Paul Elias caught his lightest bag of the Guntersville FLW Tour Open in Alabama today. It was still heavier than anyone else's, though, and it added a couple of ounces to his already-massive lead.

The 60-year-old Mississippian moved a step closer to his long-awaited first win at Guntersville with a 24-05 stringer that gave him a 3-day total of 79-08. If he catches 20 1/2 pounds tomorrow he'll crack the 100-pound mark for the event – a feat that seemed almost impossible earlier in the week.

The prognostications of a low-weight tournament were made before the magic of the Alabama Rig became fully known, however. Elias has used the umbrella-style bait to turn the derby into a rout and just about everybody who wasn't throwing it was eliminated today.



Robert Behrle came within 2 ounces of becoming the first angler to catch a bigger sack than Elias on any of the tournament days. His 24-03 haul allowed him to maintain his grip on 2nd place, but with a 64-15 total, he'll carry a deficit of 14-09 into the final day.

Troy Morrow stayed in the No. 3 slot with a 19-06 bag that boosted his total to 51-10, and Jacob Powroznik moved up one place to 4th with a 17-10 stringer that gave him a 51-10 total.

Jay Yelas rounded out the Top 5, moving up 10 positions with a 21-08 stringer for a 51-01 aggregate.

Here are the totals for the other anglers who'll be back on the water tomorrow:

6. Bryan Thrift: 50-15
7. Russ Lane: 49-15
8. Anthony Gagliardi: 49-08
9. Alex Davis: 47-05
10. Luke Clausen: 44-07

The Alabama Rig appears to be such a novelty to the Guntersville fish at this point that they'll bite it under any conditions. Most of the anglers who made the Top 20 without throwing it struggled today and lamented on the weigh-in stage that it seemed like they were fishing their own tournament.

Elias will have to suffer a severe misfortune tomorrow to give anyone else in the Top 10 a chance at victory in the final tour event of the year. A 2-hour fog delay was likely the primary reason he was unable to amass 20 pounds in the first hour or so, as he'd done on the previous 2 days. If the launch isn't held up tomorrow, he could eliminate most of the drama rather quickly.



Robert Faaborg/BackDeckPro.com
Photo: Robert Faaborg/BackDeckPro.com

Elias threw the Alabama Rig exclusively for the third straight day.

Tomorrow's forecast for the Guntersville area calls for mostly sunny skies with a high temperature of 72 degrees and just a wisp of a southerly breeze (4 mph).

Elias Appears Unstoppable

> Day 3: 5, 24-05 (15, 79-08)

Elias' day may have been a little slower to unfold, but the final numbers were huge again.

"I'd been catching 20 pounds pretty easy in the morning and today I only caught three fish in that place, and I probably had 10 or 12 pounds," he said. "Then I went to where I've been culling and I caught a 6 and a 5 real quick.

"After a while it got to the point where everything I caught was right at 4 pounds and I was reluctant to keep catching them. I was able to help my partner (co-angler Casey Martin) catch enough to win that side."

He's fully confident that he can catch at least 15 pounds tomorrow, and that should be more than enough to seal the victory.

"There's always a little thing in the back of your mind where you know you could fall on your face, but I'd have to have something real stupid happen to not catch at least 15."

2nd: Behrle Gets Some Cushion

> Day 3: 5, 24-03 (15, 64-15)

Behrle's goal is to finish in the runner-up position and today he improved his chances of accomplishing that.

"My battle is for 2nd and I was able to improve over 3rd place by 4 or 5 more pounds," he said. "I'm blessed to be where I'm at and I'd take it every time."

His bag was topped by a 7-pounder that he caught on his final cast of the day.

"I didn't even crank my big motor after I started fishing. I'd only been getting about eight bites a day, but today I caught three limits from the same spot. Tomorrow I won't have a co-angler so I think I'll be able to really tune in, but don't look for me to catch 24 pounds again."

He thinks he's fishing the Alabama Rig deeper than most – with the likely exception of Elias.

"Most people are throwing them at schoolers and out in front of grasslines. I'm fishing it down 15 to 25 feet."

3rd: A-Rig Saves Morrow

> Day 3: 5, 19-06 (15, 59-04)

Morrow has thrown the Alabama Rig some this week, but he's been more reliant on other presentations. It came through big-time for him this afternoon, when he used it to catch three solid keepers in the final 45 minutes.

Robert Faaborg/BackDeckPro.com
Photo: Robert Faaborg/BackDeckPro.com

Robert Behrle caught a 7-pounder on his final cast of the day to solidify his hold on 2nd place.

"I caught two on my first spot this morning and I thought it was going to be a good day," he said. "I managed a 5-pounder at my next spot, and then I went more than 2 hours with no fish.

"I abandoned my stuff and went looking, and I ended up at a place where I'd had them schooling one evening (during practice). That's when I pulled out the Alabama Rig."

He caught six keepers for the day and lost one that he's sure would've helped him. He'll shoot for a 25-pound bag tomorrow – that's what he thinks he'll need to have a chance at 2nd place.

"I'll go back and run my regular stuff first because I've got one school that's phenomenal and they haven't been right the whole tournament. If they ever get right, I could hit it big."

4th: Powroznik Down a Bit

> Day 3: 5, 17-10 (15, 51-10)

Powroznik said he caught a bunch of keepers again (more than two dozen), but no big ones.

"It's kind of strange to say you're a little disappointed when you catch more than 17 1/2 pounds," he said. "I got a lot more 14-inchers today. It's a weird deal – these fish seem to move around in schools, and if you're around the right schools, you catch some good ones. If not, they're all 2 1/2-pounders."

He's 7 1/2 pounds out of 3rd place and won't worry about trying to move up tomorrow.

