“This is just unreal,” said Frie, who is fishing in his first FLW Series event. “It’s my first National Guard tournament, it’s my home pond and I just hope I can do it again tomorrow.
“The front coming in was definitely the key today,” Frie continued. “It started coming in and the fish just started popping.”
Frie said his bite really started picking up around noon when the wind began to blow on the edge of the front. His bait of choice was a chartreuse shad swimbait. Frie said he fished the swimbait very slowly in 3 to 6 feet of water, and he managed to boat 10 fish after the bite picked up for him. Frie said he figures he won’t have to duplicate his opening-day effort, but will need 45 pounds spread out over Thursday and Friday to make the top-10 cut to the final day of competition.
“After three fish, I knew my bite was going,” Frie said. “It was the same bite I had going during prefishing. I had a feeling it was going to stick, and it did.”
Dee Thomas of Brentwood, Calif., trails Frie in the No. 2 spot with five bass weighing 33-1. Thomas remained tight-lipped about his day on the water, but the fisherman, who is in his early seventies, did reveal that he was focusing on flipping the Delta’s tules.
“The way I flip, it’s a reaction bait,” Thomas said. “I can cover a lot of water doing it. I can go down the bank and hit 10 targets while you’re hitting one. I’ve been doing that here pretty much the whole time the last two years.” Rounding out the top five pros are Team National Guard pro Brent Ehrler of Redlands, Calif. (five bass, 31-4); Rob Riehl of Tracy, Calif. (five bass, 31-1) and Chris Raza of Roseville, Calif. (five bass, 29-10).
William Ponting of Murrieta, Calif., earned the day’s $476 Snickers Big Bass award in the Pro Division thanks to an 11-pound, 3-ounce bass he caught.
Overall there were 870 bass weighing 3,076 pounds, 1 ounce caught by 190 pros Wednesday. The catch included 148 five-bass limits.
Pros are competing this week for a top award of $125,000 plus valuable points in the hope of qualifying for the BP East-National Guard West Fish-Off and a shot at advancing to the $2 million, 2009 Forrest Wood Cup, where the winning pro will earn as much as $1 million – the sport’s biggest award.
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Steve Adams of Discovery Bay, Calif., leads the Co-angler Division with five bass weighing 23-8 followed by Daniel Montes of Turlock, Calif., in second place with five bass weighing 21-9.
“It was just two big lucky bites,” said Adams, who is fishing in only his third FLW Outdoors event. “The fishing was different than I expected it to be. I expected it to be a jig bite, but my pro started using a crankbait, so I started cranking and he let me get a couple of clean shots and I nailed two big ones. The rest were not too big, but they were good.”
Adams caught his bass while fishing with pro Louis Fernandes of Santa Maria, Calif., who is currently in 25th place with five bass weighing 23-0.
Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Jim Slusher of Paso Robles, Calif. (five bass, 21-0); Robert Jones of Clayton, Calif. (five bass, 20-1) and Chris Rains of Soledad, Calif. (five bass, 20-0). Joe Madden of John Day, Ore., earned $290 for the Snickers Big Bass award in the Co-angler Division thanks to an 11-pound, 5-ounce bass he caught while fishing with pro Jason Newby of Bakersfield, Calif.
Overall there were 546 bass weighing 1,472 pounds, 15 ounces caught by 172 co-anglers Wednesday. The catch included 52 five-bass limits.
Co-anglers are competing this week for a top award of $25,000. Like the pros, the top 30 co-anglers from both FLW Series divisions after four qualifying events are complete will advance to the East-West Fish-Off for a shot at qualifying for the Forrest Wood Cup.
Anglers will take off at 7:30 each morning from Russo’s Marina located at 3995 Willow Rd. in Bethel Island. Thursday and Friday’s weigh-in will be held at the marina beginning at 2:30 p.m. Saturday’s weigh-in will be held at the Wal-Mart store located at 4893 Lone Tree Way in Antioch, Calif., beginning at 4 p.m. Children will also be treated to a Family Fun Zone prior to Saturday’s weigh-in from noon to 4 p.m. at Wal-Mart. Activities in the Family Fun Zone include the Kellogg’s trout pond, a Ranger boat simulator and assorted fishing-themed games. All activities are free and open to the public.
In FLW Series 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. The entire field competes for the first three days, and co-angler competition concludes on day three with the winner determined by the heaviest accumulated three-day weight. The top 10 professionals continue competition on day four, and the winner is determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from all four days.
Coverage of the California Delta FLW Series tournament will be broadcast to 81 million FSN (Fox Sports Net) subscribers in the United States as part of the “FLW Outdoors” television program airing April 20. “FLW Outdoors” is also broadcast in Canada on WFN (World Fishing Network) and to more than 429 million households in the United Kingdom, Europe, Russia, Australia, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East through a distribution agreement with Matchroom Sport, making it the most widely distributed fishing program in the world. The program airs Sunday mornings at 11 Eastern time in most markets. Check local listings for times in your area.
FLW Outdoors, named after Forrest L. Wood, the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, is the largest fishing tournament organization in the world. In 2008 alone the organization is offering more than 90,000 anglers the chance to win over $40 million through 230 tournaments in 10 circuits targeting bass, walleye, redfish, kingfish and striped bass. FLW Outdoors is also taking fishing mainstream with the largest cash awards in the history of fantasy sports, $7.3 million.
For more information about FLW Outdoors and its tournaments, visit FLWOutdoors.com or call (270) 252-1000. For more information about FLW Fantasy Fishing and Player’s Advantage, visit FantasyFishing.com.
FLW Outdoors historically maintains a 98 percent live release rate in all of its bass tournaments.