Clausen, Wendlandt continue battle for Land O'Lakes Angler of the Year title - Major League Fishing
Clausen, Wendlandt continue battle for Land O’Lakes Angler of the Year title
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Clausen, Wendlandt continue battle for Land O’Lakes Angler of the Year title

Georgia's Hardin leads pro field at FLW Tour's regular-season finale at Lake Champlain
July 10, 2009 • MLF • Press Releases

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. – The Land O’Lakes Angler of the Year race became clearer Friday as Team Chevy pro Luke Clausen of Gainesville, Ga., stood in third place after the second day of competition in the FLW Tour’s regular-season finale at Lake Champlain presented by Folgers and Team Kellogg’s pro Clark Wendlandt of Leander, Texas, finished the day in sixth place. Clausen and Wendlandt are the only anglers remaining in the title contention after Team National Guard pro Brent Ehrler of Redlands, Calif., and Andy Morgan of Dayton, Tenn., failed to make the top-10 cut and fell out of contention. The race for the title now will be decided Sunday at the conclusion of the Lake Champlain event.

Mark Hardin of Jasper, Ga., caught a five-bass limit weighing 17 pounds, 12 ounces Friday to maintain the lead in the Lake Champlain event with a two-day catch of 10 bass weighing 39-14. He now holds a 1-pound, 3-ounce lead in the tournament featuring pros and co-anglers from across the United States, Canada and Japan

“It was slow for about an hour and then they got fired up and I had a pretty good flurry,” said Hardin, who has won more than $383,000 in FLW Outdoors events. “I think I caught four and then it slowed down and it was just picking off one here and there the rest of the day.”

Hardin said he caught nine or 10 keeper fish throughout the course of the day by using a jerkbait, Carolina rig and drop-shotting.

“I’ve fished them pretty hard for two days,” Hardin said. “The fish are still there. They’re following my baits. I don’t know if they’re going to bite better or if the pressure’s getting to them or not. We’ll just have to see tomorrow.

“Tomorrow I’ll throw the same baits,” Hardin added. “I may give them a different look or a little bit of a different presentation. We’ll see. I just hope they bite for me.”

Mike Hawkes of Sabinal, Texas, advanced to the final round of 10 pros in the No. 2 spot with a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 38-11.

“Today the wind blew a little bit and made a ripple, and the fish wanted a faster-falling jig,” said Hawkes, who has won more than $484,000 in FLW Outdoors events.

Hawkes said he caught every fish on the second day of competition on a heavy Oldham’s jig. He said he quit fishing at 10 a.m. and culled only eight or nine fish. Hawkes said he targeted largemouth in grass in 8 or 9 feet in the Ticonderoga area.

“I’ve got a few places to fish up here, but I don’t know … if the wind blows too hard, I won’t be able to make it down there to Ticonderoga,” Hawkes said.

Rounding out the top five pros who will continue competition Saturday and Sunday are Clausen (10 bass, 38-5); Team M&M’s/Snickers pro Greg Pugh of Cullman, Ala. (10 bass, 37-7); and Team Kellogg’s pro Dave Lefebre of Union City, Pa. (10 bass, 36-14).

Also clearing the top-10 cut weight of 35 pounds, 4 ounces and adding to this already power-packed top-10 field are Wendlandt; Kyle Mabrey of McCalla, Ala.; Team Chevy pro Jay Yelas of Corvallis, Ore.; Team National Guard pro Scott Martin of Clewiston, Fla.; and Team Chevy pro Anthony Gagliardi of Prosperity, S.C.

Wendlandt earned the day’s $750 Folgers Big Bass award in the Pro Division thanks to a 6-pound even bass.

Pros are competing for a top award of $125,000 this week plus valuable points in the hope of qualifying for $2 million Forrest Wood Cup presented by Castrol and BP, which will be held July 30-Aug. 2 on the Three Rivers in Pittsburgh, Pa., where they could win as much as $1 million – the sport’s biggest award.

Team National Guard co-angler Justin Lucas of Folsom, Calif., leads the Co-angler Division with an opening-round total of 10 bass weighing 33 pounds, 3 ounces, followed by Lynn Baciuska, Jr. of Afton, N.Y., in second place with 10 bass weighing 31-5.

“We ran to the same area I caught them yesterday,” said Lucas, who has won more than $197,000 in FLW Outdoors events. “I kind of knew how the area laid out, so it made it nice for me. I didn’t have to relearn the area.

