June 21, 2008
KNOXVILLE –Pro Art Ferguson of St. Clair Shores, Mich., caught a five-bass limit weighing 19 pounds, 2 ounces Saturday to capture the lead in a top-10 field that includes some of the greatest anglers in the world.
Ferguson now holds a 4-pound, 9-ounce edge over his closest competitor, Team Castrol pro David Dudley of Lynchburg, Va., heading into the final day of competition in the $1 million Wal-Mart FLW Tour event on Fort Loudoun-Tellico Lakes. If he holds on for the win, Ferguson will pocket $100,000.
Ferguson gives the credit for his lead to his day two co-angler, Grant Holderman of Augusta, Kansas.
“I was scrambling at about 12:30,” said Ferguson, who has won more than $356,000 in FLW Outdoors events. “I had fished my areas where I thought they were and they weren’t there. Now I’m really freaking out. I was just getting ready to get out of there and Grant puts out a long cast out behind the boat, and now it’s history.
“My areas were like 20 yards on either side of that spot,” Ferguson added. “It turns out I was around them, but just a cast away. I just want him to know how much I appreciate him for putting me on those fish.”
Ferguson said his bait of choice on the third day of competition was a 5/8-ounce green pumpkin football-head jig. Ferguson said his fish are coming in an area about 12 feet deep where the rock is just a little different composition than the surrounding areas.
“I think they’re eating a lot of shad in these areas, and I think maybe something a little bit different coming at them, like a crawdad coming through there all of a sudden is freaking them out,” Ferguson said. “It kind of looks like a bluegill, too.
“I guarantee you I’m doing the same thing tomorrow,” Ferguson added.
Dudley caught five fish weighing 14 pounds, 9 ounces to advance to the final day of competition as the No. 2 seed.
“Art was a showoff today,” joked Dudley, who is fourth on professional bass fishing’s all-time money winning list with more than $2.4 million. “I got to my spot and I knew on my first 10 casts something wasn’t right.
“I caught a few keepers other places, but I had to work,” Dudley added.
Dudley said he relied on the bait that had produced for him on his key spot the previous two days — a 10-inch green pumpkin Berkley PowerWorm. He also employed a deep-diving custom-painted blueback herring-colored crankbait.
Rounding out the top 10 pros are Team National Guard pro Scott Martin of Clewiston, Fla. (five bass, 13-10); Team Prilosec pro Craig Powers of Rockwood, Tenn. (five bass, 11-05); Brandon Coulter of Knoxville (four bass, 8-09); Jerry Green of Del Rio, Texas (five bass, 8-07); Andy Montgomery of Blacksburg, S.C. (five bass, 8-04); Hank Cherry of Maiden, N.C. (five bass, 7-13); Andy Morgan of Dayton, Tenn. (five bass, 7-08) and Team National Guard pro Ramie Colson Jr. of Cadiz, Ky. (two bass, 2-08).
Overall there were 46 bass weighing 101 pounds, 11 ounces caught in the Pro Division Saturday. The catch included eight five-bass limits.
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Barry Isbell of Trussville, Ala., won the Co-angler Division and $25,000 Saturday with three bass weighing 9 pounds, 9 ounces followed by Team Berkley co-angler Stetson Blaylock of Benton, Ark., in second place with five bass weighing 9-4 worth $10,000.
Isbell opened the tournament in 19th place Thursday with four bass weighing 7-11 while fishing with pro Danny Correia of Marlborough, Mass. On Friday he jumped into fifth place on the strength of a five-bass catch weighing 10-06 while fishing with Greg Bohannan of Rogers, Ark. He wrapped up his win while fishing with Green.
“This is awesome,” said Isbell, who earned his first win on the FLW Tour. “I’ve been working on it a long time. It really, really feels good to achieve it. These guys are tough out here.”
Isbell said a drop-shot rig tipped with a Purple Winnie-colored Jackall Cross Tail Shad sealed the deal for him on the final day of competition. Isbell rigged his drop-shot rig with 20-pound braided line and an eight-pound-test leader.
