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Quick Bites: FLW Series Lake Lanier, Day 4

Quick Bites: FLW Series Lake Lanier, Day 4
Tom Mann Jr. puts his basket of fish into the aquarium for today's water weigh-in.

Wal-Mart FLW Series
Lake Lanier, Gainesville, Ga.
Final round, Saturday

Tim Peek at the water scale.What a weigh-in ... Because this is a week of firsts, it is fitting that this is also the first major FLW Outdoors bass tournament to go water weigh-in style with a very different type of scale than is typically used at FLW Tour and Stren Series events. Basically, instead of bringing their bass to the stage in a bag and placing them on the scale, each competitor carried their bass in a special basket that fit into a container of water - an aquarium of sorts - that sat on the scales. "You zero the weight out every time," explained FLW Series tournament director Chris Jones. "We have a bag that weighs the same as the basket that goes in the aquarium. With this, we get the true weight of just the fish." Jones said that the water weigh-in method will likely be introduced soon along the other tournament trails.

No zero to hero ... Today marked the conclusion of the first-ever Wal-Mart FLW Series event, and this particular tournament trail awards the trophy to the angler with the heaviest four-day accumulated weight (after a cut to the top 10 after day three). A few anglers over the years have been outspoken about the need for a weight system such as this, as the Wal-Mart FLW Tour zeroes out the weights after day two, and the top-10 anglers start afresh. But according to No. 9 pro J.T. Kenney, who fishes both of the top-rung FLW trails, there are advantages to both systems. "I like it," he said of the four-day accumulated weight. "It shows who has been the most consistent. But then again, when the weights are zeroed, it's probably more exciting."

Mike Auten brought in largemouths while everyone else was catching spots.Buckets of buckets ... While the rest of the field was catching spotted bass after spotted bass this week on Lake Lanier - No. 8 pro Tom Mann Jr. says it's the best in the country for spots - No. 5 pro Mike Auten earned a top-10 finish and $20,000 by catching largemouths. "Obviously this lake is known for its spotted bass, but it also has a lot of good largemouth water," Auten said. "It has an incredible population of largemouths, and I had a lot of quality largemouths this tournament." In fact, Auten says he fished his way into the top 10 exclusively with largemouths. "I didn't weigh in a spot the entire week," he said. "I caught one and I culled it."

Deep thinking ... Just as Auten bucked the trend by fishing for largemouths, so did No. 7 pro Jody Cordell by fishing very deep when most people were running a little less deep or fishing shallow altogether. "I was out there on that open water," he said. "All my fish came in 30 to 45 feet of water." Cordell credited his intimate local knowledge of Lake Lanier with his offbeat pattern. "Living here, I fish offshore," he said. "In practice, I was catching 17 to 18 pounds. I really thought I'd win this tournament, but I had a rough first day." Indeed, Cordell caught only 7 pounds, 3 ounces on day one, a far cry from his subsequent catches of 15-4, 17-9 and 12-7 the rest of the week.

No. 2 Terry Baksay talks to Keith Lebowitz. Baksay caught only four bass today but dealt with a strained back.Baksay's back pain ... Driving a bass boat at high speeds and making casts for hours on end is never easy on the muscles, and today, Terry Baksay's back said "Enough!" Baksay's back was so sore by today's weigh-in that lifting his box of fish into the new water scale was just too much. "I went to put my bag in the truck this morning, and it's not that heavy," Baksay said. "All of a sudden, that was it." Even though muscles are plenty strained by day four anyway, Baksay, ever the trooper, said the back pain did little to hamper him in his quest to win $100,000. "Setting the hook was a little bit difficult, but it wasn't that bad," Baksay said. "It's a beautiful day in Georgia." ... Still, Baksay should probably bust out the sponsor-approved Tylenol Rapid Release Gels for his 15-hour ride back to Connecticut. One upshot of the pain? "It'll keep me awake," he said.

Under the weather ... Baksay isn't the only top-10 pro who went fishing today feeling not so hot. No. 4 pro Wesley Strader first had to overcome the flu to make it into today's final round. "I had the flu the first day," said Strader, speaking with a painful-sounding scratchy voice. "Then it moved to my chest. I haven't felt good, I can tell you that. The only thing that made me feel better was catching all these fish." Earlier in the week, Strader said on stage that he thought maybe it was the fact that his dad, Bud, and his brother, Shawn, were fishing the tournament alongside him that contributed to his success, but today, he gave credit to the germs of the world. "I think I'm going to get sick at every tournament," he said. His $30,000 paycheck for fourth place will buy a lot of cold and flu medicine.

Quick numbers:

Terry Baksay and Tim Peek.0: Number of FLW Outdoors events that winner Tim Farley had competed in before this week's FLW Series tournament.

2: Number of pros who did not bring in a five-bass limit on day four, including runner-up Baksay.

13: Farley's margin of victory over Baksay, in ounces.

133,000: Dollars that No. 3 pro Shinichi Fukae has already won this season in FLW Outdoors events.

132: Position on the leaderboard that Jody Cordell held after day one. He eventually ended the tournament in seventh.

Sound bites:

Mike Auten swigs an A&W Root Beer."You give me an A&W Root Beer and a sandwich, and I'll sit here for a while." - Auten, while sitting in the leader's seat. He got his root beer but not the sandwich.

"I'm thinking, `What in the world am I doing with these guys?'" - No. 10 pro Tim Peek, on seeing fishing legends like Jay Yelas and David Fritts at the pretournament meeting.

"It was a miracle I made the top 10. I don't know how I did it." - No. 8 pro Mann, a Lake Lanier expert who is still befuddled by his success this week.

"I'd like to stay and fish, but I've been away from home for three weeks, so I think I'm going to head out." - Kenney, on how the fishing is so great on Lanier this week that it tempted him into staying.

"I would be financially better if I won, but I could not be happier." - Peek, on his first FLW Series performance. He earned $15,000 as the 10th-place pro.

Tags: jennifer-simmons  quick-bites  2006-03-08-lake-lanier 

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