By BassFan Staff

Two weeks ago, Mark Rose edged Bryan Thrift by 15 ounces to win the FLW Tour season opener at Lake Guntersville. Tomorrow, Thrift will have a chance to return the favor.

For the second event in a row, the duo will leave the dock on Sunday morning 1-2 on the leaderboard, only this time its Thrift holding the upper hand by a pound.

Thrift vaulted back into the lead at the Lake Travis FLW Tour with a modest 11-07 stringer today that gave him a 3-day total of 45-09, exactly 1 pound better than Rose, who was the only competitor today whose stringer registered in the teens (15-13). Only seven of the 20 anglers caught 10 or more pounds.

This marks the fourth straight FLW event in which Thrift has competed every day. Hes now been among the top 11 in the standings on 23 of his last 25 days of competition.

I love it, he said. I just hope I can keep it up because I would like to have a shot at Angler of the Year this year. I feel like Ill need a 150-point lead going into the Potomac because that place always gets me.

First and foremost, though, hed like to close out his fifth career Tour win Sunday, but he knows it wont be easy. His stringers from days 2 and 3 combined still dont eclipse the 24-12 bag he caught on Thursday.

Its been a struggle since Thursday, Thrift added. I feel fortunate to be in the position Im in. Its anybodys ball game, but I think somebody will catch a big bag to win it.

Lurking in 3rd is Clark Wendlandt, who lives in nearby Leander. His 12-02 effort today gave him 41-12 and kept him within reach of the lead.

Tour rookie Dylan Hays moved up three spots to 4th with a 12-10 stringer that boosted his total to 41-00. He'd have been in 3rd, but he was a minute late to check in and that cost him a pound.

Day-2 leader Stephen Patek caught a limit today for 9-10, but he checked in 5 minutes late and was credited with just 4-10, dropping him to 5th with 39-00 overall.

Here's a look at the Top 10 following day 3 of competition, with deficit margin from Thrift indicated by red numbers in parentheses:

1. Bryan Thrift: 45-09
2. Mark Rose: 44-09 (1-00)
3. Clark Wendlandt: 41-12 (3-13)
4. Dylan Hays: 41-00 (4-09)
5. Stephen Patek: 39-00 (6-09)
6. Clark Reehm: 37-06 (8-03)
7. Jeremy Lawyer: 37-04 (8-05)
8. Troy Morrow: 37-01 (8-08)
9. Clayton Batts: 36-05 (9-04)
10. Anthony Gagliardi: 35-03 (10-06)

Anglers who were in the top 7 after Friday all made it to Sunday, but the last three spots did see some turnover. Troy Morrow moved up from 11th to 8th while Clayton Batts made an eight-position jump into 9th with a 12-15 stringer. Anthony Gagliardi made up five spots to 10th.

Recreational boat traffic was a legitimate issue Saturday afternoon as many locals hit the lake on a day when temperatures got into the 80s. Anglers who had to make the run back from the upper end were greeted by criss-crossing yachts and massive wakes that forced them to be more cautious on the way in.

Mid-depths and deeper water seem to be where the majority of key fish are being caught this week, likely because thats where much of the bait continues to roam. Even with water temperatures in the mid 60s, fish are still in their staging phase and havent yet made a surge to the shallower spawning areas

The weather will take a turn for the final day with clouds and potential thunderstorms in the mix. Winds are expected to howl up to 20 mph out of the southeast.

Photo: FLW

Thrift leans into a hookset today at Lake Travis.

Thrift Hoping For Bag in the Teens

> Day 3: 5, 11-07 (15, 45-09)

If Thrift had his way, the weather for Sunday would be slick and sunny, but he knows he wont get his wish with clouds and possible thunderstorms in the forecast.

Its going to be like it was in practice and Im not sure what to make of it, he said. The conditions were going to have might favor someone like Clark, who will know which bank to burn when it gets like that.

Thrift said he intends to revisit several places that have produced keepers for him already, but after that hell follow what his instincts tell him to do.

Ill probably hit those places again until 10:30 or 11 and then wing it, he added. The places where Ive caught three of four keepers are drying up. Theres a lot of little fish there now.

Noting that Rose had the big stringer on Saturday with 15-13, Thrift feels another bag in the teens is what itll take to lock up the victory.

He ran through more areas today than he had on days 1 and 2 and estimated he caught 40 fish total, but only six keepers.

Its a mix of frustration and fun, he said. It keeps you on your toes because there are places where you can get bit regularly. Its not like other places where you can go hours and not get a bite.

Photo: FLW

Mark Rose will happily take another kicker like this one on Sunday.

2nd: Rose Likes Where Hes At

> Day 3: 5, 15-13 (15, 44-09)

The always-humble Rose is grateful for the chance to post a second straight victory, a feat thats never been accomplished in the FLW Tours history.

I put myself in positon to have a shot and thats all you can ask for on the final day, he said. Ill go out and give it all I got. If its Gods will for me to win, then Ill win it.

He knows Thrift wont give an inch on Sunday.

