UPCOMING EVENT: Walmart Bass Fishing League - 2015 - Ohio River

Elliott earns his stripes on Lake Murray

Pro Chris Elliott of Gloucester, N.C., proudly displays his first-place trophy after winning the FLW Tour event on Lake Murray. Elliot, a tour rookie this year, turned in a two-day catch of 30 pounds, 9 ounces.

FLW Tour rookie out-duels veterans to earn first title and $100,000 payday

COLUMBIA, S.C. - Competing against the likes of fishing legends Rick Clunn, Larry Nixon and Dan Morehead is never an easy task - especially in the pressure-packed environment of an FLW Tour final. Nor is it easy to go fishing in a driving rainstorm in 50-degree temperatures for seven straight hours with frozen hands, soaking wet equipment and virtually no experience fishing one of the toughest tournament trails in the nation. However, no one seemed to tell that to Chris Elliott.

Using a two-day catch of 30 pounds, 9 ounces, Elliott - a tour rookie who had exactly three FLW tournaments under his belt - defied the odds and took home the tournament title on Lake Murray in dramatic fashion. When all was said and done, Elliott bested fellow competitor and former Bassmaster Classic Champion Stanley Mitchell by a mere 1 pound, 6 ounces to cap an unbelievable finish to an unbelievable week.

Not surprisingly, Elliott was overcome with emotion shortly after hoisting the winner's check for $100,000 - the largest payday of his career by far.

"This has been a dream of mine since I was 12 years old," said Elliott, who was joined onstage by his wife and mother shortly after victory. "I can't believe it really happened. It hasn't sunk in yet. I have so many thoughts running through my head right now, it's hard to say how I feel. I'm just overwhelmed."

And to think, he did it all after only weighing in three fish in the finals.

"I thought I'd have to catch about 18 to 20 pounds of fish today to win this," said Elliott, who ultimately landed a catch of 14 pounds, 8 ounces in the finals. "I really figured I'd come in seventh or eighth place. I really didn't think I had a chance."

Whether by default or design, Elliott said that didn't place any pressure on himself during the finals. As it turned out, that might have been the best decision he made all week.

"I really had a no-lose attitude out there today," he said. "I really didn't put any pressure on myself, and that's the way you have to approach it. No matter what happened today, I was going to win either way."

Elliott should have had a clue that things were going his way when a humongous largemouth bass almost literally jumped into his boat.

"I was pulling my spinner bait back up to the boat when this 7-pounder jumped into the air and took my bait," he said. "I caught him by the lip with the trailer hook. The fish was just barely hanging on when I got him in the boat. I'm really glad I didn't lose that fish."

Although Elliott didn't get the 20-pound bag he'd hoped for in today's finals, he did manage to produce a healthy stringer by slow-rolling a Gambler Pro Series spinner bait near "scattered clumps" of milfoil. As it turned out, his strategy paid off - big time.

"I didn't expect to win an FLW tournament this quickly," said Elliott, who hails from Gloucester, N.C. "I thought it would at least take a couple of years. But it's nice to get this monkey off my back."

Although the record books were unclear on this point, Elliott just might have set the record for instigating the quickest exit by a monkey in the history of FLW competition.

Mitchell settles for second place

Although his total catch of 29 pounds, 3 ounces, came up a bit a short in today's finals, Stanley Mitchell of Fitzgerald, Ga., said he had few regrets with the way things ultimately turned out. After all, it's not often that you can rebound from a 126th-place finish on the first day of competition and end up finishing second.

"I felt pretty good today. This lake has always been good to me and this week was no different," said Mitchell, who netted a $35,000 payday to help ease some of the pain of fishing for seven straight hours in a driving rainstorm. "I went out there and fished as hard as I could. I just came up a little bit short. It's a wonder anybody caught anything at all out there today."

Mitchell, who won the "Energizer Keeps on Going" award for staging the biggest comeback in the history of FLW tournament competition, said he used a ¾-ounce Mann's spinner bait to land the majority of his catch in today's finals. However, it was ultimately Mitchell's inability to land a five-fish stringer that cost him.

"I knew I probably needed that fifth fish to win the tournament," said Mitchell. "But then again, catching all of those big fish (28 pounds and 1 ounce to be exact) on day two was worth the entire trip right there."

Crews cruises into third place

John Crews of Jetersville, Va., used a total catch of 27 pounds, 2 ounces to capture third place and a check for $20,000. Not bad for four days of work.

