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Quick Bites: FLW Tour, Beaver Lake Day 4

Quick Bites: FLW Tour, Beaver Lake Day 4
The top-10 pros at the 2009 Walmart Open acknowledge the crowd shortly after final weigh-in.

Walmart FLW Tour
Walmart Open
Beaver Lake, Rogers, Ark.
Final round, Sunday

Versatile Scheide nets improbable title ... Heading back to weigh-in on the final day of competition, Ray Scheide knew he was a long shot to win the 2009 Walmart Open. With three great anglers ahead of him, he realized everything would have to fall in place to have a shot at his second FLW Tour title. "I never expected to come from that far back," said Scheide. "Everything has to go perfectly in order to win an event like this. I knew that to have a chance, the leaders would have to stumble." But amazingly enough, that's exactly what happened. In the end, Scheide's total weight of 21 pounds, 1 ounce was good enough for first place and a check for $200,000. "I'm still in shock," said Scheide. "I guess when it's meant to be, it's meant to be." However, Scheide didn't simply win the tournament Ray Scheide of Dover, Ark., weighs in part of his first-place catch at the 2009 Walmart Open on Beaver Lake.because others stumbled. In fact, in many respects, Scheide put on quite the bass-fishing clinic over the four-day event. Unlike many pros, Scheide had no decipherable pattern. He simply went fishing every day and relied on his instincts. On day one, Scheide targeted willow trees in 6 feet of water. On day two, he landed his catch in 1 foot of water, targeting vines located under cut banks. On day three, he fished buck bushes in 3 feet of water. During the final day of competition, he flipped to trees in 8 to 10 feet of water. "Flipping is what I do," said Scheide. "That's my real strength. I'm just really fortunate that Beaver Lake was flooded this year. That allowed me to do what I do best. And I was able to adapt and find new fish every day. I pretty much just went fishing every day." So how did it feel to net his second FLW Tour win? "That's a good question," said Scheide. "I won on Lake Okeechobee back in 2004 in my very first tournament on the FLW Tour. Back then I really needed the money. But now (after going nearly five years without a win until today), I really appreciate it more. So this one is a lot more satisfying. And to do it in my home state with my friends and family here, that's really special."

Christie's bite fizzles out ... Standing onstage with three fish in the weigh-in tank, it appeared that day-three leader Jason Christie was going to be able to net the first FLW Tour title of his career. All he needed was a total weight of 2 pounds, 6 ounces combined for his final two fish and he would walk away as the winner. Longtime friend Ray Scheide, who grew up a mere 10 miles away from Christie, seemed to know it was already over. After all, Scheide had followed Christie's career closely over the better part of the decade. "Christie doesn't choke," said Scheide, all but conceding the contest to Christie as the two stood onstage together. And who could blame Scheide for conceding? Over the first two days of competition, Christie had put together consecutive stringers weighing over 11 pounds. On day three, Christie grabbed the overall lead with a 12-pound, 15-ounce catch. Now, in order to win the title, Christie needed a mere 8 pounds, 2 ounces total to grab the title. But then something unexpected happened. With three fish already on the scales, Christie reached back into his bag and pulled out nothing but water. In the blink of an eye, Scheide had won the event. "I'm disappointed," said Christie. "But I have no regrets. I fished the way I said I was going to. I was one decent bite away from winning the title." Christie, who had been targeting largemouth bass exclusively, said the main problem was the water levels dropped out of his prime fishing location on the final day, moving the fish out into the trees in deeper water. "Unfortunately, it just didn't work out."

Clark Wendlandt weighs in a mammoth 5 1/2-pound stringer en route to a third place finish at the 2009 Walmart Open.Miraculous comeback fall short ... After the first day of Walmart Open competition, Clark Wendlandt - one of the greatest Beaver Lake anglers in the business - found himself uncharacteristically in 100th place. While many bass-fishing fans thought there was no way Wendlandt could possibly rebound, Mr. Beaver Lake proved them wrong, turning in a whopping 15-pound, 6-ounce stringer to vault all the way into fourth place after day two. His meteoric rise not only surprised some of his most ardent fans, but it also put Wendlandt in position to claim his third title on Beaver Lake. Then, just when it seemed like Wendlandt had regained his momentum, he again stunned the packed convention center crowd with a paltry 5-pound stringer on day three. His performance netted him a dismal 10th, which is last place heading into the final day of competition. Nearly 8 full pounds behind leader Jason Christie, it seemed impossible for Wendlandt to overcome such a huge deficit, given the lack of big bass that had been caught all week long. However, unlike many fickle bass-fishing fans, Wendlandt continued to believe that he still had a real shot at walking away with the title. "I did it once before, so I knew I had a chance," said Wendlandt. So what did he do? As the first angler to head to the weigh-in podium, Wendlandt once again stunned the crowd with a day-four catch of 14 pounds, 12 ounces, which included a mammoth 5 1/2-pound largemouth. His catch gave him an amazing 19-pound, 12-ounce total and vaulted him back into first place. Unfortunately for Wendlandt, he was eventually overtaken by tournament champion Ray Scheide, losing out on the title by a grand total of 1 pound, 5 ounces. "I really needed one more big bite yesterday; that was the difference," said Wendlandt, obviously disappointed he couldn't pull off one of the biggest upsets of all time. "I thought I had a chance. And that's really all you can ask for." Although Wendlandt didn't walk away with the title, he further cemented his legendary status on Beaver Lake.

