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2:30 p.m.: Final minutes critical for the top 10
With only 30 minutes left to fish, this tournament could come right down to the wire. Andy Morgan is still looking for No. 5, but yesterday he caught his last two keepers with 25 minutes to go. If you've been following the updates, you know that Matt Arey is on a tear. His limit is in the teens. Tracy Adams also had a big day and has located a couple of hawgs on beds that could push him to the top … if he can catch them. The sun is out now, and the shallow bite has been good this afternoon, so it's definitely possible to run into a big kicker.
There's still time, though not a lot. Pros need to decide where they'll spend their final minutes, and they'll have to execute flawlessly.
To see how this one plays out, log on to FLWFishing.com at 4 p.m. CT to watch the weigh-in on FLW Live.
2:14 p.m.: Matt Arey's swimbait
OK, we haven't figured out who makes this swimbait that Matt Arey has been using to blast his fish this afternoon, but we sure as heck will by weigh-in. For now, here's a shot that one of our photographers snapped of the bait this morning.
1:54 p.m.: Matt Arey is blasting giants on Beaver Lake
We've about lost track of how many times Matt Arey has upgraded his limit in the last hour. All we know is that he has dialed in a swimbait pattern that is absolutely killing it right now. He told one of our reporters that he caught 18 to 19 pounds with it in the last two hours of practice on Tuesday. He doensn't have that kind of weight right now, but who knows where he'll end up at this rate. Take a look at the photos below.
1:40 p.m.: Arey catches fire
Holy smokes, Matt Arey has gone off on these Beaver Lake bass in the last half-hour. We're still catching our breath and trying to calculate his weight, but let's put it this way: He's going to make this a very, very interesting weigh-in.
Arey has culled three times in the last 30 minutes. One of those fish was a toad that chased his swimbait out from a dock. Arey and his cameraman both saw the fish follow, and the pro played it perfectly. He crouched down and dragged his swimbait alongside the boat without reeling. The fish couldn't resist and bit him on a short line.
At least, those are the details we were able to make sense of while talking with our On The Water reporter, who was so worked up he could hardly string together a coherent sentence. Arey is pretty emotional too. He's trying to calm himself down becuase this one is far from over. Andy Morgan has four fish and a 1-pound, 9-ounce cushion coming into today. If he catches one quality keeper, he might be able to lock it up. Two good ones would spell bad news for everyone chasing him.
12:55 p.m.: It's upgrade time for the field
Now's the time for pros to hit their big-fish water. For most, that means sight-fishing for spawning largemouths. We've documented Tracy Adams' attempts to catch a 5-pounder from a bed. He's giving that big girl a break for now and is focusing on a 2 1/2-pounder. He's got plenty of time to catch the big one, and if he manages to get her, he'll put himself in the hunt to win this thing.
Matt Arey is still scoping big fish. So is Vic Vatalaro, who is yet to land a limit but is trying to get No. 5 from a bed.
Cody Meyer's action has really tapered off. He's still in Prairie Creek. Bryan Thrift is up the river, mixing up baits and trying to make a big upgrade. Andy Morgan is still one shy of a limit. That leaves the door open for all the pros mentioned above.
12:30 p.m.: Adams working a 5-pounder
Adamis is still looking at a 5-pound largemouth. One observer puts his weight at 14 pounds. His smallest fish weighs 1.93 pounds. He might not get into contention to win, but he's definitely going to cash a nice paycheck today. Of course, that 5-pounder could make it really interesting.
12:13 p.m.: Get ready for some big-fish action
Tracy Adams and Matt Arey seem to have the big spawners figured out. Adams is looking at a 3-pounder and one that's between 4 and 5 pounds, both on beds. Arey is chucking a swimbait. He's caught some fish on it, but he's also using it to locate fish on beds. When those bass roll on the swimbait but miss, he eases in, drops his Power-Poles and finesses them to bite. They're both fishing upriver right now, as is most of the top 10. We're getting mixed reports about Arey's weight.
He estimates his fish at 11 1/2 pounds, but our observers originally thought he had more like 12 1/2. Assuming Andy Morgan can scrape together 10 pounds today, that 1 pound could mean the difference in first and second place.