“Jerry had an awesome spot on the river that was a 100-yard stretch that we were fishing,” Isbell said. “They didn’t seem to want his Carolina rig today, and I just pitched over there with the drop shot right on the rock pile and caught the big one. They just wanted something finessy.
“Actually, I went to go net a fish for Jerry and when I got back to my rod, the big one was on it,” Isbell added. “That’s kind of how my day went. It was one of those golden days. I couldn’t do any wrong.”
Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers are Jim Campbell of Maryville, Tenn. (three bass, 6-15, $9,000); Shawn Carnahan of Chandler, Ariz. (four bass, 6-07, $8,000); Dirk Davenport of Delaware, Ohio (two bass, 3-15, $7,000); Dennis Price Jr. of Tinley Park, Ill. (two bass, 3-00, $6,000); Brian Gage of Gray, Tenn. (two bass, 2-03, $5,000); Kyle Lane of Clarkrange, Tenn. (zero bass, 0-00, $4,000); Doug Weiser of Springdale, Ark. (zero bass, 0-00, $3,000) and Todd Lee of Jasper, Ala. (zero bass, 0-00, $2,000).
Overall there were 21 bass weighing 41 pounds, 5 ounces caught in the Co-angler Division Saturday. The catch included one five-bass limit.
Anglers will take off at 6:30 Sunday morning from the Tellico Recreational Area Ramp located at the intersection of Highways 321 and 444 east of Lenoir City, Tenn., followed by a 4 p.m. weigh-in at the Knoxville Convention Center located at 701 Henley St. in Knoxville.
Prior to the final day weigh-in, FLW Outdoors will host a free Family Fun Zone and outdoor show at the Knoxville Convention Center from noon to 6 p.m.
The Family Fun Zone is a chance for fishing fans to meet their favorite anglers and review the latest products from Berkley, Lowrance, Ranger, Evinrude, Yamaha and other manufacturers while children are treated to fishing themed games and rides like the Ranger Boat simulator. Children 14 and under visiting the Family Fun Zone Sunday will also receive a free rod and reel combo while supplies last, and one lucky member of the audience will win a new Ranger boat during the final 4 p.m. weigh-in on Sunday. Admission is free and you must be present to win.
In FLW Tour competition, pros and co-anglers are randomly paired each day, with pros supplying the boat, controlling boat movement and competing against other pros. Co-anglers fish from the back deck against other co-anglers. The full field competes Thursday and Friday for 10 slots in Saturday’s competition based on their two-day accumulated weight. Weights are cleared Saturday, and co-angler competition concludes following Saturday’s weigh-in with the winner determined by the day’s heaviest catch. The top 10 pros continue competition Sunday, with the winner determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from Saturday and Sunday.
Coverage of the Fort Loudoun-Tellico Lakes tournament will be broadcast to 81 million FSN (Fox Sports Net) subscribers in the United States on Aug. 10 and 17 as part of the “FLW Outdoors” television program. “FLW Outdoors” is also broadcast in Canada on WFN (World Fishing Network) and to more than 429 million households in the United Kingdom, Europe, Russia, Australia, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East through a distribution agreement with Matchroom Sport, making it the most widely distributed fishing program in the world. The program airs Sunday mornings at 11 Eastern time in most markets. Check local listings for times in your area.
FLW Outdoors, named after Forrest L. Wood, the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, is the largest fishing tournament organization in the world. In 2008 alone the organization is offering more than 90,000 anglers the chance to win over $40 million through 230 tournaments in 10 circuits targeting bass, walleye, redfish, kingfish and striped bass. FLW Outdoors is also taking fishing mainstream with the largest cash awards in the history of fantasy sports, $7.3 million.
For more information about FLW Outdoors and its tournaments, visit FLWOutdoors.com or call (270) 252-1000. For more information about FLW Fantasy Fishing and Player’s Advantage, visit FantasyFishing.com.