Mighty Samson takes RCL title at Red Wing

Minnesota pro earns $300,000 check

RED WING, Minn. - Crestliner pro Bruce "Doc" Samson fulfilled a yearlong journey to compete in and win the Wal-Mart RCL Walleye Circuit Championship. After months of preparation and plenty of on-the-water practice, Samson weighed in a 15-pound-5-ounce limit to best runner-up Lund pro Mike Gofron of Antioch, Ill., who weighed in a limit of walleyes registering 12 pounds and 15 ounces.

Samson of Minnetrista, Minn., earned a check worth $300,000 for his diligent preparation and nearly flawless execution on the Mississippi River.

"It was certainly a long journey to get here," said Samson. "It is not often that all of your planning and strategy works out at a tournament. It worked here; it feels absolutely wonderful."

Samson won the championship after his first season fishing the RCL.

"I had fished one RCL Championship before, but this was my first year fishing the RCL qualifiers," said Samson. "This is definitely the biggest circuit going right now."

Samson never agonized over the no-cull rule.

"I planned on keeping every keeper I caught today," said Samson. "When it came time to catch my last keeper, I ended up catching two at once. I had to use my trolling motor to pull the fish forward to try and feel which fish was heavier. That is how I decided what fish to reel in. It worked."

Samson stuck with a very basic presentation throughout the tournament.

"I essentially used an almost stationary approach," said Samson. "I would vertically fish Roach rigs, which are a live bait rig. I started the tournament using larger minnows, and then today I caught four out of five fish using smaller minnows.

"I would use my Minn Kota trolling motor and slowly work up current, moving the boat back and forth to get better position for a hook set," he said. "This kind of presentation allows me to catch fish directly under the boat. You can be more precise using this method in a river."

Samson fished Pool 3 today in an area called Miley's Slough. Samson's plans for the future are open.

"I will go and work as an urgent care physician this winter," said Samson. "As far as tournament fishing, I will go where life takes me."

In the runner-up spot was Gofron. For his efforts, Gofron received a check for $65,000. Gofron was done fishing today by 10 a.m.

"We had the takeoff at 7 a.m., and I had my first keeper walleye by 7:15 a.m.," said Gofron. "With the tough bite I had yesterday, I knew I had to keep the right fish today. I would not have changed anything I did today."

Gofron was fishing in Pool 3 in an area called Buffalo Slough. Gofron was vertically fishing live bait. Gofron said he feels the RCL will take the world of competitive walleye fishing to a knew level.

"It is just amazing what competitive walleye fishing is becoming," said Gofron. "With the RCL, Wal-Mart and the other sponsors, the sport is really going to get bigger over the next few years. It was incredible just to be here in the final; it was a great experience."

Finishing third and taking home a check worth $32,500 was Crestliner pro Rick Franklin of Louisburg, Kan. Luck started the day on the side of Franklin.

"I had one of my fish wrapped around my antenna and somehow still got it in," said Franklin. "Then I had another fish break the line. As I was retrieving the line, the fish was still there; I got it in the net.

"I caught the three fish I weighed in within the first 30 to 45 minutes," he said. "My day started out great, things went good early and then the bite turned off."

Franklin weighed in three fish that registered 11 pounds and 11 ounces. Franklin's primary technique throughout the tournament was to fish in Pool 3, slowly trolling bait rigs with a variety of live bait. He also trolled crankbaits.

Fourth place went to Ranger pro Joe Wilson of Rolling Stone, Minn. Wilson weighed in two walleyes today that registered 6 pounds and 11 ounces. That was enough to earn him a check for $25,000.

"I had a very good tournament and am very happy to have made the finals at this huge event," said Wilson. "The combination of muddy water and faster flow hurt me today. I just could not put together much of anything today."

Taking the fifth spot was Ranger pro Richard Nascak of Winona, Minn. Nascak weighed in two fish today that tipped the scales at 4 pounds and 8 ounces, enough to earn him a check for $20,000.

"I was targeting wing dams in Pool 4 throughout the tournament," said Nascak. "I just didn't get the bites today. I am just very happy to have made it this far. This is by far the biggest walleye tournament out there.

"I really think it is great have such sponsors as Evinrude give so much support to the anglers," he said.

Receiving a check for $12,000 and finishing in 6th place was Ranger pro Brad Knoll of Menasha, Wis. Knoll was in the bleachers dreaming of fishing the RCL Championship only two years ago.

