DRAGONFLY - RAYMARINE

FAIRCLOTH LEADS IN La CROSSE

Posted by Z3 MEDIA STAFF on 06/22/2012
Story by Matt Pangrac - Photos by Dave Rush and Matt Pangrac

La Crosse, WI – On Thursday, not a single angler was able to crack the 17 pound mark in the sixth Elite Series regular season tournament of the year on the Mississippi River in La Crosse, Wisconsin.   The lower than expected top end weight, however, was not a good barometer to judge the number of quality fish that crossed the scales.   

To say that the standings were tight after Thursday’s opening round would be an understatement.  Rookie Kyle Fox led the way with 16-8, but just four pounds separated Fox from 60th place. 

Todd FairclothWhile the conditions on the Mississippi River on Friday were a near carbon copy from Thursday, the leaderboard at the conclusion of the first two rounds of competition had shuffled considerably.  Gone was Kyle Fox, who struggled on Friday and brought in just three fish for 6-1 to drop to 83rd in the standings.   Thursday’s 3rd and 4th place finishers, Grant Goldbeck and Billy McCaghren, also struggled on Friday, dropping to 71st and 34th in the standings, respectively.  

That opened the door for Texan Todd Faircloth, who entered the day in 8th place after a 15 pound effort on Thursday.  With the second heaviest limit of the day weighing 17-14, Faircloth vaulted to the lead with a total weight of 32-14. 

“I fished the same stuff that I fished yesterday, but I feel like I kind of expanded on my areas and was able to get some quality bites,” explained Faircloth after weighing-in.  “I had a five pounder today, and that makes a big difference.” 

With the five pounder in his livewell before 8:00, Faircloth said that the early kicker bite allowed him to relax for the rest of the day.  “When you catch a fish like that in an event like this, it just takes all of the pressure and load off of you.  You know that you’re going to be right there.  After that fish, I slowed down and fished really hard.” 

Culling through approximately 15 keepers on Friday, Faircloth said that portions of the Mississippi River are very reminiscent to the St. Johns River, where he finished in 2nd place to start the 2012 season.  “One of the main places that I’m fishing is pretty similar to (the St. Johns River),” he explained.  “The only difference is that I’m fishing a little bit different bait.” 

Keying on two primary areas, one in the morning and one later in the day, Faircloth said that he has mixed emotions about the small and unexpected drop in water on Friday.   “The area where I’ve been starting every morning is a pretty shallow spot, so the drop in water has me concerned.  This river fluctuates a lot, so I may go in there tomorrow and it (the river) may be back up.  The lower water hurts that spot, but I think that it actually helps my second spot,” he said. 

For Saturday, Faircloth said that he’s going to focus on expanding some of his areas.  “I feel like there’s probably even more fish around that haven’t been messed with a whole lot, so we’ll see what happens tomorrow. I’m not catching a whole bunch of fish, but the potential is there to catch a big one.”

2nd Place: Terry Butcher (16-13, 32-2)
After opening the 2012 Elite Series season with back-to-back finishes of 78th and 61st in Florida, Oklahoma’s Terry Butcher has flown under the radar despite an impressive run outside of the Sunshine State.  In the previous three tournaments on Bull Shoals, Douglas, and Toledo Bend, Butcher recorded finishes of 37th, 22nd, and 17th, to climb back in the Classic hunt. 

Terry ButcherAfter crossing the stage with a 16-13 limit on Friday to jump from a tie for 6th place up to 2nd place, the quiet Oklahoman is poised to post his best finish of the season on a section of the Mississippi River that is tailor-made to suit his preferred style of power fishing. 

“I’m probably not doing what I would normally be doing, but I’m mixing in my normal style a little bit too,” said Butcher with a slight smile.  “I’m doing something just a little bit different.”

Like Faircloth, Butcher also boxed a five pound kicker on Friday.  “Today, I caught a limit pretty quickly and caught the big one early in the day.  That really put me at ease. When I hooked that fish, all I kept thinking was, ‘Please don’t be a pike.’”  With solid weight in the livewell early, Butcher said that he combed through his area and identified several other productive spots that may pay dividends on the weekend. 

