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Quick Bites: FLW Tour, Lake Guntersville, Day 1

Quick Bites: FLW Tour, Lake Guntersville, Day 1
Near-perfect conditions greeted anglers on opening day of the 2009 Walmart FLW Tour season.

Walmart FLW Tour
Chevy Open
Lake Guntersville, Guntersville, Ala.
Opening round, Thursday

Feast or famine ... The conditions on the opening day of the 2009 FLW Tour season were about perfect with sunny skies and temperatures in the low 60s. The weigh-in itself got off to a strong start as well when Castrol pro Mike Surman dropped 24 pounds, 9 ounces on the scale as the first limit of the new year. The fishing wasn't stellar across the board, however - it seems like you're either really on them or you're really not. Sixty-four pros broke 15 pounds on day one, but another 85 failed to even catch a limit. The Co-angler Division also had six sacks over 20 pounds. But again, there were only 23 five-bass limits registered. "I think most people are getting only six or eight bites," said pretournament favorite Randall Tharp. "Those who are on top are capitalizing on those bites, and those who aren't are taking a pretty serious tumble."

Dying threadfin shad ... Walk the bank around Lake Guntersville and you will immediately notice the huge numbers of dead threadfin shad. According to Andy Morgan, this is no cause for panic. Each year, when the water temperature dips to the low 40s, the shad struggle and many eventually die. Threadfin shad have a low tolerance for cold water, especially a sudden drop in temperature, and this leads to an all-you-can-eat buffet for the Lake Guntersville seagulls, ducks and bass. It would make sense that, with so many free meals around, the fishing would be difficult. To the contrary, these die-offs usually improve the bite because they put the bass in a feeding mode. The long-term impact is also positive because, with less forage in the system, the fish will continually feed with added aggression. "If you have a die-off in the winter, it will make the springtime fishing 10 times better," Morgan said.

Blaylock's first pro limit ... For years, people within the fishing industry have clamored about the talents Stetson Blaylockof Benton, Ark., angler Stetson Blaylock. Despite being only 21 years old, Blaylock has one the best co-angler resumes in FLW Outdoors history. He's won multiple tour-level events and is coming off a 2008 FLW Tour season in which he won the co-angler points title. Above all this, Blaylock is incredibly grounded and humble. This year he made the difficult decision to switch to the front of the boat, and many were eager to see the results. If day one was any indication, he will do just as well from the front as he did from the back. Officially, his first pro limit weighed 21 pounds, 7 ounces - good enough for 11th place.

O Canada ... A formidable competitor in Canada, Charles Sim has decided to venture south to the United States in 2009 and rub elbows with the biggest names in the sport. This is Sim's first full season on the FLW Tour, and he is the only Canadian pro on tour. Sim is originally from Montreal, Quebec, but he moved to Ottawa, Ontario, in 1998. While in Ontario, he heard about these bass clubs where you could fish as a nonboater and learn from the pros. For a boatless angler with a growing passion for the sport, it was the perfect opportunity. It also gave him a taste of competing in the United States. From there, he was hooked. "I wanted to be in this environment, competing against these guys all the time," he said. "I just love the one-on-one competition factor and the ever-changing variables and puzzles of the game." Sim understands he has his hands full competing against the likes of David Dudley, Jay Yelas, Shinichi Fukae and Clark Wendlandt. "This is a huge step for me. I'm really excited to be taking the plunge and chasing my dream. Being Canadian, I have many challenges ahead of me, including the incredible traveling distances and lack of experience on most of these lakes, but I believe that with the right focus, determination and preparation, I will excel and make Canada proud." When the 36-year-old computer programmer left for Guntersville, the temperature back home was -15 and there was 4 feet of snow on the ground. Today, in the midst of beautiful weather, he caught 13 pounds, 11 ounces.

Fantasy Fishing - the sequel ... As of 7 a.m. Thursday morning, the second season of FLW Fantasy Fishing officially commenced. Thousands of fans from across the globe will be watching weigh-ins this week to see if their 10 anglers were good enough to bring home some bacon. Last year, FLW Fantasy Fishing set the bar in the fantasy sports world with a $1 million guaranteed grand prize and a total purse of up to $7.3 million. This season, FLW Fantasy Fishing is offering up to $10 million in cash and prizes. In addition to the $1 million, the winner from each of the six FLW Tour qualifiers earns $100,000. In this economy, that's an opportunity you can't refuse.

Fredrychowski culls twice ... Craig Fredrychowski, the TBF National Championship winner from the back of the boat, is now fishing his first FLW Tour season as a co-angler. For the most part, day one on Guntersville was good. The fish were biting, especially in the morning, and the Lexington, S.C., native was well on his way toward a solid catch. After boating his fifth keeper, Fredrychowski went to his side of the livewell and grabbed two similar-sized bass. He then released one into the water. He doesn't quite remember what happened next, but somehow he lost his focus and released the other fish - forgetting he had already culled. This flub was costly, considering Fredrychowski failed to find a fifth keeper and would likely be in the top 10 if he had. If he does well tomorrow, all will be forgotten as weights are cleared for the final round. If he doesn't, he will never hear the end of it from his TBF The Berkley release team ensured the bass were returned to Lake Guntersville as quickly as possible. buddies in South Carolina.

Quick numbers

4: Percentage of all FLW Fantasy Fishing players who had ninth-place pro Scott Canterbury on their roster.

27: Percentage of Player's Advantage members who had Canterbury on their roster.

100: Percentage of fish released alive by both the pro and co-angler fields.

15: Degrees the water temperature increased in the past two weeks.

9-3: Weight, in pounds and ounces, of the heaviest bass caught today by pro Tom Mann Jr.

16-7: Current $10,000-check weight, in pounds and ounces.

Sound bites

"When you catch 30 keepers on Guntersville, you're supposed to have at least 20 pounds." - Goodwill pro Wesley Strader.

Tums pro David Fritts is second at the Chevy Open on Lake Guntersville with 25 pounds, 11 ounces. "I ain't been on them since we got here, so I figured why start today?" - Chevy pro Dion Hibdon.

"I've got two or three honeyholes that have got a lot of fish on them." - Tums pro David Fritts.

"I just got to say, what a lake - our schedule this year is amazing." - BP pro David Walker, who sacked 29-7 for the opening-day lead.

"You don't have too many days where you catch two 8-pounders in the first 10 minutes." - Co-angler leader Jason Ober, who capitalized on a strong morning bite.

Tomorrow's takeoff is scheduled to take place at 7 a.m. Central time from the Lake Guntersville Resort State Park Resort in Guntersville, Ala., located at 1155 Lodge Drive.

Catch a video recap from each day's action at the Lake Guntersville event with FLW Outdoors On-Demand video. To access the video, click here.

Tags: brett-carlson  quick-bites  2009-02-12-lake-guntersville 

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