“It was tough,” Lucas added. “I struggled all day. I only caught five keepers. It was not easy.”

Lucas said he fished the Windmill area and relied on a drop-shot rig tipped with a Berkley 3-inch Gulp! Leech to catch his fish. He said the smaller leech provided subtle action that provoked fish to strike. Lucas focused on depths of 8 to 11 feet.

“I was frustrated and had 30 minutes to go,” Lucas said. “I needed one more bite. I looked down and there was a bass swimming next to the boat. I flipped my bait over the side of the boat, shook it a little bit and he pops it. It was a 3-pounder – my second biggest fish.”

Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Brandon Hunter of Benton, Ky. (10 bass, 31-2); Keith Honeycutt of Temple, Texas (10 bass, 30-13) and Spencer Shuffield of Bismarck, Ark. (10 bass, 30-11).

Also clearing the top-10 cut weight of 27 pounds, 5 ounces in the Co-angler Division are Jason Ober of Johnstown, Pa.; Matt Greenblatt of Tequesta, Fla.; Shane Lehew of Charlotte, N.C.; James Schneider of Watervliet, N.Y.; and Jim Sweeney of West Dover, Vt.

Shuffield earned $500 for the day’s Folgers Big Bass award in the Co-angler Division thanks to a 4-pound, 11-ounce bass he caught while fishing with pro John Voyles of Petersburg, Ind.

Co-anglers are fishing for a top award of $25,000 this week.

Anglers will take off at 6:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday from Dock Street Landing located at 1 Dock Street in Plattsburgh, N.Y. Saturday and Sunday’s weigh-ins will be held at the Plattsburgh State Field House located at 167 Rugar Street in Plattsburgh beginning at 4 p.m.

In conjunction with the weigh-ins Saturday and Sunday, FLW Outdoors will host a free Family Fun Zone and outdoor show at the Plattsburgh State Field House each day at noon. The Family Fun Zone offers fans a chance to meet their Fantasy Fishing team anglers face-to-face and review the latest products from Berkley, Lowrance, Ranger, Evinrude, Yamaha and other sponsors while children are treated to giveaways, fishing themed games and rides like the Ranger Boat simulator. Children 14 and under visiting the Family Fun Zone on Sunday will receive a free rod and reel combo courtesy of WOKO-FM while supplies last. One lucky member of the audience will even win a new Ranger boat that will be given away during the final 4 p.m. weigh-in 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 in the two-day opening round for one of 10 slots in Saturday’s competition based on their two-day accumulated weight. Weights are cleared for day three, and co-angler competition concludes following Saturday’s weigh-in. The top 10 pros continue competition Sunday, with the winner determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from days three and four.

Coverage of the tournament, hosted by the City of Plattsburgh, will be broadcast Aug. 16 on VERSUS, the network which brings anglers the best fishing programming on television featuring the most-trusted authorities on the water. The Emmy-nominated “FLW Outdoors” airs Sundays from 12:30 to 1:30 ET. “FLW Outdoors,” hosted by Jason Harper, is broadcast to approximately 500 million households worldwide, including internationally through agreements with WFN (World Fishing Network) and Matchroom Sport to such countries as Canada, Germany, China, South Africa, Australia, Malaysia, Russia, Hungary and the United Kingdom, making it the most widely distributed weekly outdoor-sports television show in the world.

The FLW Tour will award more than $8 million cash to the world’s top bass anglers in 2009. Regular season competition includes three qualifiers and three opens. Each event takes anglers a step closer to the $2 million Forrest Wood Cup presented by Castrol, which will be held July 30-Aug. 2 on the Three Rivers in Pittsburgh, Pa. The prestigious championship and outdoor show hosted by Visit Pittsburgh will feature 77 pros, 77 co-anglers and bass fishing’s largest cash award – a potential $1 million first-place prize for the winning pro.

FLW Outdoors, named after Forrest L. Wood, the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, is the largest fishing tournament organization in the world. FLW Outdoors also is taking fishing mainstream with FLW Fantasy Fishing, offering the largest awards possible in the history of fantasy sports, $10 million in cash and prizes. Sign up for Player’s Advantage to get your edge and win.

For more information about FLW Outdoors and its tournaments, browse FLWOutdoors.com or call (270) 252-1000. For more information about FLW Fantasy Fishing and Player’s Advantage, visit FantasyFishing.com.