By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor


Terry Bolton is an easy-going guy buy nature and the 48-year-old Kentuckian insists he won't be nervous on Monday when he takes to the water in a quest to nail down his first victory in his 23rd season on the FLW Tour. The final round was originally scheduled for Sunday, but was postponed for a day due to inclement weather.

"I've had a blast this week," he said after weighing a 19-09 sack on Saturday to push his 3-day total in the season opener at Sam Rayburn Reservoir to 73-13. "I've learned through the years that when it's your turn, it's your turn. I've kept a good mental attitude all week and I've had a lot of fun, and I plan to do the same tomorrow."

He'll start the final day with a 4-12 advantage over 2nd-place Nick LeBrun, the reigning BFL All-American champion who boxed 20-13 for a 69-01 total. In 3rd, another 3 ounces back, is the ever-contending Bryan Thrift, who weighed a day-best 24-15 for a 68-14 aggregate. Thrift is the lone member of the top 10 whose bags keep getting heavier every day.

Jim Tutt, competing just a short drive from his Longview, Texas home, is a distant more 4th with 62-13 in the wake of a 17-09 effort on day 3. Chad Warren, who's been among the top 5 throughout the event, is next with 60-11 (16-05 on day 3).

The other anglers who'll be back on the water for day 4 are Jordan Osborne (15-03 on day 3, 56-12 total), Tom Redington (18-15, 54-13), Sam George (14-10, 54-03), Colby Schrumpf (15-03, 52-09) and Charles Sim (13-12, 52-03).



FLW/Kyle Wood
Photo: FLW/Kyle Wood

Bolton turned in another strong effort, but lost one fish that would've pushed him past the 20-pound mark again.

Redington, Schrumpf and Sim elbowed their way into the top 10 on day 3, with Redington's eight-place move the biggest among the trio. They supplanted Miles Burghoff (6th to 12th with a 9-00 stringer), Billy Shelton (7th to 24th, three fish for 4-10) and Andy Wicker (10th to 22nd, 9-00).

Most anglers had a tougher time catching both numbers and quality on Saturday after overnight rain gave way to the start of a post-frontal scenario. Monday's forecast calls for partly cloudy skies, a high temperature of 55 degrees and a light north wind.

Bolton Satisfied

Bolton lost a little more than a pound off his lead, but he wasn't complaining. His big bulge had arrived courtesy of a tournament-best 33-09 bag on day 2.

"I'll take it," he said. "I kind of figured it would be like this. I said I'd be happy with 17 to 20 pounds and I got almost 20. I did lose one fish that would've put me up in the 22 1/2- to 23-pound range."

He again did the majority of his work with several deep-diving Rapala crankbaits. He caught one key fish on a 3/4-ounce Accent spinnerbait.

"Sometimes I'll catch one on a crankbait and then throw and throw and throw and not get another bite. You've got to get kind of above them. Today I caught a quick limit, but It didn't weigh much, so I adjusted to another bait and culled about everything I had.

"I don't know what I have left I'll have to go out there and see. The wind kind of played havoc with the offshore stuff today."

LeBrun still Lurking

LeBrun, the day-1 leader who's played second fiddle to Bolton or the past 2 days, kept himself within striking distance with this second 20-plus-pound haul of the derby. He did most of his damage well before lunchtime.

"My goal this morning was to get a decent limit like in the mid-teens and then go head-hunting, but the decent limit turned out to be 20 pounds," he said. "I was lucky enough to get a 6-pounder and some other good ones fired up. I didn't think that kind of quality was on that spot, but it was.

FLW/Rob Matsuura
Photo: FLW/Rob Matsuura

Nick LeBrun's 20-13 stringer moved him a little closer to the lead.

"After I had that limit at 10 o'clock I tried to go and swing for the fences the rest of the day and I got four or five more bites, but they were all little. I'll do the same thing tomorrow if I can find them piled up, I'll see if I can get 20 again and then go swing. The only chance to run Terry down will be to catch a giant."