We've got a marshal and a TV cameraman with Adams right now, so if he gets one of these hawgs to bite, we'll know it right away. Stay tuned.
11:25 a.m.: Quaker State pro Matt Arey is trying to become the new "Mr. Beaver Lake"
Matt Arey's last three keepers have all been solid fish, and the Quaker State pro is really starting to get pumped up out on the water. His last keeper was a 3-pounder. Before that he made a 1 1/2-pound upgrade with a 2 1/2-pounder. He's sight-fishing and throwing a swimbait but won't reveal exactly what one he's throwing. It's not the typical small swimbait that we've seen other pros fish here this week. Arey's targeting isolated wood cover.
He should have in the neighborhood of 12 1/2 pounds now. That's plenty to hold off a charging Tracy Adams (Arey was 3 pounds ahead of Adams coming in) and the always consistent Cody Meyer. This tournament could come down to whether or not Andy Morgan can turn his day around in the afternoon, as he did yesterday. Morgan is still stuck on three keepers.
If Arey wins here today, that'd be two in a row on Beaver Lake. Given his success at Beaver before last season's win, Arey might have a case for being called the new "Mr. Beaver Lake," a moniker previously assigned to Clark Wendlandt.
11:08 a.m.: Weight estimates are in
We're at the halfway point on the final day, and weight estimates are in for everyone in the top 10:
Andy Morgan – 5 to 6 pounds
Matt Arey – 11 pounds
Stetson Blaylock – 0 pounds
John Cox – 4 pounds
Cody Meyer – 10 pounds
Vic Vatalaro – 3 pounds
Bryan Thrift – 4 to 5 pounds
Tracy Adams – 13 pounds
Peter Thliveros – 7 pounds
Mike Surman – 6 pounds
10:27 a.m.: Pros are on the move
Vic Vatalaro left his school of spotted bass, ran back to the Prairie Creek area and then returned again to his school. He's not the only one moving around. Andy Morgan ran back up the White River to Horseshoe Bend. Tracy Adams is right there with him. Bryan Thrift headed up there about an hour ago. And John Cox is working back downstream, so he could wind up there eventually too.
Everyone's trying to get a feel for what the fish are doing now that we're in the middle part of the day. Have new spawners moved up? Are the schooling spotted bass going to bite? We'll find out soon enough.
10:00 a.m.: Tracy Adams is making his move
Keep your eye on Tracy Adams as the day goes on. He was in eighth place to start the day and 4 pounds, 9 ounces behind Andy Morgan. That's a huge deficit to overcome on Beaver Lake right now, but Adams has two quality fish in the box to go along with three smaller keepers. His latest fish came off a bed, and Adams estimates its weight to be between 3 1/2 and 4 pounds. This morning he was around very active fish. They were busting the surface even. And it seems as if he's figured out how to find a few better quality keepers in Prairie Creek. Anything can happen on Beaver Lake, including major comebacks …
9:48 a.m.: Fish catches taper off, but the big fish are starting to show up
The number of fish-catch updates has tapered off in the last hour, but the updates that have come in have all been for big fish. Matt Arey's 3-pounder started the action. John cox followed up with a 2 1/2-pounder that he added to a 2-pounder already in his livewell. Then Peter T popped a 3-pounder. He has four keepers now.
We experienced a little lull yesterday about this time. It's like the typical early morning bite falls off and pros have to wait for the sun to get up and the air temperature to rise before the fish start biting again.
9:07 a.m.: Matt Arey makes a big upgrade
Matt Arey is making a strong push for back-to-back Beaver Lake wins. He broke off on a bedding fish a little bit ago but was able to get that fish to bite again on his first follow-up pitch. When he first spied the fish, Arey thought it was a 2-pounder, but it's actually closer to 3. That's a big-time upgrade. He came into today just 1 pound, 9 ounces behind Andy Morgan, who still has only two fish.
We're seeing a lot of small fish again today. Bites are pretty frequent, but keeper bites not so much.
Today's weigh-in could turn into a showdown between three Beaver Lake studs – Morgan, Arey and Cody Meyer.
8:37 a.m.: Add Andy Morgan to the list of pros close to takeoff; Cox headed back downstream
Turns out Andy Morgan is fishing closer to takeoff than we thought. He's actually within sight of the off-limits area at Prairie Creek, but he's not in the back like Meyer, Thrift, Arey and Adams. He's on the lake side.
