Elias earns first FLW Tour victory

Paul Elias of Pachuta, Miss., shows off his first-place trophy after winning the FLW Tour event on the Atchafalaya Basin. The win represented the first FLW victory of Elias' career.

Mississippi native nets first-place finish in dominating fashion

MORGAN CITY, La. - Today was the day Paul Elias finally got the monkey off his back. After going nearly five years without a victory in a major bass-fishing tournament, Elias made sure that the outcome of today's FLW final on the Atchafalaya Basin was never in doubt. With his fellow competitors unable to crack the 29-pound barrier, Elias blew past the rest of the field, parlaying a two-day catch of 34 pounds, 2 ounces into his very first FLW Tour title.

Not surprisingly, Elias was more than happy to savor his victory for as long as he could.

"It's been almost five years since I won a major tournament, and it really starts playing with your head after a while," said Elias, whose last recorded victory was a Bass Pro Shop Legends event in 1998. "I've been close so many times before, and that's why this victory is so sweet.

"This is the best victory I've ever had," Elias continued. "It's even better than winning the Bassmaster Classic because I had my family here to see it."

Elias - who landed the majority of his catch on a combination of spinner baits, buzzbaits and tubes - said his primary fishing hole was almost too difficult to navigate successfully at times.

"I was having to run some skinny water to get where I was going," said Elias, a resident of Pachuta, Miss. "There was barely even enough room for my camera boat. But the area held a lot of fish because it was the deepest water for many miles."

After landing the largest stringer of the day in the semifinals at the same spot, Elias' prime fishing hole produced the largest stringer again in today's competition - a 16-pound, 13-ounce sack.

"For me, the key was using fast-moving baits," said Elias. "I also executed a lot better than I have in the past."

With Elias' wife and family in the audience cheering him on to "bring it on home," Elias not only won the tournament title, but also took home a whopping check for $100,000.

"It's just been a great week," he said. "It's been a long time coming."

Chapman nets second place, highest-ever FLW Tour finish

Although Bill Chapman finished the tournament in second place with a two-day catch of 28 pounds, 1 ounce, the native of Salt Rock, W. Va., said he had very few regrets. Sure, he would have liked to have won his first-ever FLW Tour event, but when all was said and done, Chapman said he would return home with a clear conscience.

"It was so close," he said. "I knew I needed a big fish, but I just wasn't able to get that big bite today. Overall, though, I had a great week. You really can't complain about winning $35,000 doing something you really love."

Chapman used a combination of Zoom lizards, Brush Hawgs and tube baits to land the majority of his catch. However, although many anglers struggled to navigate the difficult and expansive waters of the Atchafalaya Basin all week, Chapman said he had no such problem.

"I grew up on the Ohio River, and this water is exactly like that only with more fish," he said. "And if I didn't lose that 8-pounder yesterday, I might have been able to pull this off. But don't worry, I'm going to win one of these tournaments some day."

Lefebre grows up quickly

Fishing in his very first season on the FLW Tour, Dave Lefebre of Erie, Pa., used a two-day catch of 27 pounds, 14 ounces to grab third place overall, net a $20,000 check and win the respect of his peers almost overnight. Not bad for four days of fishing.

"This is the biggest show on television, and I still can't believe I'm here," said Lefebre, who graduated last year from the EverStart Northern Division. "I can't even put this week into words. It really means a lot to me. These are some of the best fishermen in the world. It's definitely the most satisfying tournament of my career."

Lefebre landed the majority of today's catch using ISG tube baits.

"And a lot of Pepto Bismo," he said.

Jimmy Millsaps of Canton, Ga., finished the tournament in fourth place after netting a total catch of 26 pounds, 8 ounces.

"I had a great time," said Millsaps, who took home a check for $16,000. "I just love this place. I caught a lot of fish and met a lot of good people."

Andre Moore of Scottsdale, Ariz., took a philosophical approach concerning his fifth-place victory.

"Yesterday, I kind of stumbled a bit," said Moore, who used a total catch of 25 pounds to land $14,000 in tournament winnings. "But I managed to catch five fish all week. In the end, you can't determine the size of your bites. And that's the difference."

