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Quick Bites: FLW Series Lake Cumberland, Day 4

Quick Bites: FLW Series Lake Cumberland, Day 4
Up-and-coming angling star Sean Hoernke gets some media attention on day four.

Wal-Mart FLW Series
Lake Cumberland, Somerset, Ky.
Final round, Saturday

Rising star ... This week, Sean Hoernke scored his second major top-10 finish of the season with his fourth-place showing at Lake Cumberland. This follows up his eighth-place finish on Lake Okeechobee at the Wal-Mart FLW Tour season opener and further cements 2006 as a career year for the young Texas pro. Though Hoernke does have Stren Series and Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League victories to his credit, he feels he is just now coming into his own as a fishing professional. "I would say it's been a career year," Hoernke said. "Things are coming along." Hoernke has fished competitively for years, but this marks only his fourth year as a full-time pro, and he says the knowledge he has gleaned in those four years is finally starting to come to fruition. "My decision-making processes and my ability to read water are coming together," he said. "The last six months have been really good. I'm fishing a lot better than I was a year ago." This is true. A year ago, he kicked off his FLW Tour season with three straight sub-100 finishes before kicking it up a notch in April at the Beaver Lake event. This year, the outlook is much brighter, and he says he got here through a lot of hard work and time invested. "Being a young guy who's not even 30 years old, it just takes time to learn different reservoirs," he said. "I made the cut at Okeechobee way differently than I did here." So far, his stellar 2006 season is alighting perfectly with the goals he set for himself at the beginning of the year. "My goal was to make two top-10 cuts, and I've done it," he said. "So far, things are on track."

Fishing fan Jeremy Hicks.Role model ... Today's weigh-in crowd at the Somerset Wal-Mart was big and boisterous, but one fan in particular generated a lot of attention. That young man was 13-year-old Jeremy Hicks, cancer sufferer and avid fisherman who enjoyed visits this week from pros such as Koby Kreiger, Craig Powers and Bobby Lane. "They had him sign their stuff," said Jeremy's proud father Joe Hicks. "He's our pro." Indeed, Jeremy is probably braver than anyone in the crowd today, as he has been fighting spinal-cord and brain cancer since last year. "Last summer on the lake, we noticed he was limping," Joe said. "They found a spinal-cord tumor, and it was cancer." The tumor was removed at the local hospital, but Jeremy then went on to the renowned St. Jude Children's Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., for further treatment. This past February, new tumors were discovered on Jeremy's brain and spinal cord. He is continuing his battle to this day, and according to his dad, the only thing he complains about is not getting to fish. "Before all this started, we fished every weekend during the season," Joe said. Therefore, the attention from the pros was extra exciting because fishing is Jeremy's passion. "They brought some boats, and they brought some of their secrets," Joe said of the pros who came by the house. "Somebody brought him this FLW shirt so he would be prepared for this weekend. He has looked forward to this all week." Though the pros may have been good for Jeremy, it was Jeremy that was good for everyone else. "He's a fighter," Joe said, summing it up.

Mooching doesn't pay ... Yesterday, Clark Wendlandt revealed that his plan for day-four success was to follow around his roommate and fellow top-10 pro Mike Surman. Usurping apparently didn't suit Wendlandt well, and it seems to have rubbed off on Surman - both pros brought in only one bass today, with Wendlandt finishing 4 ounces ahead of Surman to land in seventh. So what happened to the big scheme? "Mike Surman didn't give me good information," Wendlandt said. "I gave him my best stuff," Surman countered. "That's a lie," Wendlandt said. The jabbing stopped there, as Surman went on to say the tournament was tough on a lot of people, and indeed it was - winner Mike Hawkes was the only one to bring in a five-bass limit today. And besides, two roommates in the finals is always a plus. "To both be in the top 10, that's pretty good," Wendlandt said.

Steve Wright gave up a six-figure job to pursue his bass-fishing career.The Wright stuff ... If a career in bass fishing takes a lot of sacrifice, perhaps No. 5 pro Steve Wright should be its poster boy. The Iowa fishing enthusiast turned bass pro gave up a six-figure salary as CEO of a healthcare company to pursue the professional fishing trails full time. Not only that, he gave up the sweet job with three kids and a wife at home. "I love to fish," he says in explanation. "I grew up on a farm in Iowa and fished all the time." Wright spent some time in the armed forces and at one time was stationed overseas for three years. During that time, he says, he subscribed to bass-fishing magazines, and as soon as he got home, he joined a bass club, eventually making his way to the top-10 stage at this FLW Series event. "Three years ago, I told my wife I wanted to fish," he said. "I said, `I can do this.' So I did the BFLs and finished 11th in the points last year. I fished the Stren Series, and then they opened this series." It was the lucrative FLW Series that convinced him to kiss the healthcare industry goodbye. "I got done working in the middle of the Lanier tournament," he said, referring to the first FLW Series event that was held this past March. "I absolutely wouldn't trade the experience for anything in the world. My wife and kids support me. My daughter's fourth-grade class watches the weigh-ins on the Internet." So far, Wright's gamble seems to be paying off, as his work this week alone earned him $20,000.

Mike Surman is the new FLW Series points leader.Points update ... After two of five regular-season events on the FLW Series, Surman currently holds a seven-point lead in the points standings over Chris Elliott and David Dudley, who each have earned 368 points so far this season. Surman has earned 375 points in two events. Behind them in fourth is Wendlandt with 359, who is followed by this week's runner-up, Rusty Salewske, in fifth with 356 points. On the co-angler side, Kevin Koone holds onto the lead with 397 points earned by winning the Lake Lanier event and finishing fourth this week on Lake Cumberland. Following him in second is Chris Malone with 378 points, and David Hudson sits close behind in third with 377 points. Next on the FLW Series schedule is an event on Tennessee's Old Hickory Lake May 31-June 3.

Quick numbers

Mike Hawkes holds his hands up in victory after taking the Lake Cumberland win.10-7: Hawkes' whopping margin of victory over No. 2 Salewske, in pounds and ounces.

18,000: The most money, in dollars, Hawkes had ever won at an FLW Outdoors event before claiming $100,000 today as the Lake Cumberland champion. He earned $18,000 in 2005 as the fifth-place pro at the FLW Tour event on the Ouachita River.

6: Number of the top 10 pros who brought in only one bass today.

6: Jay Yelas' finish despite zeroing on the final day.

25: Estimated number of feet that Lake Cumberland has risen over the past three weeks.

Sound bites

A portion of the crowd that gathered at the Somerset Wal-Mart to watch the final-day weigh-in."I've never seen anything like this in a Wal-Mart parking lot." - No. 9 pro Jacob Powroznik, on the large crowd attending today's weigh-in.

"In other sports, guys might drive by you and say, `That's too bad.'" - Hoernke, on getting a boat ride back to the ramp with fellow contender Surman after his boat became inoperable.

"Well, he's an Aggie. If he was a Longhorn, I'd have to leave him in the middle of the river." - Surman, on why he decided to pick up fellow Texas resident Hoernke.

"It was my Yamaha chipper, log splitter and mulcher." - No. 10 pro Bud Pruitt on the key to his success in debris-clogged Lake Cumberland.

"It's what my career has needed." - Hawkes, on the meaning of today's victory.

Tags: jennifer-simmons  quick-bites  2006-05-03-lake-cumberland 

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FLW Live Schedule for Lake Cumberland

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Big Mac attack

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