Morgan decided to change up to a jerkbait. These overcast, breezy conditions are perfect for catching smallmouths and spots on a jerkbait in Beaver Lake's clear waters.
Of note, John Cox has decided to pull the plug on his skinny-water location way upriver. His area got dirty overnight, and he thinks it might have messed it up. He's going to start working his way back downstream.
8:28 a.m.: It's a chilly day at Beaver Lake, but the fishing is heating up
Scratch what we wrote earlier, about pros picking up a few fish in Prairie Creek before bugging out to other areas. It sounds like Cody Meyer is committed to staying in Prairie all day. Tracy Adams caught some spots on a point in Prairie earlier, and now he's working bedding fish in the back of a pocket. And Matt Arey has already upgraded his limit in the community creek. It looks like Prairie Creek has everything an angler needs to stay in the hunt.
Tournament leader Andy Morgan stayed close to takeoff today too, but not in the back of Prairie Creek, and he's sitting with two fish. Vic Vatalaro has put two small spotted bass in the boat. Right now, Stetson Blaylock and John Cox are the only two pros without a keeper. Don't expect that to last too long though. Blaylock is looking at a fish on a bed. He'll get one to bite sooner or later.
7:53 a.m.: Meyer and Adams out in front, but Andy Morgan has two
Shortly after Tracy Adams landed his limit, Cody Meyer caught his fifth and then culled out one fish. They're fishing almost within sight of each other. Andy Morgan's luck is getting better. He now has two keepers.
John Cox ran way up the river thinking that his fish would be chomping this morning. They're not. He's starting to suspect it's a timing deal and that his bite might turn on later.
7:43 a.m.: Adams lands a limit, and Morgan gets on the board
Tracy Adams is the first pro to land a limit on day four. He's got a couple of squeakers, but getting five this early surely relieves some of the pressure. Cody Meyer and Matt Arey still sit with four apiece.
Andy Morgan just got on the board with a 2 1/2-pound smallmouth. If he gets off to a strong start early, watch out. He just might lock up his second Walmart FLW Tour win on Beaver Lake.
7:35 a.m.: No sight-fishing reports, but the Prairie Creek squad is still catching fish
Spotted bass, smallmouths, largemouths – they all live in Prairie Creek, and Tracy Adams, Cody Meyer, Matt Arey and Bryan Thrift are all picking on them right now. Adams and Meyer have four keepers apiece, Arey has three and Thrift has one.
The only other pro to report a keeper so far is Mike Surman, who caught a 2-pound smallmouth down by the dam.
John Cox, Vic Vatalaro and Stetson Blaylock have all caught fish, but they were all too short to keep.
Tournament leader Andy Morgan still has zero. He had a slow day yesterday, but in typical Morgan fashion, he caught a pair of keepers in the last 25 minutes to solidify his lead. He's a machine. He'll find a way to scrape together a limit before the day is done.
Nobody has reported catching a fish off a bed yet. In fact, we have no reports of anyone trying to catch a fish off a bed.
All the action so far has come on swimbaits and shaky heads, with a couple of pros chucking crankbaits, topwater and ChatterBaits without any luck.
7:00 a.m.: Cool, overcast conditions greet the field, and the bite is on in Prairie Creek
It's about 54 degrees right now in Rogers, Ark., with overcast skies and a light wind. Apparently those are the perfect conditions to spark a good bite in Prairie Creek.
For those who don't know, takeoff is in Prairie Creek, but the marina is situated a little bit closer than halfway to the mouth of the creek. There's an off limits area around the marina. Anglers can either idle toward the mouth and run to the main lake or idle back and then run into the creek. Every year, the back of Prairie Creek is one of the most popular community holes on the lake.
This year has been no different. Today, Cody Meyer, Matt Arey, Bryan Thrift and Tracy Adams all went into Prairie Creek to start the morning. Thrift caught one on his first cast. Adams already has three, including one fish that he thinks weighs 3 1/4 pounds. Meyer has a 2-pounder in the boat.
Most years, a few of the top pros use Prairie Creek to get a few fish in the livewell before hunting bigger bites. It looks like that program is in play again right now.