dayton, Tenn. (June 11, 2015) – Pro Billy McDonald of Greenwood, Indiana, brought a five-bass limit to the scale Thursday weighing 29 pounds, 12 ounces – the third-largest stringer ever weighed on Lake Chickamauga in FLW competition – to grab the lead on day one of the FLW Tournament at Lake Chickamauga. McDonald will start the second day of competition with a 3-pound, 10-ounce lead in the nationally televised tournament that features 146 bass-fishing anglers competing for a top cash award of up to $125,000.
“Today was one of those days where every decision that I made was the right one,” said McDonald, who has 17 career top-10 finishes in FLW competition. “I caught fish all day long. I caught some fish shallow and some fish deep. I didn’t stay in one spot, I just kept moving.”
McDonald said that he started his day targeting grassy areas near deep water, then mixed it up and headed offshore for a bit before returning to the shallow grass. Of the five fish that he brought to the scale, three came deep and two came shallow. He declined to mention any bait specifics.
“I’ve got eight rods on the deck, and I’m catching fish on three of them,” McDonald said. “I’m still trying to mix things in.”
McDonald was confident that the fish would replenish in his key areas overnight and plans to approach day two exactly the same.
“These areas are reloading; there is not a doubt in my mind,” McDonald said. “I’m already out of contention to qualify for the Forrest Wood Cup, so I’m rolling the dice in this one and I’m going for the win. I hope I can go back out tomorrow and catch another good bag. If I don’t it won’t be due to lack of an effort, I can guarantee you that.”
The top 10 pros after day one on Lake Chickamauga are:
1st: Bill McDonald, Greenwood, Ind., five bass, 29-12
2nd: Michael Wooley, Collierville, Tenn., five bass, 26-2
3rd: John Cox, Debary, Fla., five bass, 23-9
4th: Michael Neal, Dayton, Tenn., five bass, 23-6
5th: Alex Davis, Albertville, Ala., five bass, 22-11
6th: Jacob Wheeler, Indianapolis, Ind., five bass, 22-10
7th: Brad Knight, Lancing, Tenn., five bass, 22-9
8th: Darrell Davis, Dover, Fla., five bass, 22-7
9th: Cody Meyer, Auburn, Calif., five bass, 22-4
10th: Matt Arey, Shelby, N.C., five bass, 21-0
Wooley won the Bridgford Big Bass Award on the pro side Thursday with a bass weighing 8 pounds, 11 ounces, to win the $500 prize. Overall there were 671 bass weighing 2,063 pounds, 3 ounces caught by 143 pros Thursday. The catch included 121 five-bass limits. Pro Chris Neau of New Orleans, Louisiana, withdrew from the competition Thursday morning due to medical illness. Zachary Francis of Abingdon, Virginia, leads the co-angler division with five bass weighing 21 pounds, 3 ounces followed by Stephen Crawley of Bush, Louisiana, in second place with five bass weighing 19-4.
The top 10 co-anglers on Lake Chickamauga are:
1st: Zachary Francis, Abingdon, Va., five bass, 21-3
2nd: Stephen Crawley, Bush, La., five bass, 19-4
3rd: Tom Stark, Angola, Ind., five bass, 18-0
4th: Gary Runyon, Decatur, Tenn., five bass, 17-15
5th: Cecil Wolfe, Scarborough, Ontario, Canada, five bass, 17-8
6th: Mike Comeau, Jericho, Vt., five bass, 17-2
7th: Jim Austin, Lithonia, Ga., five bass, 16-13
8th: Richie Eaves, Nauvoo, Ill., five bass, 16-11
8th: Cody Frazier, Soddy Daisy, Tenn., five bass, 16-11
10th: Benjie Seaborn, Guin, Ala., five bass, 16-8
Francis won Thursday’s Bridgford Big Bass Award in the co-angler division with a bass weighing 8 pounds, 9 ounces to earn the $250 prize. Overall there were 448 bass weighing 1097 pounds, 9 ounces caught by co-anglers Thursday. The catch included 48 five-bass limits.
In addition to casting for top awards of up to $125,000 cash in the pro division and up to $25,000 cash in the co-angler division, anglers are also competing for points in hopes of qualifying for the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup which will be in Hot Springs, Arkansas, Aug. 20-23 on Lake Ouachita. The Forrest Wood Cup Champion could win as much as $500,000.
Anglers will take off from the Dayton Boat Dock located at 175 Lakeshore Street in Dayton at 6:30 a.m. EDT each day of competition. Friday’s weigh-ins will be held at the Dayton Boat Dock beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday’s final weigh-ins will be held at Walmart, located at 3034 Rhea County Highway, in Dayton beginning at 4 p.m.