UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Lake Erie

Quick Bites: FLW Tour Wal-Mart Open, Beaver Lake, Day 3

Quick Bites: FLW Tour Wal-Mart Open, Beaver Lake, Day 3
Shinichi Fukae patiently awaits the conclusion of today's weigh-in. Fukae, who finished the day in first place, is just one of the pro powerhouses vying for a tournament title on Beaver Lake.

Wal-Mart FLW Tour
2006 Wal-Mart Open
Beaver Lake, Rogers, Ala.
Semifinal round, Friday

Juggernauts collide ... While most FLW Tour finals have their fair share of great anglers, the 2006 Wal-Mart Open boasts one of the most impressive fields of top pros in the history of the FLW Tour. No less than five finalists have all won at least one FLW Tour event. Darrel Robertson (currently in eighth place) won the 1999 FLW Tour Championship at Ft. Gibson Lake. Mike Wurm (fifth place) took the 1999 FLW Tour title on Lake Murray. Takahiro Omori (seventh) won the 2001 FLW Tour event at Lake Martin in addition to winning the 2004 Bassmaster Classic. Craig Powers (second) won the FLW Tour event at the Red River. And Shinichi Fukae took first-place honors at this year's FLW Tour event at Lake Okeechobee in addition to winning 2004 FLW Tour angler of the year honors. If that isn't impressive enough, together, the 10 finalists at this year's Wal-Mart Open have combined earnings at FLW Outdoors events totaling $3,659,000.

Wind-swept semis ... Almost to an angler, everyone agreed that today's windy conditions were some of the worst they'd ever seen. Mike Wurm: "That wind just whipped me today. It was nasty." Koby Kreiger: "The wind today, it really played havoc with the style of fishing I'm doing." Clifford Pirch: "I couldn't fish the way I wanted to today because the wind was really blowing - really blowing." Mark Rose: "I had to downsize to 6-pound test line because that small line was the only way to cut through the wind." Craig Powers: "I really didn't think anything could hurt the way I was fishing today, but I was wrong. The wind blew harder today than any other day of this tournament." The steady winds, which blew at 20 mph and gusted to over 30 mph through much of the afternoon, appeared to significantly restrict the weights of even the most seasoned veterans. When all was said and done, only three pros and one co-angler managed to bring more than 5 pounds, 7 ounces to the scales.

Happy feat for a happy guy ... When co-angler Richard Strother finally realized he'd won the tournament title on Beaver Lake, he raised his arms, let out a big sigh of relief and ... danced a jig. Yep, you heard that right. Strother, a retired phone company worker, displayed more moves than a Fred Astaire re-run on the Turner Classic Movies channel. To top it off, Strother walked to the front of the stage, jumped up in the air, clicked his heels together and landed to thunderous applause from the crowd. "Not bad for an old retired phone guy," Strother said. Nope, not bad at all. As Strother gathered his $40,000 check, he was also greeted onstage by his wife, Pat, in one of the most genuine and heartfelt moments of the tournament so far.

Quick numbers:

0: Total number of FLW Tour events won by co-angler Richard Strother until today.

3: Total limits caught by the pros in today's semifinals.

4: Total number of top-10 finishes on Beaver Lake for FLW Tour pro Darrel Robertson.

5: Number of pro finalists at 2006 Wal-Mart Open with at least one FLW Tour title under their belt.

6: Number of top-10 finishes for day-three pro leader Shinichi Fukae at elite-level FLW Outdoors events (FLW Tour and FLW Series) since 2004 - his rookie season.

8-10: Total weight in pounds and ounces separating day-three pro leader Shinichi Fukae and 10th place semifinalist Toby Hartsell.

58-6: Total weight in pounds and ounces of fish caught by pros during semifinals.

200,000: Total prize money up for grabs for first-place in the Pro Division.

Sound bites:

"Throwing a Shaky Head worm in 30 mile an hour winds is not a skill I possess." - FLW Tour co-angler Greg Flemming joking about his difficulties trying to finesse fish in high winds on Beaver Lake during the co-angler finals.

"I think I'm going to be sick I'm so nervous - FLW Tour co-angler Pamela Wood talking about her nerves while trying to hold onto the top spot in the co-angler finals. Wood ultimately finished in third place.

"I caught my big fish on my third cast, but it was a long day from there." - FLW Tour co-angler Richard Strother bemoaning the fact that he only managed to land three fish in his boat all day. But ironically enough, those three fish weighed in at 8 pounds, 11 ounces and were enough to win the co-angler title on Beaver Lake.

"I didn't think I was on the type of fish to win this event." - FLW Tour pro Mark Rose who found himself in third place overall and less than 2 pounds off the lead heading into the pro finals on Saturday.

"Same way." - FLW Tour pro, Japanese native and day-three pro leader Shinichi Fukae after being asked what strategy he was going to employ on Saturday's final day of competition.

"I knew the pattern I had was going by the wayside but when the sun came out, I knew it was all over. Now I'm going to have to go out there and catch 15 pounds tomorrow to even have a chance." - FLW Tour pro Toby Hartsell on his 10th-place finish in the semifinals.

"I have to go out tomorrow and adjust to what the fish are doing. The fish don't have to adjust to what I'm doing." - FLW Tour pro Mike Wurm giving a candid response on what he has to do to move up the leaderboard in Saturday's finals.

"I asked for some wind today. But not this much wind." - FLW Tour pro Jeffrey Thomas underscoring the old adage, "Be careful what you wish for."

The final day of FLW Tour action on Beaver Lake begins at Saturday's takeoff, scheduled to take place at 7 a.m. (CDT) at Prairie Creek Marina, located at 1 Prairie Creek Drive in Rogers, Ark.

Tags: gary-mortenson  quick-bites  2006-04-05-beaver-lake 

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