Shaffer sneaks into first place at All-American

`Slot monster' takes a bite out of catch weights at Cross Lake

SHREVEPORT, La. - They don't call it a slot "limit" for nothing. On day one of 2002 Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League All-American competition, anglers' catch outputs were noticeably limited as only five competitors out of a total 100 boaters and co-anglers were able to muster a five-bass limit at Cross Lake. Much of the reason behind the relatively small sacks is the lake's 14- to 17-inch slot limit.

One of the five limit-catchers, Dick Shaffer of Celina, Ohio, grabbed the lead in the Boater Division with a total weight of 14 pounds, 2 ounces. He led the division by more than 2 pounds over second-place Greg Gutierrez of Red Bluff, Calif., who weighed in five bass worth 12-0.

While many anglers professed to doing battle with the lake's slot limit, Shaffer kind of inadvertently sneaked around the rule Thursday. He only had five bites all day, and every one of those fish was either above or below the limit.

"I call it getting lucky," said Shaffer, a 43-year-old concrete contractor. "I feel pretty good about it, but I don't know if I can duplicate it tomorrow."

Shaffer caught his first bass, a 4-pounder, at about 8 a.m. and continued to fill out the rest of his stringer with sporadic bites throughout the day. He says he followed a scattered pattern, targeting docks as well as the popular Cross Lake cypress roots, using the same bait - which he preferred to remain nameless. Of his five fish, three were over the 17-inch minimum slot limit and two were under the 14-inch maximum.

"I was just fishing whatever I came to - rocks, docks, trees," he said. "Some of the places where I thought I'd get bit at, I didn't. Some of the places where I didn't think would work, I did get bit. I only had five bites, and I was very fortunate that they all kept."

Gutierrez used a scattered approach similar to Shaffer's to work his way into second place.

"I told my wife before I came down here that I'm either going to go big or go home little," Gutierrez said. "I found an area just like back home, and there's not another boat in the area - yet. But I'm picking up bites all over the lake. I just need to be left alone with them is all."

He also admitted that he wasn't using his favorite California technique, the drop shot, to catch his fish. But he, too, was tight-lipped about what exactly he was doing.

"Just to tell a little would get people stepping on (the fish he's catching) a little bit," he said.

The slot limit

It was just this sort of random approach that seems in order here at Cross Lake this week. The lake-mandated slot limit says that anglers can keep no bass between the lengths of 14 and 17 inches long. That effectively knocks a lot of quality 2- and 3-pound bass out of contention as well as a lot of anglers who found themselves catching a majority of the average-sized fish.

"The slot limit makes it real challenging. It hurts when you have to throw back a 16-inch fish," said boater Richard Bennett of Grass Valley, Calif. (Bennett, 19, and his brother Michael, 17, set the mark this week as the youngest All-American qualifiers on record. Richard placed 12th Wednesday with a two-bass catch weighing 4 pounds, 1 ounce.)

As another competitor, Cincinnati co-angler John Duwel, put it, "The slot monster did play a big part today." He caught no keeper bass.

Monsters or not, it's an even playing field and everybody has to deal with it. The slot limit might be messing with the minds of some of the weekend competitors fishing in their first big-time event, but other anglers pointed out that the fishing in general has cooled off on Cross Lake during the last two weeks. Many competitors reported getting few, if any, bites at all Thursday - much less a slot-limit fish.

"The fish have turned off right now," said four-time All-American qualifier Allan Cagle of Winter Haven, Fla., who caught no keepers outside of the slot on day one. "Whether it's the pressure or not, I don't know. It's a good lake with plenty of good fish, it's just not showing itself."

Illustrating the kind of bass available in the 8,600-acre impoundment, Cagle said he caught three bass heavier than 5 pounds in pre-fishing prior to tournament week. On Wednesday co-angler Gary Seachord of Beatrice, Neb., reported catching a 10-pound largemouth.

Eleventh-place boater Eddie Waits of Pine Bluff, Ark. - who weighed in a big-bass contender at 4 pounds, 5 ounces - said this about the slot limit: "It's got everybody on an even keel. Nobody has an advantage or disadvantage. It will be the best who are going to show here."

Rest of the best

The contenders could be the rest of the top five in the Boater Division from day one. Maurice Freeze of Kannapolis, N.C., caught five bass, weighing 9 pounds, 4 ounces for third place; Jay Hulsey of Bourbon, Mo., caught five bass weighing 8-6 for fourth; and Ricky Smith of Collinsville, Miss., caught five bass weighing 8-3 for fifth.

Smith placed third at the 2000 All-American and came into this week as one of the pre-tournament favorites. He said one of the biggest secrets to battling the slot limit and catching five keeper bass is to target smaller fish.

"Absolutely. Everybody has talked about the big fish, but they're all on a post-spawn pattern and just aren't responding as well," he said. "I'm just fishing an area that holds smaller-sized fish. It's a big flat with a bunch of shad."

