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Quick Bites: FLW Lake Okeechobee, Day 4

Quick Bites: FLW Lake Okeechobee, Day 4
Pro Ray Scheide of Russellville, Ark., shows off his first-place trophy after winning the FLW Tour event on Lake Okechboee.

Wal-Mart FLW Tour
Lake Okeechobee, Clewiston, Fla.
Finals, Saturday

Rookie makes good ... Who said 13 is an unlucky number? Using a two-day total of 36 pounds, 1 ounce, Ray Scheide of Russellville, Ark., absolutely dominated the Pro Division over the final two days of competition, outfishing his nearest competitor in the finals by a whopping 13 pounds to take home a first-place check for $100,000. However, while Scheide's margin of victory was stunning in and of itself, the fact that the Arkansas native was fishing in the very first FLW Tour event of his career made the feat that much more incredible. "I hope to make a habit of this," said Scheide. "I just worked really hard to get here. Knowing it was my first FLW tournament, I (practiced) seven days a week until dark. Obviously, this has exceeded all of my expectations. Someone was looking out for me today." Fishing in heavy grass mats with 60-pound braided line, Scheide wrenched lunker after lunker from some of the thicker cover you'll ever see. But amazingly enough, even though he knew he had a 20-pound-plus limit in his livewell, Scheide still wasn't sure it was enough to pull out victory on the fickle and humbling waters of Lake Okeechobee. "I really didn't know if I had enough fish to win. So I never let up. I still thought I needed more. With a lake like this and the stringers that were coming out of here, I knew I had to keep fishing to the very end." In the end, Sheide not only walked away a champion, but he also received a big hug from his mom onstage while earning the respect of FLW Tour pros for the foreseeable future. Not bad for a rookie.

Pro Chris McCall of Jasper, Texas, used a two-day catch of 23 pounds, 1 ounce to finish in second place at Lake Okeechobee.McCall's magic not quite enough ... After one of the most memorable and emotionally charged weeks of his life, Chris McCall of Jasper, Texas, recorded a two-day stringer of 23 pounds, 1 ounce, to capture second place and a check for $35,000. However, given the fact that McCall had lost his mother to a heart attack earlier in the week, his feat in the finals was perhaps even more remarkable than Scheide's tremendous effort. "It's been a difficult week for me. But from a fishing standpoint, it's just been tremendous. I'll take second place." An obvious crowd favorite, McCall reached down deep all week, churning out a heroic effort rarely seen in the sporting world on any level. "Everybody has just been so wonderful," he said. "This has definitely been one of the best tournaments of my life."

Pro David Dudley of Manteo, N.C., finished the finals in third place with a total catch of 22 pounds, 11 ounces.Surprise, Dudley doesn't win ... With nine FLW Tour top-10 finishes, a Ranger M1 Championship, a 2003 FLW Tour Championship, a second-place finish in the 2003 FLW Angler of the Year competition and more than $1.6 million in career earnings at FLW Outdoors events since 1995, it is usually a bigger surprise of late when David Dudley of Manteo, N.C., doesn't win a tournament. But as they say, even the great ones can't win all of the time. Using a two-day catch of 22 pounds, 11 ounces, Dudley finished the FLW Tour event on Lake Okeechobee solidly in third place. Now, most anglers would be happy to walk away with a top-10 finish and a check for $20,000. However, Dudley is not just any angler. "I'm thankful to be here," said Dudley, one of the fiercest competitors on the tour. "But I was really frustrated today. I was doing a lot of sight-fishing, and it's difficult to see all of those fish cruising around and not be able to catch them." Dudley - who now boasts his very own crankbait in Wal-Mart stores throughout the country, a Mann's Rabbit Dog spinnerbait - says that he's now setting his sights on an even bigger accomplishment. "I'd really like to win that angler-of-the-year title this season," said Dudley. "I finished in 15th place (in 2000), 11th place (in 2001), seventh place (in 2002) and second place last year. So I guess I only have one more place to go."

Quick numbers:

6,429-11: Total combined weight, in pounds and ounces, of fish caught this week by all anglers on Lake Okeechobee.

89-14: Weight, in pounds and ounces, of fish caught on the final day of competition on Lake Okeechobee.

13: Margin of victory, in pounds, by FLW Tour rookie Ray Scheide in the Pro Division finals.

8: Number of limits caught in the finals.

1: Number of FLW tournaments Lake Okeechobee champion Ray Scheide had fished before this week's event.

Sound bites:

"The most awesome thing is that I got to call my wife and tell her about it."
- FLW Tour pro Ray Scheide on the best part of winning an FLW Tour title.

"It's not really."
- FLW Tour pro Larry Nixon disputing FLW host Charlie Evans' evaluation that catching a five-fish limit, no matter what the size, was a tremendous accomplishment considering the cold front that blew through the area during the finals.

"One of these days I'm going to learn what it's like to win one of these things."
- FLW Tour pro Billy Bowen Jr. expressing confidence that it's only a matter of time before he puts all the pieces together to win his first FLW title.

"I could have used my fish today for bait on day two."
- FLW Tour pro Dean Rojas commenting on the small size of his five-fish, 5-pound, 1-ounce limit in the finals.

"My spinnerbait bite just went south on me today."
- FLW Tour pro James Parker explaining his final-day catch of 0 pounds, 0 ounces.

"I was praying that after my second screw up in a row that I'd still be able to pull it out."
- FLW Tour pro David Lefebre on his long-shot chance of winning the tournament title with a two-day stringer of 19 pounds, 7 ounces.

FLW Tour action resumes Feb. 11-14 at the Atchafalaya Basin in Belle River, La.

Tags: gary-mortenson  quick-bites  2004-01-21-lake-okeechobee 

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