Peek Takes the Lead - Major League Fishing

Peek Takes the Lead

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Richard Peek took the lead on day two of the Rayovac FLW Series on Wheeler Lake after weighing 18-5. His total weight of 31-4 has him with a 2 pound, 14 ounce advantage going into the final day of competition. Photo by Colin Moore.
October 31, 2014 • Kyle Wood • Archives

ROGERSVILLE, Ala. – Halloween delivered mores trick than treats to most of the anglers on day two of the Rayovac FLW Series Championship here on Wheeler Lake. The morning started with light rain and calm winds, but after lunch the weather took a turn for the worse. The temperature dropped steadily and the winds picked up, making it tough for those fishermen hoping to secure a spot in the top 10 to fish on the final day [Saturday].  Despite the conditions, Richard Peek dropped one of the day’s largest weights on the scale – 18 pounds, 5 ounces – to claim the leader position heading into Saturday.

Peek, of Centre, Ala., was actually a phone call away from missing this event. He and his wife are expecting their first child any day so he wasn’t sure when or even if he would be able to make it to the tournament. After he arrived for practice, however, the couple decided that it would be okay for him to go ahead and fish the event since the baby isn’t expected until this weekend. So far, things seem to be playing out just right for Peek in more ways than one.

The Walmart FLW Tour rookie has enjoyed flurries of fish each day of the event, but Friday he found himself on the right caliber of bass.

“It’s really all about timing,” said Peek following the tournament weigh-in at Joe Wheeler State Park. “Yesterday I had a good flurry around 1 o’clock. Today, it was right around 10 o’clock. I was done fishing by 11. But that’s the thing; you don’t know when the fish will get to eating. There is so much shad in this system that you need the right amount of wind blowing into an area with shad to get the fish to pull up and feed.”

Peek didn’t reach his primary location until around 10 a.m. As soon as he pulled in he began to catch fish. In fact, he caught four of his keepers in six casts. That’s how quickly the bass he was targeting will start biting.

“The places that I’m keying in on have a lot of structure – like wood – on them near a creek channel or bend,” continued Peek. “You have these little flurries of fish when they pull up shallow and then they move back out into the channel and suspend. Basically I just wait until a new wave moves up to feed.”

Peek has been concentrating much of his time in the Elk River arm of the TVA impoundment. The only problem is that a large majority of the field this week has also been beating up most of the water there.

“There have been a lot of people fishing around the particular place I am and a few fishing through it,” Peek said. “I’m not really sure how many more fish are left in there. It seems like it has been replenishing, but the wind was rolling in on it this afternoon and I don’t know if that hurt it because it’s pretty shallow.

“For sure there should be less pressure up there tomorrow and that will help. I should have some more room to move around and try to expand on things a bit.”

Before the tournament Peek planned to focus on shallow fish because the bite for them was more consistent. He has a few other places to fish on the main river, but believes that Friday afternoon’s strong wind  – which is expected to stick around for Saturday’s final round – will hurt those prospects.

“I have some other confidence stuff out on the main river around some bluffs, but I don’t know if I’ll try to fish it or not,” he noted. “I stopped by some of it on my way back in and caught a few fish, though nothing special. I pretty much plan on camping out in Elk River tomorrow and see how the bite is right away in the morning since I haven’t done that yet this week.”

The forecast for the championship round calls for clear skies and strong north winds. Peek seems optimistic that his fish will bite depending how hard the wind sweeps in on his water.

“It is all going to come down to how much wind I get blowing in my area tomorrow. I need just the right amount without it blowing my spot out. If it doesn’t blow too hard then I have a good feeling about it.”

Matched with his day-one weight of 12 pounds, 15 ounces, Peek’s 31-4 total weight will give him a 2-pound, 14-ounce lead to start the final day of the championship.

2nd place – Chris Baumgardner – 28 pounds, 6 ounces

After catching a respectable 10 pounds, 1 ounce on the first day, Chris Baumgardner needed to make an positive adjustment if he expected to move into the top 10 to fish on Saturday. Mission accomplished; Baumgardner got dialed in as he hauled 18-5 to Joe Wheeler State Park to leapfrog all the way from 43rd place to second and put himself in contention to take the title on the final day.

