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 

/news/2015-06-29-dobson-sticks-with-jerkbait-for-win

Dobson Sticks With Jerkbait for Win

Scott Dobson of Clarkston, Michigan, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 21 pounds, 6 ounces Saturday to win the first Walmart Bass Fishing League Michigan Division tournament of 2015 on Lake St. Clair. For his victory, Dobson earned $5,804. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-29-johnston-targets-beds-for-big-limit

Johnston Targets Beds for Big Limit

Cory Johnston of Cavan, Ontario, Canada, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 25 pounds, 13 ounces Saturday to win the second Walmart Bass Fishing League Northeast Division tournament of 2015 on 1000 Islands. For his victory, Johnston earned $5,632. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-29-football-jig-helps-bates-net-title

Football Jig Helps Bates Net Title

Matthew Bates of Greenville, Mississippi, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 20 pounds even Saturday to win the fourth Walmart Bass Fishing League Mississippi Division tournament of 2015 on Lake Ferguson. For his victory, Bates earned $3,963. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-29-hipsher-hops-ledges-for-victory

Hipsher Hops Ledges for Victory

Craig Hipsher of Benton, Kentucky, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 22 pounds, 8 ounces Saturday to win the fourth Walmart Bass Fishing League LBL Division tournament of 2015 on Kentucky and Barkley lakes. For his victory, Hipsher earned $4,385. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-29-lauer-wins-on-ohio-river

Lauer Wins on Ohio River

David Lauer of McConnelsville, Ohio, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 12 pounds, 5 ounces Saturday to win the second Walmart Bass Fishing League Buckeye Division tournament of 2015 on the Ohio River. For his victory, Lauer earned $6,289. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-29-creature-bait-does-it-for-berhorst

Creature Bait Does it for Berhorst

Dennis Berhorst of Holts Summit, Missouri, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 16 pounds, 12 ounces Saturday to win the fourth Walmart Bass Fishing League Ozark Division tournament of 2015 on Lake Truman. For his victory, Berhorst earned $5,963. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-28-wendlandt-back-at-the-top

Wendlandt Back at the Top

It’s been 14 seasons since Clark Wendlandt last stood on a Walmart FLW Tour stage and hoisted a tournament championship trophy. Since that time, the Texas pro has experienced ups and downs, including an Angler of the Year title (his third) in 2009 and a major medical issue that sidelined him for most of the 2014 season. All that’s in the past now, however, and Wendlandt is right back where he belongs in the world of bass fishing – in first place after the final day on the Potomac River in the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-28-top-10-patterns-from-the-potomac-river

Top 10 Patterns from the Potomac River

Clark Wendlandt didn’t pull off any secret techniques to win the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on the Potomac River. He simply found an area with the right quality of bass to win and managed it perfectly despite facing a medley of Mother Nature’s toughest challenges. The rest of the top 10 stuck with the standard Potomac targets too, namely grass, docks and wood cover. The only underlying trend of the top 10 is that they found areas to themselves. Here’s how the rest of the top 10 got it done at the 2015 Tour finale. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-28-potomac-river-day-4-coverage

Potomac River Day 4 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on the Potomac River presented by Ranger Boats. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-27-wendlandt-receives-helping-hand

Wendlandt Receives Helping Hand

Not to discredit Clark Wendlandt’s skills as a bass fisherman, but if it wasn’t for an extreme act of kindness on the part of fellow competitor Shin Fukae, Wendlandt wouldn’t be where he is this evening – leading through three days of competition at the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on the Potomac River. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-27-top-5-patterns-from-potomac-river-day-3

Top 5 Patterns from Potomac River Day 3

Pouring rain, gusting winds, a remarkable act of kindness, an Angler of the Year title on the line – day three of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on the Potomac River certainly was not boring. To say the top 20 anglers were waterlogged after Saturday would be any understatement, but as nasty as the weather was, it wasn’t the biggest story of the day. Shinichi Fukae generously helped Clark Wendlandt retain his lead, while Scott Martin sealed the deal on his first AOY title. Meanwhile, a number of other anglers scrambled to adjust with what the weather and the Potomac are throwing at them. Here’s how the rest of the top five caught their fish today. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-27-potomac-river-day-3-coverage

Potomac River Day 3 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on the Potomac River presented by Ranger Boats. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-26-wendlandt-in-familiar-territory

Wendlandt in Familiar Territory

A lot of flip-flopping took place on the second day of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on the Potomac River. When the scale closed, it was three-time Tour Angler of the Year Clark Wendlandt who found himself on top with a two-day total of 32 pounds, 10 ounces. Wendlandt caught 17-13 today – the day’s second-heaviest limit – and leads Potomac local Bryan Schmitt by 1-12 going into the weekend. Wendlandt missed part of last season after suffering a heart attack but has rebounded with good success this season. He has won three times on Tour but hasn’t finished in first place since Beaver Lake in 2001. Details to come on the patterns of the top five. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-26-potomac-river-day-2-coverage

Potomac River Day 2 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Chickamauga presented by Ranger Boats. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-25-jersey-boy-leads-the-pack

Jersey Boy Leads the Pack

Talk about a traffic jam. And, no, we’re not talking about the streets around the Washington, D.C. area. We’re talking about the standings at the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on the Potomac River. Adrian “Jersey Boy” Avena leads the way with a 16-pound, 12-ounce limit, but a total of 41 pros weighed in at least 12 pounds. Many pros lamented the tough bite today, but the results say otherwise as 114 limits were brought to the scale on the pro side. Troy Morrow trails Avena by just 1-06, and 1 ounce behind Morrow is one of the most successful tidewater bass anglers of all time, Bryan Schmitt. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-25-top-5-patterns-from-potomac-river-day-1

Top 5 Patterns from Potomac River Day 1

It might seem impossible for 405 miles of water to fish small, but space was hard to come by on day one of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on the Potomac River. The creeks near takeoff at Smallwood State Park have seen as much traffic as a Washington, D.C. highway at rush hour. On the flip side, anglers who were able to develop patterns that got them away from the crowds, such as day-one leader Adrian Avena, have been able to reap the benefits of what has been a stingy fishery. Here’s how the rest of the pros in the top five caught their fish today. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-25-aoy-shake-up-martin-makes-his-move

AOY Shake-Up: Martin Makes His Move

Scott Martin has been talking about winning the Angler of the Year title since before the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour season started. It’s on his mind and for good reason: Angler of the Year is the only major FLW title he hasn’t won in what Martin has built into one of the most decorated professional fishing careers in FLW Tour history. Today, on the first day of competition at the Tour finale on the Potomac River, Martin has unofficially moved into the lead in the AOY race for the first time all season. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-25-potomac-river-day-1-coverage

Potomac River Day 1 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Chickamauga presented by Ranger Boats. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-20-richardson-wins-all-american

Richardson Wins All-American

Curtis Richardson has a way of surprising people – even himself. The Ontario angler had all but written himself off in the championship round of the Walmart Bass Fishing League All-American, thinking his limit of five bass wouldn’t hold up for long with the likes of Jeremy Lawyer and Bill Schroeder breathing down his neck. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-20-all-american-midday-update-day-3

All-American Midday Update Day 3

Big changes might be coming in the standings of the Walmart Bass Fishing League All-American on Kentucky Lake, as some of the top 10 leaders struggled this morning to catch limits. Canadian angler Curtis Richardson, who currently is leading, had only one 3-pound keeper by midmorning. And second-place boater Billy Schroeder, who had fished just below the Paris Landing Bridge for the first two days, finally bailed out from there after catching four keepers this morning. READ MORE »