UPCOMING EVENT: Rayovac FLW Series - 2015 - Lake Champlain

The quest for the Carolina crown

Day-three pro leader Bryan Thrift takes some time to collect his thoughts shortly before final takeoff. Thrift currently holds a 5-pound lead over his next closest competitor at the Lake Norman event.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - It's all come down to this - one day of fishing for all the marbles. As the top-five FLW Tour pros departed Blythe Landing shortly after 7:15 a.m. against a backdrop of clear skies and decidedly chilly temps, there was only one thing on their minds: how to catch enough big bites on Lake Norman to walk away with the prestigious tournament title and a first-place check worth a staggering $125,000. But as usual, it won't be easy. For starters, the frosty temperatures that descended upon Lake Norman over the evening almost certainly will affect the bass bite - at least during the early morning hours. "The water temperature is going to drop," said fifth-place pro qualifier Brian Travis of Conover, N.C. "This lake is finicky this time of year. And some of those fish that were moving up (to spawn) are now going to be pushed back down. I'm definitely going to start out fishing a little deeper today. I'll be focusing on rocks and deeper brush piles." FLW Outdoors television camera crews film second-place qualifier Rusty Trancygier before takeoff.But not only do anglers have to adapt to the changing conditions and find the rather elusive big bass bite, but they also have to worry about each other - especially day-three leader Bryan Thrift of Shelby, N.C. With Thrift putting on a veritable fishing clinic over the past three sessions, landing an incredible total catch of 45 pounds, 10 ounces, the rest of the field is going to have to mount a significant comeback in order to reel in the current leader. It can be done. However Thrift - who holds a healthy 5-pound lead over his nearest competitor - doesn't plan on making it easy for anyone to catch him. "I'm going to go out there and do the same thing I've been doing," said Thrift, who has been targeting docks, rocky banks and brush piles throughout the competition with a combination of 1/2-ounce jigs and shallow running crankbaits. "I'm going to start out catching a limit. Then after that I'll worry about catching a big one." Another notable development over the course of the tournament has been the success of pros with local ties to Lake Norman. And according to Travis, this is no accident. "The locals definitely have an advantage this week because we all know the places to go to before the spawn happens," said Travis, who is joined in the top-five by fellow North Carolina native Thrift and area resident Andy Montgomery of Blacksburg, S.C. "Bryan, Andy and I know all where to start looking for bass this time of year. The bass aren't just sitting on the beds where everyone can find them. And because there really hasn't been any sight-fishing, guys have had to search for bass in other places - and that can be a lot harder to do this time of year." Tourney format and event logistics After the conclusion of Saturday's weigh-in, the tournament title will be awarded to the pro who has recorded the most combined weight over all four days of FLW Tour competition. Fans will also be treated to a Family Fun Zone & Outdoor Expo at Cabarrus Arena and Events Center on Saturday prior to the final weigh-in from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will be a drawing for a Can-Am ATV, compliments of 99.7 the Fox, and rod-and-reel combos will be given to the first 300 kids under 14 in attendance on Saturday. The Family Fun Zone & Outdoor Expo includes Ranger boat simulators, the opportunity to interact with professional anglers, interactive games, activities and giveaways provided by sponsors. It also provides visitors with the opportunity to learn more about the sport of fishing and other outdoor activities. All activities are free and open to the public. For a full schedule of events, additional information and to register for the ATV, visit FLWOutdoors.com/NationalGuardOpen. FLW Tour finalist Andy Montgomery of Blacksburg, S.C., heads out onto the open waters of Lake Norman shortly after final takeoff.In addition to a tournament title, FLW Tour anglers also will be vying for valuable standings' points in hopes of qualifying for the 2010 Forrest Wood Cup, the world championship of bass fishing. This year's Cup will be in Atlanta Aug. 5-8 on Lake Lanier. Coverage of the Lake Norman tournament will be broadcast in high definition (HD) on VERSUS May 2 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. ET. "FLW Outdoors," hosted by Jason Harper, is broadcast to approximately 500 million households worldwide. FLW Tour action continues at today's weigh-in, scheduled to take place at 4 p.m. at the Cabarrus Arena and Events Center, located at 4751 Highway 49 North in Concord, N.C. Bass-fishing fans take note Want to watch the weigh in live but can't make it in person? Then tune into FLW Live on FLWOutdoors.com shortly before 4 p.m. Eastern Time to watch live streaming video and audio of today's opening-round weigh in. Second-place qualifier Rusty Trancygier of Hahira, Ga., departs the marina shortly after final takeoff.Vital statistics: Sunrise: 7:17 a.m. Temperature at takeoff: 37 degrees Expected high temperature: 61 degrees Water temperature: 55-63 degrees Wind: From the east-northeast at 10 mph Maximum humidity: 47 percent Day's outlook: Mostly sunny

Tags: morning-story  gary-mortenson 

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North or South on Champlain?

