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Quick Bites: FLW Series Eastern, Pickwick Lake, Day 4

Quick Bites: FLW Series Eastern, Pickwick Lake, Day 4
Giving the glory to God: Mark Rose points to the heavens as he unveils his winning fish.

Wal-Mart FLW Series BP Eastern
Pickwick Lake, Florence, Ala.
Final round, Saturday

Faith and family... Moments before Mark Rose took the stage to weigh his final-round catch, he responded to a question about nervousness by saying "A long time ago, I committed my fishing career to my Lord and savior Jesus Christ, so I just try to go out and do the best I can and leave it in his hands. Whether I win this or finish second, I'm just thankful for the opportunity to be here." About five minutes later, when his limit catch of 13 pounds, 11 ounces gave him the winning total of 60-10, Rose held his hands toward heaven and whispered "Thank you." With his wife Christy and daughters Natalie (9) and Hannah Grace (2) joining him on stage, Rose said: "I love this for my family and for my sponsors. I don't have to be in the limelight or be on top, but I do want to work hard for them."

An attitude of adjustment... Fishing is a dynamic sport and this week's tournament was no exception. Day one saw good discharge levels at TVA dams yielding strong lake current, which sparked active bites throughout the tournament range. However, when the water slowed on subsequent days, anglers fishing deeper structure had to refine their tactics for more targeted presentations. Changing retrieves also helped. On Friday, Larry Nixon found success by giving the fish an eye-catching target. "I had one bass at (noon) and I started yanking my jig way up off the bottom with that 7-foot rod. I had six bites in the last two hours and caught four of them. That really saved my life yesterday." Conversely, Art Fergusson III, who caught Saturday's biggest limit (15-14) and took third place with 56-9 said an unexpected strike clued him in to a strategic alteration in the opposite direction. "When I was swimming my jig back up from the structure, a fish came up and hit my bait. So I focused on working my baits more slowly and that worked out well." Second-place pro Jim Moynagh used his signature series football jig in conjunction with his electronics to constantly monitor the bottom and adjust accordingly. "Your electronics (show you) the bottom (composition) and if there are fish or bait there. Then the football jig, because it's a broad surface, allows me to dissect the area to pinpoint every stump, brush pile or little clump of boulders. I can feel what's going on down there and react to it."

Dion the dock doctor... Always dependable for quick wit and colorful explanations, Chevy pro Dion Hibdon had the crowd chuckling with his account of final-round dock jigging exploits. "I was slinging a jig so far under docks - under ropes and chains - I think I sunk a pontoon boat today. I slung my jig so hard it knocked all the paint off the jig when it hit the side of the boat. But I don't like pontoon boats anyway, so that's OK. It might be a good piece of structure, the next time I come back." Hibdon said he turned to docks by default. "I didn't have a very good practice, so I just said `The heck with it, I'll just go fish boat docks.' And I think before the week was out, I'd hit all of them on Pickwick!"

Walker slips past Fritts... In a photo finish victory, David Walker of Sevierville, Tenn. edged veteran pro David Fritts for the Land O'Lakes Angler of the Year title in the Wal-Mart FLW Series BP Eastern Division. Walker, a BP pro, finished 24th in Florence (29-5) and amassed 688 points on the season - just two more than Fritts. "It's really an honor to beat guys like David Fritts. He's beaten me plenty of times, I promise you. I'm glad I got him this time." A steady performer throughout the 2007 season, Walker said: "Consistency is how you win anything. We had four events that started in January and ended in October, so we fished spring, summer and fall." In this game of numbers, Walker said that literally every fish counts. "Yesterday, I had two small fish, so one of those fish actually won me the title." Crediting his sponsors for their role in his success, Walker said: "I'm proud to be part of the BP team and I'm really glad that they stepped up. I'm thankful to them and to all the companies that have stood behind me for eight years - Ranger Boats, Evinrude Outboards, Lowrance, Berkley. They believed I could win (the title) and I did."

Quick numbers:

4: Number of days Mark Rose held the top spot on the leader board.

1: Number of FLW tournaments that Brad Wilemon had fished before earning a seventh-place finish at the Series event in Florence, Ala.

5: Number of top-10 finalists who also made the top-30 cut for the BP Eastern Division/National Guard Western Division Shootout.

2: Total number of Evinrude caps National Guard pro Jonathan Newton tossed to the crowd at the start of Saturday's weigh-ins.

1,375: Combined horsepower of Yamaha and Evinrude outboards rigged on boats displayed during Saturday's Family Fun Zone.

7: Number of limits caught by the pros in today's competition.

7: Number of pros catching 10 pounds or more on Saturday

0: Number of empty seats at the FLW Series final weigh-ins.

Sound bites:

"You can call it persistence, but also stubbornness and maybe a little dumb at times." - David Walker, on what it took for him to win the Land O'Lakes Angler of the Year award for the Wal-Mart FLW Series BP Eastern Division.

"Friends, family and fans" - Art Ferguson III, on what makes traveling the tournament circuit fun for him.

"HOOAH!" - Audience members, following the National Guard team's instructions on giving the spirited shout before receiving a bunch of National Guard hats.

"This is personal for me" - Chevy Pro Dion Hibdon, explaining how catching a smallmouth in the final round was a side victory, after Pickwick's heralded brown bass had eluded him for three days.

"I know where she lives, so maybe I'll go back there tomorrow and visit her." - Greg Pugh, on the big bass that manhandled him late in the day and cost him a higher finish.

"If he knocks me off, I can't think of anyone better to do it." - Seventh-place finisher Brad Wilemon, who said he had followed the career of Evinrude pro Larry Nixon for many years. Nixon eventually overtook Wilemon's lead for a brief stay in the hot seat.

Tags: david-brown  quick-bites  2007-10-10-pickwick-lake 

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