Pro Michael Wooley of Collierville, Tennessee, brought a five-bass limit to the scale Saturday, weighing 23 pounds, 7 ounces, to retain his lead after day three of the Walmart FLW Tour at Lake Chickamauga presented by Igloo Coolers. The tournament now heads into the fourth and final day of competition and the field is cut to the final 10 in the four-day event, hosted by the Rhea Economic and Tourism Council, that featured 146 of the best bass-fishing anglers in the world casting for the top cash award of up to $125,000.
Wooley’s three-day cumulative weight of 72-14 extended his lead to 6 pounds, 2 ounces over second-place angler Livingston Lures pro Stetson Blaylock of Benton, Arkansas, who has a three-day weight of 15 bass totaling 66-12
“Today went great for me,” said Wooley, who has one previous career victory in FLW competition – a Walmart BFL series win on Lake Pickwick in 2013. “I pulled into my main area where I have been catching them all week and had my first keeper in the livewell within 10 minutes. I had a solid 17-pound limit by 8 a.m., then by 8:30 I had all of my weight that I caught today. I left there by 10 a.m. to try to conserve it for one more day.”
Wooley spent the rest of the day scouting his other schools that he has located as contingency plans. He estimated that he caught around 10 more keepers throughout the day, but none that could match the size from his prime location.
“My other areas do not have the quality that my main spot does,” Wooley said. “Tomorrow I’m going to spend as much time as possible there. I feel pretty confident that it can hold up another day.”
Wooley said that he again found success today using a jig and a shaky-head rig with a big worm. He said that he tried to find a reaction bite by throwing big spoons, swimbaits, crankbaits and hair jigs, but never had any luck.
“If I have to go to my backup areas as an emergency, I will,” Wooley said. “I’ve found some schools, but I haven’t seen anything over 3 pound there. I am pretty much 100-percent all-in on my main spot.”
Wooley described his main area as a bar in the middle of a creek that has mussel beds and gizzard shad feeding there in the morning. He said that the fish were sitting in only 12- or 13-feet of water. He’s shared the area with 6th-place angler Larry Nixon all week.
“It’s an awesome feeling to be leading the tournament heading in to the final day,” Wooley went on to say. “I’ve got some legends of the sport in the top-10 with me. I’m going to try not to worry about what everyone else is doing and go out and try to catch the biggest five bass that I can tomorrow. If it happens, it happens. I’m pretty confident that I can catch them.”
The top 10 pros advancing to the final day of competition on Lake Chickamauga are:
1: Michael Wooley, Collierville, Tenn., 15 bass, 72-14
2: Livingston Lures pro Stetson Blaylock, Benton, Ark., 15 bass, 66-12
3: Bryan Thrift, Shelby, N.C., 15 bass, 62-6
4: Walmart pro David Dudley, Lynchburg, Va., 15 bass, 62-2
5: Bill McDonald, Greenwood, Ind., 15 bass, 59-15
6: Larry Nixon, Bee Branch, Ark., 15 bass, 59-14
7: Darrell Davis, Dover, Fla., 15 bass, 59-5
8: Michael Neal, Dayton, Tenn., 14 bass, 58-4
9: Richard Peek, Centre, Ala., 15 bass, 57-5
10: Terry Bolton, Paducah, Ky., 15 bass, 56-4
Finishing in 11th through 20th are:
11: Tom Redington, Royse City, Texas, 15 bass, 55-11, $11,634
12: John Cox, Debary, Fla., 15 bass, 54-1, $11,634
13: Charlie Ingram, Centerville, Tenn., 15 bass, 53-14, $11,634
14: Rayovac pro Cody Meyer, Auburn, Calif., 15 bass, 53-7, $11,634
15: Scott Martin, Clewiston, Fla., 15 bass, 53-6, $11,634
16: Bryan Schmitt, Deale, Md., 15 bass, 52-10, $11,634
17: Alex Davis, Albertville, Ala., 15 bass, 51-4, $11,634
18: Clent Davis, Montevallo, Ala., 14 bass, 50-12, $11,634
19: James Biggs, Euless, Texas, 14 bass, 48-1, $11,634
20: Brad Knight, Lancing, Tenn., 10 bass, 37-6, $11,634
A complete list of results can be found at FLWFishing.com.