DETROIT – Steve Clapper of Lima, Ohio, caught a five-bass limit weighing 23 pounds, 3 ounces Saturday to retain his lead in the $1.5 million Chevy Open on the Detroit River. Clapper now holds a 2-pound, 14-ounce edge over his closest competitor, Terry Baksay of Easton, Conn., heading into the final day of competition. If he holds on for the win, Clapper will pocket $200,000.
“I went back to where I had been the past two days,” said Clapper, who has scored 24 top-10 finishes in Stren Series and Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League competition on the Detroit River and Lake Erie since 1997. “I’m traveling 30 to 35 miles to my spot, and I’m wearing down right now. I’m tired and I’m sore, but I can do it one more day.”
The weather forecast for the last day of competition calls for winds of 6 miles per hour, a welcome forecast for anglers who battled brutal winds and 7-foot waves Saturday.
“I was really concerned about being able to hold (my position) with a short-shaft trolling motor,” Clapper said. “It was an issue, but I could hold it for a while. At the end, I had to have my co-angler step down in the floor because I couldn’t keep it in the water.”
Clapper said he caught his limit by 8:40 a.m. and boated a total of 10 keepers. The fish came from two spots a few hundred yards apart. The spots were subtle rises – rises in 27 feet of water that peaked in 23 feet of water. The rises featured rough, rubbled spots that held the majority of Clapper’s fish.
“My co-angler had a fish on immediately on a darter,” said Clapper, who also started his day fishing with a goby-colored darter. “I went to net his and set the hook myself. His came off, and I landed mine. I picked the tube up, and the rest of the fish came on the tube.
“We started with a 1/2-ounce weight on the tube, but had to switch to a ¾-ounce weight,” Clapper added.
Clapper fished a goby-colored ISG Intimidator tube on 10-pound line to land the majority of his fish.
Like Clapper, Baksay relied on a tube to catch some of his fish. Unlike Clapper, however, Baksay also used a few other baits en route to catching a limit of smallmouths weighing 20 pounds, 5 ounces.
“I’m throwing a tube quite a bit, and I’m drop-shotting quite a bit,” Baksay said. “The sun popped out for 10 minutes today, and I caught my three biggest fish in 15 minutes on a jerkbait.”
Baksay said he fished Lake St. Clair and threw a Mizmo tube in four or five different colors and relied on an unorthodox drop-shotting technique he remained tight-lipped about. The techniques produced 15 keepers for Baksay, and he remained optimistic about his chances for a win.
“We caught seven fish over 5 pounds in practice,” Baksay said. “I’ve had 23 pounds (in one day) out here twice, and my son’s had 22 pounds twice. If I can get two of the 5-pounders to bite, I’ve got a chance. But I’ve got to get them to bite.”
Rounding out the top 10 pros are Team Wal-Mart pro Trevor Jancasz of White Pigeon, Mich. (five bass, 19-6); Thomas Moleski of Elkhart, Ind. (five bass, 19-5); Kevin Long of Berkley, Mich. (five bass, 18-13); Josh Myers of Chatham, Ontario (five bass, 17-3); Team A&W pro Shad Schenck of Waynetown, Ind. (five bass, 16-1); Team Kellogg’s pro Clark Wendlandt of Leander, Texas (five bass, 15-7); Team National Guard pro Clifford Pirch of Payson, Ariz. (four bass, 13-11) and Christopher King of South Amherst, Ohio (zero bass, 0-0).
Overall there were 44 bass weighing 163 pounds, 6 ounces caught in the Pro Division Saturday. The catch included eight five-bass limits.
Ken Murphy of Meridian, Miss., won the Co-angler Division and $40,000 Saturday with a five-bass limit weighing 19 pounds, 13 ounces followed by Ben Felton of Marshall, Mich., in second place with five bass weighing 18-5 worth $10,000.
Murphy opened the tournament in 10th place Thursday with five bass weighing 17-6 while fishing with pro Mark Davis of Mount Ida, Ark. On Friday he jumped into fourth place on the strength of a five-bass catch weighing 16-9 while fishing with Gabe Bolivar of Ramona, Calif. He wrapped up his win while fishing with Baksay.
“It hasn’t hit me quite yet,” said Murphy, who finally secured his first win after posting 10 FLW Outdoors top-10 finishes. “I’ve tried so hard for so long to get to this point. I keep getting to third base, but I can’t get home. Finally I did it.”