"I don't really care if I catch another one. The last 3 days I've had the time of my life throwing the Alabama Rig. My hands hurt bad and they're all torn up. It's ridiculous.

"I've probably caught 100 bass on it the last 3 days. It's by far the best bait on Guntersville right now. Today it got really slick-calm and they still bit it all day long."

5th: Yelas Having a Blast

> Day 3: 5, 21-08 (15, 51-01)

Yelas got his first tournament experience with the Alabama Rig today. He's had one in his boat throughout the event, but hadn't yet thrown it.

Robert Faaborg/BackDeckPro.com
Photo: Robert Faaborg/BackDeckPro.com

Troy Morrow needed a late rally to compile his 19-06 sack.

"What a delight that bait is," he said. "It's so rare that something new like that comes along and makes such an impact. It's been like magic this week.

"It's not something that's going to work every time at every lake, but under the right conditions, there's obviously nothing better right now. It'll be a mainstay in every tackle box before long."

He caught about 15 keepers and said he also lost a couple of good ones. He's excited to get another chance to sling it around tomorrow.

"I'm interested to see what other innovations might come off of this. You're throwing five baits at a time, but who's to say it couldn't be 10, or even 20. It might get to the point where you can catch a limit on one cast.

"Today I went back to where I caught 11 pounds the first day, and I caught 21 1/2 today. I know it was the bait. I almost feel bad for these fish – they'd figured out how not to get caught, and then this thing comes along and back to the scales they go."

Notable

> Day 3 stats – 20 anglers, 12 limits, 2 fours, 4 twos, 1 one, 1 zero.

> Elias would need to catch 27-03 tomorrow to set a new FLW Tour 4-day weight record – the current mark of 106-10 was set earlier this year by Brandon McMillan at Florida's Lake Okeechobee. Elias already holds the B.A.S.S. mark (132-08 from Texas' Lake Falcon in 2008).

> Yelas, a 24-year veteran, said he can't remember a tournament in which the 5th-place angler after 3 days was more than 28 pounds behind the leader.

Weather Forecast

> Sun., Oct. 23 - Mostly Sunny - 72°/44°
- Wind: From the S at 4 mph

Day 3 Stats

1. Paul Elias -- Laurel, Ms -- 26-00 (5) -- 29-03 (5) -- 55-03 (10) -- 24-05 (5) -- 79-08

2. Robert Behrle -- Hoover, Al -- 19-02 (5) -- 21-10 (5) -- 40-12 (10) -- 24-03 (5) -- 64-15

3. Troy Morrow -- Eastanollee, Ga -- 16-00 (5) -- 23-14 (5) -- 39-14 (10) -- 19-06 (5) -- 59-04

4. Jacob Powroznik -- Prince George, Va -- 14-02 (5) -- 19-14 (5) -- 34-00 (10) -- 17-10 (5) -- 51-10

5. Jay Yelas -- Corvallis, Or -- 11-03 (5) -- 18-06 (5) -- 29-09 (10) -- 21-08 (5) -- 51-01

6. Bryan Thrift -- Shelby, NC -- 15-04 (5) -- 17-05 (5) -- 32-09 (10) -- 18-06 (5) -- 50-15

7. Russell Lane -- Prattville, Al -- 17-03 (5) -- 12-13 (5) -- 30-00 (10) -- 19-15 (5) -- 49-15

8. Anthony Gagliardi -- Prosperity, SC -- 13-05 (5) -- 16-06 (5) -- 29-11 (10) -- 19-13 (5) -- 49-08

9. Alex Davis -- Albertville, Al -- 13-15 (5) -- 19-10 (5) -- 33-09 (10) -- 13-12 (5) -- 47-05

10. Luke Clausen -- Spokane, Wa -- 10-05 (4) -- 19-00 (5) -- 29-05 (9) -- 15-02 (5) -- 44-07

The following anglers did not make the cut and will not fish on day 4.

11. Christopher Lane -- Guntersville, Al -- 14-00 (5) -- 14-15 (5) -- 28-15 (10) -- 14-04 (5) -- 43-03 -- $12,121

12. Brett Hite -- Phoenix, Az -- 16-00 (5) -- 16-14 (5) -- 32-14 (10) -- 9-14 (4) -- 42-12 -- $12,121

13. Kelley Jaye -- Dadeville, Al -- 16-05 (5) -- 12-07 (5) -- 28-12 (10) -- 13-00 (4) -- 41-12 -- $12,121

14. Marshall Deakins -- Dunlap, Tn -- 21-03 (5) -- 14-06 (5) -- 35-09 (10) -- 6-00 (2) -- 41-09 -- $12,121

15. Trevor Fitzgerald -- Belleview, Fl -- 14-01 (5) -- 15-07 (5) -- 29-08 (10) -- 11-12 (5) -- 41-04 -- $12,121

16. Christopher Brasher -- Spring, Tx -- 16-11 (5) -- 16-14 (5) -- 33-09 (10) -- 5-13 (2) -- 39-06 -- $11,634

17. Scott Martin -- Clewiston, Fl -- 14-09 (5) -- 17-08 (5) -- 32-01 (10) -- 4-03 (2) -- 36-04 -- $11,634

18. Wesley Helton -- Calhoun, Tn -- 13-11 (5) -- 18-01 (5) -- 31-12 (10) -- 4-08 (2) -- 36-04 -- $11,634

19. Blake Nick -- Adger, Al -- 13-05 (5) -- 18-12 (5) -- 32-01 (10) -- 0-00 (0) -- 32-01 -- $11,634

20. Chris Baumgardner -- Gastonia, NC -- 13-01 (5) -- 16-06 (5) -- 29-07 (10) -- 2-06 (1) -- 31-13 -- $11,634