UPCOMING EVENT: TACKLE WAREHOUSE PRO CIRCUIT - 2020 - Lake Erie

The Japanese connection

The Japanese connection
Omori hoists the massive largemouth that anchored his Pro Division-leading catch.

Takahiro Omori steals the show, grabs lead heading into FLW final round of competition

ALEXANDER CITY, Ala. - Takahiro Omori may not have a complete grasp of the English language, however he made it quite clear that his fishing prowess needs no translation. Buoyed by the support of four Japanese exchange fisherman attending an FLW Tour event for the first time, Omori put on a clinic during today's semifinal round of competition on Lake Martin. Demonstrating a fishing acumen that defied international boundaries, Omori hauled in a magnificent 14-pound, 15-ounce stringer to grab the overall lead in the Pro Division heading into tomorrow's all-important finals.

Omori, who currently hails from Emory, Texas, not only made his fellow countrymen proud, but also reached the top-5 of an FLW tournament for the first time. Omori, who wore a giant smile throughout most of the weigh-in, said he couldn't be more pleased with his performance.

"I'm very excited. I've been fishing on the FLW Tour for five years but this is the first time I've ever made the top 5," he said. "I'm very, very happy right now."

Omori, who caught the majority of his catch on spinnerbaits, said that he just wanted to place in the top 75 - the cutoff for earning a minimum payout of $1,800 in an FLW tournament.

"When I came to Lake Martin, I just wanted to earn a check," he said. "But as the tournament went on, I began to get more and more confident. I stayed in the same area for three days and I was able to learn some things. I think I know the area pretty well now."

Although Omori said the tournament was still up for grabs, he speculated that if the right conditions materialized tomorrow, he would have a good shot at winning the $100,000 first prize.

"If the weather stays warm like it was today, I think I could catch about 14 pounds of fish. But if it gets cold, I might not get as many bites," he said. "If I can get a couple of big bites tomorrow, who knows, maybe I can win. But big bites are hard to come by."

Lurking in the shadows

While Omori turned in a stellar performance, prognosticators almost certainly have their money on the ever-dangerous Rick Clunn to capture the top prize. Hailing from Ava, Mo., Clunn has made more top-5 appearances on the FLW Tour than any other angler. And today was no different. Hauling in a respectable catch of 12 pounds, 2 ounces, Clunn finished in second place heading into tomorrow's finals.

But while most anglers would be excited just to make the top 10, Clunn was clearly taking his achievement in stride - an approach reminiscent of a seasoned veteran.

"I see a lot of the guys on the tour who are happy just to make it to the third day of the tournament," said Clunn. "But I've been here enough times to know that the job is not over. I try not to get too excited because it's important to keep your emotions in check. For me, that's the best way to stay focused."

Unlike most anglers, Clunn is not praying for good weather for tomorrow's finals.

"I always hope for bad weather," he said. "That's when I'm at my best."

However, Clunn revealed another reason for his 'bah-humbug' approach to the weather.

"If the weather is bad, that means a lot more of the (recreational) anglers will stay off the lake," he said. "That's not to say they don't have the same right to fish as we do, but the more fishermen that are out on the lake, the greater the chance they will stray into my fishing (holes). It's going to come down to timing and how many boats are in the water. Those will probably be the two biggest factors tomorrow."

Aaron Martens qualified in third place heading into the final round of competition with a catch of 10 pounds, 7 ounces.

"I've had a great tournament so far," said Martens, a drop-shotting specialist from Castaic, Calif. "It was a really good day."

Going for broke

Ricky Shumpert of Lexington, S.C., had one strategy all along heading into the FLW tourney on Lake Martin - target the largest largemouth bass in the lake. It was a risky strategy given the preponderance of spotted bass in Lake Martin. However, it now appears to be paying off. Shumpert used the same strategy again today and landed a nice 9-pound, 8-ounce stringer to gain a berth in the finals.

"I'm not a finesse fisherman and I'm not a spotted bass fisherman. I knew when I came here that I needed to catch largemouth bass," he said. "I told myself all along that I was going to do what I like to do. And that was to go find the muddiest water I could find and flip a jig. If it worked out, great; if it didn't, so be it."

Shumpert caught his largemouth bass and, at least for a day, it did work out great.

Although Guido Hibdon claimed he didn't have the greatest day on the lake, the legendary icon from Gravois Mills, Mo., landed enough fish to make it to the crucial final day of competition. Hibdon recorded a 8-pound, 9-ounce catch to become the last member of the original field of 175 anglers to make the top-5 cut.

"I saw the fish getting shallower all day long," said Hibdon, a shallow water specialist. "I tried, but I just couldn't catch them."

Clearly, there were many anglers on the tour who wished they could have been so "unlucky."

Rounding out the top-10 anglers in the Pro Division were: Greg Carpenter (sixth) of Royal, Ark., with a catch of 6 pounds, 13 ounces; Donald Eaton (seventh) of Stockbridge, Ga., with a catch of 4 pounds, 15 ounces; Jerry Rhyne (eighth) of Denver, N.C., with a catch of 4 pounds; Mike Wurm (ninth) of Hot Springs, Ark., with a catch of 2 pounds; and Eric Holt (tenth) of Galena, Mo., with a catch of 1 pound, 3 ounces.

Tomorrow's competition begins at 6:30 a.m. at the West Creek State Park marina. Saturday's weigh-in begins at 3:30 p.m. at the Wal-Mart Supercenter located on Highway 280 West in Alexander City. 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. Saturday.

Day-three related links:

The White stuff
Quick Bites: Day 3
Photos
Results
Press release


Tags: gary-mortenson  headline-story  2001-03-21-lake-martin 

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