Quick Bites: FLW Wheeler Lake, Day 2 - Major League Fishing

Quick Bites: FLW Wheeler Lake, Day 2

Strader and Arey catch the ones that almost got away, Shaw writes a page in the history books, Watkins makes a rebound and the weights fall off at Guntersville
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Wesley Strader shows how he snagged his line -- which had a fish on the end of it at the time -- after breaking it off at the rod. Photo by Jeff Schroeder. Angler: Wesley Strader.
May 12, 2005 • Jennifer Simmons • Archives

Wal-Mart FLW Tour

Wheeler Lake, Decatur, Ala.

Opening round, Thursday

Fish story, part one … Lady Luck was downright nasty to most of the field today, but Wesley Strader managed to get on her good side and boat a fish in unbelievable fashion. Strader had pulled into a set of docks and was swimming a jig given to him by fellow pro Mark Rose when he looked to the left and saw something flash. He was fishing 55-pound Izorline braid, yet the line broke right at the rod tip. “The fish was probably 50 feet away,” Strader said. “When it broke, the line shot toward the fish and coiled up. All of a sudden I see line swimming off, so I put my trolling motor on high and took off and went after it.” The fish went out of sight, so Strader took a wild guess at its whereabouts, poking his rod in the water and making circles and figure-eights. Believe it or not, he caught the fish. “I reached out and grabbed the line and slung the fish in the boat,” he said. “Then I get it in and there was a zip tie through its jaw.” Apparently Strader wasn’t the first one to lose that fish, but he’s probably the first one to get it back.

Fish story, part two … Not long after Wesley Strader left the stage, Matt Arey weighed in with a wacky tale of his own. It seems Arey’s fish broke his rod smack in the middle, leaving approximately 20 feet of line out in the water. He picked up a jig rod and noticed his line curled up in the water, starting to sink. “I actually hooked the line and felt tension on the other end,” Arey said. “I hooked it where I could get it in my hand, and as soon as I picked it up, the fish skyrocketed out of the water.” Arey estimates his fish weighed 2 1/2 pounds.

Pro Alvin Shaw of State Road, N.C., sight-fished his way to solid limits both days of the opening round on Guntersville Lake and posted a two-day weight of 32 pounds, 3 ounces.Shaw me the money … History repeated itself today when Alvin Shaw scored his third consecutive top-10 finish. No one had ever accomplished that feat until this season, when rookie Bobby Lane scored top-10s at the first three events of the season, but it has now happened twice in five months with Shaw’s ascension into the Wheeler Lake finals. While it’s no doubt impressive that Shaw has accomplished something that’s only been done once, he for one is more concerned about the big picture. “It feels pretty good, but I’m going for the championship,” he said. “I started off having my worst year ever. I was like the last man in the points. But thinking back, I always perform better under pressure. It seems to drive my adrenaline.” … Indeed, Shaw finished 148th at the season opener in Okeechobee and 146th at the next tournament on Lake Toho before hitting his hot streak on the Ouachita River. If Shaw makes it to the championship – he entered this tournament 58th in points – then it will be his ninth trip in 10 years on tour. His only miss was in 2001.

Suited to a Tee … Yesterday co-angler points leader Tee Watkins had all but forfeited his top-dog position to Derek Jones when Watkins clocked in at 78th while Jones sat in fourth. But Watkins did not go down without a fight. He rallied to catch one of the day’s heaviest co-angler stringers and vaulted 68 points up the leaderboard to finish 10th on day two and slide into the final round. Jones advanced as well – he’s the current tournament leader in the Co-angler Division – but his No. 1 position is no advantage given that the field will start over at zero tomorrow, creating quite a showdown for the co-angler points lead with one event remaining on the schedule.

Wheeler Lake expert  Jonathan Newton is the only top-10 pro who did not fish Guntersville on day one.The bigger they are, the harder they fall … The numbers were off quite a bit today in both total caught and total weight, with most anglers complaining that they’d worn out their Guntersville fishing holes in yesterday’s slugfest. The pros brought in 71 fewer fish today despite nine more people weighing in fish, and the weights were down by more than 222 pounds. Seven of yesterday’s top 10 failed to make the finals, with Rob Kilby falling from eighth to 52nd and Jonathan Newton plunging from seventh to 50th. Several pros who were on the bubble yesterday also fell far short today, including Danny Correia, who was just outside the cut line yesterday in 14th but dropped to 84th today with a one-bass catch. Angler of the Year contender Matt Herren, an Alabama native expected to perform well in this week’s event, also dropped out of sight, going from 33rd to 100th after catching only one bass today.

