CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. -Clifford Pirch of Payson, Ariz., caught a five-bass limit weighing 16 pounds, 14 ounces Saturday to retain the lead at the Walmart FLW Tour on Lake Chickamauga presented by National Guard and advanced to the top 10 as the crucial No. 1 seed. With a three-day catch of 15 bass weighing 60-9,he now holds a 1-pound lead in the tournament going into the final day of competition.
“I pulled in there this morning and the water was at least two feet higher than it had been,” Pirch said. “The water clarity was still decent when I started, so I was glad to see that. I thought the sun was going to break free and warm them up and move some new ones in, but we didn’t get that. We had winds and clouds all day.”
Pirch didn’t reveal the techniques he employed on Saturday, however he did say that he was not sight fishing.
“It was just pure fishing,” Pirch said. “I was blessed with some good bites and caught quite a few fish. It went well and I certainly can’t complain.
“It’s hard to say what’s going to happen tomorrow,” Pirch added. “I’m thinking we’ll get some sun. They’re really wanting to move in. The temperature’s right and we’ve got a full moon this weekend. They’ve got to be coming.”
Cheez-It pro Shinichi Fukae of Palestine, Texas, advanced to the final round of 10 pros in the No. 2 spot with a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 59-9.
Fukae said he caught the majority of his fish “junk fishing” by throwing soft plastics on a Texas-rig anchored with a 3/8-ounce weight as well as a chatterbait and crankbait. He said his deepest fish of the day came in no more than 8 feet of water. Fukae said he believes some of the fish he got to bite could have been spawning fish.
“I cannot see them because the water is high,” Fukae said. “They may be bedding fish because I missed them a couple of times and they still bite. I don’t know about tomorrow because the water is getting high and muddy and cold.
“They’re starting to scatter now,” Fukae added. “I caught 10 keepers the past two days and only six keepers today.”
Rounding out the top 10 pros and advancing to the final day of competition are:
3rd: Tom Monsoor, La Crosse, Wis., 15 bass, 54-3
4th: Randy McAbee Jr., Bakersfield, Calif., 15 bass, 52-6
5th: National Guard pro Scott Martin, Clewiston, Fla., 15 bass, 49-3
6th: Straight Talk pro J.T. Kenney, Palm Bay, Fla., 15 bass, 48-10
7th: Robbie Dodson, Harrison, Ark., 13 bass, 48-8
8th: Jay Keith, Camden, S.C., 15 bass, 48-7
9th: Straight Talk pro Scott Canterbury, Springville, Ala., 15 bass, 47-15
10th: National Guard pro Brett Hite, Phoenix, Ariz., 15 bass, 47-12
Finishing in 11th through 20th are:
11th: Shad Schenck, Waynetown, Ind., 14 bass, 45-9, $12,500
12th: Brad Knight, Wartburg, Tenn., 15 bass, 44-2, $12,500
13th: Castrol pro David Dudley, Lynchburg, Va., 14 bass, 44-1, $12,500
14th: Dearal Rodgers, Camden, S.C., 13 bass, 43-10, $12,500
15th: EverStart pro Randall Tharp, Gardendale, Ala., 15 bass, 43-7, $12,500
16th: J.T. Palmore, Blackstone, Va., 13 bass, 42-12, $12,000
17th: Goodwill pro Chad Grigsby, Maple Grove, Minn., 13 bass, 42-7, $12,000
18th: Kyle Mabrey, McCalla, Ala., 11 bass, 39-13, $12,000
19th: Rob Kilby, Hot Springs, Ark., 12 bass, 38-3, $12,000
20th: Kevin Snider, Elizabethtown, Ky., 10 bass, 32-9, $12,000
Overall there were 80 bass weighing 228 pounds, 9 ounces caught by 19 pros Saturday. The catch included 11 five-bass limits.
Pros are competing for a top award of up to $125,000 this week plus valuable points in the hope of qualifying for the Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart, the world championship of bass fishing. This year’s Cup will be in Hot Springs, Ark., Aug. 11-14 on Lake Ouachitawhere pros will compete for a top prize of $600,000 – the sport’s biggest award. Pro anglers are also vying for the prestigious 2011 Walmart FLW Tour Angler of the Year presented by Kellogg’s that will be determined by the most points accumulated over the six Tour Majors with the winner receiving $100,000 for their accomplishment.