Murphy said he caught all of his fish on the same bait – a Golby-colored Erie Darter by Poor Boys. He was drop-shotting the bait in water from 14 to 21 feet deep.
“It’s just stunning what I’ve accomplished this year,” Murphy said. “I’ve had four tournaments where I finished no worse than 11th and I didn’t win the Co-angler of the Year title. That fact should show people what kind of fishermen fish on the co-angler side of the FLW tournaments.”
Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers are Mike Simpson of Dayton, Ohio (five bass, 18-0, $9,000); Scott Leo of Grand Rapids, Mich. (five bass, 15-14, $8,000); James Richardson of Harrison, Ohio (four bass, 12-14, $7,000); Bill Gift of Alix, Ark. (four bass, 10-11, $6,000); Drew Montgomery of Concord, N.C. (three bass, 9-6, $5,000); Jason Sherwood of Damascus, Md. (four bass, 8-3, $4,000); James Dixon of Southfield, Mich. (zero bass, 0-0, $3,000) and Truman White of Myersville, Md. (zero bass, 0-0, $2,000).
Overall there were 35 bass weighing 112 pounds, 2 ounces caught in the Co-angler Division Saturday. The catch included four five-bass limits.
Anglers will take off at 6:30 Sunday morning from Elizabeth Park Marina located at 202 Grosse Isle Pkwy. in Trenton, Mich., followed by a 4 p.m. weigh-in at the Cobo Center located at One Washington Blvd. in Detroit.
Prior to the final day weigh-in, FLW Outdoors will host a free Family Fun Zone and outdoor show at the Cobo Center from noon to 4 p.m. The Family Fun Zone is a chance for fishing fans to meet their favorite anglers and review the latest products from Berkley, Lowrance, Ranger, Evinrude, Yamaha and other manufacturers while children are treated to fishing themed games and rides like the Ranger Boat simulator. The first 300 children 14 and under visiting the Family Fun Zone Sunday will receive a free rod and reel combo. One lucky person attending the final weigh-in Sunday will even win a trip for two to the Forrest Wood Cup in Hot Springs, where they could ultimately win a $53,000 Ranger Z20 powered by Yamaha. The drawing for a free vacation getaway to Hot Springs will be held immediately following Sunday’s 4 p.m. weigh-in. Participants must be present to win.
In FLW Tour competition, pros and co-anglers are randomly paired each day, with pros supplying the boat, controlling boat movement and competing against other pros. Co-anglers fish from the back deck against other co-anglers. The full field competes Thursday and Friday for 10 slots in Saturday’s competition based on their two-day accumulated weight. Weights are cleared Saturday, and co-angler competition concludes following Saturday’s weigh-in with the winner determined by the day’s heaviest catch. The top 10 pros continue competition Sunday, with the winner determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from Saturday and Sunday.
Coverage of the tournament will be broadcast to 81 million FSN (Fox Sports Net) subscribers in the United States on Aug. 26 and Sept. 2 as part of the “FLW Outdoors” television program. “FLW Outdoors” airs Sunday mornings at 11 Eastern time. “FLW Outdoors” is also broadcast internationally to 429 million households in such countries as Germany, China, South Africa, Australia, Malaysia, Russia, Hungary and the United Kingdom, making it the most widely distributed fishing program in the world. Additionally, FLW Outdoors is proud to provide tournament coverage to more than 800,000 servicemembers stationed around the world in 177 countries and aboard Navy ships through broadcasts on the American Forces Network.
Named after the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, Forrest L. Wood, FLW Outdoors administers the Wal-Mart FLW Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Series, Stren Series, Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League, Wal-Mart Texas Tournament Trail presented by Abu Garcia, Ranger Owners Tournament Championship Series, Wal-Mart FLW Walleye Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Walleye League, Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Series, Wal-Mart FLW Redfish Series and Wal-Mart FLW Striper Series. These circuits offer combined purses of nearly $43 million through 241 events in 2007.
Wal-Mart and many of America’s largest and most respected companies support FLW Outdoors and its tournament trails. Wal-Mart signed on as an FLW Outdoors sponsor in 1997 and today is the world’s leading supporter of tournament fishing. For more information about Wal-Mart, visit Walmart.com.