UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Pickwick Lake

Coming up roses

Coming up roses
Mark Rose of Marion, Ark., used a catch of 24 pounds, 10 ounces to grab the overall lead after the first day of FLW Tour competition on Pickwick Lake.

FLORENCE, Ala. - Bolstered by a catch of 24 pounds, 10 ounces, Mark Rose of Marion, Ark., put himself in perfect position to make a strong run at a tournament title on Pickwick Lake during the opening round of FLW Tour competition in Alabama. Boating one of only two 20-pound-plus stringers in the Pro Division, Rose clearly one-upped the competition, out-fishing his next closest rival by more than 4 full pounds - a rather astounding feat given the massive boat congestion and fishing pressure that comes with fishing Pickwick Lake in mid-July.

Not surprisingly, Rose couldn't have been happier with today's final outcome.

"I was able to put together a pretty good stringer early so that really helped," said Rose. "I basically stayed in one place most of the day. It was a spot that was a little less obvious and I pretty much had it to myself all day. In fact, Chad Morgenthaler was the only other guy to come near it. I was fishing a ledge that dropped off into 22 to 24 feet of water and it was pretty productive."

Rose said that he had a bunch of other areas loaded into his GPS unit but decided upon that specific location due to the intense fishing pressure that accompanied his other prime fishing locations.

"I've probably got 50 waypoints or more but I knew there was going to be a boat on every one of them so I tried to look for something different," he said. "I just tried to find a place that everyone wasn't pounding on. Eventually, I found this one area that was a little more obscure and it really paid off. Obviously, I'm very pleased with what I caught today."

Rose said that given his practice sessions, he was somewhat surprised by just how well he did in today's competition.

"I was just hoping for 15 to 17 pounds today and I told myself I'd be happy with that," he said. "Overall, the fishing was slow. I would catch one fish about every 15 minutes or so. Toward the end of the day I picked up a crankbait and caught my two biggest fish and that helped me. The key to that spot was finding a fresh school of fish. I'm pretty sure all of those fish just got there. Honestly, I was tickled to death because I wasn't catching that kind of weight in practice."

In addition to fishing crankbaits, Rose said his main weapon of choice was a Strike King Shaky Head worm with a 3/16-ounce weight.

"When I picked up that Strike King Shaky Head, the fish just went crazy," he said.

However, Rose's banner day might have gone by the wayside had he not received a little help from a friend at the end of the day.

"Heading back to weigh-in my water pump got clogged," said Rose. "But just then Greg Bohannan came by and helped me unplug it. I really can't thank him enough. Without that help, I probably don't make it in on time."

Rose's stellar performance in today's competition also puts him in a great position to make a run at another prestigious prize as well - the 2011 FLW Tour Angler of the Year award. Heading into this competition, Rose was in fourth place, 33 points off the lead. Although it will be difficult to make up that much ground, especially since most of the other AOY contenders did well today, Rose accomplished exactly what he needed to do on opening day to remain in the hunt.

"As far as the angler of the year race is concerned, I've probably said it 100 times, the only thing you can do is just go out there and do your best. There's no pressure on me at all. If the angler of the year comes my way, then so be it."

Rose also won the day's "Big Bass" award in the Pro Division after landing a 5-pound, 10-ounce largemouth.

Woods nails down runner-up position

On the strength a 20-pound, 7-ounce catch, Kenneth On the strength of the only other 20-pound-plus stringer recorded today in the Pro Division, Kenneth "Boo" Woods of Hazard, Ky., grabbed second place overall.

"It was a very enjoyable day for me," said Woods, who netted a total catch of 20 pounds, 7 ounces. "Anytime you can catch a stringer over 20 pounds, it's a good day. I really had a lot of fun out there today."

Like most of the field, Woods said he concentrated exclusively on fishing ledges. He also noted that he relied extensively on a Slongs Phanttom jig to land his entire catch.

"I found this little ledge deal and I wound up throwing that jig all day long," he said. "Realistically I was looking for 16 to 17 pounds just to try and stay in the hunt. But obviously, it worked out a little bit better than that."

Dodson, Schenck net top-three finish

Shad Schenck of Waynestown, Ind., used a catch of 19 pounds, 14 ounces to grab a share of third place during the opening round of FLW Tour competition on Pickwick Lake. Robbie Dodson of Harrison, Ark., and Shad Schenck of Waynestown, Ind., turned in identical performances of 19 pounds, 14 ounces to grab a share of third place heading into Friday's competition.

"It was exciting to be sure," said Schenck. "I had my limit in the boat by 7 a.m., and I caught fish on a bunch of different baits. So it was a great day."

Schenck, who targeted ledges like most of the other top pros, said he was doubly excited about today's performance because not only is he in the running for a tournament title, but he also now has some cushion with regard to qualifying for this year's Forrest Wood Cup and a shot at the top prize of $600,000.

"I was 17th in the standings coming into this event and I really want to make the Cup," said Schenck, acknowledging that a top-30 finish will guarantee him an automatic berth into the Forrest Wood Cup. "So it was obviously a great day to have a great finish."

Ehrler grabs fifth place

Using a healthy catch of 19 pounds, 9 ounces, Brent Ehrler of Redlands, Calif., managed to finish the day in fifth placeUsing a healthy catch of 19 pounds, 9 ounces, Brent Ehrler of Redlands, Calif., managed to put all distractions aside to finish the day in fifth place. What distractions you say? For starters, his wife is scheduled to give birth to their first child any day now. In addition, Ehrler entered this tournament ranked second overall in the angler of the year contest and now has a very realistic shot at winning that title. And third, Ehrler is concentrating on winning the Pickwick title despite the fact that nearly every one of his prime fishing locations has been bombarded by boat traffic throughout this event.

