Keystone Light pro Brent Ehrler of Redlands, Calif., caught five bass weighing 11 pounds, 15 ounces Saturday to maintain his lead at the Walmart FLW Tour on Lewis Smith Lake presented by Evinrude. He now advances to the final day of competition with a commanding lead in a tournament that features a full field of the world’s best professional anglers casting for the top prize of up to $125,000.
With a three-day catch of 15 bass weighing 45 pounds, 14 ounces, Ehrler holds a solid 6-pound, 4-ounce lead over second-place pro Jacob Powroznik of Prince George, Va., who has a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 39 pounds, 10 ounces.
“It was a grind just like yesterday,” said Ehrler, who has led all three days of tournament competition. “I was thinking I’m going to go from leading the tournament to not even making the cut. It’s such an emotional roller coaster. I was finally able to get a limit mid-day. Once I got a limit, I was able to run around and culled up a couple of times. It started off really slow, though.”
Ehrler remained tight-lipped about his bait selection, but said he is catching them deep and doing one thing different with his baits.
“I’m catching them deeper – from 30 to 40 feet,” he said. “I’m doing one thing different, bait-wise, though. I feel like it’s been the key to getting a lot of the better bites for me, and right now I need every advantage that I can get.
“I’m not going to sleep easy tonight,” Ehrler went on to say. “If I could choose my conditions tomorrow, it’d be sunny and calm. From what I hear, we’re supposed to be seeing the opposite. If it gets windy out there, it could really hurt my chances. My co-angler caught 12 pounds off of my key areas today, though, so that tells me that there are still a few fish around there. I’m just going to put my head down and if the wind doesn’t affect me too much, I can catch another 12 pounds.”
The top 10 pros advancing to the final day of competition on Lewis Smith Lake are:
1st: Keystone Light pro Brent Ehrler, Redlands, Calif., 15 bass, 45-14
2nd: Jacob Powroznik, Prince George, Va., 15 bass, 39-10
3rd: 3M Scotch Tape and Peltor Brands pro Ray Scheide, Dover, Ark., 15 bass, 38-10
4th: Koby Kreiger, Okeechobee, Fla., 15 bass, 37-9
5th: Tommy Biffle, Wagoner, Okla., 15 bass, 37-8
6th: Cody Meyer, Auburn, Calif., 15 bass, 37-1
7th: Andy Morgan, Dayton, Tenn., 10 bass, 36-8
8th: Chevy pro Anthony Gagliardi, Prosperity, S.C., 15 bass, 36-7
9th: Zell Rowland, Montgomery, Texas, 14 bass, 36-0
10th: Rayovac pro Jason Christie, Park Hill, Okla., 15 bass, 35-14
Finishing in 11th through 20th are:
11th: Jacob Wheeler, Indianapolis, Ind., 15 bass, 35-12, $12,500
12th: Spencer Shuffield, Bismarck, Ark., 15 bass, 34-15, $12,500
13th: David Fritts, Lexington, N.C., 14 bass, 34-0, $12,500
14th: Austin Terry, San Angelo, Texas, 15 bass, 31-12, $12,500
15th: Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes pro Dave Lefebre, Erie, Pa., 14 bass, 31-3, $12,500
16th: Drew Benton, Panama City, Fla., 13 bass, 31-3, $12,000
17th: Randy Blaukat, Joplin, Mo., 14 bass, 31-2, $12,000
18th: Chevy pro Jay Yelas, Corvallis, Ore., 14 bass, 29-7, $12,000
19th: Brandon McMillan, Clewiston, Fla., 11 bass, 29-2, $12,500
20th: Justin Lucas, Guntersville, Ala., 11 bass, 26-0, $12,000
For a full list of results visit FLWOutdoors.com.
Overall there were 87 bass weighing 179 pounds, 10 ounces caught by pros Saturday. The catch included 12 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.
Hoyt Tidwell of West Point, Tenn., won the co-angler division and $20,000 Saturday with a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 34 pounds, 1 ounce followed by Anthony Goggins of Auburn, Ala., in second place with 15 bass weighing 29-5 worth $7,500.
“I’ve been doing this for a long time,” said Tidwell, who earned his first victory in FLW competition Saturday. “I made the Forrest Wood Cup last year, but this is awesome. I had a great week of fishing. I caught every fish that I weighed in, except one, drop-shotting a Roboworm. One came on a jig on day one, but that Roboworm was my confidence bait. It was a grind each day, but the key for me was just staying focused.”
The top 10 co-anglers finished:
1st: Hoyt Tidwell, West Point, Tenn., 15 bass, 34-1, $20,000
2nd: Anthony Goggins, Auburn, Ala., 13 bass, 29-5, $7,500
3rd: Mike Hardin Sr., Robertsdale, Ala., nine bass, 25-4, $5,000
4th: Todd Lee, Jasper, Ala., 15 bass, 22-1, $4,000
5th: Josh Smith, Hamilton, Ohio, 14 bass, 21-15, $3,000
6th: Tom Stark, Angola, Ind., 12 bass, 21-13, $2,500
7th: Jesse Wiggins, Cullman, Ala., 14 bass, 21-12, $2,000
8th: Rick Bowen, Jackson, Tenn., 11 bass, 21-0, $1,800
9th: Bryan Partak, Rockdale, Ill., 12 bass, 20-3, $1,700
10th: Alan Woodford, Winslow, Ind., 13 bass, 18-15, $1,600
For a full list of results visit FLWOutdoors.com.
Overall there were 56 bass weighing 107 pounds, 8 ounces caught by co-anglers Saturday. The catch included five 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.
The top 10 pros will take off from Smith Lake Dam Access located at 7482 Smith Lake Dam Road in Jasper, Ala., at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday. Sunday’s final weigh-ins will be held at 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 Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. prior to the final weigh-in. 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. 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