UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Detroit River

All tied up

All tied up
Todd Auten of Lake Wylie, S.C., shows off part of his 18-pound, 1 ounce catch. Auten grabbed a share of the overall lead on Lake Ouachita after the first day of FLW Tour competition.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Despite heading back to weigh-in nearly an hour earlier than planned in an effort to preserve the health of his ailing stringer, Todd Auten of Lake Wylie, S.C., still managed to finish in a tie with Terry Bolton of Jonesboro, Ark., for the top spot in the Pro Division during the opening round of FLW Tour competition on Lake Ouachita.

"We came in a little early today because one of my fish was looking pretty rough, so we lost about 45 minutes on the water today," said Auten, who also excelled despite the tournament's 90-minute fog delay earlier in the morning. "So given all that, I have to say that it was a pretty good day."

Meanwhile, Terry Bolton of Jonesboro, Ark., also boated an 18-pound, 1-ounce catch to grab a share of the overall lead.

Terry Bolton of Jonesboro, Ark., boated an 18-pound, 1-ounce catch to grab a share of the overall lead at the FLW Tour event on Lake Ouachita."It was a good day but we'll see what happens tomorrow," said Bolton. "I caught a ton of fish today so I'm really excited. And I definitely feel like I catch some more fish tomorrow. But will they be as big as today? That's the question."

Auten said that instead of concentrating on certain areas, he relied mostly on developing fishing patterns to land the majority of his catch.

"I had a lot of bites today, but I was really moving around fishing patterns," said Auten. "Part of the reason was that it was a slow bite all day. But a lot of those fish are just cruising around right now. It seemed like every time a little cloud cover would come over, if you were fishing in the right place, the fish would bite."

Unlike most of the field, Auten fished top-water baits the majority of the day instead of saving them for just the early morning hours - a time when those baits are generally more productive and attractive.

"Maybe that's why I'm leading the tournament?" Auten joked.

Auten is also confident about his fishing prospects during tomorrow's competition, assuming there are no radical shifts in the water levels - something that has concerned anglers all week.

"Two of my best spots had boaters on them all day so I didn't really get a chance to fish them yet," said Auten. "And as long as they don't pull a lot of water tonight, I should be all right."

Bolton said that he was more than pleased with how things turned out given his practice period track record.

"I didn't have the most stellar of practices," said Bolton. "I had two main spots but the first one I went to this morning wasn't very good. But after I pulled up to my second spot, I caught four fish pretty quickly. I was basically done by about 11 a.m. and got to run around and do a little more practicing. I also think that I finally understand what's going on out there. I figured out that I was making a big mistake in practice - I was being a little too precise (with my presentations)."

Bolton said that's he's targeting bass at a variety of different depths ranging from 8 to 18 feet. He also said that he's primarily throwing crankbaits and Trigger X worms.

"I was on a lot more fish than I ever thought I'd be on today," said Bolton. "So I'm looking forward to tomorrow."

Suggs still owns Lake Ouachita

Scott Suggs of Bryant, Ark., finished the day in third place.After winning the 2007 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita and becoming the first person to ever win a $1 million payday at a single bass-fishing event, it's not entirely surprising that Scott Suggs of Bryant, Ark., is once again in the running for a tournament title on his home lake.

Using a total catch of 17 pounds, 11 ounces, Suggs continued his assault on the Lake Ouachita leaderboard, ending the first day of competition in third place overall.

"It's always fun to come to Ouachita and to come home again," said Suggs. "We lost about an hour and a half of fishing this morning (due to the fog delay) and that usually makes everyone's bag look bad. But it worked out for me today."

However, it wasn't until about midday that Suggs' mastery of Lake Ouachita became apparent.

Heading back to similar areas that he fished during the Forrest Wood Cup, Suggs originally targeted suspending bass on the tops of standing timber.

"My boat was in about 70 feet of water but the bite was finicky and I really wasn't catching what I wanted to catch," said Suggs. "So I left that area and pulled up on another deal and caught a big one. Right then I knew what they were doing."

While Suggs was reluctant to divulge his entire strategy, he said that he targeted bass feeding on the lake bottom in a little bit shallower water.

"I was fortunate I was able to figure that deal out," said Suggs. "I was really starting to get worried this morning. But now I'm at least back in the hunt. You really have to let the fish tell you what they want."

