UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Lake Erie

Championship Bites: FLW Logan Martin Lake, Day 2

Championship Bites: FLW Logan Martin Lake, Day 2
A disappointed Todd Ary waves goodbye to his hometown fans.

Wal-Mart FLW Tour Championship
Logan Martin Lake, Birmingham, Ala.
Opening round, Thursday

Tiebreaker drama ... As close as many of the contests were in Thursday's competition, none could compare to the nail-biter slugfest between Todd Ary of Birmingham, Ala., and Greg Hackney of Gonzales, La. With Ary holding a slim 9-ounce lead heading into the weigh-in, Hackney was determined to prove that his second-overall ranking was no fluke. After quickly recording a healthy five-fish limit of 11 pounds, 10 ounces, Hackney brought his two-day total to 18 pounds, 15 ounces. Now it was Ary's turn to respond. As the fish piled up on the scales, it suddenly became apparent that this head-to-head battle was going to come down to the wire. And, not surprisingly, it lived up to expectations ... and then some. With Ary's fifth and final fish resting on the scales, tournament host Charlie Evans paused briefly and then announced Ary's total weight - 18 pounds, 15 ounces. After two days of nonstop fishing, the two anglers had amazingly battled to a tie. Without missing a beat, Evans readily clarified the tiebreaker. In the event of a draw, the highest seeded angler would advance. Hackney, by virtue of his impressive regular-season performance, would move on to the final round of 24. Ary, a hometown favorite, would go home. With a stunned look on his face and the empathy of the bass-fishing fans everywhere, Ary spoke straight from the heart ... and stomach. "I'm about to throw up." For Hackney, he could only acknowledge the obvious. "It's been hard work all year." And obviously, today was no different.

Fukae rebounds ... With the top-seed ranking and creator of one of the most amazing stories the FLW Tour has ever embraced, Shinichi Fukae - the FLW Tour rookie sensation and 2004 FLW Angler of the Year - undoubtedly had tremendous pressure coming into this year's championship. Not only were thousands of bass-fishing fans back in his hometown of Osaka, Japan, rooting for him, but he also had to contend with the pressure of his parents being in attendance for his very first American tournament. Facing a 2-pound, 3-ounce deficit against rival Chad Grigsby of Colon, Mich., Fukae rebounded in dramatic fashion, eking out a 14-ounce victory in the end with a total catch of 16 pounds, 4 ounces. Fukae, who seemed stunned by the result, let out a big smile as his Japanese entourage erupted in applause. To his credit, Grigsby - who nearly became the second 48th seed in as many years to knock off the top contender - didn't make any excuses. "I had my chances today," he said. "I just didn't get it done."

Easy street ... Although two-time FLW Angler of the Year Clark Wendlandt came into Thursday's weigh-in facing a 1-pound, 3-ounce deficit, the heavily favored angler from Cedar Park, Texas, couldn't have asked for a better outcome in today's contest. After posting a meager sack of 5 pounds, 3 ounces in Wednesday's opening round, Wendlandt showed why he is one of the most feared veterans on the tour - rebounding on day two with a catch of 10 pounds. However, any potential drama between Wendlandt and fellow rival Dennis Mogoto of Waynesville, Ohio, quickly dissipated when Mogoto threw up his hands and revealed that he had failed to land a single fish in today's contest. But while Wendlandt embraced his good fortune, other top-rated pros weren't so lucky.

Defending FLW Tour champion David Dudley raises his arms again this year at the championship, only this time itTop guns eliminated ... Although Wendlandt, Hackney and Fukae all avoided first-round upsets, the same could not be said for defending FLW Champion David Dudley of Manteo, N.C., 2004 Bassmaster Champion Takahiro Omori of Emory, Texas, veteran FLW Tour angler Aaron Martens of Castaic, Calif., and 2003 FLW Angler of the Year Dan Morehead of Paducah, Ky. Not only did four of the biggest names in professional bass fishing bow out in the opening round, but each of the aforementioned heavyweights lost by nearly 5 full pounds (or more in some cases) against lower-seeded rivals. But then again, as they say in the business, that's just bass fishing.

Clash of the titans II ... While there was plenty of drama to be had at Thursday weigh-in, surprisingly, it was nowhere to be found in the head-to-head battle between Luke Clausen of Spokane, Wash., and Shad Schenck of Waynetown, Ind. Although both anglers turned in the two biggest sacks of the day in the opening round and were only separated by 6 ounces heading into Friday's contest, Clausen steamrolled his way into the round of 24 - ultimately defeating Schenck by more than 8 pounds. "I was fortunate to catch that today," said Clausen. "I was lucky Shad stumbled."

Quick numbers:

26-3: Weight, in pounds and ounces, of largest two-day pro stringer (Luke Clausen).

12: Number of anglers (out of a possible 24) who advanced by outfishing their opponents by more than 5 pounds over two days.

3: Highest-seeded angler to bow out in the opening round (Mike Surman).

1: Number of tiebreakers needed since the FLW Championship went to the bracket-style format in 2002.

0: Number of former FLW Champions to successfully defend their title the next year.

Sound bites:

"Swimming a crankbait."
- FLW pro Takahiro Omori of Emory, Texas, describing what he uses his new 40-by-16 foot swimming pool for.

"I'm the most fortunate man in the world. I almost self destructed."
- FLW Tour pro Matt Herren of Trussville, Ala., discussing his razor thin margin of victory over fellow rival Jacob Powroznik of Prince George, Va., in the opening round.

"It's nice to get to the next round. Now it's time to break out the heavy artillery."
- FLW Tour pro Dean Rojas of Grand Saline, Texas, talking about stepping up his game in the semifinals.

"This state has the finest bass fishing in the world. And I'm not just saying that because I'm standing before you guys onstage."
- FLW Tour pro Tom Mann, Jr. of Buford, Ga., on his respect and admiration of Alabama fisheries and associated conservation programs.

"I just got eliminated from the biggest tournament of my life. But I have some great news. I just saved a ton on my car insurance by switching to Geico."
- FLW Tour pro Alton Jones of Waco, Texas, joking about his narrow loss to rival Lee Bailey Jr., of Amston, Conn.

FLW action continues at tomorrow's takeoff, scheduled to take place at 7 a.m. at Pell City Lakeside Park Marina, located at 2801 Stemley Bridge Road in Pell City, Ala.

Tags: gary-mortenson  quick-bites  2004-08-11-flw-tour-championship 

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