By Todd Ceisner
BassFan Editor

In just about every tournament, championship or otherwise, theres usually a moment or a sequence that stands out as the turning point.

Kyle Walters may have delivered that moment today at Lake Hamilton on day 2 of the FLW Cup. It didnt win him the event, but it certainly kept him in the mix.

With the day wearing on and the fishing a bit slower than it was Friday, Walters had two small fish in his livewell as he probed some brush piles with a deep-diving crankbait. Just after noon, he set the hook and swung his rod to his right. He immediately got the sense that whatever was on the other end of his line was big. His first guess was that hed hooked a walleye. Moments later, the water swirled off the bow of his boat and he realized he was fighting two bass at the same time. He scrambled to retrieve his landing net, scooped the fish into the boat and let his emotions take over.

That changes the game in five minutes, doesnt it, he bellowed to the FLW Live camera.

It sure did. Those two fish accounted for roughly seven pounds and anchored his 12-05 stringer that has him in second place with 26-02 entering the final day of competition in central Arkansas. Hell take off Sunday 1 1/2 pounds behind Bryan Thrift, who stayed in the lead with a 12-07 bag that pushed his total to 27-10.

While Walters double was certainly a memorable moment, Thrift is hoping theres more magic in store on Sunday. A Cup win is the only thing missing from Thrifts dazzling list of career achievements with FLW and its there for the taking. This is the second Cup in which hes held the lead entering the final day, but hell head out tomorrow trying to treat it like just another tournament day.

I dont have any emotions about it, he said. Its not hard to manage them when you dont feel like youre going to win. I just take it day by day. I still dont feel like I have enough to win. I know how volatile fishing this time of year can be. Its just a balloon waiting to pop.

Tour rookie Dakota Ebare jumped 17 spots to third, thanks to the biggest stringer of the day (14-15) that gave him 24-07. Jeremy Lawyer sacked 12 pounds (12-05) for the second straight day and sits in fourth with 24-06. Scott Martin moved up seven spots to fifth with 22-10 after bagging 11-01.

Heres a look at the rest of the 10 finalists:

6. Austin Felix: 22-09
7. Jordan Osborne: 22-06
8. Ryan Salzman: 21-14
9. Joseph Webster: 21-01
10. Josh Douglas: 21-00

After 19 bags exceeded the 10-pound mark on day 1, that number dipped to 12 today as cloudy conditions persisted for the second straight day and rain fell for a portion of the day. The sun is expected to make its return on Sunday and that could add an interesting wrinkle to the proceedings.

We havent had much sun in two days, Lawyer said. There might be new groups of fish that have been cruising that will have to get on something, either docks or cover, and Im excited to see what might happen.



FLW/Jacob Fine
Photo: FLW/Jacob Fine

Kyle Walters doesn't see himself abandoning the offshore pattern that's carried him to second place after two days.

For those whove committed to fishing offshore, like Walters, itll be business as usual.

Im in a nothing to lose situation, he said. Tenth place is a win, so Im going after it to win the tournament. Im not fishing for a limit. Ill be throwing a big worm and a big plug.

Thrift said today was a much tougher grind than Friday. He said he generated just six keeper bites, but he was expecting it to be that way.

Weight-wise, Im happy with it, but they didnt bite for me as well, he said. I chalked it up to just August fishing. After four days of practice and one day of the tournament where were all sticking them, its supposed to get tougher.

As for what hes expecting tomorrow with the sun out, hes not taking an optimistic view that itll ignite a whole other wave of fish to start biting.

Im expecting it to be tough, he added. As tough as it was today, I expect it to be worse tomorrow. After two days of clouds and with the sun coming out, I think itll make for tough fishing.

Either way, hes happy to be where hes at with a chance to capture something thats eluded him for many years now.

I want to be in the lead for sure, he said. I may blow it, but Id still rather be in the lead.

If he slips, Walters could be the guy to pounce and it wont be the first time hes topped Thrift with a championship on the line. Last fall, Walters and Thrift finished 1-2 at the FLW Series Championship.

Walters said he took a lot from that experience and applied it to this weeks event.

Im comfortable on the final day. Its not foreign territory, he said. The Costa championship prepared me for this having to catch them to win. Its pretty much the same scenario. I had to catch them because Thrift was going to catch them, too. Its one of those deals where I let that out of my mind at Guntersville and Im going to do that tomorrow, too, because in my mind, hell find a way to catch 12 pounds.

Ebare moved into contention thanks to an adjustment he made this afternoon. His livewells were empty at 11:30 a.m., but he poured it on during the second half of the day.

