Vida Loca!

Kevin Vida of Clare, Mich., shows off part of his winning 20-pound, 13-ounce stringer. Vida took $15,000 and a brand new Ranger boat after taking first place in the Pro Division at the EverStart tour event on Lake Ontario.

Kevin Vida outduels fellow Michigan natives to take EverStart title on Lake Ontario

CLAYTON, N.Y. - Although normally quiet and reserved, Kevin Vida of Clare, Mich., could hardly contain his excitement after taking home top honors at the EverStart Series tour event on Lake Ontario. Leading the weigh in with a total recorded catch of 20 pounds, 13 ounces, Vida had to sweat out the final few moments as Neil Vandebiezen - the last and final angler standing between him and a championship - walked to the scales. With all eyes focused on the two Michigan natives, Vandebiezen carefully weighed in his five-fish limit.

Suddenly, EverStart tournament director Robert Vannerson yelled out Vandebiezen's weight - 20 pounds, 12 ounces. Amazingly, Vida had held onto first place by a mere 1 ounce. As Vandebiezen placed both hands on his head in disbelief, Vida walked over to his friend and shook his hand. Victory was finally his.

"It feels tremendous. I can't believe it," said Vida, who won $15,000 and a fully equipped Ranger boat valued at $35,000 for his efforts. "I'm exhausted, both mentally and physically. I feel bad for Neil. If you're going to lose, you don't want to lose by 1 ounce. But he's a great competitor and I'm sure it will be his turn to win very soon."

In addition to facing difficult fishing conditions throughout the week, Vida also had to put up with some critical equipment problems that almost cost him dearly on the final day of competition.

"My day really did not start out so well," said Vida, who is fishing in his first full season on the EverStart circuit. "I think I had some fouled plugs in my motor and I really didn't think I was going to be able to get to my fishing spot. Later in the day, I thought I blew my motor, but eventually, it started up again. I drove about 35 mph the whole way home. I was never quite sure if I was going to make it back."

However, despite the problems, Vida said he wouldn't trade his overall experience on Lake Ontario for anything.

"It was a lot of fun fishing with my friends," said Vida, who shared the same fishing spot with three other Michigan natives, including Vandebiezen, throughout the week. "We've been friends for a long time and we really helped each other out. Overall, it's been one of the most phenomenal weeks of fishing of career. I had a great time and the fishing was tremendous."

Heartbreak and happiness

Despite one of the most painful losses of his career, Vandebiezen said he was pleased with his performance and relieved that one of his friends took home the title.

"I've had a great time," said Vandebiezen, a native of Portage, Mich. "It's good to see one of my friends win it all. I knew one of us (Michigan natives) was going to come out on top. It was just a question of who was going to get the bigger bites. I lost two fish today and that's what probably cost me the title."

Fishing in only the second EverStart event of his career, Vandebiezen was able to put the loss in perspective.

"My goal was to make the final cut and I did that," said Vandebiezen, who walked away with a nice consolation prize totaling $10,000. "Each day the fishing seemed to get better and better. It's a beautiful area. And I fished well all week. I really can't complain."

On a roll in the east, central and north

With his third-place finish on Lake Ontario, Koby Kreiger can probably lay claim to being the best all-around angler on the entire EverStart circuit as of late. Boasting a fourth-place finish in the EverStart Eastern Division point race, a victory last May at the EverStart Central Division tour event on Kentucky Lake and a top-three performance today in the second Northern Division event of 2001, Kreiger has clearly put the rest of the league on notice.

Of course, you'd never know it from talking to Kreiger.

"I really didn't fish that well today," said the native of Osceola, Ind., after posting a final-day catch of 19 pounds, 13 ounces. "I had a pretty good week, but I lost a fish today that probably cost me the tournament."

Despite the "setback," Kreiger acknowledged that he had a lot of fun fishing with his friends from Michigan.

"I had a great time fishing with those guys," said Kreiger. "I knew that one of us was going to win the tournament. And that's exactly what happened. I would have liked to have finished first, but when you make the top three, you really can't complain too loudly."

For his efforts, Kreiger took home a check for $9,000.

Gerald Beck of Lexington, N.C. finished in fourth place with a total catch of 19 pounds, 9 ounces. Beck netted a check for $8,000. In fifth place was Art Ferguson III of Saint Clair Shores, Mich., who turned in a 19-pound, 4-ounce catch while walking away with $7,500 in prize money.

Best of the rest

Rounding out the top 10 were Mark "Z-Man" Zona (sixth) of Sturgis, Mich., with a catch of 18 pounds, 15 ounces; Bob Izumi (seventh) of Burlington, Ontario, - representing the only Canadian to make it to the finals - with a catch of 16 pounds, 2 ounces; David Hayward (eighth) of Sylvania, Ohio, with a catch of 14 pounds, 11 ounces; John Green (ninth) of Lakeville, Ind., with a catch of 11 pounds, 1 ounce; and Ernie Freeman (tenth) of Waldorf, Md., with a catch of 6 pounds, 8 ounces.

