Elias Poised to Take it All

Paul Elias' Alabama Rig scores again.
Photo by Rob Newell

Pro Paul Elias of Laurel, Miss., endured a 1-hour, 45-minute fog delay Saturday morning and caught a five-bass limit weighing 24 pounds, 5 ounces to continue his domination of the field at the Walmart FLW Tour on Lake Guntersville presented by Mercury and advance to the top 10 as the crucial No. 1 seed. With a three-day catch of 15 bass weighing 79-8, he now holds a 14-pound, 9-ounce lead in the tournament going into the final day of competition.

?This is one awesome lake,? Elias said. ?I?ve had some great Octobers on this lake.?

Elias said he relied on the Alabama Rig again on the third day of competition to land another massive Guntersville limit of bass.

?This rig I?m throwing is crazy,? Elias said. ?A lot more guys were throwing it today than were the first two days. It?s obvious by the weights. A bait comes along every now and then and it just makes a lot of sense, and this is just one of those kinds of baits.?

The Alabama rig consists of a hard-bait body that trails four or five wires that have a swivel attached to the end of each wire. Fishermen then tie a variety of baits ? swimbaits, grubs or a variety of other artificial baits ? to the swivels. The baits fan out and are retrieved and mimic a school of baitfish. Elias said he has been fishing the rig in deep water for suspended fish and has eight spots he wanted to target during the tournament. He?s hit five of those spots during the first three days of competition.

?I?ve tried other stuff, but it just wasn?t working,? Elias said. ?I think I can catch another good bag tomorrow. I?ll feel comfortable with 15 or 16 pounds. But I feel like if I catch another limit the way I?ve been fishing I?ll catch another 20-plus-pound bag.?

Pro Robert Behrle of Hoover, Ala., advanced to the final round of 10 pros in the No. 2 spot with a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 64-15.

Overall there were 77 bass weighing 265 pounds, 12 ounces caught by pros Saturday. The catch included 12 five-bass limits.

Pros are competing for a top award of up to $125,000 this week plus valuable points in the hope of qualifying for the 2012 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart, the world championship of bass fishing. The top five anglers in the point standings from the four FLW Tour Open tournaments will qualify.

Casey Martin of New Market, Ala., won the Co-angler Division, his second FLW Tour event in a row, and $20,000 Saturday with a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 47 pounds, 6 ounces followed by Marc Marsh of Prosperity, S.C., in second place with nine bass weighing 32-6 worth $7,291.

?That Alabama Rig is the way to go,? said Martin, who also won the FLW Tour event on Lake Champlain in September. ?I had three fish pretty early and I threw that Alabama Rig in there, and it?s got five swimbaits on it. I set the hook and came back with two fish that weighed about three pounds each and another swimbait was missing. I don?t know how big the big one was that got off.?

Martin said he flipped matted grass the first two days of competition, but the Alabama Rig boosted him to victory on Saturday.

?It?s almost like live bait fishing,? Martin said. ?It?s almost too easy.?

Overall there were 52 bass weighing 172 pounds, 13 ounces caught by co-anglers Saturday. The catch included seven five-bass limits.

Co-anglers are fishing for a top award of $25,000 this week plus valuable points that could help them qualify for the 2012 Forrest Wood Cup. The top five co-anglers in the point standings from the four Walmart FLW Tour Open tournaments will qualify.

Sunday?s final weigh-in will be held at the Walmart located at 11697 Hwy. 431 S. in Guntersville beginning at 4 p.m.

Fans will be treated to the FLW Outdoors Expo at Walmart on Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. prior to the final weigh-in. The Expo provides the opportunity for fans to interact with professional anglers, ride Ranger boat simulators, enjoy interactive games, activities and giveaways provided by sponsors, and learn more about the sport of fishing and other outdoor activities. All activities are free and open to the public.

For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow FLW Outdoors on Facebook and on Twitter.

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