Best of the rest

Keith Monson of Burgin, Ky., used a total catch of 16 pounds to grab fourth place overall.

Bryan Thrift of Shelby, N.C., finished the day in fifth place at the FLW Tour event on Lake Ouachita.Meanwhile, Bryan Thrift of Shelby, N.C., is poised yet again to rewrite the FLW Tour history books. After recording top-five finishes over the first three events of the 2010 FLW Tour season (fourth place at Table Rock; first place at Lake Norman and third place at Ft. Loudoun/Tellico Lakes), Thrift is now poised to keep that streak alive after finishing the day in fifth place overall with a total catch of 15 pounds, 6 ounces.

"I just winged it pretty much all day," said Thrift. "I'm not really fishing a pattern but I'm fishing shallow - anywhere from 2 inches to 4 feet with a Damiki Stinger, which is kind of like a soft plastic stick bait. But I'm seeing a lot of big fish. I probably found about five 6-pounders sitting on one point alone. Hopefully I can get them to bite tomorrow. Overall I think I've seen about 30 fish between 3 and 5 pounds."

And what would it be like to nail down a fourth consecutive top-five finish and achieve something that's never been done in the history of the FLW Tour?

"I don't even want to go there," said Thrift. "It's just way too early to start thinking about that."

Rodgers nets co-angler lead

Bolstered by a total catch of 12 pounds, 1 ounce, Dearal Rodgers of Camden, S.C., vaulted into the overall lead in the Co-angler Division at the FLW Tour Lake Ouachita event.Bolstered by a total catch of 12 pounds, 1 ounce, Dearal Rodgers of Camden, S.C., vaulted into the overall lead in the Co-angler Division. And he couldn't have been happier with the outcome.

"It really feels good," said Rodgers of his accomplishment. "I've been at this a long time and I've always wanted to be leading an FLW tournament. I was angler of the year last year in the Co-angler Division but I never got a win. And getting a win would be really important to me."

Rodgers said that he threw a variety of different baits during today's competition. However, he said the key was being able to adjust regardless of the conditions.

"I caught five fish today and they came on five different baits," said Rodgers. "I knew coming in that you had to be prepared to fish deep or fish shallow depending on what your pro partner wanted to do. So I really came prepared. I have eight rods. Four of them are for shallow water and four are for deep water. The key is to go out there with an open mind and stay positive because it's a real grind out there. So far I've taken advantage of those opportunities. Right now, I'm pretty happy."

Reed nabs second place

Recent FLW College Fishing alumnus Steve Reed of Bonita, Calif., took over second place on the co-angler leaderboard after boating an impressive catch weighing 11 pounds, 4 ounces.Recent FLW College Fishing alumnus Steve Reed of Bonita, Calif., took over second place on the co-angler leaderboard after boating an impressive catch weighing 11 pounds, 4 ounces.

Reed, a member of the UC Davis bass club that competed in FLW College Fishing regional competition in 2009, said he was pretty pleased with his progression in the sport to date.

"College fishing taught me how to make a lot of good decisions on the water," he said. "I've also had lots of help from my traveling partners - (FLW Tour pro) Justin Lucas, (FLW Tour co-angler) J.R. Wright and (FLW Tour pro) Cody Meyer. Those guys are all great anglers and have given me great advice this past year. And it's starting to really sink in. So far, it's a dream come true."

Reed said that he's targeting bass using a series of finesse baits and light line.

So what does he think of his first season on the Tour?

"It feels great, absolutely," said Reed. "To start off this well is really exciting and encouraging. Hopefully I can do well again tomorrow."

Best of the rest

Clent Davis of Montevallo, Ala., finished the day in third place with a total catch of 9 pounds, 15 ounces.

Fourth place belonged to Spencer Shuffield of Bismarck, Ark., with a catch of 9 pounds 14 ounces.

Mark Denny of Cottontown, Tenn., took fifth place overall with a catch of 9 pounds, 11 ounces.

Day two of FLW Tour competition on Lake Ouachita resumes during tomorrow's takeoff, scheduled to take place at 6:30 a.m. at the Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa, located at 994 Mountain Harbor Road in Mount Ida, Ark.

Tags: gary-mortenson  headline-story  2010-05-26-lake-ouachita 

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