UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Pickwick Lake

The Draime game

The Draime game
Pro leader Jesse Draime has a skinny 1-ounce lead heading into the final day.

EUFAULA, Ala. - The bite finally heated up Friday at the Stren Series Southeast Division event on Lake Eufaula, as anglers caught 758 bass, nearly 80 more than they caught either yesterday or on day one. Today also brought the heaviest stringer of the tournament so far, an 18-pound, 13-ounce limit brought in by No. 4 pro Joseph Kremer.

But it was yesterday's No. 3 pro who eased into the lead, as Jesse Draime of Long Beach, Miss., caught only four bass today that turned out to be enough to put him on top, but only by an ounce. Draime's four day-three bass weighed 13 pounds, 12 ounces to put his combined three-day weight at 44 pounds, 3 ounces, just ahead of Todd Auten's 44-2.

A 1-ounce lead certainly isn't much of one in a tournament that will crown its winner based on heaviest four-day weights. The field behind Draime and Auten is certainly tight, and the No. 10 pro, Alex Ormand, is only about 6 1/2 pounds out. At a lake like Eufaula, that's only one bass.

Still, Draime is in the No. 1 position, and he considers himself a threat for the win tomorrow if he can just get the bites. Despite only bringing in four, Draime says today actually produced more bites for him than previous days; he just didn't get that fifth keeper in the boat.

"I ran around in one big area today," he said. "I had one that ate my lunch. I'll have to get my revenge on him tomorrow."

Draime reported yesterday that he was fishing the thickest stuff he could find, and he drifted away from that today to his detriment. It was when he returned to what worked on days one and two that he brought in the bass.

"I had more bites, but they dropped the water another 6 to 8 inches, so I was fishing on the edge," he said. "I went back to fishing the thick stuff (and caught them), and I actually got one on a spinnerbait today - the first one I've caught on a spinnerbait all week. Then the wind got to blowing, and I caught a 5-pounder."

While at least one pro in the top 10 hopes the Corps of Engineers continues to draw down the water, Draime is not one of them. He needs stability in order for his bass to really bite.

"If they let the water stay, it could be a really big deal tomorrow," he said. "If they pull the water, I'm looking for the fish to pull out even farther than they did today."

Draime is currently ranked fifth in the Southeast Division points standings. This is his first Stren Series top-10 finish, though he has 15 since 1995 in the Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League.

Auten running a close second after phenomenal day

Todd Auten had his best day of the tournament so far and moved into second place, 1 ounce behind the leader.No. 2 pro Todd Auten of Lake Wylie, S.C., caught his heaviest stringer of the tournament, a limit weighing 17 pounds, 5 ounces, to move from 10th to second and within an ounce of the lead. While bites for Auten have been few and far between all week, today all things worked in his favor.

"I had a really tough practice," Auten said. "I was fortunate the weather turned out like it did. I had six keeper bites today and eight yesterday. It's getting slower."

Auten is not fooling around with subpar fish this week - it's go big or go home. "I'm just fishing for the better bites," he said. "It's really tough fishing."

What is also in Auten's favor is that he is not relying on just one depth. Many competitors this week strictly fished shallow, mainly for fish trying to move up to the banks to spawn.

"I've caught a little shallow, and I've caught some deep," he said. "I've got two things working."

Auten is also the rare competitor who is just fine with what the Corps of Engineers has done to the water levels these past few days.

"I'm not sight-fishing," he said. "(Pulling water) hasn't moved my fish out too bad. The biggest thing hurting me is fishing pressure."

However, what could work against him are the incoming clouds that indicate rain tonight and in the morning.

"I think they'll bite good in the clouds," he said. "Clouds can move your fish, though. I prefer the sunshine - I prefer things not to change."

This is Auten's second top-10 finish of the 2007 season, as he took third place at the Wal-Mart FLW Series event on Lake Okeechobee in January.

No. 3 Ingram still up there, has his doubts

Defending champ Ryan Ingram is in third and only 4 ounces out of the lead, but he doesnThe defending champion of this tournament, Ryan Ingram of Phenix City, Ala., had a phenomenal day two in which he caught more than 18 pounds, but his weight fell off today to 12-1 - as he predicted. His three-day total of 44 pounds, though, still has him solidly in contention as he sits only 3 ounces behind the leader yet 2 pounds ahead of his nearest competition.

Ingram is the pro who has openly admitted he wants the water to keep getting lower, and he said they did not pull water today, and his bite suffered.

"I'm getting five bites each day," he said. "Yesterday they were five decent ones. Today, they were five little ones. They're biting on the banks, and that's a death sentence."

When he explained that remark, Ingram said he is simply not a bank-fisherman on Lake Eufaula - he's an offshore fisherman. With the water stabilizing, his fish are moving to the banks and out of his area of expertise.

"Their fish are getting better, and my fish are getting worse," he said. "Everybody out here wants them to pull water. The shallow fishermen just don't want it pulled out from under them."

Yesterday, Ingram reported running far south and said muddy water creeping ever closer to his spots might sound the death knell to his bite.

"That's the reason I didn't catch anything," he said. "It's not really mud; it's just a stain. The water is not as clear as it normally is."

He would know - Ingram is a Lake Eufaula expert with four top-10 finishes here in 10 tries.

