CLEWISTON, Fla., Feb. 8, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- In the days leading up to the Walmart FLW Tour on Lake Okeechobee presented by Mercury, many pros lamented the tougher fishing conditions and most predicted that no one would break the 100-pound mark this year. Rick Cotten of Guntersville, Ala., ignored the dock talk and now leads a full field of 174 of the world's best bass-fishing pros in the four-day event that has competitors casting for a top cash award of up to $125,000.
Cotten weighed in the first 30 pound stringer of the tournament Friday – a five-bass limit weighing 30 pounds, 3 ounces – to vault to the top of the leaderboard after finishing day one in second place. After two days of competition Cotten has weighed in 10 bass totaling 54 pounds, 3 ounces and is well on pace to break the 100-pound mark. Cotten now holds a 7 pound, 3 ounce lead over Drew Benton of Panama City, Fla., who caught five bass today weighing 23 pounds, 9 ounces. Benton has weighed in 10 bass totaling 47 pounds even after his first two days on the water.
"There's a lot of work left to do," said Cotten, who has one previous top-20 finish on the FLW Tour – a 12th-place finish on Kentucky Lake in 2012 . "If I had a 20-pound lead I'd be tickled. But, I don't. I placed third in an EverStart event on Guntersville last year and finished 12th at Kentucky (Lake). I've never led a tournament this big before."I actually caught more fish yesterday," Cotten continued. "I only caught eight or nine keepers total today. I was just lucky and stuck the right five bites. I went to the area that I was fishing yesterday and I couldn't catch them. I was only able to catch one 2-pounder. Then I went to a spot where I didn't catch them at all yesterday and I caught all of my big ones right there."