2009 FLW Tour AOY leader Brent Ehrler weighs in his catch.Ehrler tightens grip on AOY title ... Although Brent Ehrler finished the 2009 Walmart Open in 10th place, he managed to walk away with a nice consolation prize in addition to his $20,000 paycheck - solidifying his standing as the No. 1 angler on the FLW Tour. With his finish, Ehrler now leads his next-closest rival (Clark Wendlandt) in the 2009 Land O'Lakes Angler of the Year race by 30 points. And with 762 points and only two regular-season events remaining, Ehrler is definitely the angler to beat. "I'd like to keep riding this hot streak as long as I can," said Ehrler, who also maintains the top spot in the standings in the Walmart FLW Series National Guard Western Division circuit. "I'm really fortunate to have the Angler of the Year lead, and I'm going to do everything I can to win. But we have two challenging lakes left to fish, so I still have a lot of work to do."

Two for one ... Although Glenn Browne of Ocala, Fla., finished the 2009 Walmart Open in eighth place, he arguably had the best on-the-water story of the day. "I was flipping to a tree and hooked into a small brim. But when I was reeling it back in, a largemouth swam up and ate the brim. I got both fish to the boat, but right before I was able to pull them in, they got off. I've never had that happen before. It was pretty wild. I was talking about that one for a while. (Laughing) I actually talked to the tournament director to see if that would have (constituted) fishing with live bait or not."

Fish story redux ... Brent Ehrler had a pretty good fish story of his own. "I caught this spotted bass, but it got hung up on a log, so I gave it a good yank. The fish flew up in the air right past me, unhooked, and it crashed into the console, then off the gunwale, bounced 3 feet into the air, hit the back of the boat, splashed back into the water and swam away. It was funny, but I kind of needed that fish."

Quick numbers

1-4: Total weight, in pounds and ounces, of Ray Scheide's margin of victory.

2: Number of FLW Tour events won by Scheide (2004 Lake Okeechobee and 2009 Walmart Open).

6: Total number of limits caught by pros during the final day of Walmart Open competition.

30-2: Total weight, in pounds and ounces, of top two stringers caught in the entire tournament (15 pounds, 6 ounces and 14 pounds, 12 ounces) both by Clark Wendlandt.

200: Total prize money in thousands of dollars that Scheide took home for winning the 2009 Walmart Open.

Sound bites

Gabe Bolivar of Ramona, Calif., used a two-day catch of 16 pounds, 1 ounce to net seventh place overall at the 2009 Walmart Open."I never really thought that it was possible for me to win an Angler of the Year title. But after coming so close last year and losing out to David Dudley (by 1 ounce), it really lit a fire under me." - FLW Tour pro Brent Ehrler.

"No matter who wins today, Clark will still be Mr. Beaver Lake." - FLW Tour pro Ray Scheide, paying tribute to Wendlandt's prowess over the years at the Walmart Open.

"It's really hard to make the top 10. And when you do, you have to go for it.'" - Scheide, on not playing it safe in the finals.

"For people who said Clark Wendlandt was out of it, you proved them wrong." - FLW Tour tournament host Charlie Evans to Clark Wendlandt, after he weighed in a huge 14-pound, 12-ounce stringer to jump back into the competition after starting the day in 10th place.

"I've had a rough go on this lake for the past few years, so I'm happy." - FLW Tour pro Glenn Browne, on finally turning in a great performance on Beaver Lake.

"It was a long time overdue. I spent a lot time doing the laundry over the past few years while my roommate, Brent Ehrler, was busy (preparing) for another (tournament final)." - FLW Tour pro Gabe Bolivar, on finally getting to the finals of a major event after nearly a two-year dry spell.

Tags: gary-mortenson  quick-bites  2009-05-14-beaver-lake 

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