Keeton Blaylock of Benton, Ark., won the Co-angler Division and $20,000 Saturday with a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 41 pounds, 8 ounces followed by Alton Lackie of Germantown, Tenn., in second place with 13 bass weighing 37-6 worth $7,500.
“I caught 17 pounds the first two days of practice,” said Blaylock, who won the Walmart FLW Tour on Beaver Lake presented by Straight Talk in March. “That really gave me the confidence I needed. And it was the shaky-head rig that did it. I just did something a little bit different.”
Blaylock said he dipped the tail of his soft plastic bait in chartreuse dye and credits that subtle tweak to his win.
“My brother (AMP Energy pro Stetson Blaylock) wasn’t doing that, and the difference was amazing,” Blaylock said. “I told him during practice, `I’m winning this thing.’ That’s what I told him.”
Blaylock said his pro fished dirtier water Friday and he didn’t get to throw the chartreuse-tipped shaky-head rig. Saturday, however, was a different story.
“After the first five minutes I had lost one and I said, `Well, they’re going to bite it today,'” Blaylock said. “And then I had that confidence.”
Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers are:
3rd: Mark Horton, Nicholasville, Ky., 12 bass, 34-1, $5,000
4th: Patrick Bone, Cleveland, Ga., 11 bass, 33-14, $4,250
5th: Justin Sward, Vancleave, Miss., 12 bass, 33-14, $3,000
6th: Spencer Shuffield, Bismarck, Ark., 12 bass, 33-14, $2,500
7th: Caleb Kuphall, Mukwonago, Wis., 12 bass, 33-9, $2,000
8th: Jade Keeton, Florence, Ala., 13 bass, 31-15, $1,800
9th: Derrick Snavely, Rogersville, Tenn., 10 bass, 31-9, $1,700
10th: Brent Evans, Calvert City, Ky., 11 bass, 28-9, $1,600
Overall there were 41 bass weighing 113 pounds, 1 ounce caught by 15 co-anglers Saturday. The catch included two five-bass limits.
Co-anglers were also fishing for valuable points that could help them qualify for the 2011 Forrest Wood Cup.The Walmart FLW Tour Co-angler of the Year presented by Kellogg’s will be determined by the most points accumulated over the six Tour Majors and the winner will receive a new Ranger 198VX with a 200-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard.
The top 10 pros will take off at 7 Sunday morning from Chester Frost Park located at 2318 Gold Point Circle North in Hixson, Tenn. Sunday’s final weigh-in will be held at the Chattanooga Convention Center located at 1150 Carter St. in Chattanooga beginning at 4 p.m.
Fans will be treated to the FLW Outdoors Expo at the Chattanooga Convention Center on Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. prior to the final weigh-ins. The first 300 kids 14 and under on Sunday will receive a free rod and reel combo compliments of US 101. Fans can also register to win a Can-Am ATV courtesy of WDSI Fox 61 which will be given away following the final weigh-in. Fans will also be treated to a free performance on Sunday at 3 p.m. by Thompson Square, who currently have one of the hottest hits on the radio with “Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not.” 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. All activities are free and open to the public. For a complete schedule of events, visit FLWOutdoors.com/LakeChickamauga.
Coverage of the Lake Chickamauga tournament will be broadcast in high-definition (HD) on VERSUS. “FLW Outdoors” will air May 29 from 1 to 2 p.m. ET. “FLW Outdoors,” hosted by Jason Harper, is broadcast to more than 500 million households worldwide.
For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow FLW Outdoors on Facebook at Facebook.com/FLWFishing and on Twitter at Twitter.com/FLWOutdoors.
About FLW Outdoors
FLW Outdoors is the largest fishing tournament organization in the world offering anglers worldwide the opportunity to compete for millions over the course of 191 tournaments in 2011. FLW Outdoors has taken fishing mainstream with the world’s richest fantasy sports game, FLW Fantasy Fishing presented by Straight Talk, where competitors can play for free as well as sign up for Player’s Advantage to gain an edge. For more information about FLW Outdoors and FLW Fantasy Fishing, browse FLWOutdoors.com or visit FantasyFishing.com.