June 23, 2001 by Gary Mortenson
Bruce, Daniel, Dudley and Millsaps all advance
DETROIT - Using a "sunken chair" as an unconventional fishing hole and some veteran angling savvy, Larry Nixon of Bee Branch, Ark., used a 14-pound, 2-ounce catch to secure first place in the standings at the $1 million FLW tour event on Lake St. Clair for a second consecutive day. However, despite his performance, Nixon said there was still a lot of work that needs to be done before he can start thinking about a possible victory in tomorrow's finals.
"I knew I was struggling today," said Nixon. "I thought I was out of fish yesterday, but somehow I manage to keep catching one big bass just when I need it most. I'm tickled to death to be where I am. But tomorrow, I know I can't afford to make any mistakes."
Helping Nixon to a first-place finish today was a rather unusual fishing location - a sunken chair.
"I found this chair on the bottom of the lake and I caught eight fish there," said Nixon. "I only caught two keepers, but apparently, a chair is pretty good structure. It's pretty weird."
Nixon said that he will have a good idea how he will do in the finals after the first few hours of tomorrow's action.
"I've got one place that has some really big fish," said Nixon. "If I can get there first thing in the morning without the wind picking up or overcast skies, I'll do all right. The key to my day is definitely going to be those first two hours.
"I feel like I know what to do, I'm just not sure what's left out there," Nixon continued. "You just have to fish where you know they are and do the best that you can."
The final five
Despite an anxious day on the water, Mickey Bruce of Buford, Ga., took over second place in the Pro standings with a 12-pound, 12-ounce catch.
"The fishing changed dramatically today and it was hard to keep up with the fish," said Bruce, who finished in second place in the 2001 Land O' Lakes Angler of the Year standings. "But if you find them, you're definitely going to have a big stringer."
Steve Daniel of Clewiston, Fla., finished the day in third place after recording a catch of 12 pounds, 10 ounces.
"We caught a lot of fish out there today, but my big-fish bite really didn't payoff," said Daniel. "I'm going to camp in a few places tomorrow and try to catch them. I like my chances."
David Dudley of Manteo, N.C., finished in fourth place with a catch of 9 pounds, 14 ounces.
"I struggled out there today," said Dudley, still sporting a cast on his leg that greatly limits his mobility. "The fishing seems to have gotten a lot tougher. But I probably fished a little bit stupid today as well."
Jimmy Millsaps of Canton, Ga., took the fifth and final spot in the competition with a catch of 9 pounds, 10 ounces.
The best of the rest
Day-two co-leader Pat Fisher of Stone Mountain, Ga., finished in sixth place with a catch of 9 pounds, 6 ounces. Despite missing the cut by 4 ounces, Fisher received a nice check totaling $24,000.
Scott Dobson of Royal Oak, Mich., took home a check for $23,000 after landing in seventh place with a catch of 5 pounds, 11 ounces. Terry Baksay of Monroe, Conn., finished in eighth place with a catch of 3 pounds, 5 ounces. Baksay won $22,000 for his efforts.
Rounding out the top-10 finalist were Koby Kreiger of Osceola, Ind., and Sean Stickler of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Both anglers failed to catch a fish on the final day of competition.
Pro competition resumes at 6 a.m. at the Metro Beach Metropark in Mt. Clemens, Mich., followed by a 3:30 p.m. weigh-in at the Wal-Mart SuperCenter on Van Dyke Ave. in Warren, Mich. A Family Fun Zone featuring fishing seminars, free product samples, interactive displays and children's games will open in the Wal-Mart parking lot starting at 11 a.m.
VanDam officially crowned Angler of the Year