UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Ohio River

Parker pries lead from co-angler field

Parker pries lead from co-angler field
Matthew Parker, of Whitesburg, Ga., used a two-day catch of 18 pounds, 6 ounces to grab the top qualifying position heading into tomorrow's co-angler finals at the 2006 FLW Tour Championship.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - To hear him tell it, co-angler Matthew Parker has had one rough tournament. On the first day of competition of the most important event of his angling career, Parker lost a crucial fish and only managed to weigh in a four-fish stringer. Today, Parker made yet another mistake. Not only did he fail to catch five fish Thursday for the second day in a row, but he suffered an 8-ounce penalty to boot for bringing a deceased fish to the scales.

Naturally one would assume that Parker would be in big trouble, right? Wrong. When all was said and done, Parker not only qualified for Thursday's crucial top-24 cut, but he also somehow managed to net the overall lead in the Co-angler Division heading into the finals.

How's that for some good luck?

"I worried all day about losing that fish yesterday. And then I couldn't pick up that fifth fish today," said Parker of Whitesburg, Ga. "You can normally get away with making one mistake, but two? That's tough. So when I walked across the weigh-in stage today, I honestly wasn't even sure I'd make the cut. And when (FLW Outdoors tournament host) Charlie Evans finally told me I was in the lead, I was absolutely flabbergasted."

Flabbergasted or not, Parker is now in excellent position to claim the biggest prize of his fishing career.

"It really feels great," said Parker, who ultimately recorded a two-day limit weighing 18 pounds, 6 ounces to advance to the finals. "I've been up here since July 18 prefishing and camping out, and that has really helped me. I've also got to fish with two great partners already - Steve Kennedy and Jim Moynagh. So it's been a lot of fun."

Like many of the higher-ranked co-anglers, Parker said he was mixing up his baits fairly consistently.

"Every fish I caught was on something different," said Parker, who acknowledged that he's relying heavily on Shaky Head worms and jigs to land the majority of his catch. "I caught most of my fish today fishing drop-offs and brush piles in about 20 feet of water."

So, with $25,000 in first-place prize money on the line during Friday's final day of co-angler competition, what is Parker's strategy for tomorrow?

"I'm going to use the same strategy as today," he said.

The same strategy with one minor modification - catch five fish instead of four.

Martin nets runner-up qualifying position

Co-angler Fred Martin of North Little Rock, Ark., used a two-day combined stringer weighing 17 pounds, 13 ounces, to head into the FLW Championship finals in second place.Buoyed by a two-day combined stringer weighing 17 pounds, 13 ounces, Fred Martin of North Little Rock, Ark., leapfrogged from sixth place to second heading into tomorrow's crucial and final day of co-angler competition.

"I'm really excited where I ended up," said Martin. "This is the biggest tournament I've ever fished. Honestly, I haven't been able to sleep since I got here."

Working without a GPS unit for most of the day, Martin had to improvise throughout the afternoon, tapping into his vast fishing experience to carefully work humps and riprap with a combination of Zoom finesse worms and Taper Tails. Martin also employed extremely light line equipped with an 1/8-ounce weight to maximize the sensitivity of his presentations.

"My plan is to go out there and do the same thing with one exception - tomorrow, I'm bringing my drop-shot as well," said Martin. "But it's also going to depend a lot on my pro. Hopefully my pro will go out there and fish slowly (Friday). If he does, I should be OK."

Best of the rest

Mark Cummings of Pembroke, N.C., finished the day in third place after contributing to a two-day stringer weight of 17 pounds, 5 ounces.

Andy Montgomery of Blacksburg, S.C., finished in fourth place with a catch of 16 pounds, 14 ounces, and Bob Bjorklund of Centennial, Colo., finished in fifth place with a catch of 16 pounds, 12 ounces.

Tournament format

The top 24 co-anglers with the largest two-day combined weights have now advanced to Friday's finals. Weights will be zeroed out before the top 24 co-anglers head out onto the water one last time tomorrow. After Friday's weigh-in, the co-angler with the largest stringer during the final day of competition will be crowned champion.

2006 Wal-Mart FLW Tournament action continues at Friday's takeoff, scheduled to take place at 7 a.m. at Pell City Lakeside Park, located at 2801 Stemley Bridge Road in Pell City, Ala.

Related links:

Top 24 pros advance to semifinals in $1.5 million Wal-Mart FLW Tour Championship
2006 FLW Championship day-two results
2006 FLW Tour Championship bracket

Tags: gary-mortenson  co-angler-headline  2006-08-02-flw-tour-championship 

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