UPCOMING EVENT: Walmart Bass Fishing League - 2016 - Lake Okeechobee

Homer’s odyssey ends with FLW Championship co-angler title

Homer Stephens of Noblesville, Ind., thrusts his arms up in victory after capturing the co-angler FLW Championship in Shreveport, La. Stephens turned in an impressive final catch of 9 pounds to capture the $25,000 first-place prize.

Pro field whittled to top five; streaking Clunn fails to make final cut

SHREVEPORT, La. - Despite battling a nasty flu bug throughout the entire tournament, co-angler Homer Stephens of Noblesville, Ind., lapped the competition on the tournament's final day - recording a final weight more than double his nearest competitor - and easily walked away with one of the most coveted prizes in all of professional bass fishing - the FLW Championship title.

Stephens, who battled gamely through his illness all week, recovered well enough on the final day of competition to record an impressive catch of 9 pounds to take home the prestigious FLW first-place trophy and a $25,000 check.

He also won a year's supply of gasoline from Citgo - the presenting sponsor of the FLW Championship.

"It's pretty awesome," Stephens said. "It took a lot of hard work, a lot of practice, a lot of cold medicine and a lot of junk food, but I did it. I had some really good fish. And when you have that, good things usually happen."

Although Stephens said the prize money was nice, he said the feeling of being a champion was worth a whole lot more.

"It's just a great sport," he said. "I'm not in this for the money. It's nice. But that's not why I'm here. I just love to fish. I enjoy the people and I really like the competition. This is what it's all about."

Tommy Szwankowski of Hope, Ark., finished second with a catch of 4 pounds, 4 ounces for a $7,000 second place prize. Ken Golub of Pittsford, N.Y. earned a $5,000 third-place check for his catch of 3 pounds.

Tom Hunley of Stamping Ground, Ky., who led the Co-Angler Division throughout the entire tournament until the final day, recorded no fish during the championship round and finished in ninth place. However, he said his spirits were still high despite his tough luck.

"I just had a bad day today," he said. "But the food was great and the people were great. I'm thinking of moving down here if I could only get the Kentucky Wildcats (Hunley's favorite sports team) to relocate."

Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers were Mike Cooper of Branson, Mo., (fourth) with a catch of 2 pounds, 11 ounces; Pat Fisher of Stone Mountain, Ga., (fifth) with a catch of 2 pounds, 5 ounces; Andy Heinkelein of Cincinnati, Ohio, with a catch of 2 pounds, 2 ounces; Curtis Thompson of Baytown, Texas, with a catch of 1 pound, 2 ounces; Rodney Chmolack of Phenix City, Ala., with a catch of 12 ounces; and Marc Levesque of Waterbury, Conn., (tenth) with zero fish.

Nixon leads pro field into final day; eyes championship

Larry Nixon appears to be peaking at just the right time.

After climbing from fourth place to second during Thursday's top-10 cutdown, Nixon managed to eek out a hard-fought first-place finish in the crucial day-three standings with a catch of 11 pounds, 4 ounces. Nixon, of Bee Branch, Ark., edged out second-place finisher Tommy Biffle of Wagoner, Okla., by 11 ounces. Darrel Robertson of Jay, Okla., finished in third place with a catch of 10 pounds, 7 ounces - only two ounces less than Biffle. In fact, after the end of the Friday's competition, the pro grouping was so close that less than two pounds separated all top-five finalists.

"I think the championship is up in the air right now," said Nixon. "This is where I wanted to be, but these guys are so good that any one of us could win it. I'm just going to grit my teeth and give it my all tomorrow."

Biffle agreed that getting into the top-five was an achievement in and of itself.

"It's a pretty good trick just to make it to the final day," said Biffle, who recorded a day-three catch of 10 pounds, 9 ounces. "If the wind doesn't blow really hard tomorrow and the weather doesn't change, I think I have a pretty good shot. But the competition is real tough."

Robertson said the level of competition was so intimidating that he didn't want to even think about it while he was out on the river.

"I just had to concentrate on catching bass," Robertson said. "If I had to think about who I was fishing against, I probably wouldn't have caught a fish."