Butcher said that throughout the first two days, he hasn’t had another competitor within 500 yards of him.  “I’ve seen a few other guys, but they’re not fishing what I’m fishing,” he explained.  “I should have it to myself.”  

3rd Place: Jamie Horton (18-4, 31-10)
As a battle tested Federation Nation champion, Jamie Horton, the oldest rookie in the 2012 class, has been in his fair share of pressure cookers.   He has not, however, entered the weekend sitting in the top three at an Elite Series tournament before.  

After weighing-in the heaviest limit of the day on Friday weighing 18-4, the Alabama pro finds himself in that exact position – just over a pound behind current leader, Todd Faircloth. 

Jamie Horton

“This is the kind of fishing that I know how to do,” explained Horton.  “When I realized that the fish were sitting where I thought they should be sitting, I was able to run around and pick them off.  It was really fun and I had a good day.”

Horton said that the main difference between Thursday and Friday was execution -but missed opportunities in the opening round actually contributed to his giant limit on Friday.  “Yesterday, I had three big ones that didn’t get the bait and pulled off. I kind of beat myself up over it,” he admitted.  Knowing where the quality fish were holding, Horton returned to the area on Friday and boated the fish that eluded him the previous day.  “I know that I weighed-in three bass today that I actually hooked and lost yesterday.” 

Needing to cull one more time to round out his impressive limit, Horton said that he actually called his shot at the end of the day.  “I told my (marshall) that I was going to cull my last fish in an area right before I had to leave.  I went over there and caught it on my last cast. When you’re having a day like I had today, that’s just the way things go.” 

T4th Place: Aaron Martens (14-13, 31-2)
Entering the day in 2nd place, Aaron Martens hinted that he was fishing a unique pattern on a specific spot on the Mississippi River that the rest of the field had simply overlooked.  Martens, however, admitted that he wasn’t sure if his primary spot would last for four days of competition. 

After weighing-in another 14-13 on Friday to boost his two day total weight to 31-2, the Alabama pro changed his tune.  “I keep catching fresh fish, so it seems like there’s a lot of new fish in the area.  I didn’t catch any of the same ones that I caught yesterday, because there weren’t any hook marks in their mouths.  I’m excited about that, because that means that there are fish coming (into the area).”  

Aaron Martens

As was the case on Thursday, Martens’ day got off to a fast start.  He said that he had amassed his weight by 9:00, and spent the rest of the day “piddling around.”   He said that he caught a solid keeper every fifth or six bite.  “I looked around in some new areas and pre-fished a little bit, but I didn’t find anything else.” 

While he’s banking on his primary spot, Martens said that he has several other areas in his back pocket that he has yet to fish in competition.  “I know that there are fish there, but I just don’t know how big they are.  I’m pretty excited,” he concluded.   

T4th Place: Rick Clunn (15-13, 31-2)
After two days of competition, Rick Clunn is again in contention on the same stretch of the Mississippi River where he recorded the fourth victory of his legendary career in the 1983 Wisconsin Invitational.  Since that time, Clunn has recorded ten additional B.A.S.S. victories, with his last coming in 2002. 

Searching for his first win in nearly a decade, Clunn’s 15-13 limit on Friday moved him into a tie for 4th place with Aaron Martens, and he will enter the weekend less than two pounds out of the lead. 

While the majority of other contenders this week on the Mississippi have culled through dozens of keepers, Clunn has taken the slow and steady approach to climb the leaderboard.  “I caught eight keepers yesterday, and I caught seven keepers today,” he explained.  “I’m catching them on three different baits.  I was catching a lot of my fish cranking, but weeds have drifted in to about half of my water, so I’ve had to go to some different baits.”   

