UPCOMING EVENT: T-H Marine BFL - 2019 - Grand Lake

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

New format, new challenges

New format, new challenges
For the first time all week, cloudy skies greeted the full field of FLW Tour anglers.

BRANSON, Mo. - It was hard enough to make an FLW Tour cutoff in years past. But in 2010, a new format was implemented - making it even more difficult. To qualify for Saturday's final round, a pro now has to finish in the top five of a star-studded 150-boat field.

That wasn't the only change. In years past, the cut was made after day two and weights were wiped away. Everyone started from zero on day three and the winner was determined by the heaviest weight from days three and four. This year the cut is made after day three (today), and most importantly, the weights from all tournament days count in the accumulated total.

Ninth-place pro Joe Thomas is in favor of the changes. That's somewhat surprising considering his position. Had this been last year, Thomas would already have made the cut and would be tied with the other nine finalists at zero. This year, he's got 13 pounds to make up between himself and leader Brent Ehrler.

"The accumulated weight is the way it should be," said Thomas, the host of the popular TV show Ultimate Match Fishing. "Brent has earned that lead, and he deserves to carry it over. From a TV standpoint, I understand less is better. With only five finalists, you can focus on those guys more. It's Pro Joe Thomas slipped from fifth to ninth after catching three bass weighing 9 pounds, 8 ounces.probably a smart move."

Thus far, Thomas has fished a clean tournament. To date, he has not lost a single fish. He'll need to execute again today to have any chance of fishing tomorrow.

"Realistically, I need a minimum of 12 pounds. I'll have to have a banner day. It's possible, but I don't think most people understand how tough the bite is. Every time you get a bite it's like a minor miracle."

Fourth-place pro Bryan Thrift is on the other side of the fence. He liked the old format better - part of it anyway. If this was last year, the Shelby, N.C., pro would have already solidified his spot in the final round.

"I like the accumulated weight, but I thought they should have left it at 10 boats," said Thrift.

Although he's 9 pounds behind Ehrler, he isn't ready to concede. Each morning Thrift has been on an incredible jig bite. The difference is that most of his fish are 2- to 3-pounders, while Ehrler's are 4- to 6-pounders.

"It's a tall task, but I never say never. My goal coming into this event was three keepers a day. Anything above that is great. I'm going to stick to that. There's no sense in getting greedy."

That early-morning bite Thrift has been capitalizing on may last longer today. For the first time all week, thick clouds covered the sky. With less light penetration, the Table Rock Lake bass might cooperate for a few more hours.

Logistics

Anglers will take off from Table Rock State Park Marina located at 380 State Park Marina Road Overcast conditions could help the bite on day three of the FLW Tour event on Table Rock Lake.(Highway 165 South) in Branson, Mo., at 7 each morning. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday's weigh-ins will also be held at the marina beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday's final weigh-in will be held at the Branson Convention Center located at 200 W. Main St. in Branson beginning at 4 p.m.

Fans will be treated to a Family Fun Zone & Outdoor Expo at the Branson Convention Center on Friday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday, prior to the final weigh-in from, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will be a drawing for a Can-Am ATV, and rod-and-reel combos will be given to the first 300 kids under 14 in attendance on Saturday. The Family Fun Zone & Outdoor Expo includes Ranger boat simulators, the opportunity to interact with professional anglers, enjoy interactive games, activities and giveaways provided by sponsors, and learn more about the sport of fishing and other outdoor activities. All activities are free and open to the public.

In FLW Tour competition, pros and co-anglers are randomly paired each day, with pros supplying the boat, controlling boat movement and competing against other pros. Co-anglers fish from the back deck against other co-anglers. The full field competes in the three-day opening round. The co-angler competition concludes at Friday's weigh-in and the top-five pros continue competition Saturday, with the winner determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from all four days.

On the Web

For those who can't catch the weigh-in action in person, FLWOutdoors.com offers FLW Live, an online application that brings fans real-time weigh-in results, streaming video and audio.

In addition to FLW Live, FLWOutdoors.com is offering real-time updates from the water throughout each day of the Table Rock event. Simply click on the "On the Water Coverage" banner from any of the FLW Outdoors, Bass and FLW Tour home pages.

Friday's conditions

Sunrise: 6:38 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 31 degrees
Expected high temperature: 59 degrees
Water temperature: 41-46 degrees
Wind: SE at 10 mph
Maximum humidity: 45 percent
Day's outlook: partly cloudy

Tags: brett-carlson  morning-story  2010-03-03-table-rock-lake 

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