Chapman on edge - Major League Fishing

Chapman on edge

Kansan leads Chevy Open day two under trying circumstances; Hackney, Namiki set stage for big-time AOY showdown
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Brent Chapman holds up the day's heaviest bass, a 5-14, that handed him the opening-round lead on the Potomac River. Photo by Jennifer Simmons. Angler: Brent Chapman.
June 23, 2005 • Jeff Schroeder • Archives

LA PLATA, Md. – It was a big day at the Potomac River. Not only did Wal-Mart FLW Tour anglers continue to catch a seemingly endless number of five-bass limits, Greg Hackney and Toshinari Namiki lived up to the hype of the much-anticipated finish to the Land O’Lakes Angler of the Year race. The only problem: It’s not finished yet.

Perhaps the most compelling story, however, belonged to Brent Chapman, the pro out of Lake Quivera, Kan. He caught solid limits both days and led the opening round with a two-day weight total of 33 pounds, 10 ounces.

And he did it despite the knowledge that his pregnant wife back home could go into labor at any moment.

“They’re waiting, but they said that she could have it any day this weekend,” Chapman said. “I have people lined up to take my truck and boat home for me so I can fly out of here Saturday night if I need to. Man, I hope she waits.”

With that on his mind, Chapman tallied the heaviest limit out of many on the pro side Thursday, a day in which the wind blew and the weights fell off significantly from day one. Anchored by the day’s Snickers Big Bass – a 5-pound, 14-ounce largemouth – his five bass weighed in at a collective 17-3.

“The key here is just to get the big bites,” he said. “I know that I’m using the right baits and the right techniques. It’s just a matter of getting lucky and getting the right bites.”

Chapman caught some 15 keepers throughout the day, but he caught his limit in the first hour on a shallow-running crankbait. After that, he was free to poke around with some other baits and find a few bigger fish.

“I’ve got two areas and I’m sticking them out,” he said. “I’m just waiting for the fish to move up in there and get it. As long as the tides are moving like this, that’s good.”

That he can even think about tides right now is something of a superhuman effort. Chapman came to the Potomac directly from the BASS event in Wisconsin last week and hasn’t been home – with his new baby on the way any minute – for over two weeks.

“I’m so tired,” he admitted. “It’s been a brutal couple of weeks.”

Pro Michael Iaconelli of Runnemede, N.J., added five bass weighing 14 pounds, 13 ounces to his day one catch of five bass weighing 18 pounds, 12 ounces to finish the opening round in second with 10 bass weighing 33 pounds, 9 ounces.Ike moves up to second

Mike Iaconelli also made the long trek over to the Potomac from Wisconsin last weekend, and it’s paying off for him, as well. The pro from Runnemede, N.J., with a flair for showmanship grabbed the second slot in the opening round with a weight of 33 pounds, 9 ounces.

“The FLW, the Potomac River and big, tidal-water largemouth: I love it, baby!” he said.

He earned his excitement with this one. Despite his success elsewhere, Iaconelli has never made the cut in FLW competition.

“It’s awesome,” said Iaconelli, whose home lake is the Delaware River not far up the coast. “I’ve worked so hard to make one of these the last couple years. Obviously, it’s even a little more rewarding to do it here.”

He said his prior knowledge of that river system – not to mention, this one – has helped him out this week with his run-and-gun tidal pattern.

“Absolutely. My history on the river has come to help me this week, just having knowledge about tidal water and when to keep moving around,” he said. “I have two patterns: one based on high water and one based on low water. It’s like a game. If you show up at just the right time, you can get into the rhythm and timing.”

2005 AOY: It’s Hack vs. Namiki

Breathlessly, fans and fellow anglers waited inside the weigh-in tent for the two stars of the day, Greg Hackney and Toshinari Namiki, to bring up their fish. After they both laid yet another bag full of bowling balls on the scale, it became quickly apparent that the 2005 Angler of the Year race wasn’t over yet.

Hackney, hailing from Gonzales, La., posted a limit weighing 14 pounds, 6 ounces Thursday and ended up in the third slot with a two-day total of 32-10. Still, like many on the water, he found the fishing slower on day two.

“It was a lot tougher on me today. I did lose a lot of quality bites,” said Hackney, who said he caught his high-tide bass with his flipping stick and his low-tide bass by casting a topwater bait over grass. “Yesterday, I caught a lot of fish around the 3-pound range that I didn’t catch today. I caught 20 keepers today; I just didn’t have quite the quality.”

After posting almost 16 1/2 pounds on day one, Tokyo’s Namiki came back with yet another limit weighing 16-1 and slid into fourth place right behind Hackney with an opening-round total of 32-7.

With J.T. Kenney, Anthony Gagliardi and the others already weighed out of AOY contention, that sets the stage for a final-round showdown for the coveted points title. And Namiki, who’s guaranteed his fourth top-10 finish of the year this week, seemed more than generous about having it out with Hackney over the crown.

