Clark Wendlandt has seen a lot of things throughout his career. Yet the act of kindness he experienced on day three of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on the Potomac River surprised even him.
With Wendlandt facing boat troubles, fellow top 20 angler Shinichi Fukae swapped boats with him – effectively ending his own day – to allow the Leander, Texas, pro to continue fishing and retain his hold on the No. 1 spot. Wendlandt’s 14-pound, 8-ounce bag was the second largest of the day, allowing him to increase his lead over second-place pro Adrian Avena to 3 pounds, 12 ounces.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen an act of sportsmanship that great ever in this sport,” Wendlandt says. “Every time I caught one after that I just kept saying, ‘Thank you, Shin.’”
The top 20 anglers launched amid torrential rains and unstable conditions. However, none of it seemed to affect Wendlandt early on, as he put three quick fish in the boat. That’s when things started going wrong. Wendlandt suffered a mechanical failure with his rig and figured he’d have to fish with his trolling motor until he could be towed back to the ramp early.
That’s where Fukae came in. In 16th place and fishless at the time, Fukae insisted Wendlandt trade boats so he could continue with his day unhindered. Fukae stayed in Wendlandt’s boat and was towed back to takeoff. Despite being loaned a boat for a restart, Fukae more or less ran out of time and never boated a keeper.
Once in the new boat, Wendlandt admits it took a little bit for him to get back into a groove. Once he did, he was able to lower his head and catch four or five more fish. Knowing he might not have caught those fish without his fellow angler’s generosity, Wendlandt repeatedly thanked Fukae for his classy act of sportsmanship once he got to the weigh-in stage.
As much as what transpired was a bright spot on a dreary day, Wendlandt is concerned about what the weather will do to his area come tomorrow.
“The weather has trashed a lot of areas, but it hasn’t gotten mine yet,” Wendlandt says. “But it might. We got a lot of rain, and that could be a game-changer.”
Top 10 Pros
1. Clark Wendlandt – Leander, Texas – 47-02 (15)
2. Adrian Avena – Vineland, N.J. – 43-06 (15)
3. Bryan Schmitt – Deale, Md. – 42-01 (15)
4. Andy Morgan – Dayton, Tenn. – 42-00 (15)
5. Scott Martin – Clewiston, Fla. – 40-14 (15)
6. Darrel Robertson – Jay, Okla. – 40-08 (15)
7. John Voyles – Petersburg, Ind. – 39-07 (15)
8. Larry Nixon – Bee Branch, Ark. – 39-06 (15)
9. Randy Haynes – Counce, Tenn. – 39-03 (15)
10. Jim Moynagh – Carver, Minn. – 39-02 (15)