Best of the rest

Rounding out the top 10 finalists were Gary Klein (sixth) of Weatherford, Texas, with a two-day catch of 20 pounds, 7 ounces; Wes Thomas (seventh) of Hanover, Ind., with a catch of 19 pounds, 10 ounces; J.T. Kenney (eighth) of Frostburg, Md., with a catch of 18 pounds, 13 ounces; Jack Bell (ninth) of Kane, Pa., with a catch of 13 pounds, 11 ounces; and Dwayne Horton (10th) of Knoxville, Tenn., with a catch of 10 pounds, 12 ounces.

FLW action resumes March 12-15 at Lake Murray in Columbia, S.C.

Related links:

Photos
Results
Quick Bites: FLW Atchafalaya Basin, Day 4
Press releases

Tags: headline-story  gary-mortenson 

/news/2015-06-29-dobson-sticks-with-jerkbait-for-win

Dobson Sticks With Jerkbait for Win

Scott Dobson of Clarkston, Michigan, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 21 pounds, 6 ounces Saturday to win the first Walmart Bass Fishing League Michigan Division tournament of 2015 on Lake St. Clair. For his victory, Dobson earned $5,804. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-29-johnston-targets-beds-for-big-limit

Johnston Targets Beds for Big Limit

Cory Johnston of Cavan, Ontario, Canada, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 25 pounds, 13 ounces Saturday to win the second Walmart Bass Fishing League Northeast Division tournament of 2015 on 1000 Islands. For his victory, Johnston earned $5,632. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-29-football-jig-helps-bates-net-title

Football Jig Helps Bates Net Title

Matthew Bates of Greenville, Mississippi, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 20 pounds even Saturday to win the fourth Walmart Bass Fishing League Mississippi Division tournament of 2015 on Lake Ferguson. For his victory, Bates earned $3,963. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-29-hipsher-hops-ledges-for-victory

Hipsher Hops Ledges for Victory

Craig Hipsher of Benton, Kentucky, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 22 pounds, 8 ounces Saturday to win the fourth Walmart Bass Fishing League LBL Division tournament of 2015 on Kentucky and Barkley lakes. For his victory, Hipsher earned $4,385. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-29-lauer-wins-on-ohio-river

Lauer Wins on Ohio River

David Lauer of McConnelsville, Ohio, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 12 pounds, 5 ounces Saturday to win the second Walmart Bass Fishing League Buckeye Division tournament of 2015 on the Ohio River. For his victory, Lauer earned $6,289. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-29-creature-bait-does-it-for-berhorst

Creature Bait Does it for Berhorst

Dennis Berhorst of Holts Summit, Missouri, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 16 pounds, 12 ounces Saturday to win the fourth Walmart Bass Fishing League Ozark Division tournament of 2015 on Lake Truman. For his victory, Berhorst earned $5,963. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-28-wendlandt-back-at-the-top

Wendlandt Back at the Top

It’s been 14 seasons since Clark Wendlandt last stood on a Walmart FLW Tour stage and hoisted a tournament championship trophy. Since that time, the Texas pro has experienced ups and downs, including an Angler of the Year title (his third) in 2009 and a major medical issue that sidelined him for most of the 2014 season. All that’s in the past now, however, and Wendlandt is right back where he belongs in the world of bass fishing – in first place after the final day on the Potomac River in the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-28-top-10-patterns-from-the-potomac-river

Top 10 Patterns from the Potomac River

Clark Wendlandt didn’t pull off any secret techniques to win the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on the Potomac River. He simply found an area with the right quality of bass to win and managed it perfectly despite facing a medley of Mother Nature’s toughest challenges. The rest of the top 10 stuck with the standard Potomac targets too, namely grass, docks and wood cover. The only underlying trend of the top 10 is that they found areas to themselves. Here’s how the rest of the top 10 got it done at the 2015 Tour finale. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-28-potomac-river-day-4-coverage

Potomac River Day 4 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on the Potomac River presented by Ranger Boats. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-27-wendlandt-receives-helping-hand

Wendlandt Receives Helping Hand

Not to discredit Clark Wendlandt’s skills as a bass fisherman, but if it wasn’t for an extreme act of kindness on the part of fellow competitor Shin Fukae, Wendlandt wouldn’t be where he is this evening – leading through three days of competition at the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on the Potomac River. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-27-top-5-patterns-from-potomac-river-day-3

