The incredible catch is just 5-pounds shy of breaking the 49-8 record set by Castrol pro Darrel Robertson of Jay, Okla., during the tour's last stop on Lake Murray in 2003, and Robertson had 10 bass.
"I didn't go to my best water, and I struggled a little bit," said Carroll, who caught five bass weighing 28-1 Wednesday and three bass weighing 16-8 Thursday. "But, I found a new spot and it coughed up a 9-10, and I think it will cough up some more."
That big bass came at about 10 o'clock and was Carroll's first fish of the morning. "The way I'm fishing, I think it's just going to get better," Carroll said. "This pattern has held up for two weeks now."
So with $200,000 on the line what is the pattern? "Deep with a football head jig," Carroll said. A 3/4-ounce PJ's football head jig fished on 17-pound fluorocarbon to be a bit more specific. Finding the right structure is also a key part of the equation Carroll said.
Carroll's opening day weight, anchored by a 7-pound, 14-ounce largemouth, tied with another Lake Murray limit, caught by pro Stanley Mitchell of Fitzgerald, Ga., during the tour's last visit, as the fourth heaviest in tour history.
"This is my first top 10 in the FLW Tour, and it was a goal of mine to do it, if not win," Carroll said. "The place I have the most confidence in I haven't even fished yet."
Hometown favorite Anthony Gagliardi also posted big numbers in the opening round, advancing as the No. 2 seed with 10 bass weighing 41-14.
"I felt like I had a good opportunity coming into this tournament, and I'm glad that I didn't disappoint," Gagliardi said. "To be able to do this on your home lake is just great. You don't get to many opportunities like that."
Like Carroll, Gagliardi is catching deep-water fish on a jig. He is also drop-shotting a 4-inch finesse worm.
Terry Segraves of Kissimmee, Fla., also broke the 40-pound mark with 10 bas weighing 40-14 that he caught cranking a 1/4-ounce Luhr Jensen Speed Trap. Unlike Carroll and Gagliardi, Segraves fish are coming out of shallow pockets off the main lake. "It's surprising how shallow some of these fish are," he said. "The wind really brought them up."
Rounding out the top five are Benton, Ark., pros Jeremiah Kindy (10 bass, 39-9) fishing for Team Land O'Lakes; and Brennan Bosley (nine bass, 37-10) fishing for Team Wet Ones.
Also clearing the top-10 cut weight of 34-pounds, 9-ounces in the Pro Division were Katsutoshi Furusawa of Tokyo, Japan; Clifford Pirch of Payson, Ariz.; Matt Herren of Trussville, Ala.; David Smith of Del City, Okla.; and David Wolak of Warrior Run, Pa.
Ralph Laster Jr of Lees Summit, Mo., landed 34-9 but lost a tiebreaker to Wolak, who had the heavier one-day catch.
Bosley earned the Energizer Keeps on Going Award of $500 for coming from behind to make the cut after finishing 74th on opening day with four bass weighing 11 pounds, 5 ounces.
Kelly Jordon of Mineola, Texas, landed the day's Snickers Big Bass award and $750 in the Pro Division with a 9-pound, 14-ounce largemouth. He also earned the tournament's overall Snickers Big Bass award of $1,000 and will likely win the season's big bass award of $5,000.
Bryan Thrift of Shelby, N.C., leads the Co-angler Division in the chase for a top award of $40,000 with an opening-round total of nine bass weighing 33-6. He caught five bass weighing 19-7 to lead the field Wednesday then added four bass weighing 13-15 to his total Thursday.
Rounding out the top five co-anglers are David Brunaugh of Carbondale, Ill. (nine bass, 23-12); Mike Devere of Berea, Ky. (eight bass, 23-5); Andy Montgomery of Blacksburg, S.C. (10 bass, 21-10) and Charles Ward of Greer, S.C. (10 bass, 21-6).
Also clearing the top-10 cut weight of 19 pounds, 4 ounces in the Co-angler Division were Matthew Parker of Whitesburg, Ga.; Judy Israel of Clewiston, Fla.; Sondra Rankin of Paducah, Ky.; Ken Murphy of Meridian, Miss.; and Mark Cummings of Pembroke, N.C.
Homer Stephens of Noblesville, Ind., caught 19-4 but lost the tiebreaker to Cummings, who had the heavier one-day catch.
Thrift, a newcomer to the FLW Tour, won the Stren Series season opener on Lake Okeechobee while fishing as a pro. A few weeks later, he fished his first FLW Tour event and finished sixth in the Co-angler Division.
Israel is the first woman to ever win an FLW Tour event and the tour's leading female money winner.
Randy Clark of Mobile, Ala., earned the day's Snickers Big Bass award of $375 in the Co-angler Division thanks to a 8-pound, 4-ounce largemouth.
Overall, 1,190 bass weighing 2,852 pounds, 3 ounces were caught Thursday, including 143 five-bass limits.
Anglers competing in the tournament hosted by the Capital City/Lake Murray Country Regional Tourism Board will take off at 7 each morning from Jake's Landing. Friday and Saturday's weigh-ins will be held at the Wal-Mart store located at 2401 Augusta Road in Columbia beginning at 4 p.m.
The community is invited to attend the free Family Fun Zone Friday and Saturday outside the weigh-in tent in the Wal-Mart parking lot. The Family Fun Zone, which opens at 2 p.m. Friday and noon Saturday, features interactive displays, product samples and games for the entire family to enjoy.
Weights are cleared for day three, and co-angler competition concludes following Friday's weigh-in. The top 10 pros continue competition Saturday, with the winner determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from days three and four.
In FLW Tour competition, pros and co-anglers are randomly paired each day, with pros supplying the boat, controlling boat movement and competing against other pros. Co-anglers fish from the back deck against other co-anglers.
Coverage of the Chevy Open will be broadcast to 78 million FSN (Fox Sports Net) subscribers in the United States as part of the "FLW Outdoors" television programs airing March 12 and March 19. "FLW Outdoors" airs Sundays at 11 a.m. Eastern time. "FLW Outdoors" is also broadcast internationally to more than 300 million households in such countries as Germany, China, South Africa, Australia, Malaysia, Russia, Hungary and the United Kingdom, making it the most widely distributed weekly outdoor-sports television show in the world. Additionally, FLW Outdoors is proud to provide tournament coverage to more than 800,000 servicemembers stationed around the world in 177 countries and aboard Navy ships through broadcasts on the American Forces Network.
Named after the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, Forrest L. Wood, FLW Outdoors administers the Wal-Mart FLW Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Series, Stren Series, Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League, Wal-Mart Texas Tournament Trail, Stratos Owners' Tournament Trail, Wal-Mart FLW Walleye Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Walleye League, Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Series and Wal-Mart FLW Redfish Series. These circuits offer combined purses exceeding $36.9 million through 241 events in 2006.
For more information about FLW Outdoors and its tournament programs, visit FLWOutdoors.com or call (270) 252-1000.
Wal-Mart and many of America's largest and most respected companies support FLW Outdoors and its tournament trails. Wal-Mart signed on as an FLW Outdoors sponsor in 1997 and today is the world's leading supporter of tournament fishing. For more information about Wal-Mart, visit Wal-Mart.com.