(May 20, 2017 - La Crosse, WI)
Pro Bryan Schmitt of Deale, Maryland, brought a five-bass limit to the scale Saturday weighing 15 pounds, 12 ounces to take the lead at the FLW Tour on the Mississippi River presented by Evinrude with a three-day cumulative total of 15 bass totaling 46-12. He now holds a 12-ounce advantage over Day Two leader Andy Morgan heading into the final day of the four-day event that featured 160 of the world’s best bass-fishing professionals casting for a top award of up to $125,000.
Schmitt, a renowned river and tidal-water specialist, said that he caught his fish Saturday throwing a swimjig and a vibrating jig through sparse grass. While other competitors have weighed in mixed bags of largemouth and smallmouth bass throughout the week, Schmitt’s limits each day have consisted entirely of largemouth.
“I feel comfortable fishing here,” said Schmitt, a five-year veteran with four prior top-10 finishes in FLW Tour competition. “It’s almost like we had an incoming tide, all day. The water is rising so quickly that I literally watched grass that I was fishing go below the surface. My area is changing every day and I have got to just keep changing with it.
“This afternoon got really good for about an hour or so,” Schmitt continued. “It seems to turn on every afternoon. I’m catching 20 to 25 fish a day and weeding through a lot of little ones.”
Schmitt’s previous best-finish in FLW Tour competition was a fourth place finish on the Potomac River in 2011, and he has never led an FLW Tour event before. He admitted to feeling nervous with pros like Andy Morgan, Larry Nixon and David Dudley in striking range behind him.
“This is one of those tournaments that is going to come down to ounces,” Schmitt said. “I’m going to try my best tomorrow and I’m excited to get back out there. But, it can easily go away from me here. There are a lot of good fisherman behind me. So I am nervous. But I want it bad. It would mean so much to get a win.”
The top 10 advancing to the final day of competition Sunday on the Mississippi River are:
1st: Bryan Schmitt, Deale, Md., 15 bass, 46-12
2nd: Livingston Lures pro Andy Morgan, Dayton, Tenn., 15 bass, 46-0
3rd: Austin Felix, Eden Prairie, Minn., 15 bass, 44-10
4th: Matthew Stefan, Junction City, Wis., 15 bass, 44-3
5th: Joshua Weaver, Macon, Ga., 15 bass, 44-3
6th: Todd Auten, Lake Wylie, S.C., 15 bass, 43-14
7th: Wesley Strader, Spring City, Tenn., 15 bass, 43-3
8th: Yamamoto Baits pro Larry Nixon, Bee Branch, Ark., 15 bass, 42-12
9th: Polaris pro David Dudley, Lynchburg, Va., 15 bass, 41-12
10th: Justin Atkins, Florence, Ala., 15 bass, 41-10
Finishing in 11th through 20th are:
11th: Quaker State pro Matt Arey, Shelby, N.C., 15 bass, 41-3, $12,000
12th: Alex Davis, Albertville, Ala., 15 bass, 40-14, $12,000
13th: Jim Moulton, Merced, Calif., 15 bass, 40-5, $12,000
14th: Jeff Sprague, Point, Texas, 15 bass, 40-2, $12,000
15th: Scott Martin, Clewiston, Fla., 15 bass, 40-2, $12,000
16th: Clark Reehm, Huntington, Texas, 15 bass, 40-2, $12,000
17th: Joey Cifuentes, Clinton, Ark., 15 bass, 38-14, $12,000
18th: Quaker State pro Jimmy Houston, Cookson, Okla., 15 bass, 37-10, $12,000
19th: Cody Meyer, Auburn, Calif., 15 bass, 37-4, $12,000
20th: Michael Wooley, Collierville, Tenn., 12 bass, 31-12, $12,000
Overall there were 97 bass weighing 241 pounds, 8 ounces caught by pros Saturday. Nineteen of the final 20 pros weighed in five-bass limits.
Cole Herb of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, won the co-angler division and $20,000 Friday with a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 24 pounds, 11 ounces, followed by Jeremiah Shaver of Holmen, Wisconsin, who finished in second place with 10 bass weighing 23 pounds, 11 ounces, worth $7,600.
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. The full field of anglers competed Thursday and Friday. Co-angler competition concluded following Friday’s weigh-in, while the top 20 pros based on their two-day accumulated weight advance to Saturday. Only the top 10 pros continue competition Sunday, with the winner determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from the four days of competition.
Throughout the season, anglers are also vying for valuable points in hopes of qualifying for the 2017 Forrest Wood Cup, the world championship of professional bass fishing. The 2017 Forrest Wood Cup will be on Lake Murray in Columbia, South Carolina, Aug. 11-13.
The final 10 anglers will take off at 6:30 a.m. CDT Sunday from Veterans Freedom Park, located at 1 Clinton St., in La Crosse. Sunday’s final weigh-in will be held at Veterans Freedom Park, beginning at 4 p.m.
Prior to the weigh-in Sunday, fans are invited to experience the free Fishing Expo at Veterans Freedom Park from noon to 4 p.m. The Expo is a unique opportunity for fishing fans to meet their favorite anglers, enjoy interactive games, activities and giveaways provided by FLW sponsors, and learn more about the sport of fishing and other outdoor activities.
Television coverage of the FLW Tour at Mississippi River presented by Evinrude will premiere in high-definition (HD) on NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) Aug. 2 from Noon-1 p.m. EDT. The Emmy-nominated "FLW" television show airs on NBCSN, the Pursuit Channel and the World Fishing Network and is broadcast to more than 564 million households worldwide, making it the most widely distributed weekly outdoors-sports television show in the world.
The total purse for the FLW Tour at Mississippi River presented by Evinrude is more than $800,000, including $10,000 through 50th place in the Pro Division. The tournament is hosted by Explore La Crosse.
FLW is the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, providing anglers of all skill levels the opportunity to compete for millions in prize money in 2017 across five tournament circuits. Headquartered in Benton, Kentucky, with offices in Minneapolis, FLW conducts more than 274 bass-fishing tournaments annually across the United States and sanctions tournaments in Canada, China, Mexico, South Africa and South Korea. FLW tournament fishing can be seen on the Emmy-nominated “FLW" television show, broadcast to more than 564 million households worldwide, while FLW Bass Fishing magazine delivers cutting-edge tips from top pros.