"It's been a weird week, no question about it," said Ehrler. "I've really been dealing with a big mix of emotions: my wife, my baby, angler of the year, this tournament - it's a constant back and forth the whole time. And this has been a tough tournament so far. Basically there are a lot of guys on almost every spot I have. So it's difficult to even find good places to fish."

Luckily for Ehrler, he did manage to find a bit of isolated real estate for at least part of the day.

"I had one spot all to myself," he said. "And if I can get in there and fish it (alone) first thing tomorrow, I should be all right."

Ehrler said that he's targeting bass holding to ledges in the 12- to 20-foot range with a variety of "reaction baits."

"During this tournament the fishing pressure is really affecting the bite so you have to try and find some areas that have been left alone for a while," he said. "Otherwise it's really difficult to catch fish."

As far as the angler of the year race is concerned, the No. 2 ranked angler said there is nothing much he can do about the outcome except to fish as hard as he can and hope the other leaders stumble.

"Right now if Dudley finishes in the top 16, it doesn't matter what the rest of us do," he said.

Angler of the year race at a glance

Current FLW Tour Angler of the Year leader David Dudley of Lynchburg, Va., finished the first day of Pickwick Lake competition in 10th place.Heading into the Pickwick Lake event, the 2011 FLW Tour Angler of the Year race stacked up as follows:

David Dudley of Lynchburg, Va. (first with 912 points); Brent Ehrler of Redlands, Calif. (second with 896 points); Tom Monsoor of Lacrosse, Wisc. (third with 881 points); Mark Rose of Marion, Ark. (fourth with 879 points); Jason Christie of Park Hill, Okla. (fifth with 878 points); and Stacey King of Reeds Spring, Mo. (sixth with 870 points).

However, after the outcome of today's competition, the AOY race is really starting to heat up. Dudley, who finished the day in 10th place, needs a 15th-place finish or better to guarantee an AOY title. If he doesn't finish in the top 15, he will need to remain within 15 places in the standings of second-place contender Brent Ehrler (who finished in fifth place in today's competition).

Jason Christie of Park Hill, Okla., finished the first day of FLW Tour Pickwick Lake competition in sixth place.Out of the top-six AOY contenders, all but third-place contender Tom Monsoor had a stellar day on the water - which means that the title is still very much up in the air. Although Monsoor finished in 107th place, all but ensuring that he's out of the running, the rest of the AOY leaders turned in top-20 finishes or thereabouts. Rose currently leads the tournament and now has a very realistic shot at winning the title if Dudley and Ehrler stumble during tomorrow's competition. Christie, who finished the day in sixth place, entered the AOY contest only one point behind Rose. And King recorded a top-21 finish to keep his slim hopes alive as well.

Thill finds first-place thrill

If you're looking for a reason why Tom Monsoor is pretty much out of the running for this year's AOY contest after one day of Pickwick Lake competition, look no further than his co-angler partner Dan Thill of Lacrosse, Wisc. Not only did Thill out-fish the entire co-angler field by a stunning margin, but he also out-fished every single pro but one in today's competition as well.

Dan Thill of Lacrosse, Wisc., grabbed the overall lead in the Co-angler Division with a whopping 22-pound, 13-ounce catch on the opening day of FLW Tour Pickwick Lake competition."I had a great day on the water but I kind of feel bad for (Monsoor)," said Thill, who recorded a whopping 22 pounds, 13 ounces. "If there was some way I could change places with him, I would. But that's not the way it goes I guess."

But although he was saddened that his fellow Lacrosse resident didn't have the day he'd hoped for, Thill was nonetheless pleased with his own performance.

"If you talk to anybody who fishes, you'll know that sometimes you just have days like this," said Thill. "I had six bites today and I caught every fish except one. I couldn't do anything wrong. When it's your day, it's your day. And today was my day. Hopefully I can roll this day into the weekend."

Ironically, Thill said that he caught most of his fish on one of Tom Monsoor's custom-made jigs.

"It's just unbelievable," he said of today's fishing performance. "This is my best five-fish ever in tournament competition."

Thill also took home the "Big Bass" award in the Co-angler Division after netting a humungous 8-pound, 8-ounce largemouth.

Hults snares second place

Co-angler Chris Hults of Vancleave, Miss., grabbed hold of second place overall after landing a total catch of 17 pounds, 15 ounces.Chris Hults of Vancleave, Miss., grabbed hold of second place overall after landing a total catch of 17 pounds, 15 ounces.

"It feels good. This is the best day I've had this year," said Hults. "But you need to catch them three days in a row so we'll just have to see how it goes from here on out."

Hults said that he also targeted ledges, catching fish with an assortment of "five or six different baits."

"It feels great," he said. "Hopefully I can do this again tomorrow."

Best of the rest

Rounding out the top-five co-angler finishers in today's competition:

3rd: Clent Davis of Montevallo, Ala., 17-10
4th: Johnny Douglas of Hustonville, Ky., 17-1
5th: Frank Divis, Sr., of Fayetteville, Ark., 15-10

FLW Tour action on the Pickwick Lake continues during Friday's takeoff, scheduled to take place at 6 a.m. at McFarland Park, located at 200 James M. Spain Drive in Florence, Ala.

Tags: gary-mortenson  headline-story  2011-07-21-pickwick-lake 

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