Kremer hauls them in, moves up the leaderboard to third

Joseph Kremer busted an 18-pound, 13-ounce sack today to jump to the fourth position.After two days on Lake Eufaula, Joseph Kremer of Osteen, Fla., sat in 22nd place with 23 pounds, 3 ounces. But today he brought in the heaviest stringer of the tournament so far, a limit weighing 18 pounds, 13 ounces, to bump his total up to 42 pounds and move into the No. 4 position. That sack included a 7-pound, 8-ounce bass that earned him day-three pro big-bass honors.

"I've just been covering a lot of water with frogs and craws," Kremer said. "I'm flipping, trying to cover as much water as I can."

The fat 7-8 looked like it was holding a lot of eggs, but Kremer said the fish he caught weren't on the beds yet.

"I only caught one on a bed," he said. "The rest came deeper."

Kremer owes his leap up the standings to a good practice and clever observation - and a smile from Lady Luck.

"I got lucky," he said. "I had a good practice, and I kept watching the conditions. (The falling water) did push me out of a couple of my spots, and I had to move out deeper."

Kremer does not count himself among the pros wanting the water to continue to fall.

"I think I can do good tomorrow," he said. "It's a gamble. You never know with the weather conditions, and if they draw any more water, it could hurt me."

Kremer is currently ranked 14th in Southeast Division points standings. This is his first career top-10 finish outside of the state of Florida.

Rest of the best

Koby Kreiger scored his seventh career top-10 finish on Eufaula by ending day three in sixth with 41 pounds.Behind Kremer in fifth is Ryan Worthington of Middleburg, Fla., with a three-day catch of 41 pounds, 13 ounces.

Rounding out the top 10 pros who will fish tomorrow's final round on Lake Eufaula:

6th: Koby Kreiger, Okeechobee, Fla., 15 bass, 41-0
7th: Ken Ellis, Bowman, S.C., 15 bass, 40-2
8th: Rodger Beaver, Dawson, Ga., 15 bass, 39-15
9th: Chad Prough, Chipley, Fla., 12 bass, 39-14
10th: Alex Ormand, Bessemer City, N.C., 14 bass, 37-12

Hults struggles, still maintains sizable lead in Co-angler Division

Co-angler leader Alan Hults brought in only two bass today but still leads his division by more than 6 pounds.Co-angler phenom Alan Hults of Gautier, Miss., ended day three almost 10 pounds ahead of his nearest competition and remains in first with a 6-pound, 12-ounce lead despite catching only two bass today that weighed 5-1.

"Today we went about 30 miles north, and neither one of us got hardly any hits," Hults said of his day-three experience. "I got one 15 minutes before we had to come in. I didn't have a fish until 1:15."

Hults will go out in boat No. 1 with Jesse Draime tomorrow, so he stands a good chance of improving his weight on day four. He sits five spots ahead of his brother Chris Hults, who also made the co-angler top 10 in sixth place.

Roberts hopes to make up ground

Behind Hults is Donald Roberts of Riverside, Ala., one of the tournament's more compelling success stories. Roberts caught only 1 pound, 15 ounces on day one and seemed destined to end the tournament mired way back in the standings. But he turned it around on day two in phenomenal fashion, bringing in the heaviest bass the tournament has seen so far, an 8-pound, 9-ouncer.

He continued his hot streak again today, bringing in another four bass that weighed 10 pounds, 13 ounces. However, even with Hults' day-three slip, Roberts still sits just shy of 7 pounds behind the leader.

"If he slips up, I'd like to win it, but he's catching them pretty steady," Roberts said onstage.

Boyer bounces back, Saucerman moves up

Day-one co-angler leader Rob Boyer bounced back and enters the final round as No. 3 with a three-day total of 26-6.Rob Boyer of Lawrenceville, Ga., was the leading co-angler on day one, but dropped to 10th on day two when he only caught one 2-pound bass. But he picked it back up today, bringing in a limit worth 10 pounds, 3 ounces that bumped his three-day total to 26 pounds, 6 ounces, good for third place.

Adam Saucerman of Mill Creek, W. Va., jumped from 52nd to fourth on the strength of the tournament's heaviest co-angler catch, a four-bass stringer that weighed 16 pounds, 12 ounces that brought his three-day total to 24 pounds, 10 ounces. The catch included a 6-pound, 14-ounce bass.

"I was struggling and had to drive a long way to get here, but I'm not in school studying; I'm here fishing!" said Saucerman, 22, a student at West Virginia University. Saucerman's day-three catch is more than double that of his first two days combined.

Rest of the best

Taking the fifth spot is Kyle Shirley of Huntsville with 24 pounds, 3 ounces over three days. Shirley caught the day's heaviest co-angler bass, a 7-pounder, and moved from 42nd place into the top 10.

No. 5 co-angler Kyle Shirley shows off a 7-pounder and another bass from his day-three catch.Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers who will compete in tomorrow's final round on Lake Eufaula:

6th: Chris Hults, Vancleave, Miss., 10 bass, 21-13
7th: Joe Buchanan, Abbeville, Ala., six bass, 21-7
8th: Robert Mulleins, Cumberland, Va., nine bass, 20-10
9th: Butch Zadlo, Boone, N.C., seven bass, 20-8
10th: Wayne Frierson, Manning, S.C., eight bass, 20-8

The final round of competition commences tomorrow with a 6:30 a.m. takeoff from Lakepoint State Park, located on Highway 431 in Eufaula. The final weigh-in begins at 4 p.m. at the Wal-Mart store located at 1252 S. Eufaula Ave. in Eufaula.

Tags: jennifer-simmons  headline-story  2007-03-07-lake-eufaula 

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