Quick Bites: Chevy Open, Day 2 - Major League Fishing

Quick Bites: Chevy Open, Day 2

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Toshinari Namiki (left) and Greg Hackney (right) will face off in the final round to decide the 2005 Angler of the year. Hackney has a 7-point lead on Namiki heading into the showdown. Photo by Jeff Schroeder. Angler: Greg Hackney.
June 23, 2005 • Jennifer Simmons • Archives

Wal-Mart FLW Tour

Chevy Open

Potomac River, La Plata, Md.

Opening round, Thursday

Hackney vs. Namiki … It ain’t over til the fat lady sings, and there was nary a portly woman in sight today as Greg Hackney and Toshinari Namiki ensured the ever-tight Angler of the Year race would go on another two days. Maryland resident J.T. Kenney held the points lead going into this week’s tournament but faltered on his home waters, finishing 114th and forfeiting his AOY chances. Next in the AOY line coming into the Potomac but also ultimately coming up short was Anthony Gagliardi, who still managed a respectable 37th-place finish Thursday. Before Namiki weighed in, Hackney pretty much had a top-10 berth in the bag, and with a seven-point lead over Namiki, he only needed the Tokyo pro to finish a few spots behind him. It was not to be, as Namiki ended day two in fourth place, only one spot behind Hackney. They are now on equal footing, however, as the top 10 competitors start over at zero tomorrow, meaning the 2005 Angler of the Year race will literally go down to the final day. … Last season, Hackney famously finished second in both FLW Tour and Bassmaster Angler of the Year points. As such, Namiki himself says he’d like to see the Hack Attack lay claim to this year’s title. “I hope Greg wins because he finished second last year, and he’s a great guy,” Namiki said. … As for Hackney, he says he fished as hard as he’s ever fished over the last two days to make sure he remained in contention for the title, but he had a feeling it would wind up being a nail-biter. “Whatever happens, happens, but I’d really like to win that,” Hackney said. “That would probably mean more to me than winning a tournament.” Despite tremendous success on the FLW Tour, Hackney has yet to score a victory. … Though Namiki himself may be rooting for Hackney, he’s not to be counted out. On stage today, Namiki said the fishing hole that gave him 32 pounds, 7 ounces of fish over the last two days still has enough left in it to carry him through the final rounds. However, Hackney also said that he likes the area he’s fishing in and he likes the way he’s fishing, so he plans more of the same tomorrow. No matter what, it’ll be a surefire showdown.

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.He’s baa-ack … You knew it was going to happen eventually, and it did today, at last – two-time Land O’Lakes Angler of the Year Clark Wendlandt is back in the top 10. The Texas pro, who has experienced the worst performances of his career this year, bounced back in a big way with a two-day total of Potomac bass that weighed 31 pounds, 13 ounces, good for fifth. … “I’m the most excited I’ve ever been to make the top 10, honestly, out of the 19 or 20 that I’ve had,” he said. “This one’s different for me. I’m in a lot better frame of mind, because if I did badly, hey, that would have just been normal.” … Wendlandt has indeed scored 19 FLW Tour top-10s, including this one, but what he didn’t have until this season were poor finishes, for the most part. As such, 2005 has given him a different kind of edge. “It helped me, in a way, as far as being able to fish with fear,” he said. Spoken like a true champion.

Chap-bun in the oven … Unfortunately for Brent Chapman’s wife, he’s not in Kansas anymore. The pro from Lake Quivira, Kan., scored his first FLW Tour top-10 since 2002 this week and, in fact, leads the Pro Division after the first two days with 33 pounds, 10 ounces. But back home in Kansas, his wife is 8 1/2 months pregnant and due any day. “With my son, she had elevated blood pressure, and they induced her,” Chapman said. “She’s in that same position now, but I’ve been gone.” Chapman said his wife begged the doctor to delay the induced labor until he returned. “They’re waiting, but it’s possible she could have it naturally any day now,” he said. “If I can’t make it back, hopefully I can bring home a good check.” The couple is expecting a girl.

