Ohio native produces unlikeliest of comebacks to grab pro lead as monster stringers abound on day two
GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. – It was a day where seasoned bass pros were left shaking their heads in disbelief. In what amounted to one of the most extraordinary weigh-ins in recent memory, everything that seemingly could happen did. From the bizarre to the amazing to the surreal, today’s action had it all. However, when all was said and done, today’s weigh-in could best be summed up by the following noteworthy statistics: 10 limits heavier than 17 pounds, 3 ounces; 11 two-day limits heavier than 30 pounds; a dramatic tie-breaker for 20th place; and one of the most remarkable comeback stories in the history of the EverStart Series.
As if that weren’t enough, anglers racked up more than 2,532 pounds of fish in today’s competition alone.
However, the most intriguing story of the day had to be that of pro angler John Wyrick. After registering only 10 pounds after yesterday’s competition, the resident of Middletown, Ohio, knew he needed a near-miracle to qualify for today’s top-20 cut. The only problem was that he had only received one tournament check in nearly 20 years of fishing on any of the FLW Outdoors/Operation Bass tours. In short, it appeared that Wyrick would once again go home empty-handed. However, somewhere along the line, fate intervened.
“After yesterday’s performance, I decided to check out of my hotel because I didn’t think I was going to make the cut,” said Wyrick. “But then I started to land some good fish. And by the time I had my third huge fish in the boat, I began adding up the weight in my head. Finally, I realized that I had a chance to make the cut.”
By the end of the day, Wyrick not only had enough fish to make the cut, but as he approached the stage, his sack was so large that the entire crowd fell silent. Finally EverStart tournament director Jerry Stakely announced the verdict: 25 pounds, 7 ounces. Not only did Wyrick make his second cut in 20 years, but he also grabbed the lead in the Pro Division for the first time in his career. Not surprisingly, Wyrick was nearly at a loss for words when asked to describe his accomplishment.
“You have no idea how I feel right now. I could kiss Jerry (Stakely) I’m so happy,” said Wyrick. “After 20 years of fishing and spending over $50,000 in tournament fees only to make one check … well, it’s hard to describe the feeling. This is by far the best day of my career.”
Wyrick said his good fortune during today’s competition was related to a wide variety of factors.
“For starters, I had two of the best partners I’ve ever had this week,” said Wyrick, who nailed his limit by noon today. “I also made sure that I didn’t stop to eat or drink anything. I just kept on fishing. And finally, I was able to find some milfoil and that’s where I’m really comfortable. I’ve fished milfoil my whole life.”
After turning in the best performance of his career, Wyrick said he has no plans on settling for 20th place.
“Now, if I can just beat 10 guys tomorrow…”
EverStart Pro Division rookie makes a splash
Despite having only three professional EverStart tournaments under his belt, Michael Brown of Chatsworth, Ga., made sure that he was going to make this season a memorable one. After turning in a sixth-place performance in yesterday’s competition, Brown managed to land a monstrous two-day catch of 35 pounds, 4 ounces to grab hold of second place heading into tomorrow’s semifinal round of competition.
However, Brown said he wasn’t satisfied with only making the top 20.
“Overall, I feel really good about my chances. I’m catching my fish pretty quickly, I’m not bleeding any of my good fishing holes and I have plenty of spots left,” said Brown, who qualified for his first pro cut on the EverStart trail despite fishing in only his first year as a pro. “I’ve never been set up like this before. Everything has just gone perfectly.”
Although Brown wouldn’t divulge his strategy, he said he has locked into one specific pattern. And so far, it’s held up.
“I had a good practice and it’s kind of carried over,” he said. “I’ll be fishing the same pattern tomorrow. I’m not changing a thing.”
Ultimately, Brown believes it will take between 18 and 20 pounds to qualify for the finals.
“But the way things are going, it’s really hard to tell,” he said.
Best of the rest
Rounding out the top five pro qualifiers were: Andy Morgan of Dayton, Tenn., in third place with a two-day catch of 35 pounds, 3 ounces; Edward Gettys of Stevenson, Ala., in fourth with a total catch of 34 pounds; and Wesley Strader of Spring City, Tenn., in fifth with a catch of 31 pounds, 6 ounces.
Brent Brannon of Cumming, Ga., won the day’s big bass award after registering an 8-pound, 11-ounce largemouth. Brannon, who finished the tournament in 25th place, took home $750 for his efforts.
Nail biter for 20th place
As if today’s weigh-in needed any more drama, the battle for 20th place also took center stage. With two anglers – Christopher Lane of Lakeland, Fla., and Jacob Powroznik of Prince George, Va. – tied with 27 pounds, 10 ounces, the crowd waited in anticipation for the final tie-breaking announcement to come. Finally, after some quick work by FLW Outdoors officials, the verdict came in: Lane would advance to the semis due to the fact that he had produced the largest one-day stringer out of the two competitors, a 15-pound, 4-ounce sack on day one. Lane’s supporters, who were numerous, erupted in spontaneous applause.
Reed grabs co-angler lead
Charlie Reed Jr. of Hayes, Va., used a healthy two-day stringer of 31 pounds, 14 ounces to leapfrog from third place to first heading into tomorrow’s semifinal round of competition.
“It feels really good. Anytime you make the top-20 cut, it exceeds your expectations,” said Reed. “This is my first year on the tour and I’ve already made a top-10 cut on Santee Cooper. So I’m pretty happy right now.”
However, less than 90 minutes before weigh-in, Reed wasn’t so sure about his chances of advancing.
“I only had one fish in the boat by 1 p.m., and that’s when I really started to get worried,” he said. “But then the fish suddenly turned on. In the next half hour, I had my limit and I was able to put down my fishing rod and start helping my pro.”
Reed said that he targeted grass in 3 to 4 feet of water using a top-water popper bait and a 10-inch worm.
“Fishing shallow water is one of my strengths,” he said. “I’m going to stick with those two baits and do the exact same thing tomorrow. Hopefully, I can make the finals.”
Best of the rest
Rounding out the top five co-angler qualifiers were: Tony Hill of Chatsworth, Ga., with a two-day catch of 27 pounds, 13 ounces; Lance Henderson of Fort Ogden, Fla., with a catch of 27 pounds, 3 ounces; David Parks of Decatur, Ala., with a catch of 26 pounds; and Marty Robinson of Greer, S.C., with a catch of 25 pounds, 2 ounces.
Legrant Scott won the day’s big bass award in the Co-angler Division after turning in a 6-pound, 10-ounce largemouth. Scott, who advanced to the semifinal round of competition with a 13th-place finish, won $250 for his efforts.
Tomorrow’s takeoff is scheduled to take place at 5:30 a.m. at Guntersville State Park, located at 1155 Lodge Drive in Guntersville, Ala.