Keep your eye on Smith. He said he had an excellent pre-fishing session and seems very confident about his chances.

"I came here to win," he said. "Because I finished third last time, I have a little more incentive, personally. If I make it Saturday, I'm going to let it all hang out."

Tenth-place Robert Ewick of Indianapolis beat Waits' big-bass effort in the Boater Division with a 4-pound, 6-ounce largemouth.

Ives tops co-anglers

Jeremy Ives of Burgaw, N.C., took top honors in the Co-angler Division Thursday after notching a three-bass total of 6 pounds, 3 ounces. Like most of his compatriots, anglers who struggled to land just one keeper, Ives kept mum about how he caught them.

"I'm onto something that I'm not willing to reveal yet," he said.

In second place for the co-anglers is Gary Fowler of Gordon, Ga., who notched a single largemouth weighing 4 pounds, 4 ounces by flipping at a dock.

"I knew there was going to be a low weight on the co-angler side," he said. "I'm going to fish tomorrow, but it's so iffy, you sure can lay an egg out there."

Fowler is also the co-angler big-bass leader.

Rounding out the top five co-anglers were T.J. Edwards of Waldron, Ind., in third place with two bass weighing 3 pounds, 14 ounces; Willard Norton of Jacksonville, Ala., in fourth with two bass weighing 3-10; and Randy Johnson of Hogansville, Ga., in fifth with one bass weighing 3-5.

A positive note about the low catch weights Thursday: everybody still has a chance to make the cut in the Boater Division and to win in the Co-angler Division Friday. From zero on up, it's not going to take a lot of fish to make some serious headway in the rankings with a solid outing on day two.

Competition on Cross Lake resumes Friday at 7 a.m. at the American Legion Boat Ramp. Friday's weigh-in starts at 3:30 p.m. at the L. Calhoun Allen Exposition Hall on Clyde Fant Parkway in Shreveport. Admission is free.

On Friday boaters are vying to make the top-10 cut into Saturday's final round and have a shot at the $100,000 top prize, while one co-angler will walk away with the $50,000 winner's check following tomorrow's action.

Day-one links:

Photos
Results
Tomorrow's pairings
Press release

Tags: headline-story  jeff-schroeder 

/news/2015-04-18-gamecocks-win-college-title

Gamecocks Win College Title

READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-18-gamecocks-win-national-title

Gamecocks Win National Title

READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-18-hallman-prevails-on-grand

Hallman Prevails On Grand

READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-18-lake-murray-midday-update-day-3

Lake Murray Midday Update Day 3

READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-17-top-5-patterns-from-grand-lake-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from Grand Lake Day 2

READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-17-college-championship-race-tightens

College Championship Race Tightens

READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-17-hallman-out-front

Hallman Out Front

Spawning bite continues to produce for the anglers in the Rayovac FLW Series event on Grand Lake. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-17-lake-murray-midday-update-day-2

Lake Murray Midday Update Day 2

The air temperature reached a high of 53 degrees here yesterday, which tied a record for the coolest high temperature for that date. Apparently, the short-lived cold snap also had a chilling effect on the fishing at Lake Murray this morning, as several competitors in the FLW College Fishing National Championship presented by Lowrance Insight Genesis College Cup reported meager results. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-16-liberty-leads-college-championship

Liberty Leads College Championship

A 22-pound, 2-ounce stringer anchored by a 7-pound, 9-ounce largemouth boosted Liberty University’s Travis Rulle and Caleb Eppler into the opening-round lead of the FLW College Fishing National Championship presented by Lowrance Insight Genesis College Cup here on Lake Murray. Rulle and Eppler were the last anglers to weigh in on day one, and their five-fish limit gave them a lead of more than 3 pounds ahead of Eastern Kentucky University veterans Kyler Raymer and Ethan Snyder, who had 18-15. The surprise team of the tournament so far is Colorado Mesa University’s Josh Worth and Kennedy Kinkade, who brought in 18-10 despite never having fished east of the Mississippi River before. Worth and Kinkade are in third place, followed by Cade Laufenberg and Wyatt Stout of Winona State University, and Benn Curry and Tim Ward of Auburn University, both teams with 17-8. Lamar University’s Cameron Lafleur and Justin Royal in 10th place set the cut mark at 16-8. The entire field will fish again tomorrow, and only the top 10 based on two-day cumulative weight will fish in Saturday’s final round. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-16-castledine-stands-tall-on-grand

Castledine Stands Tall On Grand

Day one of the Rayovac FLW Series presented by Power-Pole on Grand Lake produced stunning weights. With “thousands” of bass on the beds, the pros brought in a total of exactly 2,240 pounds and it took 16 pounds to make the top 60. Rising above the crowd was Nacogdoches, Texas, pro Todd Castledine, renowned for his prowess in Texas, the sight-fishing master cracked 23 pounds, 13 ounces and leads second-place pro Jonathan Henry by 1 pound, 6 ounces. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-16-top-5-patterns-from-grand-lake-day-1

