DETROIT – Team Kellogg’s pro Alvin Shaw of State Road, N.C., caught a five-bass limit weighing 20 pounds, 14 ounces Saturday to capture the lead in a top-10 field that includes some of the greatest anglers in the world. Shaw now holds a 13-ounce edge over his closest competitor, Team Pringles pro Vic Vatalaro of Kent, Ohio, heading into the final day of competition in the $1.5 million Wal-Mart FLW Tour Chevy Open on the Detroit River. If he holds on for the win, Shaw will pocket $200,000.
“This place isn’t about patterns,” said Shaw, who has won more than $516,000 in FLW Outdoors events. “I haven’t been able to put together a pattern. I’ve tried to put together some locations that have a variety of cover.”
On the third day of competition, Shaw continued to target small isolated clumps of grass, rocks and sand in 12 to 16 feet of water on Lake St. Clair. He said instead of the time-tested method of dragging a tube that is so popular on the area waters, he is electing to cast it with baitcasting equipment and 8-pound-test line. Shaw pulls a green-pumpkin gold flake tube to the top of the grass and holds it there and then pops the tube out of the grass. Most of the strikes occur when he pops the tube free.
“I’ve found the big fish area,” Shaw said. “I got my limit and left today. I’m really going to try and pound them tomorrow. I’ve got about three key areas and I hope I can get a 5-pounder off of each one. My partner the first day lost a 7-pounder off of one of them.”
Shaw said even though the tube has been his primary bait throughout the tournament, he caught his last keeper of the day Saturday on a Berkley Gulp! Leech.
“I had laid my rod down so I could retie a tube, and I picked it back up and there he was,” Shaw said. “That leech is going to play a factor before tomorrow is over.”
Vatalaro caught five fish weighing 20 pounds, 1 ounce to advance to the final day of competition as the No. 2 seed.
“I’m out in the middle of Lake St. Clair, basically 10 miles out from every shoreline,” Vatalaro said. “There’s some grass out there and I found some sandy spots when the sun was high. The first couple of days I marked where they are and I can go right back to them.”
Vatalaro said he’s relying heavily on a tube in 18 to 20 feet of water to catch his fish and believes he can pull another hefty sack out of his area on the final day of competition. Vatalaro caught 25 keepers Saturday from his spot.
“I’m going to catch a ton of fish, and I’m going to try to put some big ones in the boat,” Vatalaro said. “I’m fishing a giant area and I think it’s a feeding ground for the post-spawn fish. The fish are moving in and trapping the perch and other baitfish in these underwater bushes, and I just throw in my green tube and catch them.”
Rounding out the top 10 pros are Team BP pro J.T. Kenney of Port Charlotte, Fla. (five bass, 16-14); David Reault of Livonia, Mich. (five bass, 13-9); Mark Modrak of China Township, Mich. (five bass, 12-09); Team Chevy pro Kim Stricker of Howell, Mich. (five bass, 11-15); Team Duracell pro Michael Bennett of Lincoln, Calif. (three bass, 8-12); Keith Combs of Del Rio, Texas (three bass, 8-01); David McCrone of Minnetonka, Minn. (two bass, 6-15) and Keith Monson of Burgin, Ky. (three bass, 6-14).
Overall there were 41 bass weighing 126 pounds, 8 ounces caught in the Pro Division Saturday. The catch included six five-bass limits.
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Mark Frickman of Grand Ledge, Mich., won the Co-angler Division and $30,000 Saturday with a five-bass limit weighing 19 pounds, 4 ounces followed by Mike Weidman of Burton, Mich., in second place with five bass weighing 17-9 worth $10,000.
Frickman opened the tournament in 53rd place Thursday with five bass weighing 15-01 while fishing with Team Duracell pro Brennan Bosley of Benton, Ark. On Friday he jumped into fifth place on the strength of a five-bass catch weighing 17-10 while fishing with Team Castrol pro Carl Svebek of Siloam Springs, Ark. He wrapped up his win while fishing with Team Pringles pro Vic Vatalaro of Kent, Ohio.
“This is unbelievable,” said Frickman, who won the first FLW Tour event he fished Saturday. “This was my treat for the year – to fish my first FLW Tour event.
“I just can’t describe it,” Frickman added. “To start out 53rd on Day 1 and making it to the finals and then winning … don’t ever, ever give up. Be positive. Do the right thing.”
Frickman credits the Berkley Gulp! Goby as the key to his championship title. Frickman said he caught between 20 and 25 fish during the course of the day, including about 20 keepers.
“I was throwing 3-pounders back at 8:30 this morning,” Frickman said. “It was just phenomenal.”
Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers are J.B. Young of Deer Park, Texas (five bass, 16-03, $9,000); Jerry Weisinger of Wyandotte, Okla. (three bass, 11-08, $8,000); Andrew Lemle of Perrysburg, Ohio (five bass, 11-07, $7,000); Team National Guard co-angler Diane Delagarza of Garland, Texas (four bass, 10-04, $6,000); Scott Gibson of Biloxi, Miss. (three bass, 6-11, $5,000); Ron Fabiszak of South Bend, Ind. (one bass, 4-02, $4,000); Team Wal-Mart co-angler Hector Delagarza of Garland, Texas (one bass, 2-09, $3,000) and Todd Robbins of Romulus, Mich. (one bass, 1-13, $2,000).
Hector and Diane Delagarza shared the weigh-in stage Saturday as the first husband and wife in FLW Outdoors history to make a top 10 together.
Overall there were 33 bass weighing 101 pounds, 6 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 Ile Parkway in Trenton, Mich., followed by a 4 p.m. weigh-in at the Cobo Center located atOne 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. Children 14 and under visiting the Family Fun Zone Sunday will also receive a free rod and reel combo while supplies last, and one lucky member of the audience will win a new Ranger boat during the final 4 p.m. weigh-in on Sunday. Admission is free and you 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 Chevy Open tournament will be broadcast to 81 million FSN (Fox Sports Net) subscribers in the United States on Aug. 31 and Sept. 7 as part of the “FLW Outdoors” television program. “FLW Outdoors” is also broadcast in Canada on WFN (World Fishing Network) and to more than 429 million households in the United Kingdom, Europe, Russia, Australia, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East through a distribution agreement with Matchroom Sport, making it the most widely distributed fishing program in the world. The program airs Sunday mornings at 11 Eastern time in most markets. Check local listings for times in your area.
FLW Outdoors, named after Forrest L. Wood, the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, is the largest fishing tournament organization in the world. In 2008 alone the organization is offering more than 90,000 anglers the chance to win over $40 million through 230 tournaments in 10 circuits targeting bass, walleye, redfish, kingfish and striped bass. FLW Outdoors is also taking fishing mainstream with the largest cash awards in the history of fantasy sports, $7.3 million.
For more information about FLW Outdoors and its tournaments, visit FLWOutdoors.com or call (270) 252-1000. For more information about FLW Fantasy Fishing and Player’s Advantage, visit FantasyFishing.com.