Competitors at the FLW Series Championship awoke Friday to a thick blanket of fog covering Table Rock Lake near Branson, Mo. After a near 2-hour delay, anglers were allowed to start day 2.
Zack Birge, the 2015 FLW Tour Rookie of the Year from Oklahoma who started the day in 13th place, vaulted to the top of the leaderboard after bringing a five-bass limit to the scales weighing 13-13. His 2-day total of 26-05 gives him a 6-ounce advantage over Cody Bird of Texas heading into final day of competition.
I went to a new area today and caught around 15 fish,” said Birge, who won the 2014 FLW Series Championship at Wheeler Lake to jumpstart his professional career. “I didn’t see another boat around me and I think it is because I am so far up the river. Yesterday I only caught five all day so I knew I had to try something else and this new spot worked out.”
Birge said he ran 50 to 60 miles up the James River and caught all of his fish off of one bait – a 6th Sense Lure that he was not yet ready to divulge.
“I think a lot of the other places where guys have been at are just running out of fish,” Birge said. “Getting into that new area was definitely the key for me today.”
Winning the 2014 Championship seems to have prepared Birge for the pressures of leading a major tournament. He said he was much more wound up 2 years ago.
“It’s weird, but I’m not even really nervous at this point,” he said. “I really don’t know what to expect tomorrow. I’m just going to make that same run up the river tomorrow morning and hope for the best. I think there are more fish there, but I’m not really sure what to expect. I’m just going to go fishing and we’ll see how it ends up.”
Here are the totals for the 10 anglers who advanced to the final day:
1. Zack Birge: 26-05
2. Cody Bird: 25-15
3. Pat Fisher: 25-04
4. Brad Cook: 25-15
5. Bradford Beavers: 22-08
6. Christopher Jones: 22-04
7. Travis Fox: 21-11
8. Greg Bohannan: 21-11
9. Jeremy Lawyer: 21-06
10. Brent Algeo: 20-15