JASPER, Ala. – Today brought the weather that many anglers – especially largemouth guys – had hoped for with warmer temperatures to start the day and wind. Those factors still couldn’t seem to help the bite on Lewis Smith Lake which is beginning to show signs of fishing pressure getting the best of it. One man, however, still remains perched atop the leaderboard for the third straight day in a row.
Keystone Light pro Brent Ehrler has caught the largest bags from each day of competition during days one and two – 17 pounds, 8 ounces and 16-7, respectively. On day three his weight slipped some, but Ehrler still managed 11-15 to bring his overall weight to 45-14 and carries a 6-4 lead to the final day.
“I have caught heavier weights than I thought I could this week,” said Ehrler. “It hasn’t been easy at all this week – each day is truly a grind.”
Throughout the event Ehrler has been relying on a few key places that he found during practice. One of them has produced quality bites for him despite having never received a bite in practice from it. After yesterday though, Ehrler felt that he couldn’t rely as heavily on that area and knew he would have to make it happen from the other few places he had left. Most of the water he is focusing on is in around 30 to 40 feet, with his fish coming off the bottom or close to it – where he has been utilizing his electronics to see the fish that he often times will later catch.
“I saw a few on that spot (his big-fish area) today but I’d be lucky to catch any there tomorrow. I’m not relying on it. If I catch one there it’s going to be a big one though.”
Reluctant still to give up his presentation, Ehrler said that there is one thing he is doing differently that has been putting the bigger bites in the boat for him.
“I had eight or so bites all day, it started really slow and picked up as the day went on,” the Redlands, Calif., native said. “I culled around mid-day but it was tough. My co-angler caught 12 pounds today which hurts because those fish won’t be there tomorrow. That does tell me that there are still good fish around those areas though.
“I have a target on my back going into tomorrow and I don’t like that. It has been an emotional rollercoaster this week between bites. I’m not very confident for tomorrow and it’s not going to be a goodnights sleep tonight.”
He has said from day one that he could catch between 12 to 14 pounds everyday of the event and he has done exactly that. After a 14-pound, 11-ounce limit on day one, Powroznik backed that up on day two with 12-12. Today, he brought in 12-3 to keep his consistent streak alive.
Powroznik has been one of the few anglers to make the top 10 that is strickly fishing for spotted bass. He has executed a solid game plan all week, knowing exactly what caliber of fish live on each one of his spots. From what he found in practice, Powroznik has been able to fish this event without having to search out new water like other pros have.
Out of the dozen places the Mercury pro has to fish, he has caught fish from each one of them. And when many of the remaining anglers are struggling to catch fish from old water, consistency could prove dangerous in this event.
“I was catching them on almost every cast first thing this morning,” said the Prince George, Va., native. “I am still confident I can go catch 12 to 14 pounds tomorrow, but I have a chance at a 17- or 18-pound bag off of my areas too.”
Most of the places Powroznik has been fishing are deep – somewhere in the 50-foot range. He has thrown a few different rods but the drop-shot on 6-pound fluorocarbon has been the ticket this week.
As the winds are expected to blow tomorrow Powroznik can only be excited to hit the water as he says it should help his already hot bite.
Scheide in third
3M Scotch Tape and Peltor Brands pro Ray Scheide has played both the spotted bass and largemouth game all week with extreme consistency. His limit on day one put him up there in the standings with 13 pounds, 15 ounces. Day two he brought in 12-2 to climb further up the rankings and today his 12-9 limit gave him a total catch on Smith worth 38-10.
Out of the many bags of fish this week that offered a mixture of spots and largemouths, majority of them came from areas where both species are plentiful. Scheide on the other hand, has been doing two totally separate deals all week.
“I have probably put over 250 miles on my Evirude this week,” said Scheide. “I usually make a stop early to try and catch spots, and then I make about a 35-mile run up the lake for largemouths. I have been using about 80 percent of my day to try for largemouths.”
The spotted bass area that Scheide found actually came during the first day of competition. Scheide already had a decent limit when he went searching for some backup areas. That is when he stumbled upon two main areas that have produced one or two good bites each day from 45 to 50 feet of water.
One issue that has concerned Scheide this week is the fact he could not get a largemouth bite until around 1 p.m., every day.
“I didn’t know if it was me or what until I heard some other guys have had the same issue, but I couldn’t get a bite until later in the day,” said the Dover, Ark., native. “With the quality of the bites I have been getting from the spots it makes me wonder what I could do if I stayed on them. I’m going to need to do some thinking tonight. Maybe if I get two good bites tomorrow morning I will just stay on them all day; I’d love to burn only a gallon of gas.”
When it comes to catching the spots, Scheide has eight rods on the deck and throws a little of everything at them. Up in the largemouth country he keeps it simple by casting a jig, crankbait or jerkbait to whatever cover (bluffs, steep banks or flipping areas) get in front of him.
“I’m really not sure what I will do in the morning; I’ll start for spots and see how it goes. I’m just going to go fishing tomorrow.”
Kreiger down to fourth
It has been a tough week for Koby Kreiger as it has progressively gotten harder to get a bite – and his weights reflect that. He started the week off right with a 15-pound sack on day one. Day two brought high skies and calm conditions which made it tough, but Kreiger was saved by a big spotted bass in the last 45 minutes helping him to land a limit worth 12-14. Like the rest of the 20 anglers on day three, Kreiger struggled some and brought in 9-11 to bring his total weight after three days to 37-9.
The Okeechobee, Fla., resident has been producing mixed bags of fish in his limits daily saying that he is just out there fishing not really knowing what he will catch.
“I have really been struggling to get a bite before noon,” said Kreiger. “From about noon on, I can catch them until I have to come in. I have been getting a big bite every day and I got one today but I lost it. If I can figure out how to catch some early it would help to keep the pressure off.”
Biffle in fifth
One angler that has quietly made his way up the rankings this week is the Wagoner, Okla., native Tommy Biffle. His day one started out with a 10-pound, 5-ounce limit to sit him in 56th place. On day two, Biffle connected with the right fish and brought the second biggest limit to the stage – an impressive 15-11. To add to his total today, Biffle caught 11-8 to make his three-day total weight on Smith Lake 37-8.
Biffle has been catching some decent sized largemouths this week but also has had a few nice spots mixed in his bag, including one over 4 pounds today.
Rest of the Best
Rounding out the top 10 pros who made the cutoff after day three:
6th: Cody Meyer of Auburn, Calif., 37-1
7th: Andy Morgan of Dayton, Tenn., 36-8
8th: Anthony Gagliardi of Prosperity, S.C., 36-7
9th: Zell Rowland of Montgomery, Texas, 36-0
10th: Jason Christie of Park Hill, Okla., 35-14
Day four of the FLW Tour event on Lewis Smith Lake will begin Sunday at 7:30 a.m. from the Smith Lake Dam Access located at 7482 Smith Lake Dam Road in Jasper, Ala.