March 6, 2010 by Brett Carlson
BRANSON, Mo. - For Ron Shuffield, the good news is that he's in second place. If he caught zero fish today, the worst he could finish would be fifth. The bad news is that if he wants to win his first FLW Tour event on Table Rock, he's got a seriously steep hill to climb.
The no-nonsense veteran pro that he is, Shuffield was realistic about his chances of overcoming Brent Ehrler and taking home the title.
"As a general rule, we all realize we're probably fishing for second," he said. "Brent has had a great tournament and it's his to win or lose. I'm happy for him; I am really am. He's an incredible fisherman. In my opinion he's one of the top two or three anglers in the world."
But crazier things have happened.
"I will say that I feel like the fish are coming to me. And I've felt that way since the first day of the tournament. I really haven't saved any water specifically for today, but there's so much water that's been unfished."
Shuffield is working a jerkbait up the James River. He's fishing a bunch of structure - all of it off the bank in water 15 to 35 feet deep.
"The fish position differently on each type of structure. The more time I spend up there, the more familiar I'm becoming."
While Shuffield has been consistent this week, he hasn't seen many kicker largemouths. His area has more of a mix of all three Table Rock species. That bodes well for retaining second, but he'll need at least a couple kickers to catch Ehrler.
One ounce behind Shuffield is Bryan Thrift. He too has grudgingly accepted his fate.
"My plan is to fish for second and there's not many tournaments I fish for second," said the Shelby, N.C., pro. "If I could get maybe 25 pounds than I'd have a slim chance. But Brent would still have to stumble."
Saturday's final weigh-in will be held at the Branson Convention Center located at 200 W. Main St. in Branson beginning at 4 p.m. Fans will be treated to a Family Fun Zone & Outdoor Expo at the Branson Convention Center prior to the final weigh-in from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will be a drawing for a Can-Am ATV, and rod-and-reel combos will be given to the first 300 kids under 14 in attendance on Saturday.
The pro winner, who will earn $125,000, is determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from all four days.
On the Web
For those who can't catch the weigh-in action in person, FLWOutdoors.com offers FLW Live, an online application that brings fans real-time weigh-in results, streaming video and audio.
In addition to FLW Live, FLWOutdoors.com is offering real-time updates from the water throughout each day of the Table Rock event. Simply click on the "On the Water Coverage" banner from any of the FLW Outdoors, Bass and FLW Tour home pages.
Sunrise: 6:37 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 37 degrees
Expected high temperature: 63 degrees
Water temperature: 42-48 degrees
Wind: SSE at 10 mph
Maximum humidity: 46 percent
Day's outlook: sunny