Frigid temperatures were the dominant weather pattern at the Travis FLW Tour for the first 2 days, but wind took center stage in east Texas today. It blew at more than 25 mph out of the north/northwest and made things difficult for most of the Top 10 field.
Only one angler – Aaron Hastings of Maryland – caught a bag that was anywhere close to his best stringer of the first 2 days. His 9-15 limit gave him a 2-03 cushion over hometown favorite Clark Wendlandt with 1 day to go.
Wendlandt, who caught more than 17 pounds on day 1, figured he was in trouble when he headed for
the launch with just 7-12 today and was relieved that his deficit wasn't greater. He's still in it, as is North Carolina's Bryan Thrift, who's 3rd with 7-06.
Pennsylvania's Dave Lefebre, who led at the cut, caught the only other limit and is 4th with 6-08. Alabama's Craig Dowling completed the Top 5 with 5-08.
Here's the remainder of the final field:
6. Ron Shuffield: 5-05
7. Ott DeFoe: 4-12
8. Jerry Green: 3-08
9. Darrel Robertson: 1-07
10. Tracy Adams: 1-06
Hastings was the Northern EverStart (now Stren) points champion in 2005, but had a rough rookie season on the Tour last year. He had no finishes above 79th and ended up 165th in the Angler of the Year (AOY) race.
He did his best work in the late morning and early afternoon today and came in with a sack that was just 1-02 lighter than his previous best (11-01 on day 1). By contrast, the stringers compiled by the other nine anglers were a minimum of 3-05 shy of their top efforts, and the figure was more than double that for most.
The warming trend should continue tomorrow, with temperatures expected to reach the high 60s. The wind will shift directions to the south and top out at about 10 mph.
The winner will be determined by highest combined weight over the final 2 days.
Hastings Bides his Time
Hastings, who made the cut in 9th place, had caught all of his weight by 10:30 on each of the first 2 days. He had just one fish at 11:00 today.
"Patience and just believing in the area I had were definitely the keys for me," he said. "The fishing was definitely harder for me today, just like it was for everybody else. It was really, really windy out there."
His fish had changed locations and it took him awhile to find them.
"They weren't in the same little spot where I'd been catching them all week. They'd been really consistent, but today they just weren't there. But I adjusted and stayed with them and finally caught them."
He's more than a little surprised to be in the lead.
"I figured this might put me in 5th place – that I'd move up about four spots, but everybody just kept bringing in those small fish. I'm around some nice-sized fish, and hopefully I'll have them all to myself tomorrow."
He'd like to catch about 12 pounds tomorrow.
"If I had that, somebody else would have to catch them really good to beat me. I'm just going to go out and pile up as much weight as I can."
He doesn't anticipate having any trouble sleeping tonight.
"I'm not stressing at all. I've fished a lot of tournaments – this one's just for a little more money."
Clark Wendlandt is happy he's still got a shot to win on his home lake.
2nd: Wendlandt Still Confident
Wendlandt said he wasn't bothered much by the wind. He broke off one fish and lost two others that would have bolstered his bag considerably.
"I think the real problem today was a combination of a lot of the areas getting beaten up pretty bad and guys not making adjustments," he said. "They want to go back and do the same thing they've been doing, but there aren't any fish left.
"When you've only got a field of 10, there will always be a few who don't do that great."
After his missed opportunities, he thought he'd be farther out of the lead.
"My confidence is real high because at least I'm still in it. I'll just go out tomorrow and catch all I can catch.
"I'm not sure exactly what I'll do. I've got several different patterns, and I'll fish whatever feels right at the time."
3rd: Thrift Happy with Limit
Thrift would naturally have preferred to catch another double-digit bag, but he didn't have much to complain about.
"I'm not going to call it a bad day," he said. "I was happy to catch five."
He's throwing jigs underneath docks and pontoon boats, and will stick with that pattern for the final day.
"I'm planning to go to some different places. I've got one spot where I might catch a few keepers, and I'll probably give that 2 hours. After that, I'll go on a little milk-run."
He got just six bites today – the five he weighed in and one short fish.
"If I can catch 10 or 11 pounds tomorrow, I might have a shot (at winning), as tough as it is. But there might be some big bags caught if the wind doesn't blow.
"I'm just shooting for five (fish), and anything after that'll be gravy."
4th: Lefebre Finally Struggles
Lefebre had a great practice and averaged well over 13 pounds on each of the first 2 days. Travis exacted a bit of revenge today.
"I hadn't seen this place get tough yet, and I had no inkling it could be like it was today," he said. "I definitely learned a lot out there and I'll be more prepared – if not for tomorrow, then in the future."
He said the big fish he'd been catching are still there. He lost a 4 1/2-pounder on his first cast, but the rest of them just wouldn't bite today.
He'll stick with his shallow pattern tomorrow.
"Since I've been here, I've caught a dozen or more fish over 3 1/2 pounds, and all of them have come shallow. I've caught fish deep and in between, but the biggest were all fairly shallow.
"I've got three different places where I've caught most of my big ones, and they're really three specific casts. Today I never caught a fish on any of those. To have a legitimate shot tomorrow, I'm going to need those to come through."
10th: Wind Hampers Adams
North Carolina's Tracy Adams got only three bites, and just one of those was a keeper. He's mired in 10th place with 1-06.
"It was blowing like crazy out there, and that was my biggest problem," he said. "Still, I should have been able to figure something out, but I just didn't."
He's confident he can catch a limit tomorrow if the wind subsides.
"I think those fish are still there. If it calms down, I should be able to get back up to 8, 9 or 10 pounds. If it doesn't, I don't know what I'm going to do.
He knows he has to get at least one giant bite to have any prayer of winning.
"If you get that one big one, then you could be on your way again."
> Day 3 stats – 10 anglers, 4 limits, 2 fours, 2 twos, 2 ones.
> Hastings said he watched a guy paddle at least 200 yards from shore on a surfboard, and then turn around and paddle back. "I don't know what he was doing. There certainly weren't big enough waves for him to get up and surf, but there he went like he didn't have a care in the world. I figured he must've been from California."
> Lefebre is facing a 3 1/2-pound deficit, but said he'll resist the temptation to spend the whole day fishing for hawgs. "The way this thing is, if I catch 10 pounds, I could win. I have to make sure I make the right decisions. I can't try for a huge bag and then not come back with a limit."
Here's the OutdoorsFanWeather.com forecast for the final day of the tournament.
> Sun, Feb. 18 – Partly Cloudy – 69°/41°
- Wind: From the south at 5-10 mph
Day 3 Standings
1. Aaron Hastings -- Middletown, Md -- 5, 9-15
2. Clark Wendlandt -- Leander, Tx -- 5, 7-12
3. Bryan Thrift -- Shelby, NC -- 5, 7-06
4. Dave Lefebre -- Union City, Pa -- 5, 6-08
5. Craig Dowling -- Madison, Al -- 4, 5-08
6. Ron Shuffield -- Bismarck, Ar -- 2, 5-05
7. Ott DeFoe -- Knoxville, Tn -- 4, 4-12
8. Jerry Green -- Del Rio, Tx -- 2, 3-08
9. Darrel Robertson -- Jay, Ok -- 1, 1-07
10. Tracy Adams -- Wilkesboro, NC -- 1, 1-06