UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Lake Erie

It’s Shin in the wind

It’s Shin in the wind
Shinichi Fukae of Mineola, Texas, took the overall lead in the Pro Division heading into the final day of competition on Beaver Lake. Fukae finished the semifinals with a total weight of 11 pounds, 3 ounces.

ROGERS, Ark. - While the sun came out for Friday's competition at Beaver Lake, the breeze came with it, bringing wind speeds that cracked double digits. Under those conditions, the only pro to do the same was Shinichi Fukae, who popped a five-bass limit weighing 11 pounds, 3 ounces to lead the first half of the finals at the Wal-Mart Open.

Craig Powers and Mark Rose aren't all that far behind after both catching limits of their own - Powers had 9 pounds, 12 ounces while Rose had 9-9 - but it's Fukae who, for the second time this season, sits in the driver's seat at an FLW Tour event with one day left to fish. The pro from Mineola, Texas - originally from Tokyo - won the season opener at Lake Okeechobee in January.

Most pros confessed to having trouble adjusting to the high-pressure system that brought a steady, 15- to 20-mph wind to Beaver Lake Friday, but not Fukae. The finesse anglers had trouble just maintaining boat position, much less feeling the bite, and therefore the limit count dropped to just three on the pro side. But the leader said he managed to catch some 15 to 17 keeper bass Friday, not just in spite of the wind, but because of it.

"Usually, the wind helps me," Fukae said through a translator. "Today, the fishing was much better because of the wind."

Fukae weighed in four good spotted bass and one smallmouth. He said he's catching his fish, mostly prespawners, in about 10 feet of water on a 4-inch Yamamoto Shaky Head worm with a surprisingly light 3/32-ounce jig head using 8-pound line. Most anglers increase their lead weights in windy conditions, but Fukae found a way to stay light. He fished near Beaver Dam most of the day, focusing his efforts on a patch of standing timber in the lake's low water. Instead of standing on his trolling motor all day facing into the wind, he said he simply let the wind blow his boat into the leafless trees, which would anchor him and let him concentrate on the fishing.

"I'm just fishing very slow and just trying to keep patient," he said. "I wonder if everyone can fish a light jig like that? It feels all right because I can keep the boat in one place in the wind."

The real key to Fukae's success, however, is his ability to feel the bass bite as the wind blows the line around and creates slack. And the only one who knows how he does that is Fukae himself, whose countless hours of practice on the water appears to be translating into yet another strong finish on the FLW Tour.

Pro Craig Powers of Rockwood, Tenn., used a 9-pound, 2-ounce catch to finish the semifinals in second place.Powers scratches out second

Powers, who hails from Rockwood, Tenn., seemed to have the magic bait the first two days of competition, but he said he had trouble throwing his Bomber Long A jerkbait in the wind on day three.

"I really didn't think anything could hurt the way I was fishing," the opening-round pro leader said, "but, obviously, I was very wrong."

Powers still caught some relatively nice largemouths - good enough for 9 pounds, 12 ounces and in second place just 1-7 off the lead - but he had to hole up and fish just a single windward cove in his area all day to do it.

"That was the only calm bank I could find," he said.

Pro Mark Rose of Marion, Ark., used a catch of 9 pounds, 9 ounces to grab third place overall heading into SaturdayRose third

Rose, from Marion, Ark., also went finesse fishing to catch his third-place, 9-pound, 9-ounce limit. And he, too, was buffeted by the wind.

"The wind was blowing a lot harder today than it has been, and that made it a lot tougher," he said. "I have been fishing 8-pound line with a little worm, but today I had to cut back to 6-pound line to cut through the wind."

And, unlike Fukae, Rose went with a heavier jig head, switching from 3/16-ounce to a ¼-ounce.

"My goal was to catch 10 or 11 pounds a day," he said. "Hopefully, I can catch that tomorrow."

Pro Jeffrey Thomas of Broadway, N.C., used a 5-pound, 7-ounce catch to finish the day in fourth place.Thomas fourth

Day-one pro leader Jeffrey Thomas of Broadway, N.C., caught three bass weighing 5 pounds, 7 ounces for fourth place Friday.

"It was just hard even to get a bite today," said Thomas, who mainly threw a crankbait. "Usually, you can catch the numbers, but today we couldn't even catch shorts."

All was not lost in Thomas' boat, however. His co-angler partner, Richard Strother, won the Co-angler Division title at Beaver Lake.

"It was a perfect day for the co-angler," Thomas said, "because the pros in front had to spend the day worrying about positioning the boat."

Pro Mike Wurm of Hot Springs, Ark., took fifth place with a total catch of 5 pounds, 5 ounces.Wurm fifth

Mike Wurm of Hot Springs, Ark., placed fifth for the pros with a three-bass weight of 5 pounds, 5 ounces. He, too, was finesse-fishing with plastics.

"This was my toughest day. That wind and the waves just whipped me today," he said. "But the fish are still there. They don't have to adjust to me, I have to adjust to them."

Rest of the best

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

6th: Clifford Pirch of Payson, Ariz., two bass, 4-2
7th: Takahiro Omori of Emory, Texas, two bass, 3-14
8th: Koby Kreiger of Okeechobee, Fla., three bass, 3-11
9th: Darrel Robertson of Jay, Okla., three bass, 2-14
10th: Toby Hartsell of Livingston, Texas, three bass, 2-9

Final round Saturday

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

Tags: jeff-schroeder  headline-story  2006-04-05-beaver-lake 

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