Day three of FLW event at Fort Loudoun-Tellico lakes

LENOIR CITY, Tenn. - Brent Ehrler's ascension to the top of the FLW Outdoors pyramid may be short lived. While Ehrler, currently in 20th place, is putting together another solid tournament, another FLW Tour pro looks unstoppable. After winning the second qualifier of the year on Lake Norman, Bryan Thrift leads the Fort Loudoun-Tellico lakes event at the halfway point.

Yesterday Thrift said he pretty much burned all the bedding smallmouths he had. But to his delight, one of his areas replenished.

"I figured it would be a lot tougher today," he said. "I had two left on bed this morning. I caught those and then I started looking some more. On the same bank I caught those big ones yesterday I caught four more. I guess some new ones moved up."

Thrift only caught seven keepers Thursday but he also foul hooked a 3 1/2-pounder that had to be Pro leader Bryan Thrift speaks with Charlie Evans Thursday afternoon.returned to the lake. According to rules, all fish caught outside of the mouth while sight-fishing must be immediately released. Knowing the aggressive nature of smallmouth bass, he thinks he can get it to bite again.

"I found another one that I think will keep and if that one that I foul hooked will bite again I'll have two for tomorrow."

Friday's forecast calls for scattered thunderstorms, which could severely hamper the sight bite."It's real hard to see the bed as it is. They're deep - like in 4 to 6 feet of water. In fact, I don't think I've seen an actual bed. I'm just spooking them and then I'll pitch to where it left."

His main sight-fishing bait is a Texas-rigged Damiki Hydra (green pumpkin). He'll also occasionally mix in an unnamed soft plastic crayfish. Ideally, Thrift will catch the two smallmouths early tomorrow and then switch to throwing a swimbait or topwater if the weather gets dicey.

"I caught one largemouth doing that on the first day and two today."

With major momentum on his side, the Shelby, N.C., pro looks almost invincible. After registering 15-15 on today, his total weight stands at 36 pounds, 2 ounces.

"I don't know what it is; it's hard to explain. To be honest, I don't feel like I have enough to win. But I didn't think I had much going before today."

Browne rises to second

After catching 17 pounds on day one, pro Glenn Browne demonstrated remarkable consistency on day After catching 17 pounds on day one, Glenn Browne caught another five-bass limit Thursday weighing 16-15.two - catching another limit that weighed 16 pounds, 15 ounces. All of Browne's fish thus far have been largemouths. The Ocala, Fla., native said the bite was actually stronger today.

"I caught two limits yesterday and I think I caught about three limits today. I must have caught 30 to 40 fish total. I'm having a blast."

When Browne is having fun, you can safely assume he's fishing shallow, dirty water. And that's precisely the case this week as he targets lay-downs and docks on Fort Loudoun.

"Yesterday I caught a few on the new Gambler Big E-Z swimbait, but today they call came on the 4-inch Gambler flipping tube."

While excited, Browne is also somewhat apprehensive about what lies ahead.

"I've been in this position a few times before and shallow-water fish tend to peter out. But the weather could really hurt the sight-fishing guys. I'm just going to try and catch 11 or 12 pounds tomorrow; I feel like that's realistic."

Grigsby rallies to third

Goodwill pro Chad Grigsby had an eventful day sight-fishing for smallmouths on Fort Loudoun. The end result was an 18-pound, 1-ounce limit, the heaviest registered Thursday. It looks great on paper, but it was extremely dicey at times.

"I had no fish in the livewell at 11 a.m. but in the next three hours I had all of my weight," Grigsby said. "I lost one of my big fish seven times before I got it in the boat. The sixth time it actually jumped and the hook hit the side of the boat and popped free. But I eventually got her - so it's all good."

Grigsby thinks he's got one keeper left on bed. Like the other sight-fishermen, he's keenly aware of the forecasted weather.

,p>"I had to have it slick calm to catch them today. So I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow. Hopefully I will catch that one and then maybe I'll go flip for largemouths."

Grigsby said the smallmouths beds he's targeting are in 3 to 4 feet of water but the water clarity in his area is only two feet.

"I'm basically throwing to little dark spots. And the frustrating part is that I can't tell if they're 16 inches or 19 inches. I worked on a 16-incher today for over 15 minutes thinking it was a keeper."The Michigan transplant and current Twin Cities resident is using a drop shot and a Berkley Gulp minnow.

"The hardest part about catching these fish is finding them. It doesn't matter what you throw. If you get one that is running and chasing she'll bite anything."

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