"I remember sitting in the stands, watching the weigh-in at the first RCL Championships, saying to myself, `I am going to be there someday,'" said Knoll. "I feel very blessed to have made it this far on first year fishing the RCL circuit."

Links:

Photos
Results
2002 RCL Championship Notes: Mississippi River, Day Four
Press releases

Tags: headline-story  dave-landahl 

/news/2015-03-29-lefebre-lands-on-top

Lefebre Lands on Top

He left the dock this morning in 7th place, eight and a half pounds off the lead. And when he returned this afternoon, Dave Lefebre shocked the weigh-in crowd with a come-from-behind Walmart FLW Tour win that left his competitors shell-shocked. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-29-lewis-smith-lake-day-4-coverage

Lewis Smith Lake Day 4 Coverage

Day 4 reports from the Walmart FLW Tour on Lewis Smith Lake READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-28-birge-buzzes-ahead

Birge Buzzes Ahead

Today started off with a slightly miserable 31-degree air temperature, but it didn’t take long for the top 20 pros to really heat up on Lewis Smith Lake at the second stop of the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour presented by Evinrude. Reports poured in throughout the day of big bass – especially big largemouths – being caught off beds. It looked at first as if one of the “largemouth lookers” might piece together a big enough bag to snatch the lead away from Oklahoma rookie Zack Birge, who struggled early to make his shallow topwater pattern work. Unfortunately for the rest of the field, the young gun Birge has the coolness and patience of a veteran, and he stuck with his game plan of throwing a buzzbait and soft jerkbait rig until the sun had time to warm the shallows and spur the fish to become more active. Birge tallied 17 pounds, 11 ounces today, raising his three-day total to 54-8 and giving him a lead of 3-11 over Texas veteran Clark Wendlandt in second place. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-28-top-5-patterns-from-lewis-smith-day-3

Top 5 Patterns from Lewis Smith Day 3

After three days, it looks as if tournament leader Zack Birge has the quality largemouth bite in the bushes wired. But behind him on the leaderboard are nine pros doing everything from sight-fishing to catching schooling bass and everything in between. Even with all the patterns in play, few have fizzled. The sight-fishers have reported finding new bedders, the schoolers are still schooling and a couple of guys have even started tapping floating docks. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-28-millsaps-wins-on-lake-sinclair

Millsaps Wins on Lake Sinclair

MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. – David Millsaps of Ranger, Georgia, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 20 pounds, 10 ounces Saturday to win the second Walmart Bass Fishing League Bulldog Division tournament of 2015 on Lake Sinclair. For his victory, Millsaps earned $6,009. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-28-walters-nets-third-victory-on-wylie

Walters Nets Third Victory on Wylie

LAKE WYLIE, N.C. – Todd Walters of Kernersville, North Carolina, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 17 pounds, 2 ounces Saturday to win the second Walmart Bass Fishing League North Carolina Division tournament of 2015 on Lake Wylie. For his victory, Walters earned $4,350. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-28-lewis-smith-lake-day-3-coverage

Lewis Smith Lake Day 3 Coverage

Day 3 reports from the Walmart FLW Tour on Lewis Smith Lake READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-28-mosley-on-top-at-arkansas-river

Mosley on Top at Arkansas River

MUSKOGEE, Okla. – Brandon Mosley of Choctaw, Oklahoma, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 19 pounds, 13 ounces Saturday to win the second Walmart Bass Fishing League Okie Division tournament of 2015 the Arkansas River. For his victory, Mosley earned $5,349. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-27-topwater-takes-birge-to-the-top

Topwater Takes Birge to the Top

On a day when chilly, windy post-front conditions challenged many Walmart FLW Tour anglers who were relying on sight-fishing for spawning bass, Zack Birge bucked the trend and pulled out a pair of topwaters to haul in 17 pounds, 14 ounces. Birge jumped from third place past day-one leader Drew Benton to take over the top spot on Lewis Smith Lake in the event, which is presented by Evinrude. Birge’s two-day total of 36-13 has him positioned 1 pound ahead of Benton. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-27-top-5-patterns-from-lewis-smith-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from Lewis Smith Day 2