Top 5 Patterns from Potomac River Day 3

Pouring rain, gusting winds, a remarkable act of kindness, an Angler of the Year title on the line – day three of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on the Potomac River certainly was not boring. To say the top 20 anglers were waterlogged after Saturday would be any understatement, but as nasty as the weather was, it wasn’t the biggest story of the day. Shinichi Fukae generously helped Clark Wendlandt retain his lead, while Scott Martin sealed the deal on his first AOY title. Meanwhile, a number of other anglers scrambled to adjust with what the weather and the Potomac are throwing at them. Here’s how the rest of the top five caught their fish today. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-27-potomac-river-day-3-coverage

Potomac River Day 3 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on the Potomac River presented by Ranger Boats. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-26-wendlandt-in-familiar-territory

Wendlandt in Familiar Territory

A lot of flip-flopping took place on the second day of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on the Potomac River. When the scale closed, it was three-time Tour Angler of the Year Clark Wendlandt who found himself on top with a two-day total of 32 pounds, 10 ounces. Wendlandt caught 17-13 today – the day’s second-heaviest limit – and leads Potomac local Bryan Schmitt by 1-12 going into the weekend. Wendlandt missed part of last season after suffering a heart attack but has rebounded with good success this season. He has won three times on Tour but hasn’t finished in first place since Beaver Lake in 2001. Details to come on the patterns of the top five. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-26-potomac-river-day-2-coverage

Potomac River Day 2 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Chickamauga presented by Ranger Boats. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-25-jersey-boy-leads-the-pack

Jersey Boy Leads the Pack

Talk about a traffic jam. And, no, we’re not talking about the streets around the Washington, D.C. area. We’re talking about the standings at the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on the Potomac River. Adrian “Jersey Boy” Avena leads the way with a 16-pound, 12-ounce limit, but a total of 41 pros weighed in at least 12 pounds. Many pros lamented the tough bite today, but the results say otherwise as 114 limits were brought to the scale on the pro side. Troy Morrow trails Avena by just 1-06, and 1 ounce behind Morrow is one of the most successful tidewater bass anglers of all time, Bryan Schmitt. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-25-top-5-patterns-from-potomac-river-day-1

Top 5 Patterns from Potomac River Day 1

It might seem impossible for 405 miles of water to fish small, but space was hard to come by on day one of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on the Potomac River. The creeks near takeoff at Smallwood State Park have seen as much traffic as a Washington, D.C. highway at rush hour. On the flip side, anglers who were able to develop patterns that got them away from the crowds, such as day-one leader Adrian Avena, have been able to reap the benefits of what has been a stingy fishery. Here’s how the rest of the pros in the top five caught their fish today. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-25-aoy-shake-up-martin-makes-his-move

AOY Shake-Up: Martin Makes His Move

Scott Martin has been talking about winning the Angler of the Year title since before the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour season started. It’s on his mind and for good reason: Angler of the Year is the only major FLW title he hasn’t won in what Martin has built into one of the most decorated professional fishing careers in FLW Tour history. Today, on the first day of competition at the Tour finale on the Potomac River, Martin has unofficially moved into the lead in the AOY race for the first time all season. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-25-potomac-river-day-1-coverage

Potomac River Day 1 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Chickamauga presented by Ranger Boats. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-20-richardson-wins-all-american

Richardson Wins All-American

Curtis Richardson has a way of surprising people – even himself. The Ontario angler had all but written himself off in the championship round of the Walmart Bass Fishing League All-American, thinking his limit of five bass wouldn’t hold up for long with the likes of Jeremy Lawyer and Bill Schroeder breathing down his neck. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-20-all-american-midday-update-day-3

All-American Midday Update Day 3

Big changes might be coming in the standings of the Walmart Bass Fishing League All-American on Kentucky Lake, as some of the top 10 leaders struggled this morning to catch limits. Canadian angler Curtis Richardson, who currently is leading, had only one 3-pound keeper by midmorning. And second-place boater Billy Schroeder, who had fished just below the Paris Landing Bridge for the first two days, finally bailed out from there after catching four keepers this morning. READ MORE »