“Location was the biggest difference for me between the first and second day,” said Baumgardner. “I had two different places to fish and I went to the one that I got the bigger bites in during practice yesterday [Thursday, the first day of the tournament]. I got nothing but small bites in there so today I went to my secondary spot and caught them.”

Baumgardner focused on a two-mile stretch of Elk River to produce his largest limit of the tournament. He’s concentrating on shallow cover where he says the fish replenish quickly. He works such productive areas multiple times during the day.

Like Peek, Baumgardner also notes that timing places a pivotal role in getting bit.

“Timing has been a big thing for me,” Baumgardner explained. “Anything that breaks the current a little and has some shad holds fish. The biggest thing is coming across those areas when one has pulled up to feed.”

The North Carolina pro revealed that he’s throwing a spinnerbait, but wouldn’t elaborate on specifics just yet.

“The spinnerbait that I’m throwing is a little bit different. Those fish see a spinnerbait so much that you need to show them something different. It works, though, because I have gone behind people this week and caught plenty of fish. Heck, I’ve even caught some behind myself.”

Despite catching less fish Friday than he did on the first day, Baumgardner feels confident that he’ll be able to catch more fish on day three given the reduced pressure his area will see.

3rd place – Zack Birge – 28 pounds

Zack Birge smoked 'em on day two of the Rayovac FLW Series Championship on Wheeler Lake catching 17-1. His total weight of 28 pounds has him sitting in third place going into the final day of competition.The story from day two seemed to be guys making huge leaps on the leaderboard to reach the top 10. Zack Birge of Blanchard, Okla., was no exception. He added 17 pounds, 1 ounce to his day-one weight of 10-15 to give himself an overall weight of 28 pounds and claim third place.

Birge didn’t make a change from what he did on day one to bring in his big stringer. Instead, it was the weather that helped him out.

“They just ate today,” Birge said. “I found these fish on the last day of practice and would have had a pretty good limit. When I went there yesterday I caught a ton of fish, but they were all cookie cutters. The only thing I could think of that made the difference was that it was cloudy in practice and it was cloudy today.”

Birge’s primary area is relatively small in size and protected from the wind. He said that he could hardly notice the wind howling this afternoon until he left his pocket to run back to the weigh-in.

“I’m fishing an area that has fish staging to move,” Birge said. “It’s an edge of a channel that has a little current and some logjams around. The fish are just staging on little key areas. They should be back there tomorrow.”

This event marks Birge’s first visit to Wheeler Lake, though he has fished on nearby Wilson and Pickwick lakes. Confidence is king in such situations, which is why he found an area that looks similar to what he would be fishing back home on Grand Lake.

Birge left his main spot around noon and made a run to an area where he had watched boats drive past all week. When he pulled in he caught a 4-pounder on his first cast. Birge said he’ll try to explore that area a bit more on Saturday, but he still plans on concentrating most of his efforts on the channel edge.

4th place – Todd Auten – 28 pounds

Todd Auten weighed 13 pounds on day two of the Rayovac FLW Series Championship on Wheeler Lake. It was enough to keep him in the hunt, he will start the final day in fourth place with 28 pounds.Todd Auten said that this tournament for him is more or less junk fishing 101. Simply put, he’s keeping multiple rods on the deck and catching fish on every one of those rods. Today was no different for the South Carolina pro, who added 13 pounds on top of his day-one weight of 15 pounds to climb a notch up the leaderboard.

“I like tough conditions in the fall,” said Auten. “I just feel more comfortable when I can run around and junk fish. There are lots of targets in the water up shallow so I’ve just been putting the trolling motor down and trying to keep my bait wet.”

While Auten caught more keepers on day two, he said it wasn’t easy.

“The cloud cover seemed to scatter a lot of the bait around and it made the fish spread out a lot too,” Auten said. “It was a grind to catch them. You’d catch one here and then go a ways and catch another one. It was tough.”

Auten feels that new fish are moving up into the shallows throughout the day. He said that fish using docks or logs replenish on those areas after the previous occupant is caught.

“Yesterday I caught two fish out of a small pocket and went back in there later and caught five more,” he recalled. “So there’s no doubt that new fish are moving up shallow all the time.”

