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Week 59 – Murray FLW

King Kong Kelly 2/12/2006

Kelly Jordon's 9-14 toad might hold up as big fish of the 2006 Tour.

After a stellar 4th-place finish at the Okeechobee FLW, Kelly Jordon fell a notch or two at Murray when he finished 100th. "I fished a big-fish pattern," he said. "I had the bites and I didn't land them. They bit, but I couldn't catch them." He was apparently in the right area: "Several guys who made the cut were around me, so it was frustrating."

He'd been on a solid crankbait bite in practice and used a Lucky Craft BDS1 and Lucky Craft BDS2 effectively, but when the weather turned for the worse, he pursued his bites with a jig while others stuck with the crank.

On the second day, with only a short time to fish, he focused on the lipped bait once again. "I switched to the Flat CB MR, but it ran a little too shallow. I believe the Flat CB MR could've won this tournament had it not cooled off. It would've been the bomb."

He did manage to salvage his tournament somewhat on Day 2 when he dredged up a 9-14 toad with only a short time left to fish. The hawg earned him the daily $750 big-bass award and an additional $1,000 as big fish of the event. If it holds up as the Tour's big fish of the year, he'll pocket an additional five Gs.

But overall, he said the tournament was frustrating. "I don't like being where others are catching big bass and I'm not. I told everyone I was trying to fish for one 10-pounder." He expects that it will indeed hold up as big fish for the year. "There's a chance it could get beat at Kentucky Lake, or possibly Beaver, but I'd say I have a 95% chance. It's kind of cool."

Despite an atypically low finish, he still plans to make the FLW Tour Championship and aims to finish even better. "I'd love to make Angler of the Year," he said. "Last year I made the championship with two 186ths. A 100th is a lot better. It's no problem to have one tough tournament. It's just as if I finished 50th twice."

The effect of the Lucky Craft juggernaut on the world of bass fishing really hit home for him in this tournament. "On the second day of this event, my co-angler, the guy who netted the 9-14, he pulled out a box that was all Lucky Craft, maybe 50 or 100 lures.

I get multiple requests at every tournament, "Hey, do you have any extra?' Once in a while I slide a couple out to keep people excited." But in this case, he was paired with someone who was every bit his equal in terms of inventory.

Toho Predictions

Jordon earned a spot in the Bassmaster Classic in each of his first 4 years on the Bassmaster Tour. Unfortunately, when the one-time opportunity to double-qualify for 2005-2006 came along, he missed out. That means that he'll miss out on next week's big dance at Toho, and it's particularly galling because he seems to have mastered the Sunshine State's flip bite in recent years.

"It's killing me," he said. "I'm going down there. There's a meeting Wednesday night for an Elite anglers induction ceremony and then some kind of media deal the next day. I'll work for my sponsors the first 2 days and then I'll leave the third day (to practice for the FLW Tour event at) Pickwick."

Asked about his predictions for the Classic, he didn't hesitate to agree with many pundits that Terry Scroggins is the odds-on favorite to win. But he doesn't believe that Scroggins' preferred flipping technique will be the sole path to victory.

"It won't be a pure flipping bite," he said. "There will be a little bit of sight-fishing along with flipping mats. The frog bite, like a Horny Toad, is going to be awesome. It alone could win the tournament. There will also be a great spinnerbait bite or even a Senko bite.

"It'll take a pretty good weight to win it, maybe not what everybody is expecting, but somebody will catch 60 pounds – 20 pounds a day. It may even be better than that."

Ehrler's Expectations 2/12/2006

Photo: Lucky Craft
Brent Ehrler tasted a Top 30 at Murray, but would have preferred to sample a Top 10.

In week 57, Brent Ehrler told us that he needed a few Top 30 finishes this year in order to make the FLW Championship. By virtue of a 26th-place finish at Murray, he achieved that goal, but he didn't pretend to be satisfied.

"It's decent and I'm happy with it," he said. "But I lost a 6 that would've helped me make the cut. Near the end of the day I pulled into an area and caught a 4, then I hooked a big one and lost it at the net.

"It's kind of a hard situation. I said I wanted a Top 30 and I got it, so I should be happy. But it's always 'woulda, coulda, shoulda.' I really would've liked to make the Top 10. It's the same thing with Okeechobee. I said I wanted a Top 100 and I got it, but then I was near the Top 50. You always want more than you get."

It was his first time at Murray and he characterized it as a "fun lake with a lot of big fish." He practiced for 6 days and caught at least one fish between 5 and 8 pounds every day.

"It's famous for being a Shad Rap lake," he said. "They seem to like a tight-wobbling crankbait. I caught them on a Shad Rap when it was calm, but when it got windy (during the tournament) I switched to the Flat Mini MR and I caught a couple of big ones on it."

His two limits were both within 6 ounces of 15 pounds, and he earned $11,000 for his efforts.

Like Jordon, his next tournament is the Pickwick FLW in early March. "I know nothing about it except that they had the EverStart Championship there. My roommate on the FLW Tour (Gabe Bolivar) finished 2nd in it. I expect it'll be a crankbait, spinnerbait, jig and shakey worm bite."

Ehrler's not exactly sure whether competitors will be able to lock out of Pickwick, but he doesn't expect it'll matter to him. "There are two rumors going around now – one that you'll be able to lock and one that you won't – but either way I'll probably stay. I've heard about a lake way down by the dam that's supposed to have some big spots and I love to fish for spots."

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