BULL SHOALS, Ark. – Co-angler David Gillham, of Heath, Texas had his nerves tested on Bull Shoals Lake, but when the dust settled, he was the one raising the FLW EverStart Series Central Division trophy.
Gillham sacked up 11 pounds, 14 ounces on day three and won by nearly four pounds with a total weight of 33-12. He said all of his pro partners had flipped wood, so he was dialed in to that pattern. Today, Gillham fished with pro winner Robbie Dodson, who targeted an area farther up the lake where the water was more off-colored.
The first two days, Gillham caught most of his fish on wacky- and Texas-rigged Senkos. On day three, he caught his keepers on wacky-rigged Texas-rigged beavers and baby brush hogs – all in green pumpkin. The fish seemed to like all the baits, but Gillham said he got off to a slow start.
"(Dodson) was speed flipping and he's really good at it," Gillham said. "He was popping them in front of me and probably had eight or nine keepers before I even had one.
"There was a little bit of stress building but I finally got my first one and I just kept grinding. The last couple of days, most of my bites have been late in the afternoon, so I knew I just had to keep plugging along. I just picked up one here, one there and I didn't get my fifth one until probably 1:30."
Paulovich improves to second
He entered the final round in seventh place, but catching the largest day-three bag of the co-angler division pushed Jon Paulovich up to second. The Bryant, Ark., competitor caught a limit weighing 13-6 and tallied 29-15.
Paulovich said it was slow going today, as he fished with pro Robert Dodson (Robbie's fathers). Flipping a Luck "E" Strike Fighting Craw, it took him until 1 p.m. to secure a limit.
"It took me a while this morning," he said. "I fished with Robert Dodson and if you haven't flipped behind Robert – it's tough. But you just have to keep your head down and that's what I did."
Loeffelman climbs to third
Thomas Loeffelman Jr., of Valles Mines, Mo. caught the second-largest limit of day three (behind Paulovich), a 13-pound, 3-ounce effort that put him in third place with 29-9. An Alabama rig delivered all of his day-three fish.
Loeffelman's tournament tale was one of big improvements. After placing 18th on day one, he climbed 10 spots to reach the final round in eighth place. Gaining another five notches on day three completed his campaign.
Johnson takes fourth, Spinks is fifth
Jeff Johnson, of Ash Flat, Ark. took fourth with 28-14. He caught his fish on wacky-rigged Senkos, shaky heads and Texas-rigged brush hogs. Tony Spinks, of Springfield, Mo. finished fifth with 28-1.
Best of the rest
6th: Steve Gregg, of Florissant, Mo., 23-12
7th: Randy Rose, of Gainesville, Mo., 23-3
8th: Steve Kumke, of Belleville, Ill., 20-6
9th: Ben Due, of Mauston, Wisc., 19-2
10th: Mark Howard, of Mesquite, Texas, 17-8