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
Link to photo of pro leader Rick Cotten
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
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
last year and finished 12th at
(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."