Kenney keep it? … It was definitely not a good tournament for the top four Angler of the Year contenders, although No. 5-ranked Anthony Gagliardi will probably gain a little ground after finishing the tournament in 17th. Out of the top four, points leader J.T. Kenney still fared best even after finishing in 69th place. Matt Herren finished 100th and Brent Chapman fared worst, checking in at 155. Former points leader Bobby Lane ended the tournament 97th. Updated points tallies will be released Saturday following the final weigh-in.

The top 10 pros and co-anglers line up after making the cut at Wheeler Lake.Familiar faces … Several pro and co-angler finalists have seen the big stage at least once this year, with a few being repeat performers. Kelly Jordon was the season’s first winner on Lake Okeechobee; Mike Hawkes earned a top-five on the Ouachita River; Alvin Shaw, of course, is making his third trip to the finals; Toshinari Namiki earned a top-10 on Okeechobee then won on the Ouachita River; Chad Grigsby finished ninth on Okeechobee; co-angler leader Derek Jones finished ninth last month on Beaver Lake; Bill Rogers is enjoying his third top-10 of the year; Dwight Ameling took the co-angler victory at Okeechobee; and Tee Watkins also earned a top-10 last month at Beaver Lake.

Quick numbers:

Co-angler Bill Gift caught this rare 4-pound, 11-ounce meanmouth bass in competition Thursday.4-11: Weight, in pounds and ounces, of a meanmouth bass weighed in today by co-angler Bill Gift.

9: Number of pros and co-anglers who already had a top-10 finish under their belt this season before advancing this week.

7: Number of Wheeler Lake top-10 pros and co-anglers earning their first top-10 berth.

30-15: Top-10 cutoff weight in the Pro Division.

8-4: Weight, in pounds and ounces, of the heaviest bass of the day, caught by pro Mark Hardin.

47: Spots No. 3 pro Mike Hawkes moved up the leaderboard after finishing 50th on day one.

68: Spots leapt by No. 10 co-angler Tee Watkins, who was ranked 78th on day one.

Sound bites:

“A girl beat me. That makes it worse.” – Pro Glenn Chappelear, who was outfished today by his female co-angler Kim Bain.

“When you only get to fish four, four and a half hours, you don’t have a lot of recovery time.” – Pro Larry Nixon, who fell from second to 12th, on the disadvantage of traveling to Guntersville.

“I promise you, everybody here burned $150 to $200 worth of Decatur gas.” – Pro Charlie Ingram on the high cost of making the long run to Guntersville.

“If I’d have known it was laundry day, I would have worn yesterday’s clothes.” – Co-angler Matt Scheipeter, who fell in the lake trying to net Bobby Lane’s bass.

“Today was the first day I drew a partner that wears bright red toenail polish.” – Co-angler Rob Newell, who fished with Mary Divincenti on day two.

“I wish I could talk like Jimmy Houston.” – Soft-spoken pro Guido Hibdon about the ever-talkative fisherman.

“I thank God there’s only one of them.” – Weighmaster Charlie Evans, in response.

“I had some really big stringers last week, but last week’s last week.” – Pro Tommy Biffle, who has performed well at Wheeler in the past and was expected to be among the week’s top anglers. He finished 129th.

“I fished like a little girl this week.” – Pro Jeremiah Kindy, who finished 82nd after racking up two straight top-10 finishes.

“It’s the same thing Kelly Jordon caught them on; I was just in the wrong lake.” – Pro Mark Pack, maker of the lure that put Jordon in the No. 1 spot. Pack obviously did not fish Guntersville, as Jordon did, and finished 58th.

“Unfortunately, a couple of them decided to go meet their maker early.” – Pro Mike Hawkes, who had two fish die in Thursday’s record heat. The penalty for the dead fish was not enough to send Hawkes out of the top 10 as he originally feared.

Tomorrow’s takeoff is scheduled to take place at 6:30 a.m. CST at Riverwalk Marina, located on Highway 31 N. in Decatur.