In the title run, Auten plans to target his shallow fish, but doesn’t rule chasing some of the suspended fish he caught on the first day if the lake is blanketed with sunshine.

5th place – George Kapiton – 27 pounds, 15 ounces

George Kapiton slipped into fifth place on day two of the Rayovac FLW Series Championship on Wheeler Lake after catching only 9-13,After leading on day one, George Kapiton seemed eager to get back out on the water. Day two greeted him with worsening conditions, however, and his day-two catch dropped to 9 pounds, 13 ounces. Kapiton still is in contention for the title with 27 pounds, 15 ounces, thanks mainly to his day-one bag of 18-2.

“I just didn’t catch very many fish today,” said Kapiton. “I really needed the sun to come out. When the sun did pop out for about an hour I had 15 or 20 bites.”

After the opening round, Kapiton mentioned that he didn’t want to lean on his area too hard because he wasn’t sure how many fish were in it. After getting those bites when the sun came out, however, it gave the Walmart FLW Tour pro confidence that the fish are still there.

Kapiton is throwing a big spinnerbait up shallow, which is something he figured out by accident.

“I’m throwing a ¾-ounce War Eagle spinnerbait,” said Kapiton. “I had it tied on to fish out deep. When I went up shallow I saw a piece of cover I wanted to cast to so I picked that big thing up and caught a good one. I haven’t put it down since.”

While the wind doesn’t affect Kapiton’s primary area, it does make his 40-mile run to his fishing grounds interesting.

“Coming back this afternoon with that wind blowing did some damage to myself and my trolling motor,” joked Kapiton. “I just didn’t leave enough time to get back so I had to push it a little bit. Tomorrow I will plan better to account for the wind.

“I think I’m probably going to fish the entire creek where I’ve been fishing – since there hasn’t been much pressure up there – and let things fall where they may.”

Rest of the best

6th place – Randy Haynes – 25-12

7th place – Jay Yelas – 25-03

8th place – Chris McCall – 25-0

9th place – Casey Gallagher – 24-08

10th place – Bryan Thrift – 24-03

Gillespie maintains co-angler lead

Carl Gillespie continues to ride the hot hand after bringing a limit of bass to the stage that weighed 8 pounds, 8 ounces on day two. Matched with his 10-13 four-fish weight on day one, Gillespie holds a 2-1 lead going into the final day of competition.

“I’m surprised to have the weight I had today,” said Gillespie. “I know a lot depends on who I am paired with tomorrow but I feel good. I’m a versatile angler so whether I fish shallow or deep, I’m ready.”

James Callaghan of De Berry, Texas, caught 7 pounds, 10 ounces on day one and backed that up with 9-10 today. His two-day total weight stands at 17-4 to sit in second place.

Ryan Bowman of Seneca, S.C., sits in third place with a two-day total weight of 16-7. That weight is comprised of nearly identical bags of 8-3 and 8-4 from days one and two, respectably.

Casey Smith of Musella, Ga., caught a 7-7 limit on day two to add to his day-one catch of 8-14. His total weight sits at 16-5 to hold him in fourth place.

Randy Gardner of Wetumpka, Ala., rounds out the top five after catching 6-7 on day one. He only caught two fish today, but they were the right ones tipping the scale at 9-4 to bring his two-day total up to 15-11.

Rest of the best

6th place – Corey Bechtel – 15-08

7th place – Brett Rachal – 15-05

8th place – Randy Forbes – 15-03

9th place – Brandon Bray – 15-02

10th place – Justin Sward – 15-00

For complete results, click here.

Stay tuned to for photos and live updates from the water throughout the competition.

Fans will also be treated to the FLW Expo at Walmart on Saturday from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. prior to the final weigh-in. The Expo includes a casting pool, interactive games and activities provided by sponsors, and fans can learn more about the sport of fishing and other outdoor activities. The first 200 fans in attendance will also receive a $5 Walmart gift card courtesy of KIX 96. All activities are free and open to the public.

Anglers will take off from Joe Wheeler State Park located at 4601 McLean Drive in Rogersville, Alabama, at 7:30 a.m. Saturday. Saturday’s final weigh-in will be held at Walmart located at 2701 Cloverdale Road in Florence, Alabama, beginning at 4 p.m. Takeoffs and weigh-ins are free and open to the public.