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

Eakins eeks out lead in $325,000 EverStart Championship

Pugh, Shumpert, Grosse and Balog join Missouri native in finals

FLORENCE, Ala. - It wasn't pretty. And it certainly wasn't easy. But when all was said and done, Jim Eakin's four-fish stringer was good enough to grab the top qualifying spot in the Pro Division heading into the all-important final round of competition at the 2001 EverStart Championship.

Despite some of the most difficult tournament-fishing conditions in recent memory, Eakins managed to parlay a modest 6-pound, 13-ounce limit into a golden opportunity to fish another day. And quite frankly, that's all that really mattered.

"I've struggled every day of this tournament," said Eakins, a native of Nixa, Mo. "On the first day, I had seven bites and lost three fish. Yesterday, I had four bites and lost one fish. And today, I had five bites and lost one fish. It's really tough out there. It's real tough. I'm just happy to get this far."

With every angler struggling mightily, Eakins argued that Saturday's final is as wide open as any in recent history.

"The fishing is so tough, anyone of us could win the whole thing or come up blank tomorrow," said Eakins. "It's going to be a shootout, that's for sure."

Eakins, who has been jig fishing around boat docks on Wilson Lake throughout the tournament, said he has no plans to change his strategy for tomorrow's finals.

"I'm doing exactly the same thing on Saturday that I've done all week," he said. "I've got to keep dancing with the one I came with."

Pugh goes for broke

With 90 miles and a four-hour round-trip standing between Greg Pugh and his favorite fishing spot, it's clear that the native of Cullman, Ala., likes to gamble. And so far, that gamble appears to be paying off. With difficult fishing conditions keeping tournament weights extraordinarily low, Pugh used a competitive 6-pound, 2-ounce stringer to grab second place heading into the finals.

"Today I felt like I had a shot to make the top five just because the weights have been so low," said Pugh. "But I never thought I'd have enough fish to come in second. I think we all kind of knew that if the water wasn't right, we were going to see some difficult fishing conditions. But I didn't think it was going to be this tough."

Pugh, who has been targeting bass with jigs and spinnerbaits in about 21 feet of water, said that any one of the five remaining anglers could win tomorrow's competition.

"It'll be a crapshoot tomorrow. It's completely up in the air," he said. "We'll just have to wait and see what happens on Saturday. Hopefully, I can bring something in."

Ricky Shumpert of Lexington, S.C., used a 4-pound, 11-ounce stringer to grab third place. And like the others, he acknowledged that the fishing conditions have seemingly worsened with each passing day of the tournament.

"It's a really tough lake out there right now," he said. "There's not a whole lot of fish being caught by anyone."

Richard Grosse of Hebron, Ohio, used a 4-pound, 6-ounce stringer to grab hold of the fourth qualifying spot. Joe Balog of Independence, Ohio, took the last spot in the finals with a 3-pound, 4-ounce catch.

Best of the rest

Although Darrel Robertson of Jay, Okla., had put on a dominanting performance during the first two days of the competition, his luck all but dried up today as he took sixth place with a catch of 2 pounds. Robertson won $9,000 for his efforts.

Terry Tucker of Gadsden, Ala., claimed the seventh spot and a check for $8,000 with a catch of 1 pound, 10 ounces.

Rounding out the top-10 were: Mark Mauldin (eighth) of Cleveland, Tenn.; Dave Lefebre (ninth) of Erie, Penn.; and Vic Vatalaro (tenth) of Kent, Ohio. Mauldin, Lefebre and Vatalaro all failed to catch a fish in today's competition.

Tournament action resumes tomorrow at 6:30 a.m. at the McFarland Park Marina located on James M. Spain Drive, just off Hwy. 20 in Florence. Championship weigh-in is scheduled to take place at 3:30 p.m. at the Florence Wal-Mart Supercenter on Hough Road. The final five anglers will by vying for the top prize of $25,000 and a new Ranger boat.

Related links:
Day-three pairings:
Quick Bites: Day 3
Press release:

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 »