Rick Clunn

The philosophical Clunn explained that the limited number of bites he has garnered each of the first two days is actually part of his tournament plan.  “Historically, I made my living by spending 90% of the day trying to catch a limit and 10% of my day trying to catch a kicker fish.  That was back in the 10 fish limit days and the seven fish limit days.  That just doesn’t work anymore with the quality of anglers that we have.  Now, the limit doesn’t mean anything.  You have to spend 90% of your time targeting larger fish and only 10% to 20% of your day trying to catch a limit.”

When asked what it would mean to record a victory this week, Clunn said that he has yet to think about it.  “It’s a question that I’ve been asked, fortunately, a lot during my career,” he said.  “There’s too much to do before it happens to even think about it.”    

DAY TWO STANDINGS

PlaceNameDay 1Day 2Total FishTotal Weight
FishWeightFishWeight
1 Todd Faircloth 5 15- 0 5 17-14 10 32-14
2 Terry Butcher 5 15- 5 5 16-13 10 32- 2
3 Jamie Horton 5 13- 6 5 18- 4 10 31-10
4 Aaron Martens 5 16- 5 5 14-13 10 31- 2
5 Rick Clunn 5 15- 5 5 15-13 10 31- 2
6 Cliff Pace 5 14-12 5 16- 3 10 30-15
7 Cliff Prince 5 13-10 5 16- 8 10 30- 2
8 Dean Rojas 5 14-12 5 15- 3 10 29-15
9 Greg Hackney 5 15-10 5 13- 6 10 29- 0
10 Stephen Kennedy 5 13-13 5 15- 2 10 28-15
11 Randy Howell 5 13-11 5 15- 3 10 28-14
12 Terry Scroggins 5 14-15 5 13-12 10 28-11
13 Skeet Reese 5 12-13 5 15-12 10 28- 9
14 Chris Lane 5 12- 6 5 16- 2 10 28- 8
15 Mike McClelland 5 12-12 5 15-11 10 28- 7
16 Nate Wellman 5 13-14 5 14- 8 10 28- 6
17 Bill Lowen 5 13-14 5 14- 1 10 27-15
18 Timmy Horton 5 13- 8 5 13-15 10 27- 7
19 Bobby Lane 5 13- 0 5 14- 6 10 27- 6
20 Kotaro Kiriyama 5 13- 4 5 14- 2 10 27- 6
21 Gary Klein 5 13- 8 5 13-14 10 27- 6
22 Greg Vinson 5 13- 6 5 13-13 10 27- 3
23 Russell Lane 5 12-12 5 14- 5 10 27- 1
24 Takahiro Omori 5 14- 6 5 12- 9 10 26-15
25 Matthew Herren 5 13-14 5 13- 1 10 26-15
26 Kevin VanDam 5 13- 7 5 13- 8 10 26-15
27 Brent Chapman 5 14- 3 5 12-11 10 26-14
28 Ott DeFoe 5 14-11 5 12- 2 10 26-13
29 Davy Hite 5 13-13 5 12-15 10 26-12
30 Rick Morris 5 13- 8 5 13- 2 10 26-10
31 Andy Montgomery 5 12- 8 5 14- 1 10 26- 9
32 John Crews 5 13-11 5 12-14 10 26- 9
33 Boyd Duckett 5 11- 2 5 15- 6 10 26- 8
34 Grant Goldbeck 5 16- 0 5 10- 7 10 26- 7
35 Mark Menendez 5 14-14 5 11- 7 10 26- 5
36 Michael Simonton 5 12- 0 5 14- 5 10 26- 5
37 Edwin Evers 5 12- 1 5 14- 4 10 26- 5
38 Bernie Schultz 5 14-10 5 11-10 10 26- 4
