UPCOMING EVENT: ABU GARCIA COLLEGE FISHING - 2020 - Harris Chain of Lakes

Robertson bests Beaver bunch

Robertson bests Beaver bunch
Pro Darrel Robertson of Jay, Okla., caught a five-bass limit weighing 14 pounds, 6 ounces Friday to lead the $1.25 million Wal-Mart Open on Beaver Lake.

ROGERS, Ark. - Look out, Clark Wendlandt, somebody's fixing to take away the title of "Mr. Beaver Lake." Andre Moore, the 2002 Wal-Mart Open champion, put himself into position Friday to become the second pro to repeat victory at Beaver Lake. But first he'll have to get past the likes of Darrel Robertson, who bested Moore's catch by 6 ounces to take the final-round Pro Division lead.

Robertson - the pro from Jay, Okla., who in a two-month stretch in 1999 cleared $860,000 by winning both the FLW Tour Championship and the Ranger M1 - caught a five-bass limit Friday weighing 14 pounds, 6 ounces and seems a very strong candidate to push for yet another huge payday this week.

"I'll tell you what, I had a great day," Robertson said. "I haven't really been nervous all week because I haven't had any place to go. I just put my trolling motor down every day and ran the bank looking for bedding fish."

Robertson's had more than just one great day; he's had a great week. That comes as a bit of a surprise to him since, unlike many pros, he didn't have any bedding bass scouted out before the tournament started.

"The good Lord's blessed me every day," he said. "I didn't have any fish when I started. But if I can find them, I can catch them."

He's not kidding. Through clouds, sunshine, wind and calm, Robertson has adjusted remarkably each day and stayed atop the leaderboard. Friday he didn't catch any keepers on the spinnerbait that produced for him in the early rounds, but rather took his cue from the bluebird skies and went sight-fishing for his big bass in the Rocky Branch, North Clifty and Big Clifty areas of Beaver Lake.

And, as most anglers know, a certain amount of luck follows any tournament contender. Robertson experienced that Friday by doggedly catching his biggest bed fish after it thwarted his efforts several times. Even after foul-hooking and releasing it once (rules state that fish must be caught by the mouth), he eventually landed his kicker.

"The biggest fish I had, I caught it four times today," he said. "It's just persistence here. You've got to stick around long enough to get them to bite."

Pro Andre Moore of Scottsdale, Ariz., weighed in five bass worth 14 pounds even for second place.Moore wants more

Robertson, by no means, is a lock to win. Seven pros caught limits on the sight-fishing bite Friday, so he has a lot of company, including Moore.

The pro from Scottsdale, Ariz., weighed in five bass worth 14 pounds even for second place and couldn't be more stoked about the prospect of winning his second Wal-Mart Open - a feat only previously accomplished by Wendlandt.

But, unlike Robertson, Moore's a little anxious about it.

"I'm more nervous now than when I won here before. When I won, I just kind of went fishing and didn't worry about anything," he said. "But it would mean the world if I could do it again."

Moore threw a Smallie Beaver and Flirt finesse worm in Indian Creek to catch his bed fish Friday, which is a poetic nod to his last win here. In 2002 Moore won this event with his own prototype creature bait. After the $200,000 victory, he was able to bankroll his bait company, Reaction Innovations, and launched his line of lures led by the Sweet Beaver, his winning bait. The Smallie Beaver is just a smaller version of the first bait.

And when you name your premier bait after a certain lake, there's obviously a connection.

"I love sight-fishing," Moore said. "It would mean a lot to me personally to win another one sight-fishing. I like the way the sight fish act here. A lot of places we go, the sight fish are really dumb and anybody can catch them. But here, these fish are tough to catch, and I feel very proud to catch them."

Pro Alton Jones of Waco, Texas, caught a limit weighing 11 pounds, 4 ounces for third place.Jones, Pirch also close in third, fourth

Alton Jones of Waco, Texas, caught a limit weighing 11 pounds, 4 ounces for third place, and opening-round leader Clifford Pirch of Payson, Ariz., grabbed the fourth slot with a limit weighing 11-2.

"All you can ask for is to be within striking range," Jones said. "All it takes is one big bite, and they're out there to be had."

Fishing a Yum Mega tube, Jones said he also foul-hooked a bass, a 16 1/2-incher, while sight-fishing and had to release it.

"I'll just go and try to catch that fish again tomorrow," he said.

Pro Clifford Pirch of Payson, Ariz., grabbed the fourth slot with a limit weighing 11-2.Pirch, an FLW rookie, said he was a little thrown off his game by the hoopla and TV cameras that go with fishing an FLW final round.

"It was just getting used to the whole `hat-cam' thing," he laughed, "but I think I can adjust and do better tomorrow."

Shaw fifth

Alvin Shaw of State Road, N.C., a seven-time FLW Championship qualifier and fresh off a top-10 at the Ouachita River, placed fifth with a limit weighing 9 pounds, 4 ounces.

"I had a couple of fish that just wouldn't work with me, but I had a pretty good day," he said. "I was just trying to pitch a heavy jig and catch them off guard."

Pro Kevin Vida picks one off the bed Friday.Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 pros heading into Saturday's action at Beaver Lake:

6th: Kevin Vida of Clare, Mich., five bass, 9-1
7th: Cody Bird of Granbury, Texas, five bass, 7-10
8th: Jason Kilpatrick of Satsuma, Ala., five bass, 7-1
9th: Jeremiah Kindy of Benton, Ark., three bass, 2-10
10th: Mark Pack of Mineola, Texas, zero bass

Final round Saturday

Day four of Wal-Mart Open competition at Beaver Lake begins as the final-round field of 10 boats takes off from Prairie Creek Marina at 7 a.m. Central time Saturday. Friday's weights carry over to Saturday, and the $200,000 pro winner will be determined by two-day combined weight.

Tags: jeff-schroeder  headline-story  2005-04-13-wal-mart-open-beaver-lake 

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