BRANSON, Mo. – Costa FLW Series competitors awoke Friday to a thick blanket of fog covering Table Rock Lake near Table Rock State Park in Branson. After a near two-hour delay, anglers were allowed to start day two of the Costa FLW Series Championship on Table Rock Lake.
The 2015 FLW Tour Rookie of the Year Zack Birge of Blanchard, Oklahoma, who started the day in 13th place, vaulted to the top of the leaderboard after bringing a five-bass limit to the scales weighing 13 pounds, 13 ounces. Birge’s two-day total of 10 bass totaling 26 pounds, 5 ounces gives him a slim 6-ounce advantage over Cody Bird of Granbury, Texas, heading into the third and final day of competition. The tournament featured 192 boaters and co-anglers from across the globe, but is now cut to 10 with anglers casting for a top cash award of $95,000, including a new Ranger Z518C boat with a 200-horsepower Evinrude outboard, and an automatic qualification to the 2017 Forrest Wood Cup, the world championship of bass fishing.
“I went to a new area today and caught around 15 fish,” said Birge, who won the 2014 FLW Series Championship at Wheeler Lake to jumpstart his professional career. “I didn’t see another boat around me and I think it is because I am so far up the river. Yesterday I only caught five all day so I knew I had to try something else and this new spot worked out.”
Birge said he ran 50 to 60 miles up the James River and caught all of his fish off of one bait – a 6th Sense Lure that he was not yet ready to divulge.
“I think a lot of the other places where guys have been at are just running out of fish,” Birge said. “Getting in to that new area was definitely the key for me today.”
Winning the 2014 Championship at Wheeler Lake seems to have prepared the Oklahoma pro for the pressures of leading a major tournament. He said he was much more nervous two years ago.
“It’s weird, but I’m not even really nervous at this point,” Birge said. “I really don’t know what to expect tomorrow. I’m just going to make that same run up the river tomorrow morning and hope for the best. I think there are more fish there, but I’m not really sure what to expect. I’m just going to go fishing and we’ll see how it ends up.”
The top 10 boaters that will advance to the final day of competition on Table Rock Lake are:
1st: Zack Birge, Blanchard, Okla., 10 bass, 26-5
2nd: Cody Bird, Granbury, Texas, 10 bass, 25-15
3rd: Pat Fisher, Colbert, Ga., 10 bass, 25-4
4th: Brad Cook, Afton, Okla., nine bass, 24-12
5th: Bradford Beavers, Ridgeville, S.C., eight bass, 22-8
6th: Christopher Jones, Bokoshe, Okla., nine bass, 22-4
7th: Travis Fox, Rogers, Ark., nine bass, 21-11
8th: Old Spice pro Greg Bohannan, Bentonville, Ark., 10 bass, 21-11
9th: Jeremy Lawyer, Sarcoxie, Mo., 10 bass, 21-6
10th: Brent Algeo, Ozark, Mo., eight bass, 20-15
Complete results can be found at FLWFishing.com.
The Costa FLW Series consists of five U.S. divisions – Central, Northern, Southeastern, Southwestern and Western – along with an International division that features anglers from Canada, China, Mexico, South Africa and South Korea. The highest finishing pro from each U.S. division and the new International division based on their finish qualify for the 2017 Forrest Wood Cup, along with the overall top five finishers not already selected as the highest finisher of a division. A total of 11 FLW Series boaters will advance to the 2017 Forrest Wood Cup at Lake Murray in Columbia, South Carolina.
Day One co-angler leader Tyler Sheppard of Hermitage, Pennsylvania, retained his lead on Day Two with a two-day total of seven bass weighing 16 pounds, 3 ounces, followed by Michael Black of Toledo, Illinois, in second place with five bass weighing 12-11.
The top 10 co-anglers that advance to the final day of competition on Table Rock Lake are:
1st: Tyler Sheppard, Hermitage, Pa., seven bass, 16-3
2nd: Michael Black, Toledo, Ill., five bass, 12-11
3rd: Richard Jordan, Muncy Valley, Pa., six bass, 11-11
4th: Raymond Tak, Los Angeles, Calif., five bass, 10-14
5th: David Hudson, Jasper, Ala., four bass, 9-4
6th: Robert Myers, Broken Arrow, Okla., five bass, 9-1
7th: Jonathan Shockey, Fort Smith, Ark., three bass, 8-7
8th: Rob Bueltmann, Osage Beach, Mo., four bass, 8-6
9th: Benjamin Tawney, Slippery Rock, Pa., four bass, 7-12
10th: Joe Lane, Republic, Mo., four bass, 7-11
Co-anglers are casting this week for a top award of a Ranger Z175 boat with a 90-horsepower Evinrude outboard and $5,000 if Ranger Cup guidelines are met.
The final 10 boaters and co-anglers will take off from the Table Rock State Park Marina, located at 380 State Park Marina Road in Branson, at 7 a.m. CDT Saturday. Saturday’s final weigh-in will take place at the Branson Landing located at 100 Branson Landing in Branson, at 4 p.m. Takeoffs and weigh-ins are free and open to the public.
The Costa FLW Series Championship at Table Rock Lake is being hosted by ExploreBranson.com.
In Costa FLW Series regular-season competition, each division competes in three tournaments, with competitors vying for valuable points to earn their way into the top 40 and the opportunity to fish in the Costa FLW Series Championship.
For complete details and updated information visit FLWFishing.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the Costa FLW Series on Facebook at Facebook.com/FLWFishing and on Twitter at Twitter.com/FLWFishing.
FLW is the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, providing anglers of all skill levels the opportunity to compete for millions in prize money in 2016 across five tournament circuits. Headquartered in Benton, Kentucky, with offices in Minneapolis, FLW conducts more than 235 bass-fishing tournaments annually across the United States and sanctions tournaments in Canada, China, Mexico, South Africa and South Korea. FLW tournament fishing can be seen on the Emmy-nominated “FLW" television show, broadcast to more than 564 million households worldwide, while FLW Bass Fishing magazine delivers cutting-edge tips from top pros. For more information visit FLWFishing.com and follow FLW at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat: @FLWFishing.
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