By Jonathan Manteuffel
Special to BassFan


David Williams is a bass-catching freight train at the Smith Lake FLW Tour in Alabama. Seemingly unstoppable, he's weighed three bags over 15 pounds (including a tournament best 18-11 on day 1) and looks poised to do it again on Sunday. His lead swelled to 6-10 over closest pursuer Jordan Osborne.

A little fog turned into a lot of sun for day 3 of the tournament. The catching started within minutes of takeoff and lasted until virtually the last cast before return to the dock. Smith is a very popular recreational lake and the weekend pleasure boats left some wakes in the water, but it didnt stop the bass from biting. All but two of the 30 anglers boxed limits.

Williams slammed 16-12 despite losing several sizeable fish. His 3-day total stands at an impressive 50-12. Osborne turned in a respectable 15-02 and moved up from 5th to 2nd with 44-02.

Matt Arey weighed his lightest bag so far (13-13) to give him 43-15 and keep him in 3rd place. Trailing Arey by only 3 ounces is Cody Meyer, who also sacked his smallest limit of the week (13-08), giving him 43-12 and dropping him two places to 4th.

Rounding out the top 5 in 5th is John Cox, who, contrary to the prior two anglers, weighed his best effort so far (15-12), leading to a total of 43-12. He improved 5 places on the leaderboard, falling in behind Meyer on a tiebreaker that favored Meyers prior-day higher placement.
Here's a look at the top 10 entering the last day of competition, with deficit margin from Williams indicated by red numbers in parentheses:

1. David Williams: 50-12
2. Jordan Osborne: 44-02 (6-10)
3. Matt Arey: 43-15 (6-13)
4. Cody Meyer: 43-12 (7-00)
5. John Cox: 43-12 (7-00)
6. Jason Reyes: 41-10 (9-02)
7. Jimmy Reese: 40-01 (10-11)
7. Matt Becker: 39-12 (11-00)
9. Todd Auten: 39-12 (11-00)
10. Clent Davis: 39-02 (11-10)

Greg Bohannan, Jim Moynagh, and Joseph Webster dropped out of the top 10 and will not fish Sunday. Instead, Jason Reyes, Jimmy Reese, and Clent Davis will take to the water for one more day.



FLW
Photo: FLW

Williams hasn't yet fished his best area for more than half a day.

The winner will be determined Sunday by highest 4-day total.

Williams Wire to Wire?

> Day 3: 5, 16-12 (15, 50-12)

Essentially fishing only 4 hours each day, it would appear this is David Williams tournament to lose. After weighing the days best stringer on both days 1 and 3, his lead is monumental on Smith Lake. He has left his fish biting at 10 a.m. every day, and Sunday he can lean on them all day.

Can he best his day 1 weight? It's distinctly possible.

I found this area in practice and caught a 4-(pounder) and a 5 and just left it alone, he said. I didnt realize it was so good. I believe I can catch them good again tomorrow.

This is the first tournament in his short FLW Tour career that he has led going into the final day.

It feels pretty good. Today went exactly like I would have dreamed it could have, but I wish Id have caught those couple of fish that hit the frog. They were good ones.

His best two fish were a spot and a largemouth, both in the 4-pound class, and he went through dozens of keepers.

FLW
Photo: FLW

Jordan Osborne upgraded his day-3 bag by flipping trash mats.

The fish keep coming in there where the bait is spawning, he noted. Im mainly just covering water, swimming a jig, throwing a ChatterBait and a buzzbait, and today I mixed in the frog a little bit.

I havent even sampled some of the pockets in the area Ive been catching them in, so it could get to be a lot of fun throwing that frog in there tomorrow, he added. I probably wont sleep tonight. Life is good.

2nd: Osborne Needs Big Ones

> Day 3: 5, 15-02 (15, 44-02)

Osborne did more of the same thing again today, with the same results: Another improvement on the leaderboard.

The only thing I did different today was to leave my primary area and flip trash mats, he said. I was able to upgrade a little bit. I think my primary area was playing out a little bit, so I wanted to let it rest and save it for tomorrow.

I tried to find something new, he added. I flipped about 15 trash mats today, and Ill probably fish about 60 tomorrow. Theyll hit on the first flip or two if theyre there. Its the only way Im going to catch the leader.

Theres so much water behind the trees where Im fishing and I cant get to a lot of it. Maybe if the water drops tomorrow theyll come out to me. The water cleared up some today, and that might make it tougher, along with them getting conditioned and educated, as much as Ive fished for them.

