Sunday, April 1, 2012

Walmart FLW Table Rock Lake Day 3: Long Leap into Lead

North Carolina pro sacks 22-3 to lead Walmart FLW Tour Major on Table Rock
by Brett Carlson
BRANSON, Mo. – Brent Long’s memorable 2010 Walmart FLW Tour victory came from the deep ledges of Lake Guntersville. Considering Long prefers shallow flipping and power fishing, the offshore win was ironic. But this week on Table Rock Lake, Long is catching them the way he prefers and is one day away from clinching his second Tour title.
Pitching a jig made the difference for Long.
(Photos: Brett Carlson FLW)
The stoic, steady Long is flipping what he calls “trash.” In reality it’s a mixture of sticks, stumps and lay-downs – any wood that has washed up on shore since the water level rose a week ago. It was a solid pattern during the opening round, but today it produced 22 pounds, 13 ounces – by far the heaviest limit of the day.
“A new wave of fish obviously moved up,” said the Cornelius, N.C., native. “I had a limit before 8:30 this morning. My second fish was the biggest fish I caught, and it was a little over 7 pounds. I fished with no pressure today because I caught them early. Each day I’m worried and say, ‘Am I going to catch them today? Am I going to catch five?’ But today they bit early and it just made it so much more relaxing. The amazing thing is that I lost two big ones and another two that would have helped me. I could have had over 30 pounds today.”
Long is flipping dirty water with either a black and blue jig made by Earnest Langley (tipped with a Charlie’s Chunk) or a Charlie’s Worms Flippin’ Bug. Today the jig produced early and Long never put it down. In total, it produced 12 keeper bites.

“The thing that blows my mind is that I cannot catch them in the bushes. These prespawn bass are hanging out in the horizontal cover, not the vertical stuff.”
Long has accumulated a three-day total of 58 pounds, 15 ounces and a 3-pound lead.
“The way it went today, I think I can do it again tomorrow. I feel good because most people’s weights are going down. Mine went up today. I’m more confident now than I have been all week.”
King retains second
Local pro Stacey King had by far his worst day on his home lake, but he didn’t lose much ground. King retained second place with a 13-pound, 15-ounce limit. Yesterday he sat 2 pounds off the lead; today he trails by 3 pounds.
King keeps cranking.
“It was a real slow bite, I’m worried my pattern is slowing down,” said the veteran pro from Reeds Spring, Mo. “I only had one fish at noon but then the breeze picked up from the south and I caught five from noon to 2 p.m.”
The 63-year-old then reflected on day three and his current position.
“It’s not as good as I would’ve liked, but I’m happy to have it with all the work I put in.”
King revealed today that he is throwing a Rapala DT 10 in both red crawdad and brown crawdad in the dirty water.
“If I catch a really big stringer tomorrow, I’m still in position to win. But after my bad practice, I’ve already exceeded all my expectations.”
With one day remaining, King’s total weight sits at 55 pounds, 15 ounces.
Christie rises to third
Rayovac pro Jason Christie came into the second Major of the year not knowing what to expect. After a terrible practice, he decided to simply ignore the bedding bass and flip. While he’s weighed several small fish, he’s also getting two big bites each day. Today, his five-fish limit weighed 18 pounds, 7 ounces, bringing his total weight to 55 pounds, 14 ounces.
“I burned about 10 gallons of gas fishing new water today,” said the Park Hill, Okla., pro. “I caught a 5-pounder in the first 5 minutes and soon after I sight-fished a 3 1/2-pound smallie. But then it got real slow. With only 15 minutes to go, I probably had four for 10 pounds. Then I caught another 5, a 4 1/2 and a 3.”
What triggered that late flurry was a big cruiser flying by and its wake slapping the bank. Christie thinks the waves make the baitfish move, which triggers the bass.
“I did all my damage after that. I think tomorrow I’m going to run into every pocket and do six or eight doughnuts, then go to fishing.”
Christie is mainly flipping a 4 1/2-inch Yum Wooly Bug. When he occasionally sees a spawning bass worth stopping for, he opts for a 3-inch Wooly Bug.
“I don’t know what to expect because I’m fishing new water every day. But I do know this, I’ve got a flipping stick in my hand and I’ve got a chance.”
Shuffield fourth
Spencer Shuffield launched his boat this morning with a world of confidence. But for whatever reason, the bite was considerably slower. After catching 40 keepers Friday, the rookie pro from Bismarck, Ark., caught only six keepers today. The best five weighed 15 pounds, 5 ounces, bringing his three-day total to 55-9.
“For some reason, my fish didn’t bite today,” he said.
The 2011 Co-angler of the Year is throwing a Swim N’ Frenzy around timber. Perhaps as a sign of bad luck, Shuffield caught a 4-pound smallmouth on his very first cast this morning.
Welcher falls to fifth
Day-two leader Kyle Welcher managed just four keepers Saturday weighing 9 pounds, 7 ounces. Welcher is still within striking distance with a three-day total of 53 pounds, 11 ounces.
“I think I have a better idea now of where they’re at,” said the 19-year-old from Opelika, Ala. “I just didn’t adjust fast enough today.”
Early in the week Welcher was twitching a jerkbait. The last two days he has adjusted and is throwing a shallow-running crankbait in the cooler, dirty water.
Rest of the best
Rounding out the top 10 pros who made the cutoff after day three:
6th: Chris Baumgardner of Gastonia, N.C., 49-8
7th: Anthony Gagliardi of Prosperity, S.C., 49-7
8th: Troy Morrow of Eastanollee, Ga., 49-0
9th: Clint Brownlee of Tifton, Ga., 48-14
10th: Clent Davis of Montevallo, Ala., 47-4
Day four of the FLW Tour event on Table Rock Lake will begin Sunday at 7 a.m. from the Table Rock State Park Marina.

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