Yesterday and today were different from practice when we had high skies and it was sunny, the Louisiana angler said. Weve had a lot of clouds the last two days and it took me a little longer to adjust and get it figured it out.

Hes been camped in the riverine portion of the lake and is counting on a little current to position the fish along certain stretches.

Im not sure I can catch them without the current, he said.

FLW/Rob Matsuura
Photo: FLW/Rob Matsuura

Scott Martin is banking on the sun opening up more opportunities on day 3.

Lawyer had a similar slow start, but once the sun popped out in the last hour, he got some traction and wound up with four more ounces than what he caught Friday.

I had six pounds at 1 p.m. today, he said. It was as confusing as Ive seen it. Then the sun came out and I scrapped it all and went deep. They were chewing and I got fortunate.

He also had a Walters-like moment to land a four-pounder, his biggest fish of the week so far.

I threw out into a brush pile and hooked one and it started to take some drag, he said. We started playing tug o war and I moved him a bit, but he got into something, so I got over him and started pulling hard. I only had on 10-pound Sunline and a spinning rod can only take so much. I was pulling so hard I thought I was going to start moving the brush pile, but then the rod broke. When that happened, it seemed to scare the fish out of the brush and I hand-lined him in.

On Sunday, though, he thinks his best chance to make up a three-pound deficit will be up shallow.

I think youll see topwater play more Sunday, he said. I feel like its the only way I can catch up is with a big bag on a topwater.

Noting the weather has been a big curveball so far, Martin says he feels like hes maximized his area based on the conditions.

Im very happy to catch 11 (pounds) two days in a row. It wasnt easy by any means, he said. I felt like I was on fish to catch 13 per day with potential for 17.

With sun in the forecast for Sunday, hes thinking big. Hes focused on two patterns, one involving finesse tactics and the other centered around power-fishing. The deepest hes fished is around 10 feet.

I feel like Im set up better on sunny conditions and I think other guys feel that way, too, he added.

Day 2 Standings

1. Bryan Thrift -- Shelby, NC -- 15-3 (5) -- 12-7 (5) -- 27-10 (10)

2. Kyle Walters -- Grant Valkaria, Fl -- 13-13 (5) -- 12-5 (5) -- 26-2 (10)

3. Dakota Ebare -- Denham Springs, La -- 9-8 (5) -- 14-15 (5) -- 24-7 (10)

4. Jeremy Lawyer -- Sarcoxie, Mo -- 12-1 (5) -- 12-5 (5) -- 24-6 (10)

5. Scott Martin -- Clewiston, Fl -- 11-9 (5) -- 11-1 (5) -- 22-10 (10)

6. Austin Felix -- Eden Prairie, Mn -- 13-5 (5) -- 9-4 (5) -- 22-9 (10)

7. Jordan Osborne -- Longview, Tx -- 13-11 (5) -- 8-11 (5) -- 22-6 (10)

8. Ryan Salzman -- Huntsville, Al -- 9-5 (5) -- 12-9 (5) -- 21-14 (10)

9. Joseph Webster -- Winfield, Al -- 9-2 (5) -- 11-15 (5) -- 21-1 (10)

10. Josh Douglas -- Isle, Mn -- 9-0 (5) -- 12-0 (5) -- 21-0 (10)

The following anglers missed the cut and will not compete on day 3.

