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Klinger climbs into first place at Lake Roosevelt

Klinger climbs into first place at Lake Roosevelt
Despite losing a huge fish in Thursday's competition, National Guard angler Tim Klinger of Boulder City, Nev., took over first place at the FLW Series event at Lake Roosevelt.

PAYSON, Ariz. - Buoyed by a 13-pound, 11-ounce catch, the largest stringer caught all day in the Pro Division, National Guard angler Tim Klinger of Boulder City, Nev., found himself atop the leaderboard at the FLW Series Western Division event on Lake Roosevelt. However, if you think Klinger was completely satisfied with the day's events, you'd be wrong.

"When I walked across the stage, the reason I wasn't entirely happy was because I was thinking about the big fish that I broke off," he said. "I'm not sure how big it was but it could have easily been in the double digits. I was fortunate to have caught what I did, but that was a big fish. I really wish I had that fish right now."

With only 14 ounces separating the top four pro anglers in the overall standings, it's easy to see why. Instead of a 7-ounce lead over his next closest competitor, Klinger could have been looking at a 9- or 10-pound lead with only two days of tournament action remaining. But then again, that's just fishing.

"Don't get me wrong, I'm happy to be in the lead. But there is still one more day to see who makes the (top-five) cut," said Klinger. "And if I can make the top five, I'll have a really good shot at making the Cup. And that's one of my main goals this tournament."

Currently, Klinger sits 39th overall in the year-end Western Division standings. However, if he were to move into the top 10 as a result of a strong tournament finish, he'd automatically qualify for a berth in the prestigious (and highly lucrative) 2011 Forrest Wood Cup.

If Klinger were to qualify for the Cup, he definitely will have earned it. After facing a torrential downpour throughout yesterday's competition, anglers faced the exact opposite conditions during today's round of tourney action - bluebird skies, sunny conditions and light winds. Hence, the good anglers have had to adjust on the fly - repeatedly.

"I had really figured something out in practice and then the rains came," said Klinger. "Yesterday, I switched to fishing spinnerbaits. And today was a weird day as well. All of that rain really muddied up the water. So I switched back to flipping a Yamamoto grub and Phoenix jig with a Yamamoto trailer. I covered a lot of water as well. I fished in about 6 to 15 feet of water but, at least for me, there was no rhyme or reason for which depth the fish would bite. But I wound up with seven keepers."

Klinger said that he targeting trees as his main fishing pattern - at least at this point.

"Some of the fish were hanging out on the treetops and sometimes the fish were sitting at the bottom of those trees," he said. "I have two main areas that have a lot of fish and a few more areas that I can go to as well if I need to."

As far as tomorrow's tournament day is concerned, Klinger said he has no idea what to expect.

"I'm really not sure what's going to happen tomorrow," he said. "So far everything is going quite well but I could go out there on Friday and not catch anything. How I fish tomorrow is really going to depend on how the day starts out for me."

Although the weather has been crazy and the bite fickle, Klinger said the one thing he can rely on is confidence in himself.

"I really have a lot of confidence in what I'm doing and that helps," said Klinger, who now boasts a two-day catch of 23 pounds, 9 ounces. "Also, I really love this lake. It fishes a lot like Lake Mead (Klinger's home water) used to fish when it was full of water. So that helps as well."

Ehrler remains in second

National Guard pro Brent Ehrler maintained his second-place position for a second day in a row thanks to a total two-day catch of 23 pounds, 2 ounces. Fellow National Guard pro Brent Ehrler maintained his second-place position for a second day in a row thanks to a total two-day catch of 23 pounds, 2 ounces. However, like Klinger, Ehrler wasn't entirely pleased with how the day went overall.

"I really didn't catch them good at all today," said Ehrler. "I caught that one 5-pounder, which was nice, but it weighed more than my other four fish combined - and that's not a good sign. I really had a lot more bites yesterday and I missed some fish today."

Ehrler said that he caught most of his fish in yesterday's competition on reaction baits. However, that really wasn't an option for him in today's competition.

"The weather wasn't right for reaction bites today," he said. "Yesterday with the rain and wind, it worked out fine but today I decided to go with something different."

With the short-term forecast calling for similar weather to today's conditions for the remainder of the tournament, Ehrler said he's a bit concerned about his ability to put together a competitive stringer going forward.

"I'm literally going to go out there tomorrow and just try to put any five fish in the boat," he said. "I'm really struggling out there. Tomorrow I'm just going to try and survive."

