A full field of the world’s best bass-fishing professionals began competition in the Walmart FLW Tour on Lewis Smith Lake presented by Evinrude on Thursday. After the final fish was weighed at the Lewis Smith Lake Dam Access, Keystone Light pro Brent Ehrler of Redlands, Calif., sat atop the leaderboard and now has his sights set on the top cash award of up to $125,000.
“My weight doesn’t really show the whole story of exactly what went on out there,” said Ehrler, the second-place finisher at the FLW Tour season opener at Lake Okeechobee. “It was pretty interesting how my day went. I mixed it up and did a bunch of different things. I was fortunate enough to get a couple of big bites.”
Ehrler brought a five-fish limit of spotted bass to the scales that weighed 17 pounds, 8 ounces. He holds a slim 8-ounce lead over Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes pro Dave Lefebre of Erie, Pa., who weighed in 17 pounds even.
“I pulled up to a spot today that I didn’t get a bite on in practice, but it just looked right,” Ehrler said. “There were some good laydowns, and the bank just looked right. I saw some fish on my Humminbird, but I didn’t catch any. I fished quite a few areas and covered a lot of water. I was fishing near the area again later in the afternoon and decided to take another shot at it. That time, it worked.
“It just takes time, though,” Ehrler continued. “I had a long day today and didn’t have to weigh in until 5 p.m. Tomorrow, I weigh in at 3 p.m. That could change the outcome of how I will catch them. Having a long day let me fish relaxed, while having a short day tends to push you and make you fish a little faster.”
Ehrler did not want to divulge any information about his bait selection, but did mention that he wasn’t fishing too far from the takeoff site.
“I’m making a 20-minute run,” he said. “And I’m covering everything in between. I didn’t find a whole lot today, but I eliminated a lot. I think it could be a tough day tomorrow because this lake seems to really feel the pressure. Tomorrow I’m just going to worry about catching five. When I do that, then I’ll be going after a few big ones.”
The top 10 pros after day one on Lewis Smith Lake are:
1st: Keystone Light pro Brent Ehrler, Redlands, Calif., five bass, 17-8
2nd: Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes pro Dave Lefebre, Erie, Pa., five bass, 17-0
3rd: Wayne Hauser, Mooresville, N.C., five bass, 16-8
4th: Randy Haynes, Counce, Tenn., five bass, 16-2
5th: Brandon McMillan, Clewiston, Fla., four bass, 15-2
6th: Koby Kreiger, Okeechobee, Fla., five bass, 15-0
7th: Blake Nick, Adger, Ala., five bass, 14-15
8th: Jacob Powroznik, Prince George, Va., five bass, 14-11
8th: Spencer Shuffield, Bismarck, Ark., five bass, 14-11
10th: John Voyles, Petersburg, Ind., five bass, 14-7
For a full list of results visit FLWOutdoors.com.
McMillan won the 3M ScotchBlue Big Bass Award on the pro side with a fish weighing 6 pounds, 7 ounces worth $500.
Overall there were 693 bass weighing 1,398 pounds, 9 ounces caught by 161 pros Thursday. The catch included 112 five-bass limits.
For this event, FLW was issued a permit from the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources that exempted tournament competitors from the normal lake slot limit that states all bass measuring 13 to 15 inches must be immediately released.
Pros are competing for a top award of up to $125,000 this week plus valuable points in the hope of qualifying for the 2013 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart, the world championship of bass fishing. The top 35 anglers in the point standings from the six events on the 2013 Walmart FLW Tour will qualify. The 2013 Forrest Wood Cup will be in Shreveport, La., Aug. 15-18 on the Red River.
Patrick Stines of Granger, Ind., leads the co-angler division with five bass weighing 11 pounds, 1 ounce followed by Tom Stark of Angola, Ind., in second place with five bass weighing 10-7.
The top 10 co-anglers are:
1st: Patrick Stines, Granger, Ind., five bass, 11-1
2nd: Tom Stark, Angola, Ind., five bass, 10-7
3rd: Rick Bowen, Jackson, Tenn., five bass, 10-6
4th: Mike Hardin Sr., Robertsdale, Ala., five bass, 10-5
5th: Benjie Seaborn, Guin, Ala., four bass, 9-15
6th: Don Harvey, Franklin, Tenn., four bass, 9-14
7th: Jeff Sprague, Point, Texas, five bass, 8-15
8th: Alan Woodford, Winslow, Ind., five bass, 8-14
9th: Hoyt Tidwell, West Point, Tenn., five bass, 8-7
10th: Glenn Day, Cumming, Ga., five bass, 8-6
For a full list of results visit FLWOutdoors.com.
Roger Walters of Madisonville, Ky., caught Thursday’s 3M Peltor Big Bass weighing 5 pounds, 13 ounces in the co-angler division to win $250.
Overall there were 349 bass weighing 577 pounds, 3 ounces caught by co-anglers Thursday. The catch included 27 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 2013 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart. The top 35 co-anglers in the point standings from the six events on the 2013 Walmart FLW Tour will qualify.
Anglers will take off from Smith Lake Dam Access located at 7482 Smith Lake Dam Road in Jasper, Ala., at 7 a.m. the first two days of competition. On the last two days takeoff will be at Smith Lake Dam Access at 7:30 a.m. Thursday and Friday’s weigh-ins will be held at Smith Lake Dam Access beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday’s final weigh-ins will be held at the Walmart located at 1801 Highway 78 E. in Jasper 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 final weigh-ins. The Expo includes Ranger boat simulators, the opportunity to interact with professional anglers, enjoy interactive games, activities and giveaways provided by sponsors, and fans can learn more about the sport of fishing and other outdoor activities. On Sunday, country music artist Dylan Scott will perform a free concert for fans on the FLW stage starting at 3 p.m. All activities are free and open to the public.
Coverage of the Lewis Smith Lake tournament will be broadcast in high-definition (HD) on NBC Sports Network when “FLW” airs April 14 from 11 a.m.-12 p.m. ET. The Emmy-nominated “FLW” is hosted by Jason Harper and is broadcast to more than 559 million households worldwide, making it the most widely distributed weekly outdoors-sports television show in the world.
Image courtesy FLW Outdoors