His best area is hard to describe.

Its just a good spot. Its holding a lot of fish, but I havent caught one over 4 pounds all week.

He handled 25 keepers today, mostly spotted bass.

I have another place where I saw a 7-pounder in practice, he added. If I get up to the 14-15 pound range I may run down there. I need to catch the big bag of the tournament tomorrow, and for the leader to ease up a little bit. I dont really want him to stumble. I want to go out and catch enough to beat him.

3rd: Arey Lacked Kicker

> Day 3: 5, 13-13 (15, 43-15)

Arey caught about 20 keepers, mostly spotted bass, but no real kicker fish.

I actually caught more solid fish today, but no big ones, he said. But I dont think my area is running out. Im fishing all over and fishing the conditions, from main-channel stuff into the creeks.

I got bites off and on all day, he added. Ive caught most of them on a nail-weighted worm. But I did see some things developing this afternoon. I culled late on the Lunkerhunt Fetch swimbait, and some others came up and showed themselves. I need to throw it more to try for some big ones.

FLW
Photo: FLW

Matt Arey has done his best work with a nail-weighted worm.

Weve got a full moon coming so I might spend a little more time shallow and see if there are any late spawners moving up. Id have a hard time catching the leade,r but maybe I can move up to 2nd if I can get some good ones. I caught some in new areas today, so thats encouraging.

4th: Meyer Moved Wrong Way

> Day 3: 5, 13-08 (15, 43-12)

Dropping two places to 4th wasnt what Meyer wanted, but it sure beats the heck out of fishing with pneumonia like he had to do at Cumberland Lake, where he finished 158th.

Im doing what I love and Im in the top 5 fishing the last day, he observed. Im having fun.

Though he caught at least 20 keeper spots today, his average weight was down, leading to his lightest limit thus far.

It got a lot tougher today, he said. The size has gone down every day. I ran around and fished some new spots, but it didnt work out and I went back what I was fishing before.

I noticed the bites I was getting were really finicky, like they hit it with their mouth closed. There was a 150-boat local tournament on the lake, so there was a boat on every spot you went to. These fish have not had a rest from shaky-heads and swimbaits.

I need to find something different to have a chance tomorrow, he added. Im going to try for largemouth, or at least where some largemouths will live. I think with how warm it is there may be some moving up. The water was a couple degrees warmer today. Ill try some pockets, places with water coming in, where there might be largemouths but some big spots may be in there too. Ive got to try. Doing the same thing wont move me up."

He's still seeing a lot of bait, but hasnt seen the big schools of herring that live in Smith.

I havent seen bass blowing up on them anywhere, he noted. The herring like boat traffic, it gets them up and moving. If I can find that, it would be good.

I know where Williams is fishing, and of course Im not going there. Hes fishing a shad spawn. The herring spawn hasnt happened yet.

5th: Cox Still Not Dialed In

> Day 3: 5, 15-12 (15, 43-12)

Cox still isnt feeling like something is coming together for him here at Smith despite his constant climb up the leaderboard.

Im not really finding what I want yet, he said. The water is still falling some, but I didnt get anything going. I just keep running new water. Once it stabilizes, they might bite better.

Ive been fishing pockets up in the creeks, he added. If I get bit in one Ill run the others in the area. If not, Ill move to a different area. Im throwing a Dirty Jig with a Berkley MaxScent Meaty Chunk, and a Berkley The General (stickbait), just whatever bait is appropriate to the cover. The fish are biting all of it.

He caught 10 keepers and weighed all largemouths. His biggest was a 5-pounder caught from under a dock.

Im just going to do the same thing tomorrow and hope I get some better bites.