“I hope Greg wins,” he said. “He finished second last year, and I think he’s a great guy.”

Hackney, of course, accepted the gesture, but admitted that the prolonged wait for his first points title – especially after a couple near-misses in both FLW and BASS competition – has been trying.

“I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself,” he said. “I’m on an emotional roller-coaster right now.”

For the record, Hackney has a seven-point lead on Namiki, so Namiki must beat him by at least that many places to win the title.

Pro Clark Wendlandt of Cedar Park, Texas, caught the second-heaviest limit Thursday - 17 pounds, 1 ounce - and ended the opening round with 31-13. He placed fifth.Look who’s back: Wendlandt fifth

Clark Wendlandt would be the first to admit that he’s had a disastrous FLW season. The two-time AOY and perennial standings contender from Cedar Park, Texas, hasn’t made a cut since last year’s championship in August – and that was a bracket tournament. His last regular-season top-10 came at the 2004 Wal-Mart Open well over a year ago.

However, Wendlandt provided the feel-good story of the day by launching himself into fifth place and making his first cut of the year at the last tournament. He caught the second-heaviest limit Thursday – 17 pounds, 1 ounce – and ended the opening round with 31-13.

“I’ve got a good pattern going, and I like the way that I’m fishing,” he said. “With the fish that I’m on, I feel like I have a legitimate shot to win – not that I’m saying I’m going to win, but I feel I have a good chance. If I get lucky enough to have some areas to myself, I’ll be in good shape.”

And, for the record, all the talk about his slump ends now, if he has anything to say about it.

“I may not be totally out of it,” he laughed, “but I’m close.”

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 pros to make the cut on day two at the Chevy Open:

6th: Jerry Williams of Conway, Ark., 31-7

7th: Gary Yamamoto of Mineola, Texas, 30-14

8th: Carl Svebek III of Siloam Springs, Ark., 30-10

9th: George Cochran of Hot Springs, Ark., 30-7

10th: Sam Newby of Pocola, Okla., 30-4

All of the top 10 pros caught limits. However, the limit count was down Thursday, compared to Wednesday. The pros weighed in 153 limits.

Roger Hester II of Walnut Cove, N.C., leads the Co-angler Division thanks to a two-day catch of 10 bass weighing 26 pounds, 12 ounces.Hester tops co-anglers

Roger Hester II of Walnut Cove, N.C., leads the Co-angler Division thanks to a two-day catch of 10 bass weighing 26 pounds, 12 ounces.

Hester caught five bass weighing 13 pounds, 14 ounces Wednesday while fishing with pro John Crews, then added another five bass weighing 12 pounds, 14 ounces to his total Thursday while fishing with pro Koby Kreiger.

“Koby Kreiger is Roger Hester’s new hero,” Hester said. “It used to be Craig Powers, but now it’s Koby Kreiger. It was just like fishing with Craig today, man. It was cool.”

Not coincidentally, Kreiger and Powers team up to fish tournaments, but that wasn’t the whole story behind Hester’s success, he said.

“Today was the first day that I didn’t catch my limit before my boater did,” Hester said. “I’ve got a little lure that has been smoking all week. I throw a little finesse worm to get a limit, then go for the big bite on a frog. Today, I caught all 2 1/2- and 3-pound fish.”

Second place for the co-anglers went to Kent McPhail of Lubbock, Texas, with an opening-round total of 26 pounds, 7 ounces.

Fred Martin of North Little Rock, Ark., grabbed third on the co-angler side with 26 pounds, 5 ounces.

Co-angler Johnny Taylor of Kodak, Tenn., placed fourth, also with 26-5.

Merle Wells Jr. of Hammond, N.Y., placed fifth for the co-anglers with 25 pounds, 10 ounces.

Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers to make the cut on day two at the Potomac River:

6th: Jason Cordiale of Orinda, Calif., 10 bass, 24-7

7th: Pat Wilson of Penngrove, Calif., 10 bass, 23-9

8th: George Polosky of Alliance, Ohio, 10 bass, 23-7

9th: Chris Koester of Winston Salem, N.C., nine bass, 22-14

10th: Chad Hicks of Rockville, Tenn., 10 bass, 22-11

Dennis Kirby of Lakeland, Tenn., claimed the Snickers Big Bass award and $375 in the Co-angler Division with a 6-pound, 6-ounce bass

The co-angler field caught 63 five-bass limits Thursday.

Day three of competition at the Potomac River begins as the 10 pros and 10 co-anglers take off from Smallwood State Park in Marbury, Md., at 6:30 a.m. Eastern time Friday for the second half of competition. The co-anglers will wrap up competition Friday while the pros are fishing the first half of a two-day final round.

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