- Cullman, Alabama

March 7, 2013

FISHING: Ehrler leads FLW Tour event at Smith Lake

The Cullman Times

JASPER — A full field of the world’s best bass-fishing professionals began competition in the FLW Tour on Lewis Smith Lake on Thursday. After the final fish was weighed at the venue’s Dam Access, pro Brent Ehrler of Redlands, Calif., sat atop the leaderboard and now has his sights set on the top cash award of up to $125,000.

“My weight doesn’t really show the whole story of exactly what went on out there,” said Ehrler, the second-place finisher at the FLW Tour season opener at Lake Okeechobee. “It was pretty interesting how my day went. I mixed it up and did a bunch of different things. I was fortunate enough to get a couple of big bites.”

Ehrler brought a five-fish limit of spotted bass to the scales that weighed 17 pounds, 8 ounces. He holds a slim 8-ounce lead over fellow pro Dave Lefebre of Erie, Pa., who weighed in 17 pounds even.

“I pulled up to a spot today that I didn’t get a bite on in practice, but it just looked right,” Ehrler said. “There were some good laydowns, and the bank just looked right. I saw some fish on my Humminbird, but I didn’t catch any. I fished quite a few areas and covered a lot of water. I was fishing near the area again later in the afternoon and decided to take another shot at it. That time, it worked.

“It just takes time, though,” Ehrler continued. “I had a long day today and didn’t have to weigh in until 5 p.m. Tomorrow, I weigh in at 3 p.m. That could change the outcome of how I will catch them. Having a long day let me fish relaxed, while having a short day tends to push you and make you fish a little faster.”

Ehrler did not want to divulge any information about his bait selection but did mention that he wasn’t fishing too far from the takeoff site.

“I’m making a 20-minute run,” he said. “And I’m covering everything in between. I didn’t find a whole lot today, but I eliminated a lot. I think it could be a tough day tomorrow because this lake seems to really feel the pressure. Tomorrow I’m just going to worry about catching five. When I do that, then I’ll be going after a few big ones.”

The top 10 pros after Day 1 are:

% First, Brent Ehrler, Redlands, Calif., five bass, 17-8

% Second, Dave Lefebre, Erie, Pa., five bass, 17-0

% Third, Wayne Hauser, Mooresville, N.C., five bass, 16-8

% Fourth, Randy Haynes, Counce, Tenn., five bass, 16-2

% Fifth, Brandon McMillan, Clewiston, Fla., four bass, 15-2

% Sixth, Koby Kreiger, Okeechobee, Fla., five bass, 15-0

% Seventh, Blake Nick, Adger, Ala., five bass, 14-15

% T-eighth, Jacob Powroznik, Prince George, Va., five bass, 14-11

% T-eighth, Spencer Shuffield, Bismarck, Ark., five bass, 14-11

% 10th, John Voyles, Petersburg, Ind., five bass, 14-7


McMillan won the Big Bass Award and $500 on the pro side with a fish weighing 6 pounds, 7 ounces.

Overall, there were 693 bass weighing 1,398 pounds, 9 ounces caught by 161 pros on Thursday. The haul included 112 five-bass limits.

FLW was issued a permit from the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources for this event that exempted tournament competitors from the normal lake-slot limit that states all bass measuring 13 to 15 inches must be immediately released.

Pros are competing for a top award of up to $125,000 this week, plus valuable points in the hope of qualifying for the 2013 Forrest Wood Cup, the world championship of bass fishing. The top 35 anglers in the point standings from the six events on the 2013 FLW Tour will qualify. The 2013 Forrest Wood Cup will be in Shreveport, La., Aug. 15-18 on the Red River.

Patrick Stines of Granger, Ind., leads the co-angler division with five bass weighing 11 pounds, 1 ounce, followed by Tom Stark of Angola, Ind., in second place with five bass weighing 10-7.

The top 10 co-anglers are:

% First, Patrick Stines, Granger, Ind., five bass, 11-1

% Second, Tom Stark, Angola, Ind., five bass, 10-7

% Third, Rick Bowen, Jackson, Tenn., five bass, 10-6

% Fourth, Mark Hardin Sr., Robertsdale, Ala., five bass, 10-5

% Fifth, Benjie Seaborn, Guin, Ala., four bass, 9-15

% Sixth, Don Harvey, Franklin, Tenn., four bass, 9-14

% Seventh, Jeff Sprague, Point, Texas, five bass, 8-15

% Eighth, Alan Woodford, WInslow, Ind., five bass, 8-14

% Ninth, Hoyt Tidwell, West Point, Tenn., five bass, 8-7

% 10th, Glenn Day, Cumming, Ga., five bass 8-6

  Roger Walters of Madisonville, Ky., caught Thursday’s Big Bass weighing 5 pounds, 13 ounces to win $250 in the co-angler division.

Overall, there were 349 bass weighing 577 pounds, 3 ounces caught by co-anglers. The catch included 27 five-bass limits.

Co-anglers are fishing for a top award of $25,000 this week and to move closer to qualifying for the Forrest Wood Cup.

Anglers will take off from Smith Lake Dam Access again today at 7 a.m. Takeoff will be at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.  

Today’s and Friday’s weigh-ins will be held at Smith Lake Dam Access beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday’s final weigh-ins will be held at the Jasper Walmart at 4 p.m.