Thrift is one of the best in the world and just to be there around him and in contention on Sunday is a blessing, Rose added.

Rose has mixed deep water with shallow flipping so far and he intends to ride the combination through the final day. When fishing deep, hes had a 1-ounce Strike King football jig tied on.

Im catching them anywhere from 30 to 58 feet, he said.

He has several spots with different features that make them unique and thats why hed enjoy spending more time at Travis just to learn more about how fish behave there.

I would love to have a couple weeks out here just idling, he said. Its a neat place and I think there are some untapped fish out there.

He believes a 15- to 16-pound bag tomorrow could sew up the win and as he learned at Guntersville, where he caught a kicker on the final cast to win, he wont take anything for granted.

Its so hard to catch 13 to 14 pounds here that I think if someone catches a bag in the mid-teens, it might be over, he said. Thats a limit of 3 1/4-pounders, so believe me, Ill be casting right up until the end. I like the position Im in on this go-around. I dont like being the hunted.

3rd: Big Ones or Bust for Wendlandt

> Day 3: 5, 12-02 (15, 41-12)

Wendlandt has been fortunate to catch at least one big fish each day this week and that has him in contention for his fifth career FLW Tour win. Hes hopeful the one spot thats produced all of his big bites has a few more left for Sunday.

For me this week has been as good as it could be, he said. I was able to find a place on day 1 and Ive caught four big ones there, including two today. For whatever reason, the big fish seem to be biting early so Im going to start there with the thought that Ill get a bite. I just hope its a big one. If its not happening there, Im pretty much out of anything else.

He tallied seven keepers today and dozens of short fish as he spent a few hours fishing around trying to tap into a pattern that may produce Sunday. He thinks if someone in the top 5 is able to catch a bag in the teens, that could be enough to win it.

While some believe the conditions are ripe for the fish to be spawning at Travis, Wendlandts theory is that the bass are more inclined to hang around where the bait is and he said most of the bait is still offshore.

I think sometimes we give too much credence to the water temperature and fish spawning, he said. What I think is happening is this lake has a ton of bait in it and I think most of the bait is still deep so until theyre really ready to spawn, theyre going to stay where the bait is.

4th: Hays Pumped for Final Day

> Day 3: 5, 12-10 (15, 41-00)

Hays had a rough ride back from where he was fishing way up the Colorado River. When he trailered his boat, he had service crews working on his trolling motor, his electronics, his Power-Poles and his motor.

It was some kind of bad, he said, describing having to navigate the boat traffic and wakes this afternoon.

I left 10 minutes early, but had I low voltage on my batteries and my motor went into guardian mode so I could only go 49 mph for 10 to 15 miles, he said. Nobody was running farther than me so I had nobody around me. I got lucky, I thought, because after it charged up, it came back, but that combined with the boat traffic caused me to be late.

Still, hes been able to make up ground each day, but his flipping bite faded significantly today. Luckily, he was able to tap into a school hed found in practice to keep pace with the leaders.

Ive been real blessed this week, he said. Ive just been chipping away. We had some big days in practice and I knew I was around fish to do well. I caught 20 pounds last Sunday just goofing off, but I havent had that day yet in the tournament. Hopefully, it comes tomorrow. Im just trying to be consistent.

5th: Patek Bummed

> Day 3: 5, 4-10 (15, 39-00)

Pateks day didnt get started the way hed hoped and it certainly didnt end the way he anticipated. Still, he has to muster the wherewithal to soldier through the final day and look to bounce back.

The spot where hed been having success in the morning fizzled out today and he had to grind out a limit, adding a Guadalupe bass as his fifth keeper. When he departed the Pedernales River, he gave himself 30 minutes to run back to Jonestown.

I made a mistake, he said. I shouldve given myself 40. I literally forgot about boat traffic. Where I was fishing I didnt think it would be bad, but as I got closer to take-off it got progressively worse. Boats were cutting me off left and right and I couldnt drive in a straight line. I had to constantly turn and zig-zag between them.

Photo: FLW

Clayton Batts moved up nine spots today to make his second career top-10 cut.

I remember looking at the time with 2 minutes left and I saw how far away we were. I looked at my cameraman and yelled Were not going to make it!

Sure enough, he was 5 minutes late and was docked one pound per minute. If hed have been on time, hed be in 3rd, less than 2 pounds behind Thrift.

Maybe it all happened for a reason, he said. I know I wont start where Ive been starting. Im going to my big-fish spot where I spent most of my day. I havent hit it first thing in the morning yet.

Today, that spot produced a couple keepers, including a 4-pounder on a swimbait.

Hopefully, the weather will turn it on there, he added.

9th: More Fish Coming to Batts

> Day 3: 5, 12-15 (15, 36-05)

Batts secured his second career top-10 result by returning to a spot up the Colorado River that he feels continues to attract new fish from deeper water.

It feels good to get to Sunday, he said. Ive been fishing a place thats replenishing every day. Its 120 yards long and Ive had it to myself all day every day.

