UPCOMING EVENT: Bass Fishing League - 2016 - Lake Okeechobee

Alister Johnson crowned Challenge champion

Alister Johnson of Cottondale, Fla., raises his arm in victory after clinching the championship in the 2000 EverStart Series Invitational Challenge. Johnson used a final-day catch of 13-pounds, 3 ounces to secure first place and a check for $25,000.

Nuclear reactor technician avoids final-day meltdown to secure first place, $25,000 in prize money

CYPRESS GARDENS, Fla. - After the first day of the EverStart Challenge, Alister Johnson found himself languishing in 65th place with virtually no hope of advancing to the final round.

And he knew it.

"After my performance on day one, I thought I was in real trouble," said Johnson. "At that point, I was just fishing to save face."

However, the nuclear reactor specialist from Cottondale, Fla., did not give up. Buoyed by a "good luck charm" from his friend, Johnson used two gutsy performances on days two and three to explode into the championship round.

And like any great performer, Johnson made sure to save the best for last.

With a final-day catch of 13 pounds, 3 ounces, Johnson crushed the rest of the competition - winning by nearly 7 pounds - to capture the 2000 EverStart Series Invitational Challenge. For his efforts, Johnson walked away with $25,000, a brand new Ranger boat and a wealth of invaluable exposure.

"It's like a dream come true," Johnson said. "It feels great. There was a lot of fishing pressure on these lakes early on and I really didn't know what my chances were. But after the second day, I started to get my confidence back. And once I got into the finals, I knew I had a shot."

However, had it not been for some timely advice from his partner on day two, Johnson admits that he might not have even reached the finals.

"I was fishing in what I thought was a pretty good spot on the second day of the tournament, but I wasn't getting any bites at all. So, I decided to leave," Johnson said. "But just before I left, I asked my partner what he thought about my decision. He said he thought I was crazy for leaving. So I turned the boat around and sure enough, three casts later I caught two big fish. And it was those 8 pounds of fish which got me into the finals."

The Devil Went Down to Georgia

Forty-five minutes after the Charlie Daniels Band had concluded their live version of "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" in front of a sold-out crowd at Cypress Gardens, Johnson walked back onto center stage knowing that only one competitor stood between him and the championship - Jim Short of Ocean Pines, Md. With every fish accounted for except one, Short had maintained a firm grip on the overall lead with a final catch of 6 pounds, 5 ounces.

It was then that Johnson did the impossible.

He upstaged the Charlie Daniels Band.

As the crowd waited in breathless anticipation, Johnson whipped a gargantuan 8-pound bass out of his bag of tricks and thrust it high into the air.

The crowd roared.

Johnson was victorious.

Short, like the Devil one song earlier, was forced to lay down the proverbial golden fiddle and settle for second place.

However, unlike the Devil, Short was gracious in defeat.

"I had a lot of fun," said Short, a 20-year veteran of the Marine Corps. "We're out there catching a few fish. What else can you ask for?"

For his efforts, Short would take home a check for $20,000.

The rest of the field weighs in

Darrel Robertson of Jay, Okla. - one of the pre-tournament favorites - finished in third place with a catch of 4 pounds, 11 ounces. While disappointed he didn't win the championship, Robertson acknowledged that he was pleased with his performance.

"I would have liked to have finished a little better, but I made the top five and that's pretty good," said Robertson, who won $18,000 for this third-place finish. "I had a great time down here and I'm ready to head back to Florida in January for the next FLW tournament."

Chip Harrison of Bremen, Ind., took fourth place with a catch of 4 pounds, 6 ounces.

"I went for broke today," said Harrison, who won $16,000 for his efforts. "I tried to win the tournament but the fish just didn't bite for me today."

Day-three leader Al Gagliarducci finished in fifth place with a catch of 4 pounds, 1 ounce.

"I'm a little disappointed," said Gagliarducci, who won $14,000. "But I had a lot of fun."

The "lucky" towel

Before receiving his trophy, Johnson had one more surprise for the crowd. After digging in his personal belongings, Johnson produced a towel and showed it to the audience. On the towel was a simple message. It simply read, "Five heads."

When asked to explain the nuance of the message, Johnson said it was a good luck charm from his friend and fishing partner, Robert Karbas.

Karbas, a veteran of the EverStart circuit, explained it this way.