11. Wade Strelic -- Alpine, Ca -- 8-4 (5) -- 12-5 (5) -- 20-9 (10) -- $15,000

12. Joel Willert -- Prior Lake, Mn -- 12-13 (5) -- 7-10 (5) -- 20-7 (10) -- $15,000

13. Matt Reed -- Madisonville, Tx -- 11-3 (5) -- 9-0 (5) -- 20-3 (10) -- $15,000

14. Billy McCaghren -- Mayflower, Ar -- 12-4 (5) -- 7-14 (4) -- 20-2 (9) -- $15,000

15. Matt Becker -- Finleyville, Pa -- 11-7 (5) -- 8-11 (5) -- 20-2 (10) -- $15,000

16. Miles Burghoff -- Hixson, Tn -- 7-1 (5) -- 12-14 (5) -- 19-15 (10) -- $15,000

17. Erik Luzak -- Fenelon Falls, On -- 11-12 (5) -- 7-13 (4) -- 19-9 (9) -- $15,000

18. Bryan Schmitt -- Deale, Md -- 12-15 (5) -- 6-6 (5) -- 19-5 (10) -- $15,000

19. Terry Bolton -- Benton, Ky -- 6-7 (4) -- 12-11 (5) -- 19-2 (9) -- $15,000

20. J Todd Tucker -- Moultrie, Ga -- 11-14 (5) -- 6-14 (5) -- 18-12 (10) -- $15,000

21. Brandon McMillan -- Clewiston, Fl -- 9-1 (5) -- 9-9 (5) -- 18-10 (10) -- $10,000

22. Bradford Beavers -- Summerville, SC -- 10-4 (5) -- 8-5 (5) -- 18-9 (10) -- $10,000

23. John Cox -- Debary, Fl -- 8-15 (5) -- 9-8 (5) -- 18-7 (10) -- $10,000

24. Nick Lebrun -- Bossier City, La -- 15-0 (5) -- 3-0 (2) -- 18-0 (7) -- $10,000

25. Sheldon Collings -- Grove, Ok -- 8-5 (5) -- 9-10 (5) -- 17-15 (10) -- $10,000

26. Kurt Mitchell -- Milford, De -- 6-4 (5) -- 11-10 (5) -- 17-14 (10) -- $10,000

27. Larry Nixon -- Quitman, Ar -- 10-9 (5) -- 7-5 (5) -- 17-14 (10) -- $10,000

28. Todd Castledine -- Nacogdoches, Tx -- 10-4 (5) -- 7-10 (5) -- 17-14 (10) -- $10,000

29. Kurt Dove -- Del Rio, Tx -- 11-0 (5) -- 6-13 (5) -- 17-13 (10) -- $10,000

30. Braxton Setzer -- Wetumpka, Al -- 8-12 (5) -- 8-14 (5) -- 17-10 (10) -- $10,000

31. Buddy Gross -- Chickamauga, Ga -- 6-11 (5) -- 9-15 (5) -- 16-10 (10) -- $10,000

32. Matthew Stefan -- Junction City, Wi -- 9-8 (5) -- 6-14 (5) -- 16-6 (10) -- $10,000

33. Christopher Brasher -- Longview, Tx -- 6-10 (5) -- 9-10 (5) -- 16-4 (10) -- $10,000

34. Brad Knight -- Lancing, Tn -- 8-8 (5) -- 7-8 (5) -- 16-0 (10) -- $10,000

35. Zack Birge -- Blanchard, Ok -- 9-3 (5) -- 6-2 (5) -- 15-5 (10) -- $10,000

36. Casey Scanlon -- Lake Ozark, Mo -- 8-13 (5) -- 6-7 (5) -- 15-4 (10) -- $10,000

37. Jason Reyes -- Huffman, Tx -- 8-14 (5) -- 6-4 (4) -- 15-2 (9) -- $10,000

38. Tom Redington -- Royse City, Tx -- 7-11 (5) -- 7-5 (5) -- 15-0 (10) -- $10,000

39. Adam Puckett -- Bloomington, In -- 7-2 (5) -- 7-6 (5) -- 14-8 (10) -- $10,000

40. David Dudley -- Lynchburg, Va -- 9-0 (5) -- 5-6 (5) -- 14-6 (10) -- $10,000

41. Blake Albertson -- Bloomington, In -- 6-13 (5) -- 7-1 (5) -- 13-14 (10) -- $10,000

42. Brian Latimer -- Belton, SC -- 8-1 (5) -- 5-0 (5) -- 13-1 (10) -- $10,000

43. Andrew Upshaw -- Tulsa, Ok -- 5-8 (5) -- 7-6 (5) -- 12-14 (10) -- $10,000

44. Jon Griffith -- Mesa, Az -- 7-15 (5) -- 4-5 (4) -- 12-4 (9) -- $10,000

45. Preston Craig -- Philadelphia, Tn -- 4-15 (3) -- 6-9 (5) -- 11-8 (8) -- $10,000

46. Cory Johnston -- Cavan, On -- 11-7 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 11-7 (5) -- $10,000

47. Brennon McCord -- West Frankfort, Il -- 5-1 (3) -- 5-7 (3) -- 10-8 (6) -- $10,000

48. Jared McMillan -- Belle Glade, Fl -- 4-7 (4) -- 6-0 (3) -- 10-7 (7) -- $10,000

49. Ron Nelson -- Berrien Springs, Mi -- 7-9 (5) -- 2-2 (2) -- 9-11 (7) -- $10,000

50. Tommy Dickerson -- Orange, Tx -- 1-15 (2) -- 7-9 (5) -- 9-8 (7) -- $10,000

51. John Voyles -- Petersburg, In -- 5-8 (4) -- 3-12 (4) -- 9-4 (8) -- $10,000

52. Joshua Weaver -- Macon, Ga -- 1-5 (1) -- 7-14 (5) -- 9-3 (6) -- $10,000