Burks, fishing a pattern he said is unique, caught a monster bag of 25 pounds, 11 ounces, giving him an 8-ounce cushion over the pro in second place, 33-year-old Eric Nethery.
By 10 a.m. Thursday, Burks had filled his daily limit. Satisfied with his weight, he decided to move on in search of new water. While he spent the rest of his day locating new areas, he has plans to visit his honey hole Friday and Saturday.
He said he’s keying in on staging fish and attributes his banner day to an aggressive early bite. Although Burks wasn’t willing to divulge many of the details of his pattern, he did reveal he was fishing shallow water of about 5 feet.
“No one in the field is doing what I am doing, I can promise you that,” the 41-year-old said. “I will tell you that I am fishing a typical Missouri pattern, and I think it should hold up pretty well no matter what the weather is.”
Burks, a BASS tournament regular in 1994 and 1995, took off time to concentrate on his personal affairs, but today he was sharp as ever.
Trailing Burks are two Georgia anglers, Nethery (25-3) and Tom Hamlin (22-3).
Much like Burks, Nethery took advantage of an aggressive early bite, and left his most productive area with a limit at 11 a.m. His bag included a 7-9 lunker, which was heavy enough for Purolator Big Bass honors and the $1,000 premium. The Acworth, Ga., native boated his fish flipping soft plastics into shallow water.
“Patience is the key out there,” Nethery said. “With the water temperature the way it is, one hour can make a big difference in an area and you have to be patient with your spots.”
Rounding out the top five on the pro side are Ohio’s Matt Amedeo (21-0) and Texan Harold Allen (20-6).
Leading the co-angler side is Ohio’s Jameson Lecon, who boated a limit of 13 pounds, 5 ounces. Trailing Lecon in the chase for a Triton boat is Florida’s Kevin Pulsifer (12-11), Texan Curtis Thompson (12-2), Louisiana’s Tommy Mendoza (11-5) and Texan Keith Morris (11-3).
Pros are fishing for $324,650 and co-anglers are competing for $68,880. The champion pro will take home a fully rigged Triton boat valued at $45,000 and $30,000 in cash, while the champion co-angler will receive a Triton boat valued at $30,000.
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