BASS REPORT: Lefebre beats muddy water to lead FWC Day 1; Ike hovers
NEW July 30, 2009 / 8:30 p.m EST
PITTSBURGH, Penn. - Surprise surprise. And, as it turns out, no surprise at all.
Changing conditions dominated the day today on the Three Rivers of Pittsburgh as the 77 professional anglers competing in the 2009 Forrest Wood Cup blasted off into the muddy waters of the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio Rivers in pursuit of bass fishing's biggest tournament payout.
Once they got to their spots? Surprise, surprise.
But the leader after Day 1? No surprise there.
Almost to a man, the FLW's best anglers were sent into full-on scramble mode early this morning when they arrived at their first spots of the day to find that heavy rains early in the week had turned many fishable spots to mud. It brought a whole new favorite catch-phrase to the weigh-in stage at Mellon Arena Thursday afternoon.
It went something like this:
"It was higher and muddier than I thought it would be," said 2009 Land O' Lakes Angler of the year Clark Wendlandt, who eeked out three fish for 3 pounds 9 ounces.
Wendlandt's sentiment was repeated over and over by both pros and their co-anglers, most of whom were ecstatic to be able to execute the few bites they could find in the muddy water.
All except Day 1 leader Dave Lefebre, the odds-on favorite to win the whole thing. Lefebre had a limit within an hour and caught over 20 fish on the day, but the fish he didn't catch was at the top of his mind right after weigh-in.
"I lost a GIGANTIC one today!" said Lefebre, who lives two hours outside of Pittsburgh in Union City, Penn. "I'll tell you what: there are going to be some good bags caught this week."
Lefebre weighed in 8-13 of smallmouth, and appears to be locked onto a honey-hole below a dam on the Ohio River. Veteran Larry Nixon, who settled into third place with 8-4, is fishing within sight of Lefebre. The area they're working is obviously the hottest spot on the Three right now: Nixon's co-angler - Gardnerville, Nev. native Tommy Goldston - weighed in a five-fish limit of 7-10 to lead the co-angler division by more than 2 pounds.
"That rain coming in like it did, it turned this tournament into a whole new ball game," said Jimmy Houston, who's attending the event to promote Chevy. It sounds to me like those two guys (Nixon and Lefebre) have something figured out, though. The one distinct advantage that (Lefebre) has over all these other guys is that he can probably go out and catch a real quick limit, and then go on a milk run to try to find a big fish or two. He has more spots on these rivers to fish than any other guy out there. It's going to be hard for the rest of these guys to overcome that."
In the hunt: In addition to Texan David Curtis, who hovers in second with 8-12, Lefebre has two of the sports biggest big-dogs nipping at his heels: 2007 Forrest Wood Cup champion Scott Suggs (7-12), and 2003 Bassmaster Classic champion Mike Iaconelli (7-10).
Suggs appears to be very confident about his primary location, and it's obviously a good one: his co-angler - Teddy Bradley - caught four fish and is in second place in the co-angler division.
Iaconelli narrowly missed the lock as he headed up the Allegheny toward his first spot in the morning, but adjusted well enough to dig 5 keepers out of a reported 20-fish day. Ike caught fish on multiple presentations, and plans to stick with a mix of plastics, jerkbaits and topwaters tomorrow.
Some familiar names: Redding's Cody Meyer sits in 10th place with 6-3. Brett Ehrler is 30th (3-11), Luke Clausen is 45th (2-10), 2008 Forrest Wood Cup champ Michael Bennet is 62nd (1-3) and Idaho's Ken Wick is 64th (1-2).
"There was a big mayfly hatch this week, so the fish are all full," Wick said. "I was fishing a little jerkbait, and the fish were coming up on it out of 3-4 feet of water, but they weren't really committing to it. Tomorrow, I think I'm going to fish a little more topwater."
Corvallis native Jay Yelas failed to weigh in a fish.
NWWC at the FWC: Check back frequently throughout the weekend as NWWC files exclusive reports from the Forrest Wood Cup. Tune in Saturday morning, 6 to 8 a.m., as Northwest Wild Country goes live from Pittsburgh, and stay tuned for a more info on a potential Sunday special broadcast from the finals of America's richest bass tournament.
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