He caught all of his day-3 fish on a prototype 3/4-ounce V&M spinnerbait.

Thrift Moving Up

Thrift, who has six victories on the Tour, is the lone previous winner among the top 10. As usual, he downplayed his chances of picking up No. 7 on Sunday.

"I feel like I'm running out of fish, even though it doesn't look like it," he said.

His bag contained a fish that weighed more than 7 pounds and another that exceeded 6. He went through about 15 keepers, catching most of them before 11 o'clock, and didn't lose anything of consequence.

He's targeting grass primarily with a Carolina rig and a Damiki Stinger on a football-head jig. He got one of his big bites on a swimbait.

"I'm not going to complain about where I'm at, even though I'd like to be in Terry's position. I only found three places in practice and I've caught all my weight off one the other two I can't catch anything but little ones. I'm very happy with it."

Slower Day for Tutt

Tutt caught his 17 1/2-pound bag on the same No. 7 Rapala Shad Rap that he's employed throughout the tournament.

"My weight was smaller today and it was definitely slower," he said. "I had to be really patient I'm fishing that bait on 10-pound line and cranking it real slow. I rotated through five little spots and today I was only catching two or three at each one instead of seven or eight like I had been. I don't know if the fish are depleted or they just didn't bite as good."

FLW/Kyle Wood
Photo: FLW/Kyle Wood

Bryan Thrift's bags keep getting bigger with each succeeding day.

"Three of my spots got muddied up by the wind and it's supposed to blow again tomorrow. Another problem is it's real hard to move around on this pond when it's blowing."

His bag consisted of a 5-pounder and four 3s.

"I'm going to need at least one big one tomorrow to have a chance, but that can be done on this lake."

Nice Start for Burghoff

Burghoff wasn't thrilled with his 9-pound haul on day 3, but was pleased with the strong start to his Tour career.

"As bummed as I am, I can't say I'm all that disappointed in it," he said. "I kind of made lemonade this week I had one good day of practice when I caught about 17 pounds, but the other two around it were like three-fish days."

He fished a drain in the back of a creek where fish were staging in preparation for the spawn. His main offering was a Z-Man Jackhammer ChatterBait that he presented in yo-yo fashion through grass in about 15 feet of water. When his action slowed, he switched to a Texas-rigged Z-Man Mag FattyZ worm. His 23-12 stringer on day 2 included two big jerkbait fish.

"The lake had risen at least a foot overnight and it was very tough to get bit when I went in there this morning. I left around 9 o'clock without a keeper and started running my jerkbait pattern, and then I came back to the drain around noon and caught a limit in 45 minutes. I was fishing slow, but I was getting bit every cast.

"I left again, thinking I needed 15 pounds to make the final day, and that was the kiss of death for me because I only needed less than a pound more than what I had. It was a bad mistake to leave those fish when they were biting."

Notable

> Troy Morrow caught two 9 1/4-pounders during the tournament one on day 1 and the other on day 3. He finished 17th with 49-03.