The next EverStart Northern Division event will take place at Sandusky Bay, Ohio, Aug. 22-25.

Related links:
Photos
Results
Pairings
Press releases

Tags: headline-story  gary-mortenson 

/news/2015-04-26-arey-does-it-again

Arey Does it Again

Quaker State pro Matt Arey of Shelby, N.C., wowed the crowed in Rogers, Ark., today with an incredible 17-pound, 3-ounce five-bass limit to come from behind and win the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Rayovac on Beaver Lake. This is Arey’s second consecutive Beaver Lake FLW Tour victory. Arey’s final-day surge was enough to surpass two-time reigning Angler of the Year Andy Morgan, who led yesterday but weighed in only 9-08 today and fell to third. Arey’s four-day total was 55-06, earning the pro $125,000. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-26-beaver-lake-day-4-coverage

Beaver Lake Day 4 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Beaver Lake presented by Rayovac. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-25-morgan-maintains-his-lead

Morgan Maintains His Lead

One of Andy Morgan’s fishing mottos is to make the best of what you have got “in front of you” to survive and fish another day. Beaver Lake doesn’t give much. So when an angler as resourceful as Morgan gets to a lake that doesn’t give out many resources, the two work well together. Instead of worrying about hitting it out of the park or putting immense pressure on himself to come up with a grand winning strategy, Morgan just scraps, scrapes and claws at the ground right in front of him, making the best of what he’s got. Morgan’s performance on day three of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Rayovac on Beaver Lake was a prime example of his “make the best of it” attitude. After burning up the spawning fish he had located in practice during the first two days of the tournament, he was forced to fish by the seat of his pants today – something he thoroughly enjoys. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-25-gordon-and-gagner-crowned-tbf-champs

Gordon and Gagner Crowned TBF Champs

Two more anglers qualified for the Forrest Wood Cup today by winning the 2015 The Bass Federation National Championship on Grand Lake in Grove, Okla. Shawn Gordon of Russellville, Ark., earned the TBF crown on the boater side by catching a three-day limit of 50 pounds, 2 ounces, capped by the largest limit caught today – 18 pounds, 10 ounces. Gordon earned $5,000 for his win, but more importantly, he’ll be competing against the best pros in the business in August at the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. Gordon also won the TBF “Living The Dream” package, which includes paid entry into the 2016 Walmart FLW Tour, a travel stipend, and use of a wrapped truck and Ranger bass boat. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-25-top-5-patterns-from-beaver-lake-day-3

Top 5 Patterns from Beaver Lake Day 3

Andy Morgan didn’t light up the world on day three of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Rayovac on Beaver Lake, but he caught what he needed to maintain the lead and put a 1-pound, 9-ounce cushion between he and Matt Arey. Most of the rest of the top 20 scrambled today, abandoning their patterns and trying new options to try and make the final-day cut. Here’s how the top five got it done. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-25-beaver-lake-day-3-coverage

Beaver Lake Day 3 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Beaver Lake presented by Rayovac. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-24-make-way-for-morgan

Make Way for Morgan

“Hidden largemouths” is quickly becoming the buzz term at the Walmart FLW Tour event on Beaver Lake presented by Rayovac, as those atop the leaderboard are using the term to refer to spawning largemouths that are so well hidden that other competitors never found them. These hidden fish are covered by thick brush, hidden so deep that they were only found during the very rare windows of sunshine during practice or located off the beaten path. The latter are not in obvious pockets or places where one would expect to find beds, but rather out on the main bluff channels where few ever look. On day one, Jacob Wheeler caught hidden largemouths to take the lead. On day two, former Beaver Lake champion Andy Morgan caught hidden largemouths to take over the pole position going into the weekend. His catch of 15 pounds, 7 ounces today gives Morgan a two-day total of 28-09 to take the lead by just 11 ounces. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-24-top-5-patterns-from-beaver-lake-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from Beaver Lake Day 2

At halftime of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Rayovac, the top five reads like a who’s who of Beaver Lake. Leader Andy Morgan is a former Beaver Lake champion. Behind him, Darrel Robertson has been very close to winning here with a runner-up finish in 2005. In third is 2014 Beaver Lake champion Matt Arey. Bryan Thrift, in fourth, has never won on Beaver Lake, but has led here before. And finally, fifth-place pro Stetson Blaylock knows his way around this lake pretty well, too, with a couple of top 10s. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-24-heckman-heads-up-tbf-championship-field

