He now advances to the final day of competition with a commanding lead in a tournament that features a full field of the world’s best professional anglers casting for the top prize of up to $125,000.
With a three-day catch of 15 bass weighing 45 pounds, 14 ounces, Ehrler, of Redlands, Calif., holds a solid 6-pound, 4-ounce lead over second-place pro Jacob Powroznik of Prince George, Va., who has a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 39 pounds, 10 ounces.
“It was a grind, just like yesterday,” said Ehrler, who has led on all three days of tournament competition. “I was thinking I’m going to go from leading the tournament to not even making the cut. It’s such an emotional roller coaster. I was finally able to get a limit mid-day. Once I got a limit, I was able to run around and culled up a couple of times. It started off really slow, though.”
Ehrler remained tight-lipped about his bait selection, but said he is catching them deep and doing one thing different with his baits.
“I’m catching them deeper – from 30 to 40 feet,” he said. “I’m doing one thing different, bait-wise, though. I feel like it’s been the key to getting a lot of the better bites for me, and right now I need every advantage that I can get. I’m not going to sleep easy tonight. If I could choose my conditions tomorrow, it’d be sunny and calm. From what I hear, we’re supposed to be seeing the opposite. If it gets windy out there, it could really hurt my chances. My co-angler caught 12 pounds off of my key areas today, though, so that tells me that there are still a few fish around there. I’m just going to put my head down and if the wind doesn’t affect me too much, I can catch another 12 pounds.”
The top 10 pros advancing to the final day of competition on Lewis Smith Lake are: Ehrler, Redlands, Calif., 15 bass, 45-14, Jacob Powroznik, Prince George, Va., 15 bass, 39-10, Ray Scheide, Dover, Ark., 15 bass, 38-10, Koby Kreiger, Okeechobee, Fla., 15 bass, 37-9, Tommy Biffle, Wagoner, Okla., 15 bass, 37-8, Cody Meyer, Auburn, Calif., 15 bass, 37-1, Andy Morgan, Dayton, Tenn., 10 bass, 36-8, Chevy pro Anthony Gagliardi, Prosperity, S.C., 15 bass, 36-7, Zell Rowland, Montgomery, Texas, 14 bass, 36-0 and Jason Christie, Park Hill, Okla., 15 bass, 35-14.
Overall there were 87 bass weighing 179 pounds, 10 ounces caught by pros Saturday. The catch included 12 five-bass limits.
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 presented by Walmart, the world championship of bass fishing. The top 35 anglers in the point standings from the six events on the 2013 Walmart FLW Tour will qualify. The 2013 Forrest Wood Cup will be in Shreveport, La., Aug. 15-18 on the Red River.
Hoyt Tidwell of West Point, Tenn., won the co-angler division and $20,000 Saturday with a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 34 pounds, 1 ounce followed by Anthony Goggins of Auburn, Ala., in second place with 15 bass weighing 29-5 worth $7,500.
“I’ve been doing this for a long time,” said Tidwell, who earned his first victory in FLW competition Saturday. “I made the Forrest Wood Cup last year, but this is awesome. I had a great week of fishing. I caught every fish that I weighed in, except one, drop-shotting a Roboworm. One came on a jig on day one, but that Roboworm was my confidence bait. It was a grind each day, but the key for me was just staying focused.”
The top 10 co-anglers were: Tidwell, West Point, Tenn., 15 bass, 34-1, $20,000, Anthony Goggins, Auburn, Ala., 13 bass, 29-5, $7,500, Mike Hardin Sr., Robertsdale, Ala., nine bass, 25-4, $5,000, Todd Lee, Jasper, Ala., 15 bass, 22-1, $4,000, Josh Smith, Hamilton, Ohio, 14 bass, 21-15, $3,000, Tom Stark, Angola, Ind., 12 bass, 21-13, $2,500, Jesse Wiggins, Cullman, Ala., 14 bass, 21-12, $2,000, Rick Bowen, Jackson, Tenn., 11 bass, 21-0, $1,800, Bryan Partak, Rockdale, Ill., 12 bass, 20-3, $1,700, Alan Woodford, Winslow, Ind., 13 bass, 18-15, $1,600
Overall there were 56 bass weighing 107 pounds, 8 ounces caught by co-anglers Saturday. The catch included five five-bass limits.Co-anglers are fishing for a top award of $25,000 this week plus valuable points that could help them qualify for the 2013 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart. The top 35 co-anglers in the point standings from the six events on the 2013 Walmart FLW Tour will qualify.
The top 10 pros will take off from Smith Lake Dam at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday. Sunday’s final weigh-ins will be held at Walmart in Jasper beginning at 4 p.m.
Fans will be treated to the FLW Outdoors Expo at Walmart on Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. prior to the final weigh-in.
The Expo includes Ranger boat simulators, the opportunity to interact with professional anglers, enjoy interactive games, activities and giveaways provided by sponsors, and fans can learn more about the sport of fishing and other outdoor activities. Country music artist Dylan Scott will perform a free concert for fans on the FLW stage starting at 3 p.m. All activities are free and open to the public.Coverage of the Lewis Smith Lake tournament will be broadcast in high-definition (HD) on NBC Sports Network when “FLW” airs April 14 from 11 a.m.-12 p.m. ET.