Walmart FLW Tour
Lake Guntersville, Huntsville, Ala.
Final round, Sunday
Fritts Blitz in full force … After winning the Chevy Open, David Fritts may have established himself as the hottest professional bass fisherman going. Flash back to October in Georgia, where Fritts dominated the field in winning $125,000 at the final FLW Series Eastern Division event on Clarks Hill Lake. Fritts then headed south to Falcon Lake for the FLW Series East-West Fish-Off, where he broke the record for the heaviest single-day catch in company history. He also won his head-to-head matchup and will be competing in the 2009 Forrest Wood Cup regardless of what happens the rest of the year. But it would be foolish to bet against the red-hot Tums pro, because many of the remaining FLW Tour venues are crankbait friendly.
Canterbury collapses … After fishing flawlessly for three days, Scott Canterbury tumbled from first all the way to eighth Sunday. After three straight days of over 20 pounds, the 2008 Rookie of the Year caught just two for 4-3. “I think it was a combination of the colder weather and the pressure,” he said. “It was getting up to like 53 or 54 degrees every day in my shallow-water spot, and today it only reached 51. The cold weather either drove them out, or I caught them all. I was targeting fish that were relating more to stumps than to grass, so they weren’t replenishing as well.”
A good week … Amid all the negativity in the media lately, here’s a nugget of positivity that will lighten your step. Kellogg’s pro Greg Bohannan had perhaps the best week of his life in November, and only a portion of it had to do with fishing. After qualifying through the Central Division, Bohannan was in Branson, Mo., to fish the 2008 Stren Series Championship on Table Rock Lake. Bohannan made the top-10 cut, but put together only a decent showing until he instinctively pulled out a buzzbait on day four and caught 20 pounds. That day, Sunday, Nov. 18, Bohannan rallied from seventh to second and took home $49,000 plus a berth into the 2009 Forrest Wood Cup. The next day, Bohannan found out that his wife, who is with the couple’s first child, is having a boy. Then on Tuesday of the same week, the Rogers, Ark., native bagged the biggest white-tail deer of his life during the first day of an archery trip in Missouri. A huge check, a Forrest Wood Cup berth, a new fishing partner and a giant buck – not a bad week.
Bolton fishing like a madman … Fritts isn’t the only angler fishing like a man possessed lately. At age 39, Terry Bolton is arguably fishing the best he ever has in his career. Take a look at his last five tournaments. At the 2008 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Murray, Bolton took third and pocketed $75,000. Next up was the final FLW Series Eastern Division qualifier on Clarks Hill Lake. Bolton once again turned heads – finishing fifth and earning over $15,000. Then at the FLW Series East-West Fish-Off on Falcon, Bolton won his head-to-head matchup, took second overall, rewrote some history like Fritts and clinched another Cup berth. He hasn’t slowed down much in 2009 either. At the FLW Series Eastern Division opener on Lake Okeechobee, the Jonesboro, Ark., resident took 39th and cashed another $10,000 check. This week on Lake Guntersville he finished 27th overall and won $13,000. In his last five events, he’s won just over $113,000 and is already qualified for the richest championship in bass fishing. “I fished really well like this early in my career, and then I had a three- or four-year stretch where I really struggled,” said Bolton, who moved from Paducah, Ky., to Jonesboro after marrying National Guard co-angler Pam Bolton. “When I lived in Kentucky, I would always come home from an FLW tournament and then immediately fish the local Kentucky Lake stuff. After a while, that really burned me out. Now when I go home, I put fishing away until the next event. I’ve found that, this way, I’m refreshed and my drive is so much greater. Other than that, I’m just really comfortable and confident out there.”
Huntsville – home to fishing and NASA … With great crowds, huge bass and warm Southern hospitality, the Huntsville area is earning a new reputation as the capital of professional bass fishing. “The heartbeat of bass fishing is right here in northern Alabama,” said FLW Outdoors CEO Charlie Evans. Before the Chevy Open, Huntsville was known mainly for the Marshall Space Flight Center, which inspired the nickname Rocket City. But perhaps a name change, or at least a compromise, is in order to accommodate the city’s bass-fishing passion. This astronaut seems to think Huntsville can be all things to all people.
Newby loses a close one … Sam Newby has two major titles to his name – an FLW Tour win on Lake Champlain and a Stren Series Championship victory on nearby Pickwick Lake. Ironically, both of those victories came by the slimmest of margins – 1 ounce. After placing four giant bass in the livewell today, many assumed Newby would be achieving his third win. But Newby never caught keeper No. 5, and at that point the outcome was too close to call. In the end, the Trilene pro came up just short, which is new for him. “I guess I was due for one like this,” he said. “I had one this morning where it came off just as I reached for the net. And I had a giant on this afternoon, probably 8 or 9 pounds, that came off after a short while.” With one more small keeper, the $200,000 would be headed to Oklahoma. “I had a place where I could catch a limit of fish, but at the time I was thinking that, if I caught one more big one, it was a done deal.”
5: Number of FLW Tour victories for Fritts – a record.
4-6: Average weight, in pounds and ounces, of each of Sam Newby’s eight keeper bass from the final round.
165: Miles traveled by Fritts during the final round.
26-12: Weight, in pounds and ounces, of the heaviest day-four stringer, caught by Dudley.
7: Percent of all FLW Fantasy Fishing players who picked Fritts.
21: Percent of Player’s Advantage members who picked Fritts.
“She’s good looking ain’t she, Charlie?” – Pro David Walker, on his wife, Misty, who drove from Tennessee with the couple’s two young girls to see the weigh-in.
“I know it’s the best black-bass lake I’ve ever been to.” – Mann Jr., who has been fishing full time for 25 years.
“This one was so unexpected – I never anticipated winning.” – Israel on her second FLW Tour win.
“I will make Chevy a promise: I’m stopping on the way home to buy a new truck.” – Fritts.