Dion Hibdon of Stover, Mo., was in fourth place at the end of day three with a catch of 10 pounds, 6 ounces.

"Two hundred and fifty thousand dollars (first prize) is a lot of inspiration to work hard," joked Hibdon of his motivation to date. "So far I've fished really clean and have had a good tournament. I just need to keep it up."

Craig Powers of Rockwood, Tenn., captured the last spot in the final five with a catch of 9 pounds, 9 ounces. Powers said he was excited just to be among some of the greatest fishing legends of all time.

"I hated to see the (co-angler) competition end because I was able to sit out there (and wait) with a bunch of legends," he said.

The five pros not making the final cut were Carl Svebek III of Sam Rayburn, Texas, who finished in sixth place with a catch of 8 pounds, 4 ounces; David Fritts of Lexington, N.C., (seventh) with a catch of 7 pounds, 10 ounces; Rick Clunn of Ava, Mo., (eighth) with a catch of 7 pounds, 5 ounces; Thursday's leader Bernie Schultz of Gainesville, Fla., (ninth) with a catch of 6 pounds, 8 ounces; and Rick Gasaway of Kennesaw, Ga., (tenth) with a catch of 5 pounds, 13 ounces.

Clunn, one of the favorites heading into the tournament, said he didn't feel comfortable throughout the week.

"I know the kind of water the bigger fish were in, but I just didn't find enough of that water," said Clunn. "I also didn't practice as well as I should have and that hurt me. I've been kind of puzzled (by the fish) over the last two days."

The FLW Championship weigh-in will take place tomorrow in the Wal-Mart parking lot on Westport Avenue off Pines Road in Shreveport at 3:30 p.m. However, fans unable to attend the weigh-in can view it live at any Wal-Mart location in the country.

Click to see Friday's results, other tournament news and Quick Bites: Day 3.

Tags: headline-story  gary-mortenson 


Devere Takes BFL Wild Card Win

The decision of what to fish come tournament time can be difficult for most. For others – like Mike Devere – relying on a single bait that you have confidence in is all you need. Devere’s one bait, one rod method was strong enough to carry him to victory by nearly 2 pounds in the BFL Wild Card held on Lake Hartwell. READ MORE »


Hanselmania 4.0

Saturday, in Paducah, Ky., on the shores of the Ohio River, Ray Hanselman rewrote history for the second time this season. After winning all three 2015 Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division events, which had never been done before, Hanselman came to Kentucky and won the Rayovac FLW Series Championship. READ MORE »


Rayovac Championship Day 3 Coverage

The final day of the Rayovac FLW Series Championship on the Ohio River will largely be fished on the Tennessee River, as all but two anglers rolled up it to chase smallmouths. READ MORE »


Hanselman on the Verge of Four-Peat

Day two of the Rayovac FLW Series Championship on the Ohio River was fished primarily on the nearby Tennessee River and resulted in a major shuffling of the leaderboard. In the end, Ray Hanselman rose from second to first and will lead the top 10 into the final day with 30 pounds, 14 ounces. READ MORE »


Top 5 Patterns from the Ohio River Day 2

After two days of competition, Ray Hanselman leads the Rayovac FLW Series Championship on the Ohio River, but as the leaderboard has reflected, the river’s hefty smallmouths are certainly capable of producing some fireworks and providing some surprises. READ MORE »


Rayovac Championship Day 2 Coverage

Down at Paducah, the start of day two of the Rayovac FLW Series Championship was just about perfect – a light wind, temps in the low 40s and no fog. That’s not the case elsewhere. READ MORE »


Barnes Blasts 21 on the Ohio

On day one of the Rayovac FLW Series Championship on the Ohio River David Barnes Sr. of China, Maine, hauled exactly 21 pounds of smallmouth across the stage to take the lead on a day that was tough for many. READ MORE »


Top 5 Patterns from the Ohio River Day 1

Shortly after David Barnes electrified the Rayovac FLW Series Championship weigh-in with his leading weight of 21 pounds of smallmouths, Ray Hanselman followed suit with an all-smallmouth limit weighing 19 pounds. READ MORE »


