UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Clear Lake

Arkansas anxiety

Arkansas anxiety
FLW Tour boaters race under a ceremonial water cannon sponsored by the Joplin Fire Department en route to the open waters of Lake Ouachita.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - With water levels continuing to fall and a top-five cut on the line, FLW Tour pros had plenty to think about as they departed Mountain Harbor Resort marina shortly after 6:30 a.m. As the shallow-water anglers attempted to figure out how to best change tactics in order to chase fish moving into deeper water, plenty of pros were still unsure as to how to strategize today's attack. But any decision they make will have to be made soon as time is not on their side.

"If I lived here I couldn't have asked for better conditions," said FLW Tour pro and team Chevy member Dave Lefebre who currently sits in 45th place, approximately 15 pounds behind tourney leader Scott Suggs. "This lake is in the post-spawn mode and that's some of the toughest conditions to fish in. And right now, with the water levels dropping - they've dropped 18 to 20 inches since the start of the tournament - the fish are just flying out deep. If you sit in one spot long enough you can literally see these fish swimming into deeper water.

"All of my fish are leaving," continued Lefebre. "But for guys like (Scott) Suggs who is fishing deeper, the fish are coming right to him. A guy like Suggs can sit on one spot all day and his fish will replenish. And I really need to find a spot like that."

Lefebre said he shares the anxiety that many pros have heading into today's events. Not only do many pros need to make a big move to qualify for today's top-five cut, but a good finish is also important for the 2010 FLW Angler of the Year race - which also has a direct bearing on who qualifies for the prestigious 2010 Forrest Wood Cup, scheduled to take place Aug. 5-8 on Lake Lanier in Atlanta, Ga.

Takeoff commences on Lake Ouachita."Here, it's a fine line between finishing well and really dropping down in the standings," said Lefebre. "I lost a 6-pounder yesterday and a 4 1/2-pounder on day one. Right now I'm getting the bites but the conditions keep changing every day and you have to adjust. I think I'm going to spend a lot of time today idling around and rigging different things so I can try to catch a big bag. I think a lot of guys are trying to figure out what is going to work right now."

Co-anglers have no less pressure on them. At the end of Friday's weigh-in, a co-angler champion will be crowned so everything is on this line during today's competition. Currently, David Tierney of Fayetteville, Ark., has the overall lead at 24 pounds, 8 ounces - nearly 6 pounds more than his next closest rival, Clent Davis of Montevallo, Ala.

Life savers

While anglers are undoubtedly under tremendous pressure during today's competition, it pales in comparison to the pressure that FLW Tour pro Jason Reyes of Huffman, Texas, and FLW Tour co-angler Steven Meador of Bella Vista, Ark., faced last evening trying to save another man's life.

At approximately 10 p.m., Reyes and Meador were sitting around with friends at Brady Mountain Resort when they heard what they thought was a faint cry for help. After walking down to the dock to investigate the noise, they again heard a cry for help.

FLW Tour anglers stand for the National Anthem before takeoff on Lake Ouachita."At that point we decided to untie the boat and see what was going on," said Reyes. "We went out about a ¼ mile out on the lake shining this small light the whole time because we couldn't really see anything. Then we saw this light floating in the water and we approached it. It was a pretty bad scene. We saw a man clinging to a boat and he was a big guy so we quickly got a lifejacket around him. It was actually pretty hard to get him in the boat, but luckily our Ranger had a ladder and he was able to kneel on it and we're able to bring him in."

After bringing the man back to shore, Reyes and Meador assessed the situation.

"He told us that he'd been in the water for about 30 minutes and had drifted pretty far. Luckily for him the water temperatures were in the 80s, otherwise he would have been in even more trouble," said Reyes. "He told us that he was really starting to think, `This is it.' I'm just glad we got him. Had we not stayed up late - normally we're in bed at that time - I'm not really sure what would have happened."

Amazingly enough, once onshore, the man decided he wanted to head back out onto the water.

"He wanted to get right back in that boat," said Reyes. "But we made him sit there and call his family. In the end, everything worked out."

No matter how things ultimately work out during today's FLW Tour competition, Reyes and Meador will undoubtedly walk away from the tournament with one of the highest honors one can achieve.

Tourney format and event logistics

FLW Tour anglers make final preparations before takeoff on Lake Ouachita.The entire FLW Tour field will compete for one final day with the top-five pros advancing to the fourth and final day of competition based on their overall accumulated weight. After the conclusion of Saturday's weigh-in, the tournament title will be awarded to the pro who has recorded the most combined weight over all four days of FLW Tour competition.

At the end of today's competition, a co-angler champion also will be crowned.

Anglers will take off from Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa, located at 994 Mountain Harbor Road in Mount Ida, Ark., at 6:30 a.m. each morning. The first three weigh-ins - Wednesday, Thursday and Friday - will also be held at Mountain Harbor Resort beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday's final weigh-in will be held at the Summit Arena & Hot Springs Convention Center, located at 134 Commerce Blvd in Hot Springs, Ark., beginning at 4 p.m.

As the Joplin, Ark., Fire Department shoots a ceremonial water cannon in the distance as FLW Tour anglers await the start of takeoff on Lake Ouachita.Fans will be treated to the FLW Outdoors Expo at the Hot Springs Convention Center on Friday from 4-9 p.m. and Saturday prior to the final weigh-in from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. The final weigh-in will be held at Summit Arena. 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 FLW Outdoors 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. For a full schedule of events, additional information and to register for the ATV, visit FLWOutdoors.com/chevyopen.

In FLW Tour competition, anglers are also vying for valuable points in hopes of qualifying for the 2010 Forrest Wood Cup, the world championship of bass fishing. This year's Cup will be in Atlanta Aug. 5-8 on Lake Lanier.

Coverage of the Lake Ouachita tournament will be broadcast in high definition (HD) on VERSUS. "FLW Outdoors" will air June 27 from 12:30 to 1:30 ET. "FLW Outdoors," hosted by Jason Harper, is broadcast to approximately 500 million households worldwide.

FLW Tour action continues at today's weigh-in, scheduled to take place at 3 p.m. at the Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa, located at 994 Mountain Harbor Road in Mount Ida, Ark.

Bass-fishing fans take note

Want to watch the weigh in live but can't make it in person? Then tune into FLW Live on FLWOutdoors.com shortly before 3 p.m. Central Time to watch live streaming video and audio of today's opening-round weigh in.

Vital statistics:

FLW Tour anglers patiently await the start of takeoff as the sun rises over Lake Ouachita.Sunrise: 6:02 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 69 degrees
Expected high temperature: 87 degrees
Water temperature: 78-85 degrees
Wind: From the north-northeast at 7 mph
Maximum humidity: 58 percent
Day's outlook: Mostly sunny

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

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