Top 5 Patterns from Grand Lake Day 1

The first day of the Rayovac FLW Series Central Division tournament was all about the sight-bite – from day-one leader Todd Castledine on down. The event, presented by Power-Pole and hosted by the Grand Lake Association, undoubtedly featured other patterns, but every angler who did well relied in large part on bedding bass. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-16-lake-murray-midday-update-day-1

Lake Murray Midday Update Day 1

With precipitation ranging from an incessant mist to torrential downpours sweeping the area throughout the morning, the odds favored a slow start to the FLW College Fishing National Championship being presented by the Lowrance Insight Genesis College Cup here on Lake Murray. As it turns out, however, the bass apparently liked the extra water and reacted accordingly. A number of the teams that found prime spawning areas for blueback herring in practice earlier this week returned on day one and were rewarded with limit catches of largemouths and spots by midmorning. Among them was the local favorite, the University of South Carolina, which reportedly had culled up to about 13 pounds by 11 a.m. Likewise, the Oregon State University was sitting on about 15 pounds and had culled five times. Tanner Masters and Wyatt Ryan of East Central University (of Oklahoma) caught their limit fishing seawalls and riprapped banks during the sporadic herring spawns that fired up as soon as boats reached their first fishing destinations. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-11-hanselman-wins-back-to-back

Hanselman Wins Back-to-Back

Once you get Ray Hanselman going, just get out of his way. The Del Rio, Texas, pro is riding an incredible high right now after sewing up his second consecutive Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division win. Hanselman won the opener on Lake Amistad in February, then backed it up this week with a win on Sam Rayburn Reservoir in an event presented by Mercury. For his final-day limit, Hanselman plowed deep into Rayburn’s flooded cover to track down a five-bass limit worth 16 pounds, 10 ounces, raising his three-day total to 60-08 for a win by more than 7 pounds. For his efforts, Hanselman earned a cool $35,815 check and another trophy to add to his mantle. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-11-white-takes-bragging-rights-on-kentucky-lake-

White Takes Bragging Rights on Kentucky Lake

GILBERTSVILLE, Ky. – Joe White of Princeton, Kentucky, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 23 pounds, 15 ounces Saturday to win the second Walmart Bass Fishing League LBL Division tournament of 2015 on Kentucky and Barkley lakes. For his victory, White earned $5,014. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-11-taylor-targets-bluebacks-for-hartwell-win

Taylor Targets Bluebacks for Hartwell Win

ANDERSON, S.C. – Brock Taylor of Pendleton, South Carolina, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 21 pounds, 1 ounce Saturday to win the third Walmart Bass Fishing League Savannah River Division tournament of 2015 on Lake Hartwell. For his victory, Taylor earned $4,830. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-11-chenoweth-wins-on-kerr

Chenoweth Wins on Kerr

HENDERSON, N.C. – Rick Chenoweth of Fredericksburg, Virginia, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 17 pounds, 8 ounces Saturday to win the first Walmart Bass Fishing League Piedmont Division tournament of 2015 on Kerr Lake. For his victory, Chenoweth earned $5,241. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-11-rayburn-day-3-midday-update

Rayburn Day 3 Midday Update

A chilly morning greeted the top 10 pros and co-anglers for the final day of Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division competition on Sam Rayburn Reservoir presented by Mercury, but a warm sunrise filtered by scattered clouds bespoke the gorgeous conditions forthcoming. Winds have dropped off to barely a breeze, main-lake running is easy, and the coves and creeks where most anglers are fishing are glassy smooth. Fish surely pulled tighter to cover with the sunny conditions, but that probably makes little difference, as the majority of anglers have been flipping close to trees and into dense buck brush since day one. The heavy, tangled spots with vines seem to be the prime targets again today. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-11-hansen-holds-lake-of-the-ozarks-title

Hansen Holds Lake of the Ozarks Title

OSAGE BEACH, Mo. – Brian Hansen of Fenton, Missouri, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 18 pounds, 7 ounces Saturday to win the second Walmart Bass Fishing League Ozark Division tournament of 2015 on Lake of the Ozarks. For his victory, Hansen earned $4,507. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-11-frog-carries-lowery-to-victory

Frog Carries Lowery to Victory

ALEXANDER CITY, Ala. – David Lowery of Phenix City, Alabama, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 14 pounds, 8 ounces Saturday to win the second Walmart Bass Fishing League Bama Division tournament of 2015 on Lake Martin. For his victory, Lowery earned $4,385. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-11-gordon-grabs-title-on-dardanelle

Gordon Grabs Title on Dardanelle

RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. – Shawn Gordon of Russellville, Arkansas, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 19 pounds, 7 ounces Saturday to win the third Walmart Bass Fishing League Arkie Division tournament of 2015 on Lake Dardanelle. For his victory, Gordon earned $7,244. READ MORE »