Melton Wins Co-Angler Title, $25,000

National Guard pro Brent Ehrler of Redlands, Calif., caught a 5-bass limit weighing 14 pounds, 6 ounces Friday to maintain the lead at the FLW Tour event presented by Cabela’s on Table Rock Lake advancing to the top-5 as the crucial No. 1 seed. With a three-day catch of 15-bass weighing 52-14 he now holds a 13-pound, 15-ounce lead in the tournament going in to the final day of competition.

“I feel very fortunate,” said Ehrler, who will be making his 21st top-10 appearance which includes six tour wins in just five years. “I have never been in this position before (leading by nearly 14 pounds). I once saw FLW Tour pro David Fritts go into the final day of competition with an 18-20 pound lead and I thought, wow, that would be real nice. Now, I’m just real nervous.”

Ehrler had been fishing the same underwater point all week long and hopes it holds out one more day. He believes that it’s a staging area right now and the fish are just waiting there for the water to warm up. It’s an area that goes from deep to shallow with a lot of timber and rocks. He has been enjoying an incredible early bite and really hasn’t caught any keepers past noon. All but about five pounds of his total weight have come from this magical area.

Rounding out the top-5 pros and advancing to the final day’s competition are:

2nd: Ron Shuffield, Bismarck, Ark., five bass, 14-4 for a three day total of 13 bass, 38-15

3rd: Bryan Thrift, Shelby, N.C., four bass, 9-14 for a three day total of 14 bass, 38-14

4th: Greg Pugh, Cullman, Ala., four bass, 9-5 for a three day total of 13 bass, 38-8

5th: Mike Wurm, Hot Springs, Ark., three bass, 7-9 for a three day total of 13 bass, 37-12

The rest of the top-10 pros include some of the greatest anglers in the world and they are:

6th: National Guard pro Scott Martin, Clewiston, Fla., 10 bass, 35-14, $17,000

7th: Mark Rose, Marion, Ark., 14 bass, 34-9, $16,000

8th: Andy Morgan, Dayton, Tenn., 13 bass, 33-6, $15,000

9th: Adam Wagner, Cookeville, Tenn., 13 bass, 32-4, $14,000

10th: Folgers pro Scott Suggs, Bryant, Ark., 12 bass, 31-11, $13,000

Overall there were 238 bass weighing 600 pounds, 1 ounce caught by 148 pros Friday. The catch included only 11 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 Forrest Wood Cup which will be held Aug. 5- 8 at Lake Lanier in Atlanta, Ga., where they could win as much as $600,000 – the sport’s biggest award.

Shane Melton of Greentown, Ind., won the Co-angler Division and $25,000 Friday with a three-day total of 9 bass weighing 26 pounds, 10 ounces followed by Brad Roberts of Nancy, Ky., in second place with 8 bass weighing 26-1 worth $9,862.

Melton opened the tournament in first place and never looked back. On Wednesday he had the only five bass limit weighing 13-9 while fishing with pro Bryan Thrift of Shelby, N.C. On Thursday, he maintained the lead on the strength of three bass weighing 6-15 while fishing with pro Mark Rose of Marion, Ark. He sealed the win Friday with only one-bass weighing 6-2 while fishing with pro Chad Morgenthaler of Coulterville, Ill.

“I have been nervous all day,” said Melton, who earned his first FLW Tour co-angler victory. “I just had a great week, I got to fish with my heroes, some of the best anglers in the world and I am just thrilled. I was so nervous up on stage I forgot my wife’s name! I still can’t believe it Fishing is my peace. Phenomenal is the only way to describe this week.”

While fishing with three different pros one of the only things that remained consistent for Melton was his bait. He caught all his fish using Mann’s Sting Ray Grub in deep water.

Rounding out the top-10 co-anglers are:

3rd: Mark Myers, Cedar Falls, Iowa, seven bass, 18-13, $7,395

4th: Van Roy Foster, Jr., Dalton, Ga., five bass, 16-5, $4,928

5th: Sean Stepp, Stafford, Va., five bass, 16-4, $3,942

6th: Todd Lee, Jasper, Ala., five bass, 15-9, $2,955

7th: Teddy Bradley, Mishawaka, Ind., seven bass, 15-6, $2,462

8th: Mike Foree, Osage Beach, Mo., six bass, 13-12, 1,968

9th: Jerry Willis, Atlanta, Ga., five bass, 13-4, $1,722

10th: Chad Parks, Olive Branch, Miss., six bass, 13-2, $1,475

Co-anglers are also fishing for valuable points that could help them qualify for the 2010 Forrest Wood Cup.

Overall there were 83 bass weighing 227 pounds, 10 ounces caught by 148 co-anglers Friday. The catch included only one five-bass limit.

The remaining five pros will take off at 7 Saturday morning from Table Rock State Park Marina located at 380 State Park Marina Road (Highway 165 South) in Branson. Saturday’s final weigh-in will be held at the Branson Convention Center located at 200 West Main Street in Branson, Mo., beginning at 4 p.m.

Fans will be treated to a Family Fun Zone & Outdoor Expo at the Branson Convention Center; the event continues on. Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. prior to the final weigh-in. There will be a drawing for a Can-Am ATV and rod and reel combos will be given to the first 300 kids under 14 in attendance on Saturday. The Family Fun Zone & Outdoor Expo includes Ranger boat simulators, the opportunity to interact with professional anglers, enjoy interactive games, activities and giveaways provided by sponsors, and the opportunity to learn more about the sport of fishing and other outdoor activities. All activities are free and open to the public. For a full schedule of events, additional information and to register for the ATV, visit FLWOutdoors.com/tablerock.

Coverage of the Table Rock Lake tournament will be broadcast in high-definition (HD) on VERSUS. “FLW Outdoors,” will air April 18 from 12:30 to 1:30 ET. “FLW Outdoors,” hosted by Jason Harper, is broadcast to approximately 500 million households worldwide.

ABOUT FLW OUTDOORS
FLW Outdoors, named after Forrest L. Wood, the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, is the largest fishing tournament organization in the world offering anglers worldwide the opportunity to compete for millions over the course of 189 tournaments in 2010. FLW Outdoors has also taken fishing mainstream with FLW Fantasy Fishing awarding the largest prizes in the history of fantasy sports. FLW Outdoors memberships are available featuring numerous benefits including Player’s Advantage. For more information about FLW Outdoors and its tournaments, visit FLWOutdoors.com or call (270) 252-1000. For more information about FLW Fantasy Fishing, visit FantasyFishing.com.

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