A full field of the world’s best professional anglers continued their battle Friday for the top prize of up to $125,000.
The Redlands, Calif., angler brought another five-fish limit of spotted bass to the scales Friday, this one weighing 16 pounds, 7 ounces. With a two-day catch of 10 bass weighing 33-15, Ehrler now holds a 6-pound, 1-ounce lead over second-place pro Koby Kreiger of Okeechobee, Fla., who has a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 27-14.
“It took me a long time to catch a limit today,” said Ehrler, who currently sits in a three-way tie for most wins in FLW Tour competition with five. “It was really tough. I think that my good area that I had yesterday is over with. I was able to catch one big one off of it, but I think they’ve moved on and I’m going to have a much tougher time trying to find the big fish tomorrow.
“I absolutely hate leading tournaments this early,” said Ehrler. “I like the weight that I have caught the last two days, but I would much rather fly under the radar and work my way up on the final day.”
Ehrler was not ready to talk about specific baits used, but said he had seven different rods on his deck. He fished mainly in the same areas as yesterday, and said the pressure on the lake was having an effect on the fishing.
“Every day it has been harder and harder to catch five fish,” Ehrler said. “The weather has been up and down, but it’s been consistent with no real fronts coming through. It has to be the tournament pressure on the lake.
“I think that timing is crucial in this event,” he continued. “There are a few spots that I watched guys fish and then leave that I pulled up on later in the day and was able to catch a couple of nice ones. I’m not doing anything different; I think I’m just getting there at the right time.
“My gameplan for tomorrow is to just run the spots that I have been and hopefully I can catch a couple of big ones,” Ehrler went on to say. “I’ve looked around at a bunch of new areas and I haven’t really found a whole lot to get me excited. I might try out some new stuff, but I don’t plan on spending a lot of time trying to find them.”
One Alabama angler is among the top 20 who will fish in the final two days of the tournament.
Guntersville’s Justin Lucas is in 18th place with a 23-14 total.
Tommy Biffle won the 3M ScotchBlue Big Bass Award on the pro side Friday with a fish weighing 6 pounds, 5 ounces worth $500.
Overall there were 614 bass weighing 1,162 pounds, 15 ounces caught by 157 pros Friday. The catch included 87 five-bass limits.
Hoyt Tidwell of West Point, Tenn., leads the co-angler division with 10 bass weighing 21 pounds, 9 ounces followed by Rick Bowen of Jackson, Tenn., in second place with 10 bass weighing 19-8.
Jasper’s Todd Lee cracked the top 20 meaning he will compete the next two days in the co-angler division. Lee is currently in 19th pace with a 13-4 total. Also, Guin’s Benjie Seaborn is in sixth with a 15-11 total.
Braxton Setzer caught Friday’s 3M Peltor Big Bass weighing 5 pounds, 15 ounces in the co-angler division to win $250. Overall there were 333 bass weighing 547 pounds, 15 ounces caught by co-anglers Friday. The catch included 24 five-bass limits.
Anglers will take off from Smith Lake Dam Access at 7:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. Saturday and Sunday’s final weigh-ins will be held at Walmart beginning at 4 p.m.
Fans will be treated to the FLW Outdoors Expo at Walmart on Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. prior to the final weigh-ins.
All activities are free and open to the public.Coverage of the Lewis Smith Lake tournament will be broadcast in high-definition (HD) on NBC Sports Network when “FLW” airs April 14 from 11 a.m — 12 p.m. ET.