickly timbered back-water slough area with slow-rolled 1/2 oz tandem willow leaf white spinner-baits. The 1st place Amateur Championship went to Homer Stevens of Noblesville IN, who finished his final day fishing with FLW/Pro, Carl Svebek III of Sam Rayburn, TX.

Top 5 Pro/Cut:
1-Larry Nixon/Bee Branch, ARK day-1 & 2 24.14 day-3 11.4 -lbs
2-Tommy Biffle/Wagoner, OK day- 1 & 2 24.13 day-3 10.9 -lbs
3-Darrel Robertson/Jay, OK day 1 & 2 24.6 day3 10.7 -lbs
4-Dion Hibdon/Stover, MO day 1 & 2 23.14 day3 10.6 -lbs
5-Craig Powers/Rockwood, TN day 1 & 2 22.15 day3 9.9 -lbs
Top 5 Co-Boaters-(Final)-
1-Homer Stephens/Noblesville, IND 21.3-lbs $25,000
2-Tommy Szwankowski/Hope, ARK 16.4 lbs $7,000
3-Ken Golub/Pittsford, NY 15.3 lbs $5,000
4-Mike Cooper/Branson, MO N/A $4,000
5-Pat Fisher/Stone Mountain, GA N/A $3,000

Day-4-(Finals)- Bluebird skies and high pressure winds rippled the final day of competition as the bass bite began shifting into post-front patterns. 1st place Pro/Win-Kellogg Pro, Dion Hibdon of Stover MO, managed to put together a four day bass pattern that tallied up 23-14 -lbs for day-1 & day-2, another 10.6 -lbs for day 3, and topped it off with a 4th day championship win of 10.7 lbs. Dion caught his bass while fishing a Gambler Ninja jig with a Guido Crawfish trailer from a submerged log at the mouth of a backwater slough. Boating a limit in just nine minutes, Dion managed to cull his winning 5 bass weight from an eight bass catch that earned him $250,000 in cash.

2nd place Pro/Win- Timex/Pro, Tommy Biffle stated, "These have absolutely been one of the greatest group of guys that I've ever fished against!!" Biffle, of Wagoner, Okla., earned $25,000 by putting together a day-1 & day-2 catch of 24.13 -lbs, a day-3 catch of 10.9 -lbs, and a final day-4 weight of five bass 9-10 -lbs. Tommy fished a spinner-bait and tube pattern over a back-water ridge-line in the Bishop Point area.

In coordination with Wal-Mart, FLW, and the American Fishing Club, $10,000 was donated for the stocking of Florida Strained Bass in pool #5- Next Spring, another $10,000 stocking of Florida Bass will be put in pool #4- This FLW Championship will be aired via ESPN on October 22- 3:pm Eastern time- (check local listings).
Day 4 Finals -Top 5 Pro-Winners:

1-Dion Hibdon/Stover, MO 23-14- 10-6- 10-7 $250,000
2- Tommy Biffle/Wagoner, OK 24-13 10-9 9-10 $25,000
3- Craig Powers/Rockwood, TN 22.15 9-9- 8-10 $20,000
4- Larry Nixon/Bee Branch, AR 24-14 11-4 3-11 $15,000
5- Darrel Robertson/Jay, OK 24-6 10-7 1-0 $10,000