"Alister and I became really good friends last year and before this tournament I made him a good luck towel," he said. "On the towel I wrote, `Five Heads.' The reason I wrote it is because Alister is such a country boy, he calls fish `heads.' And I thought it was pretty funny. So I wrote `Five Heads' on the towel to make sure that he caught a full stringer of big fish. I guess it worked."

ESPN2 is scheduled to broadcast the 2000 EverStart Series Invitational Challenge on Dec. 24 at 11 a.m.

Click for results, press releases, photos and Quick Bites.

Tags: gary-mortenson  headline-story  2000-11-08-cypress-garden-s 

/news/2016-07-23-thompson-co-angler-champ-on-1000-islands

Thompson Co-angler Champ on 1000 Islands

The 1000 Islands is a great place to take a vacation, especially if you are from the south and want to escape the heat. That is exactly what co-angler Joe Thompson of Clayton, Ga., did and wound up capturing the top spot in the co-angler division bringing home a Ranger Z117 with a 90 hp motor. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-23-penn-state-university-wins-flw-college-fishing-northern-conference-event-on-chautauqua-lake

Penn State University wins FLW College Fishing Northern Conference Event on Chautauqua Lake

CHAUTAUQUA, N.Y. – The Penn State University duo of Clayton Frey of York, Pennsylvania, and Derek Horner, of State College, Pennsylvania, won the FLW College Fishing Northern Conference event at Chautauqua Lake Saturday with five bass weighing 13 pounds, 3 ounces. The victory earned the club $2,000 and qualified the team for the 2017 FLW College Fishing National... READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-23-michigan-s-dobson-leads-wire-to-wire-wins-costa-flw-series-event-at-1000-islands-presented-by-mercury

Michigan’s Dobson leads wire-to-wire, wins Costa FLW Series Event at 1000 Islands presented by Mercury

CLAYTON, N.Y. – Scott Dobson of Clarkston, Michigan, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 21 pounds, 12 ounces Saturday to win the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event at 1000 Islands presented by Mercury with a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 68 pounds, 8 ounces. For his win, Dobson earned $82,669, including a new Ranger Z518 with a 200-horsepower Evinrude or... READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-23-dobson-dominates-1000-islands

Dobson Dominates 1000 Islands

Scott Dobson didn’t expect it to come so quickly, but 30 minutes is all it took for him to find the winning pattern during his first day of practice for the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event presented by Mercury at 1000 Islands. That pattern would lead him to three consecutive limits of more than 20 pounds, including today’s final-round bag worth 21-12 – the day’s biggest limit, yet his smallest of the tournament. His three-day total weight of 68-8 earned him a check for more than $37,000 along with a Ranger Z518C with a 200-hp engine for being Ranger Cup qualified. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-22-1000-islands-top-5-patterns-day-2

1000 Islands Top 5 Patterns Day 2

Strong winds limited competition to only the St. Lawrence River on day two of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event presented by Mercury at 1000 Islands, but that was no problem for the majority of the top 10. Even though most of them fished Lake Ontario on day one, they were able to adjust and stay on the fish today. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-22-dobson-extends-lead-at-1000-islands

Dobson Extends Lead at 1000 Islands

A windy day two of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event on the 1000 Islands didn’t stop day-one leader Scott Dobson of Clarkston, Mich., from sacking up the biggest bag of the day. Dobson threw down an impressive 22-pound, 3-ounce limit to extend his lead to 5 pounds over Cal Climpson – a noted Lake Ontario maestro. Dobson’s two-day total stands at 46-12, and with lighter winds tomorrow some big bags are expected. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-22-lake-ontario-out-for-day-2

Lake Ontario Out for Day 2

It is never good when you wake up the morning of a tournament and every flag you see is standing straight out at 3 a.m., but that was the case this morning for day two of the Costa FLW Series event on the 1000 Islands. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-21-1000-islands-top-5-patterns-day-1

1000 Islands Top 5 Patterns Day 1

Past experience on this fishery seems to be a big advantage for the top pros through one day of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event presented by Mercury at 1000 Islands. Scott Dobson leads the way with 24 pounds, 9 ounces, yet there are some serious hammers right on his heels. Dobson fished both the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario for his limit, while others went straight to the lake and stayed there. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-21-dobson-drops-24-9