While air and water temperatures plummeted on day two of the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lewis Smith Lake presented by Evinrude, the big surprise came in the stability of the fishing patterns amidst such change. Zack Birge found plenty of production on his primary pattern to send him to the top of the leaderboard, and those under him held true to their patterns as well to secure a ticket to day three’s top 20. Among the biggest surprises was the number of pros who were still able to pluck fish off beds. Most pros that were sight-fishing say the bass are committed to beds and that the cold snap will not run them off at this point in time. Despite the cold, some even found new fish on beds that were not there yesterday. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-27-lewis-smith-lake-day-2-coverage

Lewis Smith Lake Day 2 Coverage

Day 2 reports from the Walmart FLW Tour on Lewis Smith Lake READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-26-benton-blasts-20-12-on-lewis-smith

Benton Blasts 20-12 on Lewis Smith

Panama City, Fla., pro Drew Benton jumped into the early lead at the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lewis Smith Lake presented by Evinrude with a five-bass limit weighing 20 pounds, 12 ounces. Benton caught a mix of largemouths and spotted bass, and revealed that both black bass species are spawning. He leads a tight top 20 that includes 18 pros that caught more than 15 pounds each. The first day was an absolute fish-fest. Of the 154 pros fishing this tournament, 138 weighed limits. Brad Roberts of Faubush, Ky., has a 2-ounce lead in the co-angler division with a 13-pound, 4-ounce limit. Tomorrow he’ll try to defend his lead on the final day of co-angler competition. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-26-top-5-patterns-from-lewis-smith-day-1

Top 5 Patterns from Lewis Smith Day 1

While Drew Benton was busy bugging bedding fish for his day-one tournament lead, several others behind him were scoring big with other fishing options on Lewis Smith Lake. Sight-fishing also played a role in the top limits produce by Tracy Adams, Scott Martin and Ish Monroe, but Clayton Batts and Zack Birge both brought in big bags with other patterns. Click here to read about Benton’s day-one performance at the second Walmart FLW Tour event of 2015, which is presented by Evinrude. Here’s how the rest of the top five got it done. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-26-lewis-smith-lake-day-1-coverage

Lewis Smith Lake Day 1 Coverage

Day 1 reports from the Walmart FLW Tour on Lewis Smith Lake READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-22-arkansas-anglers-win-college-open

Arkansas Anglers Win College Open

Consistency was the key for the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville here in the FLW College Fishing Kentucky Lake Open as Zachary Pickle and Drew Porto won the event with a two-day total of 43 pounds, 12 ounces. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-21-kendrick-king-on-guntersville

Kendrick King On Guntersville

Kendrick, who is fishing the Rayovac FLW Series in hopes of qualifying for the FLW Tour, caught more than 25 pounds each day of the event and finihsid in fine fasion when it counted. Kendick was catching nearly all of his bass around big schools of bait with a Houdini pearl-colored Scottsboro Tackle swimbait from 15- to 25-feet of water. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-21-epting-s-30-pounds-tops-on-santee-cooper

Epting's 30 Pounds Tops on Santee Cooper

SUMMERTON, S.C. – Chris Epting of Chapin, South Carolina, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 30 pounds, 2 ounces Saturday to win the second Walmart Bass Fishing League South Carolina Division tournament of 2015 on Santee Cooper. For his victory, Epting earned $3,679. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-21-wood-rock-key-for-middleton-s-victory

Wood, Rock Key for Middleton's Victory

HUDDLESTON, Va. – Dennis Middleton of Madison Heights, Virginia, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 19 pounds, 11 ounces Saturday to win the first Walmart Bass Fishing League Shenandoah Division tournament of 2015 on Smith Mountain Lake. For his victory, Middleton earned $7,199. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-21-johnson-wins-on-dale-hollow

Johnson Wins on Dale Hollow

BYRDSTOWN, Tenn. – Robby Johnson of Byrdstown, Tennessee, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 22 pounds, 7 ounces Saturday to win the first Walmart Bass Fishing League Mountain Division tournament of 2015 on Dale Hollow Lake. For his victory, Johnson earned $5,689. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-21-griffin-gets-win-on-ross-barnett

Griffin Gets Win on Ross Barnett

BRANDON, Miss. – Jason Griffin of Benton, Mississippi, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 23 pounds, 2 ounces Saturday to win the first Walmart Bass Fishing League Mississippi Division tournament of 2015 on Ross Barnett Reservoir. For his victory, Griffin earned $5,349. READ MORE »