Weather Forecast

> Sun., Jan. 13 Sunny - 55/34
- Wind: From the NNW at 8 mph

Day 3 Standings

1. Terry Bolton -- Benton, Ky -- 20-10 (5) -- 33-9 (5) -- 19-10 (5) -- 73-13 (15)

2. Nick Lebrun -- Bossier City, La -- 29-2 (5) -- 19-2 (5) -- 20-13 (5) -- 69-1 (15)

3. Bryan Thrift -- Shelby, NC -- 20-15 (5) -- 23-0 (5) -- 24-15 (5) -- 68-14 (15)

4. Jim Tutt -- Longview, Tx -- 23-9 (5) -- 21-11 (5) -- 17-9 (5) -- 62-13 (15)

5. Chad Warren -- Sand Springs, Ok -- 25-7 (5) -- 18-15 (5) -- 16-5 (5) -- 60-11 (15)

6. Jordan Osborne -- Longview, Tx -- 25-1 (5) -- 16-8 (5) -- 15-3 (5) -- 56-12 (15)

7. Tom Redington -- Royse City, Tx -- 17-10 (5) -- 18-4 (5) -- 18-15 (5) -- 54-13 (15)

8. Sam George -- Athens, Al -- 28-5 (5) -- 11-4 (5) -- 14-10 (5) -- 54-3 (15)

9. Colby Schrumpf -- Highland, Il -- 15-5 (5) -- 22-1 (5) -- 15-3 (5) -- 52-9 (15)

10. Charles Sim -- Nepean, On -- 15-13 (5) -- 22-10 (5) -- 13-12 (5) -- 52-3 (15)

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

11. Tom Monsoor -- La Crosse, Wi -- 8-1 (5) -- 26-4 (5) -- 17-4 (5) -- 51-9 (15) -- $12,000

12. Miles Burghoff -- Hixson, Tn -- 18-12 (5) -- 23-12 (5) -- 9-0 (5) -- 51-8 (15) -- $12,000

13. David Dudley -- Lynchburg, Va -- 24-3 (5) -- 9-1 (5) -- 17-2 (5) -- 50-6 (15) -- $12,000

14. Jeremy Lawyer -- Sarcoxie, Mo -- 11-11 (5) -- 24-13 (5) -- 13-12 (5) -- 50-4 (15) -- $12,000

15. Kyle Cortiana -- Coweta, Ok -- 13-7 (5) -- 23-3 (5) -- 13-7 (5) -- 50-1 (15) -- $12,000

16. Timmy Thompkins -- Myrtle Beach, SC -- 12-9 (5) -- 19-7 (5) -- 17-9 (5) -- 49-9 (15) -- $11,500

17. Joseph Webster -- Winfield, Al -- 13-0 (5) -- 22-2 (5) -- 14-1 (5) -- 49-3 (15) -- $11,500

18. Troy Morrow -- Eastanollee, Ga -- 22-12 (5) -- 8-10 (5) -- 17-13 (5) -- 49-3 (15) -- $11,500

19. Bryan Schmitt -- Deale, Md -- 19-2 (5) -- 14-14 (5) -- 15-1 (5) -- 49-1 (15) -- $11,500

20. Kurt Mitchell -- Milford, De -- 9-9 (5) -- 23-13 (5) -- 15-9 (5) -- 48-15 (15) -- $11,500

21. Scott Martin -- Clewiston, Fl -- 22-2 (5) -- 11-9 (5) -- 14-5 (5) -- 48-0 (15) -- $10,750

22. Andy Wicker -- Pomaria, SC -- 16-9 (5) -- 22-5 (5) -- 9-0 (5) -- 47-14 (15) -- $11,000

23. Derek Fulps -- Broken Arrow, Ok -- 19-4 (5) -- 13-4 (5) -- 15-2 (5) -- 47-10 (15) -- $10,500

24. Billy Shelton III -- La Crosse, Va -- 18-9 (5) -- 23-8 (5) -- 4-10 (3) -- 46-11 (13) -- $10,500

25. Darrel Robertson -- Jay, Ok -- 14-7 (5) -- 17-3 (5) -- 13-5 (5) -- 44-15 (15) -- $10,500

26. Andrew Upshaw -- Tulsa, Ok -- 19-8 (5) -- 12-13 (5) -- 11-15 (5) -- 44-4 (15) -- $10,500

27. Casey Scanlon -- Lake Ozark, Mo -- 14-7 (5) -- 17-4 (5) -- 12-8 (5) -- 44-3 (15) -- $10,500

28. Christopher Brasher -- Longview, Tx -- 11-6 (5) -- 19-15 (5) -- 12-13 (5) -- 44-2 (15) -- $10,500

29. Jon Englund -- Farwell, Mn -- 18-11 (5) -- 13-14 (5) -- 11-5 (5) -- 43-14 (15) -- $10,500

30. Billy McCaghren -- Mayflower, Ar -- 13-11 (5) -- 17-12 (5) -- 11-3 (5) -- 42-10 (15) -- $10,500