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A Capital Challenge

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The Sun Rises on the 2015 All-American

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Deep or Shallow at Chickamauga?

There was no sentimentality attached to the smartphone photos anglers were showing off to each other prior to the Wednesday afternoon rules meeting of the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Chickamauga. The photos weren’t of loved ones back home; rather, they were shots of big largemouth bass the fishermen had caught and released during practice earlier this week. In fact, there was a surprising number of such photos making the rounds, which suggests that the kind of hefty bass that can make or break a tournament for an angler are there ready and waiting as the four-day event presented by Igloo Coolers got underway this morning out of Dayton Boat Dock. READ MORE »

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Northern Rayovacs Kick Off on the James

Ostensibly, the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division tournament presented by Mercury that began this morning is taking place on the James River, but much of the fishing focus will be centered on the Chickahominy River – or Chick, as it’s affectionately known locally. “This tournament is typically won out of the Chick,” says North Carolina pro Jamey Caldwell of the James River tributary. “There are some great bags coming out of the [James] river right now, but I just feel that those big fish are a little more sporadic. I’m going to hang out in the Chick and hope for the best.” READ MORE »

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Seminole Summer

Last week, the Walmart FLW Tour plied the waters of the Chattahoochee River on Lake Eufaula. This week, the Rayovac FLW Series moves 60 miles south on the “Hooch” to Lake Seminole for the final event of the Southeast Division. Running offshore brush piles was the dominant theme on Eufaula last week, leaving some to wonder if a similar pattern could work on Seminole, since the two legendary lakes are connected by the same river. READ MORE »

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Shallow, Deep and in Between at Eufaula

A couple of weeks ago Eufaula was high and off-color, and the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Quaker State that begins this morning was shaping up to be a shallow-water showdown. The lake has fallen by a couple of inches since then, however, and now the odds are even that both inshore and offshore patterns will be in play. In fact, one Eufaula expert who isn’t fishing the tournament expects it will take a mixture of patterns to make it to Sunday’s championship round and claim the $100,000 that goes to the winner. READ MORE »

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Anything Goes at the Cal Delta

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In or Out on Kentucky Lake

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Texoma Tough, but Stabilizing

As of press time, we were unable to confirm whether or not Troy Broussard has ever suffered a barnyard assault by any beast of burden. Nevertheless, his colorful metaphor bespeaks a challenging scenario facing the Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division field on Lake Texoma for this week’s finale, which is presented by Evinrude. From Broussard’s facebook page: “Well, after three full days [of practice] on Lake Texoma, I can honestly say that I compare this to getting kicked in the face by a mule. It’s brutal.” Allusions aside, the big Ouachita River reservoir straddling the Texas-Oklahoma border has indeed shown its persnickety side of late. Blame Mother Nature for that. READ MORE »

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Tricky Transition at Beaver

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Fog Delays Grand Lake Start

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Weather Woes Greet College Anglers

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Swollen Rayburn Challenges Anglers

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Front and Center

There is little doubt it’s coming. The uncertainty lies in what will happen because of it. If the forecast holds true, at some point this evening the severe weather system that dropped tornados across the central plains Wednesday will arrive at Lewis Smith Lake. Along with the rain and thunder, the front promises to bring with it a significant drop in temperature, with lows projected in the low 30s by the weekend. It’s a storm that looms over the 154 pros and co-anglers set to fish the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Evinrude and hosted by the Walker County Chamber of Commerce. And while they, the anglers, should stay dry, the weather might be the key question mark for a tournament already overflowing with them. READ MORE »

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Record Catch for Record College Field?

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Guntersville Grab Bag

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Toho Midday Report Day 2

If you’ve been following the FLW On The Water feed, you might have seen a slight uptick in the reports in the last hour or so. A crisp north wind, which was cold enough to force many anglers into their rain gear this morning, seems to have tapered off to a breeze. Down south on Kissimmee the sun is shining. And as the weather has improved, so too has the bite – as evidenced by the sudden surge in fish-catching reports. The increase in action is good news for many anglers who experienced slower fishing this morning than yesterday. Stacey King, who came into today in second place, is among that group. Unfortunately for day-one leader JT Kenney, “slow” for King is still pretty good. He’s got a limit, including a pair of 4-pounders, and has already culled. That makes King our unofficial leader right now. READ MORE »

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Boom or Bust at Toho

To varying degrees of success, tournament anglers are used to figuring out lakes that seemingly are a bundle of contradictions. Be that as it may, Lake Toho threatens to boggle their collective minds as the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour kickoff event presented by Mercury gets underway this morning. READ MORE »

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Mighty Amistad Issues a Challenge

Legendary south Texas reservoir Lake Amistad has hosted some of FLW’s most infamous smash-fests – the kind of tournaments where anglers weren’t challenged to catch fish, but were pushed to keep up with the competition when 20- and even 30-pound stringers were being hauled across the stage. READ MORE »