39 Matt Greenblatt 5 12- 3 5 14- 1 10 26- 4
40 Jared Miller 5 12-13 5 13- 5 10 26- 2
41 Michael Iaconelli 5 13-12 5 12- 4 10 26- 0
42 Jason Quinn 5 12-11 5 13- 2 10 25-13
43 Stephen Browning 5 13- 9 5 12- 4 10 25-13
44 Jason Williamson 5 13-15 5 11-12 10 25-11
45 Jami Fralick 5 12-13 5 12-13 10 25-10
46 Kevin Short 5 12- 6 5 13- 3 10 25- 9
47 Matt Reed 5 13- 2 5 12- 7 10 25- 9
48 Paul Elias 5 11- 0 5 14- 8 10 25- 8
49 Dustin Wilks 5 14- 4 5 11- 4 10 25- 8
50 Casey Ashley 5 13- 9 5 11-15 10 25- 8
51 Clark Reehm 5 12-13 5 12-10 10 25- 7
52 Brandon Card 5 13- 3 5 12- 3 10 25- 6
52 Fred Roumbanis 5 12- 3 5 13- 3 10 25- 6
54 Yusuke Miyazaki 5 12- 0 5 13- 4 10 25- 4
55 Kelly Jordon 5 12- 3 5 13- 0 10 25- 3
56 Brent Broderick 5 14- 5 5 10-12 10 25- 1
57 Brian Snowden 5 12- 8 5 12- 9 10 25- 1
58 Jared Lintner 5 11- 2 5 13-12 10 24-14
59 Brandon Palaniuk 5 14- 0 5 10-12 10 24-12
60 Cliff Crochet 5 13- 5 5 11- 7 10 24-12
61 Alton Jones 5 13- 3 5 11- 8 10 24-11
62 J Todd Tucker 5 12-14 5 11-13 10 24-11
63 Gerald Swindle 5 13- 9 5 11- 1 10 24-10
64 Keith Combs 5 13-11 5 10-14 10 24- 9
65 Jeff Kriet 5 11- 0 5 13- 9 10 24- 9
66 Pete Ponds 5 12-13 5 11-12 10 24- 9
67 David Smith 5 12-12 5 11-11 10 24- 7
68 Mark Davis 5 12-11 5 11- 9 10 24- 4
69 Casey Scanlon 5 14-11 5 9- 5 10 24- 0
70 Marty Robinson 5 12- 2 5 11-10 10 23-12
71 Billy McCaghren 5 15-11 4 7-15 9 23-10
72 Charlie Hartley 5 12- 4 5 11- 5 10 23- 9
73 Britt Myers 5 12-11 5 10-13 10 23- 8
74 John Murray 5 13- 6 5 9-15 10 23- 5
75 Jonathon VanDam 5 12- 6 5 10-13 10 23- 3
76 Shaw E Grigsby 5 12- 4 5 10-15 10 23- 3
77 Ishama Monroe 5 12- 1 5 11- 0 10 23- 1
78 Morizo Shimizu 5 11-13 5 11- 3 10 23- 0
79 Russell Parrish 5 12- 2 5 10-11 10 22-13
80 Bradley Roy 5 12- 1 5 10-11 10 22-12
81 Chris Zaldain 5 11- 9 5 11- 2 10 22-11
82 James Niggemeyer 5 10- 7 5 12- 2 10 22- 9
83 Kyle Fox 5 16- 8 3 6- 1 8 22- 9
84 Scott Rook 5 12- 6 5 10- 2 10 22- 8
85 Zell Rowland 5 11-11 4 10-10 9 22- 5
86 Derek Remitz 5 11- 4 5 11- 0 10 22- 4
87 Kenyon Hill 5 10- 1 5 12- 2 10 22- 3
88 Byron Velvick 5 10-11 5 11- 0 10 21-11
89 Keith Poche 5 12-13 4 8- 1 9 20-14
90 Travis Manson 5 10- 8 5 10- 5 10 20-13
91 Jeremy Starks 5 9-10 5 11- 2 10 20-12
92 David Walker 5 10-12 5 9-11 10 20- 7
93 Denny Brauer 5 10-11 5 9- 8 10 20- 3
94 Fletcher Shryock 5 12- 3 3 7- 5 8 19- 8
95 Kevin Ledoux 5 10- 6 3 7- 9 8 17-15
96 Tommy Biffle 3 6-10 5 11- 2 8 17-12
97 Chad Griffin 4 8- 7 3 8- 2 7 16- 9
98 Scott Ashmore 1 2- 7 3 4-15 4 7- 6