Survival would definitely be Ehrler's best interests. Not only is he currently leading the FLW Series Western Division Angler of the Year race, but he also has a legitimate shot at taking home his fourth title of the year.

"I really want to win Angler of the Year," said Ehrler. "I've been close before so it'd be a really great accomplishment. And if I can finish in the top 10, I'll make it to (the 2011 Forrest Wood) Cup. So there is a lot at stake for me tomorrow."

Barger cracks the top three

Pro Russ Barger of Boise, Idaho, used a two-day catch of 22 pounds, 15 ounces to move up from fifth place to third overall. Russ Barger of Boise, Idaho, used a two-day catch of 22 pounds, 15 ounces to move up from fifth place to third overall. However, despite his excellent day on the water, he too lamented what might have been.

"I really lost a good fish today," said Barger. "I had a 3-pounder but I bounced him off the side of the boat like a fool. He flipped on the rail and went right back in the water."

Barger said he also nearly had a panic attack when he went to his prime fishing location only to see that his treasure trove of quality bass had vanished.

"All of the fish I was catching yesterday disappeared," he said. "But luckily for me, my (co-angler) partner eventually found them. And that was a relief."

Barger said that he flipped a combination of plastics and reaction baits to land the majority of his catch. He also said that he targeted a host of suspending bass.

In the end, despite all of his woes, Barger remains a mere 10 ounces out of first place.

FLW Series pro Keith Espe of New River, Ariz., finished the day on Lake Roosevelt in fourth place with a 22-pound, 11-ounce catchBest of the rest

Keith Espe of New River, Ariz., finished the day in fourth place with a 22-pound, 11-ounce catch. Meanwhile, Robert Lee of Anglers Camp, Calif., grabbed fifth place overall with a two-day catch of 20 pounds, 12 ounces.

Zanotelli in position to walk away with the `trifecta'

Heading into the Lake Roosevelt event, Jimmy Zanotelli of Redding, Calif., held a precarious 4-point lead over fellow competitor J.R. Wright in the overall co-angler of the year standings. However, by the end of today's competition, Zanotelli found himself alone in first place with a total catch of 21 pounds, 9 ounces, 31 spots ahead of Wright in the standings. As a result, Zanotelli appears to be a lock - barring any horrendous stumble - of capturing the AOY crown. And if the cards fall right, he could walk away with the Lake Roosevelt title as well.

"It's really exciting," said Zanotelli. "My primary goal coming into this tournament was to make the Cup (by finishing in the top-10 overall standings). And now it looks like I'm going to do that. To be in a position to win the (Lake Roosevelt) title, that's just unbelievable. To win this tournament, qualify for the Cup and win Angler of the Year, I couldn't think of anything better."

That would be an impressive feat to say the least. But like Ehrler on the pro side, it's an extremely reasonable proposition at this point.

Jimmy Zanotelli of Redding, Calif., finished day two of the Lake Roosevelt event atop the leaderboard in the Co-angler Division."This is probably the most excited I've been in a long time," he said. "But I've learned over the years that if you fish hard every day, the wins will come."

Zanotelli said he's been fishing "super slow," targeting bass in 20 to 30 feet of water using a drop-shot equipped with a Mother's Finest 6-inch worm.

"I'm basically just dragging it along the bottom as slowly as the boat will allow me," he said. "For me, the key today was catching that big fish early. It really allowed me to relax."

With only one more day of fishing remaining for the co-anglers before the division crown is decided, Zanotelli will have little time to relax over the next 24 hours. After that, if things go as planned, he can rest easily knowing that he came to Lake Roosevelt and walked away with the "trifecta."

Best of the rest

Rounding out the top-five co-anglers after today's competition:

2nd: Day-one leader William Byrd of Moab, Utah, with a catch of 16 pounds, 13 ounces.
3rd: Tim Dotson of Loomis, Calif., with a catch of 16 pounds, 4 ounces.
4th: Mason Hite, the father of veteran angler Brett Hite, with a catch of 16 pounds, 2 ounces.
5th: Gary Pinholster of Lake Havasu City, Ariz., with a catch of 14 pounds, 7 ounces.

FLW Series action continues during Friday's takeoff, scheduled to take place at 7 a.m. Pacific Time at the Lake Roosevelt Cholla Recreation Site, located 5 miles northwest of Roosevelt Dam on Highway 188 in Roosevelt, Ariz.

Tags: gary-mortenson  headline-story  2010-09-22-lake-roosevelt 

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