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

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Wind up, water down, anglers cool for TBF’s final day

Greg Hoskinson idles past the dock on the final day of the 2011 TBF Championship on Nickajack Lake.

Torrential downpours and random streaks of lighting didn't stop the bass from biting on Nickajack Lake yesterday. Limits were plentiful and weights were up. Today, however, the 14 anglers competing on the final day of the 2011 TBF National Championship are dealing with completely different conditions: winds gusting to 20 mph, a rising barometer and potentially muddy water. The storms dumped over 2 inches of rain on the region yesterday and last night. The lake level, however, is down 18 inches as the TVA opened the floodgates in anticipation of the torrential downpours. It's just another curve ball in what will likely be a thrilling final day of competition.

Ryan Latinville, the youngest angler of the tournament who is also fishing in the Boater Division, wasn't fazed by the breeze or the expected 20-mph gusts.

"I fish Champlain. Fifteen- or 20-mile winds are pretty tame compared to what I'm used to," he said. "It's not going to change any of my decisions."

Latinville had just a single spinning rod on the deck of his boat, the same rod rigged with the same tube that worked so well the first two days. He jumped from third in the Eastern Division on day one to a slot in the final day and a chance at amateur bass fishing's most coveted prize, the Living The Dream package, valued at over $100,000. Latinville, however, understood what he had to do in order to get there. He is 11 pounds, 9 ounces behind leader Kenny Beale Jr., who weighed 36-13 the first two days to capture the Mid-Atlantic Division and the overall lead. Like Latinville, the Danville, Va., angler was at ease in the minutes before he motored away from the dock.

"I'm going back to the same spots," Beale said.

Those spots, however, are likely to look a little different. Despite the intense downpours, Nickajack's water level took a rollercoaster ride in the last 24 hours. Judging from the debris line on the shore around the Shellmound Day Use Area launch site this morning, the water rose as much as 3 feet above the current level overnight. It is, however, about 18 inches lower than it was the previous morning. Beale isn't concerned, although he isn't exactly sure what the changes will do to his fish.

"I thought the higher water would help my bite yesterday, but we saw how that turned out," he said, referring to his second-day limit, which was 4 pounds lighter than his first day's sack. "I don't know. I'm just going to go fish and hope it works out like it did the past two days."

Beale is paired with Rhett Fornof of Park City, Utah, the leader in the Co-Angler Division with 31 pounds, 13 ounces. The two anglers were paired on the first day; Fornof boated a 13-5 limit. He fished with Pennsylvania angler Rich Nicodemus on the second day and weighed the heaviest co-angler sack of the tournament at 18 pounds, 8 ounces.

"Anything could happen. I don't have a real big lead over the guys behind me, but I do know Kenny is in a good spot. I just hope it holds up," he said.

Kentucky angler Greg Hoskinson was a little less sure. He said he was going to make a change due to the predicted winds, but he did have some back-up spots in mind. He is in sixth place overall with 30 pounds, 1 ounce, a little more than a pound behind Idaho angler Don Boeger. James Biggs of Bedford, Texas, is in fourth, just a pound behind Larry Hardy of Arizona and Indiana boater Allen Boyd, who are tied with 32-15.
They are nearly 4 pounds behind Beale.

Jason Myers of Ohio is in second in the Co-Angler Division, followed by 2010 Living The Dream angler Robert Harkness of West Virginia. Casey Casamento of New York is in fourth, followed by Jason Hester, Dennis Hastings and Gene Lippincott.

All 14 anglers will advance to the 2011 BFL All-American, and the top angler from the boater and co-angler groups will earn a berth in the 2011 Forrest Wood Cup.

Today's weigh-in takes place at 3 p.m. Eastern (the first two days' weigh-ins took place in Kimball, Tenn., which is in the Central Time Zone) at the Chattanooga Convention Center. The Federation anglers will take the stage prior to the Walmart FLW Tour Major weigh-in.

Tags: david-hart  morning-story  2011-04-14-national-championship-nickajack 

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