published Sunday, April 17th, 2011

Pirch leading tourney

Despite the difficult conditions Saturday on Chickamauga Lake, Tom Monsoor caught some big bass and Clifford Pirch managed to increase his overall lead on day three of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by the National Guard.

“It was tough because of all the weather we had last night and the in-flow of water, muddy water, and with the wind blowing,” said Brad Knight of Wartburg, Tenn., who came into the day in 15th place.

The tournament field was cut to the top 20 after Friday’s fishing and Pirch, of Payson, Ariz., was the overnight leader with a two-day total of 43 pounds, 11 ounces.

Saturday afternoon during the weigh-in at the Chattanooga Convention Center — complete with fake smoke and dramatic music — Pirch produced a haul of 16-14.

It was the third-heaviest total of the day and gave him a tournament total of 60-9.

“The conditions changed a bunch. The water came way up and there were a lot of different things going on,” said Pirch, who led by 3 ounces after Friday. “I had to make some adjustments ... and it still worked out well. Hopefully there will be some fish moving tomorrow.”

In second place for the second day in a row is Shinichi Fukae, whose total was 16-1. The first-day leader from Palestine, Texas, has a total weight of 59-9.

Monsoor had the best day, catching five bass weighing a total of 17-4. Monsoor, of La Crosse, Wis., is third overall at 54-3.

Only the top 10 anglers following Saturday’s fishing survived to hop aboard their boats today, when conditions are expected to be ideal with lots of sunshine and little wind.

Knight, who had a large group of friends and family members in the crowd at the weigh-in, had a solid day Saturday but failed to make the cut. His five fish weighed in at 11-1, bringing his total to 44-2, good enough for 12th place and a check for $12,500.

“I made the top 20, so for me the pressure was off at that point,” he said. “I was just able to go fishing and try to do as good as I could do.”

Keeton Blaylock of Benton, Ark., won the co-angler division with a total of 41-8, earning $20,000.

n Some FLW Tour anglers not in contention Saturday took military duos on the lake for a National Guard “soldier appreciation” tournament, and brothers Sgt. Jimmy Frank and Spc. William Frank of Madisonville won that in a boat with Doc McGhee. Sgt. Joseph Craig of Pikeville and Spc. Timothy Tate of Athens were second with FLW pro Mark Rose, and Pfc. Corey Holloway from Chattanooga and Pfc. Katie Marshall from Athens, Ga., were third with Justin Lucas driving.

n Also weighing in at the Chattanooga Convention Center, Allen Boyd of Salem, Ind., won The Bass Federation national championship on Nickajack Lake with a three-day total of 50-0. His Saturday take was 17-1, 12 ounces less than runner-up James Biggs of Bedford, Texas, who totaled 49-1. Rhett Fornof of Park City, Utah, was the co-angler winner.

about John Frierson...

John Frierson is in his seventh year at the Times Free Press and seventh year covering University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletics. The bulk of his time is spent covering Mocs football, but he also writes about women’s basketball and the big-picture issues and news involving the athletic department. A native of Athens, Ga., John grew up a few hundred yards from the University of Georgia campus. Instead of becoming a Bulldog he attended Ole ...

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