Dobson Drops 24-9

Despite the weights being dropped on the scale for the opening round of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event on the 1000 Islands presented by Mercury, it has actually been a tough day of fishing. Strong winds made it hard for the anglers regardless of if they were fishing the lake or river. Smallmouth guru Scott Dobson of Clarkston, Mich., sacked up 24 pounds, 9 ounces on day one to take a 1-8 lead over Canadian stick Cal Climpson. Dobson utilized both the river and lake for his limit, which could play to his advantage if the wind blows like the weathermen are forecasting tomorrow. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-21-professional-bass-fishing-s-forrest-wood-cup-set-to-visit-wheeler-lake

Professional Bass Fishing’s Forrest Wood Cup set to visit Wheeler Lake

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart, the world championship of professional bass fishing, will visit Wheeler Lake and the Huntsville, Alabama, area August 4-7 to crown bass fishing’s top angler of 2016. Hosted by the Huntsville/Madison County Convention and Visitors Bureau, the tournament will feature 50 of the world’s best bass-fishing... READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-21-1000-islands-midday-update-day-1

1000 Islands Midday Update Day 1

Day one of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event presented by Mercury at 1000 Islands hasn’t been about if the wind will blow, but when. Everyone knew the gales were coming eventually. Still, the majority of anglers hung a left out of the dock this morning and charged toward Lake Ontario into a steady breeze that turned into a howling wind by midmorning. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-21-2016-forrest-wood-cup-angler-intro-music

2016 Forrest Wood Cup Angler Intro Music

Each season, the anglers that make the Forrest Wood Cup get to choose the intro music that will play when they walk out on stage at weigh-ins. Naturally, the selections vary as widely as the anglers’ personalities and backgrounds – David Dudley once selected the Chicken Dance song, if that tells you anything. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-21-transition-time-at-1000-islands

Transition Time at 1000 Islands

The second tournament of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division kicked off on 1000 Islands in an event presented by Mercury this morning out of the Clayton Village Ramp. The 137 pros and co-anglers are challenged with the tough task of dissecting not only the massive St. Lawrence River but also Lake Ontario in search of jumbo-size smallmouths. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-20-solving-the-1000-islands-puzzle

Solving the 1000 Islands Puzzle

For its second stop, the 2016 Costa FLW Series Northern Division heads back to the 1000 Islands region of upstate New York for the first time since 2012. The 1000 Islands region includes the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario and produces some of the best smallmouth fishing on the planet with 4- and 5-pounders being the norm, not the exception. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-19-forrest-wood-cup-attractions-

Forrest Wood Cup Attractions

Fifty FLW anglers all taking a run at the most coveted title in bass fishing will without doubt take center stage over the course of the four-day Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart in Huntsville, Ala., Aug. 4-7, but fans won’t have to wait for the daily weigh-in times to soak up all the action. FLW and its sponsors and partners put together a full schedule of additional events to coincide with the 2016 Cup. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-19-2016-icast-wrap-up

2016 ICAST Wrap-up

Even at a distance, ICAST can be a blur of new fishing stuff. Below, we’ve gathered everything we published from the week at ICAST – if you missed something, you can find it here. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-18-sisk-by-ounces-on-ohio-river

Sisk by Ounces on Ohio River

Marty Sisk of Evansville, Indiana, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 17 pounds, 13 ounces, Saturday to win the third FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Illini Division tournament of 2016 on the Ohio River. For his victory, Sisk took home $7,456. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-18-boggs-flipped-shallow-wood-for-title

Boggs Flipped Shallow Wood for Title

Drew Boggs of Lebanon, Tennessee, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 13 pounds, 10 ounces, Saturday to win the fourth FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Music City Division tournament of 2016 on Old Hickory Lake. Boggs took home $3,028 for his victory. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-18-profile-jeremy-lawyer

Profile: Jeremy Lawyer

A year ago, Jeremy Lawyer endured a harsh reality as the door to a Forrest Wood Cup berth slammed shut on his runner-up finish at the BFL All-American on Kentucky/Barkley lakes. Flash-forward to June 11 and the boater from Sarcoxie, Mo., saw life come full circle with his All-American win on Barkley. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-18-poffenberger-found-the-right-four

Poffenberger Found the Right Four

Jake Poffenberger of Brookville, Ohio, weighed four bass totaling 9 pounds, 7 ounces, Saturday to win the fourth FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Buckeye Division tournament of 2016 on the Ohio River. For his victory, Poffenberger earned $4,684. READ MORE »