Bill BarrettMillion-dollar baby … Florida co-angler Bill Barrett finished 53rd this week on the Potomac and was tickled to earn a check. For his efforts, he earned $700, but it turns out a much – much – bigger payday could be in his future. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources teamed up with the state Department of Business and Economic Development to offer the Maryland $1,000,000 Fishing Challenge, which began June 3 on the Chesapeake Bay and runs through July 18. Hundreds of fish were tagged before the event, and any tagged fish legally caught in that time period could be worth $1 million – and Barrett caught one of those very fish today in FLW Tour competition. “If I win it, I’ll re-retire,” Barrett said. “We just retired in December, so I’ll retire again and fish the pro side of the FLW.” … Barrett will not know until after the competition ends whether or not his tagged fish was the million-dollar baby.

Do the math … The official points tally will not be available until after Saturday’s weigh-in, so many anglers will be performing frantic calculations tonight to try to figure out if they made the 2005 FLW Tour Championship. A look at some of the bubble-dwellers: No. 58 Steve Kennedy ended the tournament in the 21st spot, probably enough to vault him into the elite 48. Mark Rose was barely in the top 48 heading into this week’s event, registering at No. 46, but finished 25th to ensure his championship berth. David Walker held the cutoff spot at 48th but finished the tournament in 89th place. Todd Ary, though, entered the event ranked 49th but finished the tournament 48th. No word yet on whether that was enough.

Quick numbers:

16: Position J.T. Kenney would have needed to finish at or above to clinch the 2005 Angler of the Year title.

114: Where Kenney actually finished.

4: Number of top-10 finishes earned by Toshinari Namiki in 2005.

81: Clark Wendlandt’s best finish this season before his top-10 performance this week.

Eighth-place pro Carl Svebek III of Siloam Springs, Ark., 30-103: Number of FLW Tour top-10 finishes earned by Carl Svebek in 2000.

0: Number of FLW Tour top-10 finishes earned by Svebek since then (until this week).

100: Percentage of pros who caught at least one fish both days of the opening round.

72: Eventual finish of Alvin Shaw, who was in eighth place yesterday. Had he held on, it would have been a record fourth consecutive top-10 finish.

Sound bites:

“I love Corn Flakes.” – Greg Hackney, who will appear on the cover of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes should he win Angler of the Year.

“I think I kind of let this one slip through my fingers.” – J.T. Kenney, after losing his Angler of the Year lead.

“I’ve got a picture of him on the side of my boat.” – Pro Dave Lefebre on Carl Svebek, who knocked Lefebre out of the top 10. Svebek is, shall we say, vertically challenged, and Lefebre’s boat features Keebler elves.

“We have no tide in Japan.” – Japanese pro Masaki Shimano, explaining his 78th-place finish on the tidal Potomac.

“I hope I get a check for my wife’s sake. I’d like to take her some money.” – Pro David Lauer, who ended day one in the top 10 but fell to 22nd on day two – plenty enough to take his wife a check.

“I wanted to weigh in first. I’d like to lead one once.” – Pro Bobby Curtis, whose day-two limit weighing 11-1 would have given him the lead for a few minutes had he been the first guy in line today. He ultimately finished 57th.

“Is that all?” – No. 2 pro Michael Iaconelli, when told the check for the winning pro totals $200,000.

Co-angler Fred Martin of North Little Rock, Ark., caught 10 bass weighing 26 pounds, 5 ounces for third place.“I picked him up on the bank three years ago, catfishing. Now he’s one of the best fishermen in Arkansas.” – Co-angler Tyrone Phillips on his friend Fred Martin, who earned his first career FLW Tour top-10 by ending the opening round in third place on the co-angler side.

“I played a little trick to the bass today. I begin speaking to them in Spanish.” – Co-angler Jaime Luengo, who hosts a fishing show in Mexico. He finished the tournament in 12th.

Tomorrow’s takeoff is scheduled to take place at 6:30 a.m. Eastern at Smallwood State Park, located at 2750 Sweden Point Road in Marbury.

Jeff Schroeder contributed to this report.