Rayovac Championship Day 1 Coverage

Updates from day one of the Rayovac FLW Series Championship on the Ohio River. READ MORE »


McCaig Wins Neely Henry Regional

There are times that a little local knowledge helps you in a bass tournament, and then there are times it does not. And sometimes, it pays to ignore past experiences altogether, as Mark McCaig figured out en route to winning the Oct. 22-24, 2015 Walmart Bass Fishing League Regional presented by Ranger Boats on Lake Neely Henry out of Gadsden, Ala. By disregarding what his local experience might have suggested he do and approaching the tournament a little differently, the Oxford, Ala., boater posted a three-day total weight of 45 pounds, 7 ounces to take home the $20,000 winner’s purse as well as a 2015 Ranger Z518C with 200-hp outboard. READ MORE »


Goodwin Wins at Lake of the Ozarks

Day-two leader Shonn Goodwin of Moore, Okla., held on to win the Walmart Bass Fishing League Regional presented by Mercury at Lake of the Ozarks Oct. 22-24 by bringing four bass to the scale on the third and final day. Those fish weighed 8 pounds, 11 ounces. His three-day total of 14 bass weighed 43-13. For the win, Goodwin earned $20,000 and a new Ranger bass boat. READ MORE »


Walters Wins Wateree BFL Regional

Todd Walters relied on a combo pattern to win the Walmart Bass Fishing League Regional on Lake Wateree. The North Carolina boater fished rocky cover upstream and brush piles in the lake's clear lower end. The two-part program produced a three-day winning weight of 47 pounds, 4 ounces, which was 11 pounds better than second place. READ MORE »


Uribe By An Ounce

After Jody Jordan brought 24 pounds, 5 ounces to push his total past 66 pounds on the final day the crowd waited with bated breath for day two leader Joe Uribe Jr. to bring his fish to the scale. As Uribe transferred his third bass from the bag to the scale, he shook his head and whispered back “you’ve got it,” to the watching Jordan. READ MORE »


Anderson Wins KY Lake Regional

You might say there weren’t any surprises at the 2015 Walmart Bass Fishing League Regional presented by Lowrance on Kentucky Lake Oct. 15-17. The techniques of the top 12 pros who fished the final day were typical of the Tennessee River in fall: surface fishing with frogs and Zara Spooks and winding Rat-L-Traps and ChatterBaits. The winners weren’t surprising either: Ryan Sykes of Hamilton, Ohio, won the co-angler division for the second consecutive year, and Tennessee pro Brent Anderson earned his sixth win on the Kentucky/Barkley system since 2009. READ MORE »


Grover Takes Co-angler Title on Clear Lake

Rick Grover of Trabuco Canyon, Calif., pulled in 55 pounds, 5 ounces of bass for the Rayovac FLW Series co-angler win on Clear Lake. All told, it was worth a new Ranger Z117 with a 90-horsepower outboard and $5,000. READ MORE »


Clear Lake Midday Update Day 3



Uribe Takes Lead and AOY at Clear Lake

Joe Uribe Jr. jumped into the lead going into the final day of the Rayovac FLW Series presented by Evinrude on Clear Lake. Uribe caught 20 pounds, 13 ounces on day two for a total of 44 pounds, 8 ounces and was the only pro to weigh more than 20 pounds both days. READ MORE »


Top 5 Patterns from Clear Lake Day 2

When the scales had closed after the second day of the Rayovac FLW Series Western Division tournament presented by Evinrude on Clear Lake, no doubt more than a few anglers breathed a sigh of relief that they were still in contention. READ MORE »


Clear Lake Midday Update Day 2

Day two of the Rayovac FLW Series presented by Evinrude on Clear Lake has been a little slower than day one. READ MORE »


Crutcher Cracks 29-9

Midway through a weigh-in that was noticeably lacking in super-sized bags, Mark Crutcher of Lakeport, Calif., lit up the leaderboard with 29 pounds, 9 ounces of Clear Lake goodness. READ MORE »