UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Lake Erie

Time to meet the challenge

Time to meet the challenge
The FLW Tour Championship start boat makes its way off the water shortly after takeoff.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - With head-to-head matchups too close to call in nearly every bracket, many of the nation's top pros in this year's FLW Tour Championship will have little choice Thursday but to throw caution to the wind. After battling hard in Wednesday's opener, most anglers found themselves in a virtual dead heat with their opponents heading into the second day of competition.

In fact, as the full field of 48 pros departed Pell City Lakeside Park Marina shortly after 7 a.m., 30 of those pros were separated by less than 2 pounds, 8 ounces. Amazingly, 16 of those anglers were separated by a scant 15 ounces or less. And while the razor-thin margins served to increase excitement and create wonderful suspense for bass-fishing fans nationwide, it did little to calm the nerves of some of the most seasoned veterans - including many heavily favored pros who found themselves already lagging dangerously behind their lower-seeded opponents.

To underscore this point, top-seeded Shinichi Fukae of Osaka, Japan, 2003 FLW Championship winner David Dudley of Manteo, N.C., 2004 Bassmaster Classic champion Takahiro Omori of Emory, Texas, as well as pre-tournament favorites Greg Hackney of Gonzales, La., Clark Wendlandt of Cedar Park, Texas, and Aaron Martens of Castaic, Calif., were just some of the big names to fall behind their opponents after the first day of competition.

Ironically, some anglers who fished extremely well on Wednesday still found themselves in precarious situations as a result of quirks in the bracket format. Specifically, Luke Clausen of Spokane, Wash., and Shad Schenck of Waynetown, Ind., are locked in a rough-and-tumble, head-to-head battle after recording the two largest stringers in the entire pro field - 14 pounds, 4 ounces and 13 pounds, 14 ounces, respectively.

Boaters head out into the rain shortly after takeoff from Pell City Lakeside Park Marina.However, while only one day remains for many anglers to change their destiny, the competition isn't the only hurdle standing in the way of pros attempting to advance to Friday's round of 24. As usual, the weather has become a big factor as well. While sunny skies and steamy temperatures dominated most of the pre-fishing schedules, rain, fog and high humidity greeted anglers as they made their way onto the open waters of Logan Martin Lake early Thursday morning. The result is that many game plans will now have to be changed. Many adjustments will have to be made. And many new areas will have to be fished.

And while much has yet to be decided, one thing seems certain: The pros who qualify for the round of 24 after today's competition definitely will have earned it.

Can't make the weigh-in in person? ... no problem

Thanks to some innovative technology, hardcore bass-fishing enthusiasts will be able to get all of the sights and sounds of each day's weigh-in from the Aug. 11-14 Wal-Mart FLW Tour Championship at Logan Martin Lake. Fans will get up-to-the-second weigh-in results, live streaming video and real-time audio immediately on "FLW Live™" - a new feature on FLWOutdoors.com that brings the live weigh-in format right to your computer screen.

To locate FLW Live, simply go to the FLW Tour home page and click on the FLW Live, located on the left-hand navigation bar. The start page will appear. Follow the directions to activate FLW Live.

FLW Championship action continues at today's weigh-in, scheduled to take place at 5 p.m. at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex, located at 2100 Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd. in Birmingham, Ala.

Thursday's conditions:

Sunrise: 6:58 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 67 degrees
Expected high temperature: 80 degrees
Water temperature: 75-82 degrees
Wind: from the northeast at 7 mph
Humidity: 97 percent
Day's outlook: cloudy skies with rainy conditions expected throughout the day

Tags: gary-mortenson  morning-story  2004-08-11-flw-tour-championship 

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