On Saturday's third day of the FLW's Forrest Wood Cup championship tournament on Lake Murray, the cream rose to the top. Past champion Brent Ehrlers of Redlands, Calif., and past FLW Angler of the Year Brian Thrift of Shelby, N.C., hold the top two spots, separated by just three ounces, and two South Carolina pros are in the top five.
Ehrlers moved up from second to first with a five-fish limit that weighed 13-5, and Thrift moved up from third to second with a 13-14 limit. Anthony Gagliardi of Prosperity, fishing his home waters, is third with 37-4 after a 13-15 limit, followed by Scott Canterbury of Springville, Ala., is fourth with 37-3 after a the day's biggest catch, 16 pounds, and Casey Ashley of Donalds is fifth with 36-7 after bagging 15-9.
The first- and second-round leaders, David Dudley and Phillip Jarabeck, both from Lynchburg, Va., didn't make the cut for Sunday's final round. The top 10 fishermen will blast off at 7 a.m. at Dreher Island State Park and weigh in at 5 p.m. at the Colonial Life Center in Columbia.
The other six pros who will fish Sunday are: Matt Herren, 33-1, Michael Wooley 32-13, Scott Martin 32-7, Jacob Wheeler 31-4 and Steve Kennedy with 30-5. Like Ehrler, Martin and Wheeler are both past FLW Forrest Wood Cup champions.
"Every day I've caught a few fish running, and I've caught a few fish on the bottom," said Ehrler, who won the Cup in 2006. "Today was kind of the same. I weighed in fish on three or four different baits. I definitely moved in and out, kind of back and forth, and I had somem random bites today that I tried the last two days and didn't get. It was nice to do that, but they're bites I can't duplicate."
First place in the tournament pays $500,000.