Heckman Heads up TBF Championship Field

Some bass are still spawning in Grand Lake, and others are yet to make their way up to the shallows, but none of that interests Sam Heckman. Diligent commitment to his postspawn plan here Friday landed Heckman atop the boater field with 34 pounds, 3 ounces and locked up his Southwest Division win at the 2015 The Bass Federation National Championship. Saturday, the top boater from each of seven TBF divisions will vie for the TBF National Championship and the “Living the Dream” package that goes with it. The package includes paid entry in the 2016 Walmart FLW Tour as a pro, a Forrest Wood Cup berth and use of a custom-wrapped truck and Ranger boat on Tour for the year, as well as a travel stipend for each event. Seven non-boaters – one from each TBF division – also will fish in tomorrow’s final round for a chance at paid entry into a Rayovac FLW Series division of choice. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-24-beaver-lake-day-2-coverage

Beaver Lake Day 2 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Beaver Lake presented by Rayovac. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-23-wheeler-with-a-slim-lead

Wheeler with a Slim Lead

Jacob Wheeler has a plan to win the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Rayovac on Beaver Lake this week. That plan involves primarily the largemouth species, a target weight of 14 pounds per day and a lot of fish management. Today, Wheeler surpassed his target by nearly 2 pounds with a 15-pound, 14-ounce catch that puts him in the driver’s seat at Beaver Lake, in the lead by just a scant 5 ounces over second-place pro Bryan Thrift. “Largemouths are the way to win here at Beaver Lake,” Wheeler says. “They are the fish to go the distance here, and that’s what I’m focusing on.” READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-23-top-5-patterns-from-beaver-lake-day-1

Top 5 Patterns from Beaver Lake Day 1

Though there were plenty of fish caught off beds at Beaver Lake on day one of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Rayovac, the top five is rounded out by a group of anglers who relied on sight-fishing very little. Opinions on where exactly bass are in the spawning cycle at Beaver Lake vary greatly from angler to angler, but a few common denominators did come to light on day one. For starters, most agree that one major spawning cycle has already occurred. Plenty of empty beds and a lot of gaunt, postspawn fish at the scale were evidence of that. Second, there are still some bass (of all species) trying to spawn, but the ones left on beds are extremely wary. Finally, the order of difficulty to catch each species ranks as follows: smallmouth bass – extremely easy; spotted bass – not as easy; largemouth bass – extremely difficult. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-23-griffith-grabs-tbf-lead-

Griffith Grabs TBF Lead

By midday, the prospects were unclear for Jon “Scooter” Griffith here in The Bass Federation National Championship on Grand Lake, but in a roundabout way it provided just the clarity he needed to dial in a pattern that helped him take the day-one lead with an 18-pound, 13-ounce limit. Griffith began his day by sight-fishing the clear water down by the Pensacola Dam. This opening move, he says, gave him some early comfort, as it matched the transparent water he’s used to fishing near his home in Mesa, Ariz. Targeting windblown points, Griffith got his early bites with reaction baits in about 4 to 8 feet of water. Unfortunately, the plan turned out to be less productive than he had expected. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-23-beaver-lake-day-1-coverage

Beaver Lake Day 1 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Beaver Lake presented by Rayovac. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-23-tbf-championship-tips-off

TBF Championship Tips Off

The spawn is on at Grand Lake, but that’s not the only game in town. As the 2015 The Bass Federation National Championship plays out for the next three days, anglers will find this northern Oklahoma impoundment abounding with lots of fishing options. Brian Maloney, the 2012 Walmart Bass Fishing League All-American champion, says he was impressed with what he found in practice. “The quality of fish on Grand is just amazing,” notes the Missouri angler. “This lake continues to put out 3- and 4-pounders, and right now there’s a variety of things we can do. “There are guys sight-fishing for spawning fish, and we’re probably looking at another wave or two of fish coming in soon. I’m sure the full moon coming up in another week or so will move them in.” Adding that the lake currently has fish in all prespawn, spawning and postspawn stages, Maloney thinks that TBF contenders will be greeted by a mix of water conditions typical for Grand this time of year. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-20-top-10-baits-from-lake-murray

Top 10 Baits from Lake Murray

Competitors in the FLW College Fishing National Championship mostly targeted bass feeding on spawning blueback herring on shallow points and main-lake pockets. Across the board, herring-imitating baits such as soft jerkbaits, swimbaits, topwaters, wake baits and umbrella rigs dominated the event. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-20-jig-bite-carries-holmes-on-wateree

Jig Bite Carries Holmes on Wateree

READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-20-bryan-slows-down-for-chickamauga-win

Bryan Slows Down for Chickamauga Win

READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-20-morfis-dominates-with-34-pound-limit

Morfis Dominates With 34-Pound Limit

OKEECHOBEE, Fla. – Joshua Morfis of Cape Coral, Florida, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 34 pounds, 14 ounces Saturday to win the fourth Walmart Bass Fishing League Gator Division tournament of 2015 on Lake Okeechobee. For his victory, Morfis earned $6,336. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-20-salzman-cracks-31-pounds-on-guntersville

Salzman Cracks 31 Pounds on Guntersville

READ MORE »