He compared the scenario to something that occurs at Lake Eufaula, his home lake that straddles the Georgia/Alabama border.

Its a ledge and theyre up on the first break that comes off a sandbar, he said. The break has standing timber all over it and I can catch them in 5 feet on top or back off and theyll be in 25 feet. Its like fishing two places in one.

While others are having to filter through gobs of short fish, most of the fish hes catching are keeper-sized and stage-worthy.

I think I can catch 18 pounds there, he said. Ive been about one bite away from doing that every day. There are some big ones there. I can see them suspending down in the trees.

His three-pronged attack has consisted of a 3/4-ounce Strike Zone Lures football jig with a Big Bite Baits Swimming Yo Mama trailer, a 1/2-ounce Strike Zone Lures CB Swing Blade swimjig with a paddletail swimbait trailer and a Strike King Series 5 crankbait.

He plans to hit the same place again Sunday, but he also intends to check another staging area that produced a 6-pounder for him on day 1.

Im fishing offshore fish coming to me, he added.


> Day 3 stats 20 anglers, 9 limits, 1 four, 5 threes, 4 twos, 1 zero.

Weather Forecast

> Sun., Feb. 19 Thunderstorms - 73/60
- Wind: From the SE at 10 to 20 mph

Day 3 Standings

1. Bryan Thrift -- Shelby, NC -- 24-12 (5) -- 9-6 (5) -- 34-2 (10) -- 11-7 (5) -- 45-9 (15)

2. Mark Rose -- West Memphis, Ar -- 11-9 (5) -- 17-3 (5) -- 28-12 (10) -- 15-13 (5) -- 44-9 (15)

3. Clark Wendlandt -- Leander, Tx -- 12-7 (5) -- 17-3 (5) -- 29-10 (10) -- 12-2 (5) -- 41-12 (15) -- $500

4. Dylan Hays -- Sheridan, Ar -- 14-15 (5) -- 13-7 (5) -- 28-6 (10) -- 12-10 (5) -- 41-00 (15)

5. Stephen Patek -- Garland, Tx -- 20-5 (5) -- 14-1 (5) -- 34-6 (10) -- 4-10 (5) -- 39-00 (15)

6. Clark Reehm -- Huntington, Tx -- 6-13 (4) -- 21-11 (5) -- 28-8 (9) -- 8-14 (5) -- 37-6 (15)

7. Jeremy Lawyer -- Sarcoxie, Mo -- 12-4 (5) -- 19-7 (5) -- 31-11 (10) -- 5-9 (4) -- 37-4 (14)

8. Troy Morrow -- Eastanollee, Ga -- 14-10 (5) -- 11-9 (5) -- 26-3 (10) -- 10-14 (5) -- 37-1 (15)

9. Clayton Batts -- Macon, Ga -- 14-4 (5) -- 9-2 (5) -- 23-6 (10) -- 12-15 (5) -- 36-5 (15)

10. Anthony Gagliardi -- Prosperity, SC -- 14-13 (5) -- 10-4 (5) -- 25-1 (10) -- 10-2 (5) -- 35-3 (15)

The following anglers missed the cut and will not compete on day 4.

11. Tim McDonald -- Prestonsburg, Ky -- 12-2 (5) -- 10-14 (5) -- 23-0 (10) -- 8-11 (3) -- 31-11 (13) -- $12,000

12. Scott Suggs -- Alexander, Ar -- 17-3 (5) -- 9-7 (5) -- 26-10 (10) -- 4-11 (3) -- 31-5 (13) -- $12,000

13. Jeff Gustafson -- Keewatin, On -- 10-4 (5) -- 15-6 (5) -- 25-10 (10) -- 5-3 (2) -- 30-13 (12) -- $12,000

14. Bill Smith Jr -- Burlington, Ky -- 13-10 (4) -- 11-14 (5) -- 25-8 (9) -- 4-7 (3) -- 29-15 (12) -- $12,000

15. Scott Canterbury -- Springville, Al -- 13-13 (5) -- 11-1 (5) -- 24-14 (10) -- 4-6 (3) -- 29-4 (13) -- $12,000

16. Jamie Horton -- Centerville, Al -- 12-9 (5) -- 10-10 (5) -- 23-3 (10) -- 6-00 (2) -- 29-3 (12) -- $12,000

17. Christopher Brasher -- Longview, Tx -- 16-8 (5) -- 9-12 (5) -- 26-4 (10) -- 2-12 (2) -- 29-00 (12) -- $12,000

18. Bradley Hallman -- Norman, Ok -- 19-4 (5) -- 6-8 (3) -- 25-12 (8) -- 3-3 (2) -- 28-15 (10) -- $12,000

19. Casey Scanlon -- Lenexa, Ks -- 11-13 (5) -- 10-14 (4) -- 22-11 (9) -- 5-1 (3) -- 27-12 (12) -- $12,000

20. Brad Knight -- Lancing, Tn -- 14-2 (5) -- 12-13 (5) -- 26-15 (10) -- 0-00 (0) -- 26-15 (10) -- $12,000