Notable

> Day 3 stats 30 anglers, 28 limits, 1 two, 1 zero

Weather Forecast

> Sun., April 29 Sunny 67/41
- Wind: From the NNE at 5-10 mph

Day 3 Standings

1. David Williams -- Maiden, NC -- 18-11 (5) -- 15-5 (5) -- 16-12 (5) -- 50-12 (15)

2. Jordan Osborne -- Longview, Tx -- 13-3 (5) -- 15-13 (5) -- 15-2 (5) -- 44-2 (15)

3. Matt Arey -- Shelby, NC -- 15-9 (5) -- 14-9 (5) -- 13-13 (5) -- 43-15 (15)

4. Cody Meyer -- Auburn, Ca -- 15-13 (5) -- 14-7 (5) -- 13-8 (5) -- 43-12 (15)

5. John Cox -- Debary, Fl -- 14-2 (5) -- 13-14 (5) -- 15-12 (5) -- 43-12 (15)

6. Jason Reyes -- Huffman, Tx -- 15-0 (5) -- 11-5 (5) -- 15-5 (5) -- 41-10 (15)

7. Jimmy Reese -- Witter Springs, Ca -- 13-10 (5) -- 11-3 (5) -- 15-4 (5) -- 40-1 (15)

8. Matt Becker -- Finleyville, Pa -- 13-11 (5) -- 15-4 (5) -- 10-13 (5) -- 39-12 (15)

9. Todd Auten -- Lake Wylie, SC -- 13-9 (5) -- 14-11 (5) -- 11-8 (5) -- 39-12 (15)

10. Clent Davis -- Montevallo, Al -- 15-13 (5) -- 10-7 (5) -- 12-14 (5) -- 39-2 (15)

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

11. Greg Bohannan -- Bentonville, Ar -- 12-0 (5) -- 17-7 (5) -- 8-15 (5) -- 38-6 (15) -- $12,000

12. Andrew Upshaw -- Tulsa, Ok -- 12-0 (5) -- 13-6 (5) -- 13-0 (5) -- 38-6 (15) -- $12,000

13. Joseph Webster -- Winfield, Al -- 15-8 (5) -- 13-3 (5) -- 9-8 (5) -- 38-3 (15) -- $12,000

14. Rex Huff -- Corbin, Ky -- 12-14 (5) -- 11-13 (5) -- 12-12 (5) -- 37-7 (15) -- $12,000

15. Jim Moynagh -- Carver, Mn -- 15-2 (5) -- 13-11 (5) -- 8-7 (5) -- 37-4 (15) -- $12,250

16. Robert Behrle -- Hoover, Al -- 13-5 (5) -- 13-13 (5) -- 10-0 (5) -- 37-2 (15) -- $12,000

17. Jt Kenney -- Palm Bay, Fl -- 13-0 (5) -- 11-4 (5) -- 12-13 (5) -- 37-1 (15) -- $12,000

18. Justin Atkins -- Florence, Al -- 12-3 (5) -- 12-11 (5) -- 11-15 (5) -- 36-13 (15) -- $12,000

19. Kyle Cortiana -- Broken Arrow, Ok -- 12-11 (5) -- 11-13 (5) -- 11-8 (5) -- 36-0 (15) -- $12,000

20. Sheldon Collings -- Grove, Ok -- 12-2 (5) -- 12-4 (5) -- 11-10 (5) -- 36-0 (15) -- $12,000

21. Clark Wendlandt -- Leander, Tx -- 11-9 (5) -- 14-9 (5) -- 9-10 (5) -- 35-12 (15) -- $10,000

22. Mark Rose -- West Memphis, Ar -- 12-7 (5) -- 12-5 (5) -- 10-15 (5) -- 35-11 (15) -- $10,000

23. Capt Blake Smith -- Lakeland, Fl -- 16-2 (5) -- 11-4 (5) -- 8-1 (5) -- 35-7 (15) -- $10,500

24. Cody Hahner -- Wausau, Wi -- 13-4 (5) -- 12-2 (5) -- 9-11 (5) -- 35-1 (15) -- $10,000

25. Billy Mccaghren -- Mayflower, Ar -- 14-3 (5) -- 11-7 (5) -- 9-6 (5) -- 35-0 (15) -- $10,000

26. Jeff Dobson -- Bartlesville, Ok -- 15-1 (5) -- 9-13 (5) -- 7-14 (5) -- 32-12 (15) -- $10,250

27. Russell Cecil -- Willis, Tx -- 10-1 (5) -- 14-10 (5) -- 7-11 (5) -- 32-6 (15) -- $10,000

28. James Niggemeyer -- Van, Tx -- 15-6 (5) -- 9-14 (5) -- 6-9 (5) -- 31-13 (15) -- $10,000

29. Jeff Gustafson -- Keewatin, On -- 12-7 (5) -- 13-13 (5) -- 2-13 (2) -- 29-1 (12) -- $10,000

30. Randy Haynes -- Ripley, Ms -- 13-10 (5) -- 11-4 (5) -- 0-00 (0) -- 24-14 (10) -- $10,000