HENDERSON, Nev. – Heading into today’s competition on Lake Mead, day-two leader Sean Minderman of Spokane, Wash., had a comfortable 4-pound, 3-ounce lead over his nearest rival. However, by the end of Friday’s weigh-in, Minderman – who has led the contest for three straight days – finally had something to worry about.
As today’s top-10 cut was announced, Minderman found himself clinging to a 2 1/2-pound lead. Making things even more interesting is the fact that the entire top-10 field is now within 4 pounds, 4 ounces of the Spokane native.
In short, Minderman – who only managed a catch of 6 pounds, 11 ounces today – now has some real competition on his hands heading into tomorrow’s finals.
“Today was tough for me,” said Minderman, who boasts a three-day total weight of 32 pounds. “I’m kind of disappointed because I really could have blown the tournament wide open. But I guess it could have turned out a lot worse.”
Minderman said that he had planned on sight-fishing. However, it was apparent early on that that particular pattern wasn’t going to be successful.
“I went back to the same area I’d been to the last few days and did a lot of sight fishing,” said Minderman. “But I just couldn’t get on the fish today. I had been weighing in two smallmouth and three largemouth each day but I just couldn’t get on those big largemouth today. All I caught were smallmouth. After three days, you just start running out of fish.
“It was tough, it was mentally tough,” Minderman continued. “Every fish I caught seemed to be short today. Culling was really hard too because all of the fish were about the same size.”
Minderman also seemed to be aware that the rest of the field had closed the gap considerably after today’s competition.
“I really think I need to go somewhere else tomorrow,” said Minderman. “I don’t want to do anything too drastic. And I have some ideas. But I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to find some new water. Then again, I just might wing it.”
Hawk closes in
Bolstered by a three-day catch of 29 pounds, 8 ounces, Roy Hawk of Salt Lake City, Utah, finished the day tied for second place. But more importantly, Hawk now heads into the finals with a very real shot at a tournament title.
“It’s nice to have narrowed that gap (with Minderman),” said Hawk. “Overall, it was a good day. I worked really hard, caught a couple of fish pretty quickly in the morning and just grinded it out the rest of the day. It was definitely a long day on the water though.”
Hawk said he focused on ledges and points, using a combination of crankbaits, tubes and drop-shots in 5 to 15 feet of water to land the majority of his catch.
As for tomorrow’s plan?
“I’m going to do the same thing,” said Hawk. “If I can get five bites tomorrow I should have a nice bag again. The fish are there for me to win. It’s just a matter of catching them.”
Hickey prepared for title run
“It was a tough, tough day out there today,” said Hickey. “I had to pull out all of the stops. But like I said, I have the potential to bring in the biggest bag of the tournament tomorrow. I know I’m going to have this one area to myself in the finals, so it’s very exciting for me right now.”
Hickey said that he used a combination of crankbaits, drop-shot rigs, tubes and Carolina rigs to land his catch today.
However, despite his enthusiasm, Hickey knows he’s going to have his work cut out for him on Saturday.
“(Minderman) is a tough competitor and I don’t expect him to bring in anything less than 10 pounds tomorrow,” said Hickey. “So the way I figure it, I’m going to need 13 pounds plus. But I’ll tell you what, the potential is there to do it.”
Best of the rest
Meanwhile, David Gliebe of Stockton, Calif., qualified in the fifth position with a total catch of 28 pounds, 8 ounces.
Rounding out the top-10 pro finalists at the Lake Mead event:
6th: Tim Klinger of Boulder City, Nev., 28-5
7th: Rusty Salewske of Alpine, Calif., 27-15
8th: Jimmy Reese of Witter Springs, Calif., 27-14
9th: Ken Wick of Star, Idaho, 27-13
10th: Brent Ehrler of Redlands, Calif., 27-12
Meanwhile, Justin Kerr of Simi Valley, Calif., won the day’s Big Bass award after landing a 3-pound, 7-ounce bass.
The final day of FLW Series Western Division action at Lake Mead continues at
Saturday’s takeoff, scheduled to take place at 6:30 a.m. (Pacific Time) at Callville Bay Resort and Marina, located in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Las Vegas, Nev.