HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (June 23, 2010) – Vic Vatalaro of Kent, Ohio, crossed the stage Wednesday with a five-bass limit weighing 25 pounds, 12 ounces to lead day one of the FLW Tour event on Lake Guntersville presented by Ranger. Vatalaro now holds a one-ounce lead over pro Brent Long of Cornelius, N.C., with five bass weighing 25-11 in a tournament featuring anglers from all across the country.
In preparation of scorching temperatures, and with conservation in mind, FLW Outdoors officials changed takeoff and weigh-in times for the tournament to help preserve the health of the fish and to minimize the time they are out of their natural habitat.
"It is so hot it's unbelievable," said Vatalaro, who has won more than $691,000 in FLW Outdoors events. "With these shorter days, it's pretty easy. We practiced 14 hours a day in practice, so it's an easy day when you come in at 2 o'clock in the afternoon."
Vatalaro said he began the day in a spot where he thought he could catch a solid limit, but ended up catching three keepers on finesse baits and spinning equipment. Vatalaro said he then ran to three or four other spots and filled his tournament limit then began culling fish. "I went to one of my better spots I really didn't think anybody had found," Vatalaro said. "And I didn't get anything, and I was like, 'Wow! There's nothing here.'"
Vatalaro said he relocated and changed baits to a Johnson Lures Weedless Wonder and a large soft plastic worm. He said after a few casts he caught a 5- or 6-pounder and a 4- pounder on the next cast, and ended up culling four fish over the next half hour.
Vatalaro said he fished in four to 10 feet of water and targeted sparse weeds near deep water where the weed line isn't visible.
Rounding out the top-10 pros after day one on Lake Guntersville are:
3rd: Mark Rose, Marion, Ark., five bass, 25-7
4th: Jim Moynagh, Carver, Minn., five bass, 23-3
5th: Chevy pro Jimmy Houston, Cookson, Okla., five bass, 22-11
6th: Craig Dowling, Grant, Ala., five bass, 22-10
7th: Kyle Mabrey, McCalla, Ala., five bass, 22-7
8th: Keith Combs, Del Rio, Texas, five bass, 22-5
9th: Damiki pro Bryan Thrift, Shelby, N.C., five bass, 22-1
10th: Terry Bolton, Jonesboro, Ark., five bass, 21-11
Overall there were 652 bass weighing 2,176 pounds, 6 ounces caught by 136 pros Thursday. The catch included 122 five-bass limits.
Pros are competing for a top award of up to $125,000 this week plus valuable points in the hope of qualifying for the Forrest Wood Cup which will be held Aug. 5-8 at Lake Lanier in Atlanta, Ga., where they could win as much as $600,000 – the sport's biggest award.
Jason Law of Waycross, Ga., leads the Co-angler Division with five bass weighing 20-12 followed by John Jacobs of Birmingham, Ala., in second place with five bass weighing 20-5.
Rounding out the top-10 Co-anglers are:
3rd: Chad Hillis, McMinnville, Tenn., five bass, 19-4
4th: J.R. Wright, Truckee, Calif., five bass, 19-1
5th: Mark Heatwole, Harrisonburg, Va., five bass, 18-12
6th: Van Roy Foster, Dalton, Ga., five bass, 18-3
7th: Dan Clark, Cleveland, Tenn., five bass, 18-0
8th: Naohiro Maruo, Takamatsu Kagawa, Japan, five bass, 17-12
8th: Eric Schultz, Minnetonka, Minn., five bass, 17-12
10th: Billy Brindle, Calhoun, Ga., five bass, 17-9
10th: Micah Frazier, Newnan, Ga., five bass, 17-9
Overall there were 523 bass weighing 1,469 pounds, 8 ounces caught by 131 co-anglers Wednesday. The catch included 74 five-bass limits.
Co-anglers are fishing for a top award of $25,000 this week plus valuable points that could help them qualify for the 2010 Forrest Wood Cup.
Anglers will take off from Lake Guntersville Resort State Park located at 7966 Alabama Hwy. 227 in Guntersville, Ala., at 6 each morning. Thursday's and Friday's weigh-ins will also be held at the marina beginning at 1:30 p.m. Saturday's final weigh-in will be held at the Von Braun Center located at 700 Monroe St. in Huntsville, Ala., beginning at 4 p.m.
Fans will be treated to the FLW Outdoors Expo at the Von Braun Center on Friday from 5-9 p.m. and Saturday prior to the final weigh-in from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. The final weigh-in will be held at the Von Braun Center. There will be a drawing for a Can-Am ATV compliments of the Huntsville Times and rod and reel combos will be given to the first 300 kids under 14 in attendance on Saturday compliments of WDRM. The FLW Outdoors Expo includes Ranger boat simulators, the opportunity to interact with professional anglers, enjoy interactive games, activities and giveaways provided by sponsors, and learn more about the sport of fishing and other outdoor activities. All activities are free and open to the public. For a full schedule of events, additional information and to register for the ATV, visit FLWOutdoors.com/huntsville <http://www.flwoutdoors.com/huntsville> .
Coverage of the Lake Guntersville tournament will be broadcast in high-definition (HD) on VERSUS. "FLW Outdoors," will air Oct. 3 from 12:30 to 1:30 ET. "FLW Outdoors," hosted by Jason Harper, is broadcast to approximately 500 million households worldwide.