FLW Championship Backlash With Land-O-Lakes Pro Carl Svebek III- Coming off of the ESPN Great Outdoor Games in Lake Placid, NY, "I was really excited to be fishing and competing at the FLW Championship on the Red River in Shreveport LA, advised Carl Svebek III, of Sam Rayburn TX, "Especially with being able to compete against the top anglers of our day, some of which are living legends to the sport of Bass fishing. "The amount of money involved was the best package that has ever been offered for the Professional field of Bass tournaments and I knew that the competitive level would reach a high water mark. "So I chose to fish 3 spots which were a series of River-bend structures that were within the #3 Lock & Dam Pool area, which was a good 65 to 72 mile one-way run south, but I felt confident in this fishing area and felt it would hold what I needed to "hopefully" win this prestigious event. "My first day effort of working medium Wal-Mart FLW chartreuse/black crank-baits and the "new" Gambler "Swacky" worms, which is my signature bait, Carl grinned, "managed to put a quick 12 lb limit in my live-well within the 1st hour. "In being that I experienced some engine malfunctions on arriving to my #1 spot, "I then decided to not take a chance on engine breakdown and head back "early" to weigh my chances. "That one decission would prove to be my un-doing Carl advised, "explaining that it turned out as a minor engine problem that, if I had been a mechanic, could've been repaired in seconds which would've allowed me more catching & culling time. "BUT", Carl advised, after day-1 and day-2 of competition I managed to put together a 23 -lb plus stringer that put into the top-10 cut for day-3 competition. "My day-2 partner had been the "Kissimee King", Tim King of FLA, a fellow "Land-O-Lakes" angler who I enjoyed fishing with as we really "high-fived" them on day-2 by catching between forty and fifty bass. "But as day-3 dawned two factors would begin to unravel my confidense level as "the word" about my fishiing area had gotten out which attracted a bevy of local anglers who just wanted to fish, and several FLW anglers who were hungry for the $250,000 first place win. "Plus" the seasons first cold front decided to rip into our area which caused high pressure blue-birds and "lock-jawed" bass-bites. "My partner for day-3 proved to be the bright-spot of my day however, as Homer Stephens of IND, would land the Co-Boater Division Championship. "We began fishing a stretch of bank in my #1 spot and by the first pass I immediately knew that I was in trouble as we only caught two small bass. Making another pass I then managed to catch 5 more bass, but, "alas and dogone-it" I lost 4 of the 5 at the boat. The bass were definitley feeling the high-pressure blue-birds and were barley taking the baits. Then at about 10:am, Homer bowed-up on a solid heavy four lb bass that would clinch his effort for the Co-Boater win. "I was very excited and happy for Homer's catch, "But, secretly, I knew that I needed that kind of luck to keep me healthy for the final top-5 Pro/cut. At about 11:am I had a small limit with 2 nice bass and three dinks, but time was up and I had to head back for our check-in time or we'd be disqaulified. "So we made the locks and checked-in for our deadlines. Homer Stephens managed to hold out for his Co-Boater weigh-in taking his Championship, but when longtime Bass legend, Larry Nixon stepped up to weigh his final bass, my "lightly" held 5th place position was immediately bumped down to a 6th place finish. My effort was over as the top-5 Pro's then proceeded to fish the final day-4 event where Dion Hibdon won the $250,000."Even though I didn't win the Championship or make the final cut, "I'm still proud of the fact that the FLW division of the Operation Bass organization gave me the opportunity to become a Professional Bass Angler. "I'm very proud of that fact and I'll be spending my next few months of fishing the FLW events for another Championship qualification, "as well" as learning a little more about becoming an outboard engine "mechanic!!" (Carl poste-note- My Falcon rods provided the sensitivity for the bass that I did catch and the new Gambler "Swacky" worms did exactly what they were designed to do,"catch bass" as 6th place "overall" is not a bad position to finish in)-

All bass were recovered and live released by the Louisiana Wildlife & Fisheries Dept. (The championship field comprised of winning pros and co-anglers from six qualifying events plus the top 44 pros and co-anglers based on a system of points and pound awarded during the first two days of competition at qualifying tournaments.)

The Wal-Mart FLW Tour Championship presented by CITGO features colorful NASCAR-styled Chevy tow vehicles and Ranger Comanche fishing machines that are used by competitors during the final two rounds of competition. BFGoodrich Tires, CITGO, Coleman, Energizer, EverStart, Fujifilm, Kellogg's, Land O'Lakes, Poulan/Weed Eater, Timex, Visa USA, Wrangler and Wal-Mart each sponsor one of the custom rigs. Other tour sponsors are: Black & Decker, Chevrolet, Coca-Cola, Eagle Electronics, Evinrude, Mitchell, Ranger Boats, Shop-Vac, Spiderline, U.S. Bank, "and" the FLW Championship Anglers.


FLW Champion Dion Hibdon with his $250,000 Win

FLW Runner-up Champion- Tommy Biffle working his water
< photos by Ed Snyder >

Dion Hibdon working his Championship water

"Land-O-Lakes" Pro- Carl Svebek III

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