"What a sensational week," said Crews, who is in his second year of FLW Tour competition. "I lost three fish yesterday, so maybe I was on enough fish to win this. But to be in the finals is just awesome. I had a great time."

Best of the rest

Rick Clunn of Ava, Mo., bounced back from an eighth-place performance in the semifinals to finish in fourth place and win a check for $16,000. But to hear Clunn tell it, he had as much fun on Lake Murray this week as many of the wide-eyed rookies.

"I really had a great tournament and about as much fun as I've ever had," said Clunn, who netted a two-day total of 25 pounds, 14 ounces. "I didn't even want to go to bed at night. I just wanted to get back out there and go fishing."

In fifth place with a catch of 24 pounds, 10 ounces was Jody Cordell of Flowery Branch, Ga. Cordell, who slow-rolled a spinner bait to land the majority of his catch, said that the spirit of competition more than made up for the inclement weather.

"It was really tough out there today; I couldn't even keep the trolling motor in the water," said Cordell, who took home a check for $14,000. "But overall, I had a great tournament. It's just been an honor to fish with these guys."

Despite holding the lead heading into the finals and undertaking a Herculean effort to land a five-fish sack, Larry Nixon could only muster three fish for a disappointing total of 4 pounds, 11 ounces in the finals - giving him a grand total of 22 pounds, 10 ounces for the two days. However, unlike some of the younger finalists, the native of Bee Branch, Ark., said he wasn't exactly pleased with the results.

"I kept hunting and hunting, but I really couldn't find the fish today. You just can't believe how hard I tried out there," said Nixon, who took home a check for $12,000 after finishing in sixth place. "It was a great tournament, but I'm not like some of these younger guys. I'm not satisfied. I wanted to win."

Rounding out the top 10 finalists were Bud Pruitt (seventh) of Spring, Texas, with a two-day catch of 20 pounds, 11 ounces; Dan Morehead (eighth) of Paducah, Ky., with a catch of 20 pounds, 4 ounces; Darrel Robertson (ninth) of Jay, Okla., with a catch of 19 pounds, 3 ounces; and Wesley Strader (10th) of Spring City, Tenn., with a catch of 13 pounds, 10 ounces.

FLW Tour action resumes April 9-12 at the Wal-Mart Open on Beaver Lake in Rogers, Ark.

Related links:

Photos
Results
Quick Bites: Lake Murray, Day 4
Press releases

Tags: headline-story  gary-mortenson 

/news/2015-08-31-top-10-patterns-from-lake-erie

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Erie

Most of the other top top-10 finishers found their fish over rocky bottom structure around the Pelee area. Drop-shots and crankbaits dominated the catches. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-29-matual-masters-erie

Matual Masters Erie

David Matual of Chicago, Ill., leaned on his spot hard and sacked up the biggest bag of day three weighing 22 pounds, 6 ounces. For his final-day rally he claimed the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division victory on Lake Erie with a three-day total of 65 pounds, fending off Jared Rhode by a mere 7 ounces. Drop-shotting over shallow reefs delivered all of Matual’s fish and earned him a check worth more than $31,000. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-29-webster-runs-and-guns-for-win

Webster Runs and Guns for Win

Michael Webster of Gastonia, North Carolina, brought a five-bass limit totaling 13 pounds, 9 ounces to the scale Sunday to win the Walmart Bass Fishing League South Carolina Division Super Tournament on Lake Wylie with a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 27 pounds, 10 ounces. For his victory, Webster earned $4,476. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-29-experience-pays-for-boggs

Experience Pays for Boggs

Drew Boggs of Lebanon, Tennessee, brought five bass totaling 13 pounds, 12 ounces to the scale Sunday to win the Walmart Bass Fishing League Music City Division Super Tournament on Old Hickory Lake with a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 27 pounds, 2 ounces. For his victory, Boggs earned $4,257. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-29-jig-crankbait-carry-gray-to-victory

Jig, Crankbait Carry Gray to Victory

Brandon Gray of Bullock, North Carolina, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 14 pounds, 3 ounces Sunday to win the Walmart Bass Fishing League Piedmont Division Super Tournament on Kerr Lake with a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 32 pounds, 14 ounces. For his victory, Gray earned $5,886. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-29-hemken-searched-deep-for-bigger-bites

Hemken Searched Deep for Bigger Bites

Shawn Hemken of Walshville, Illinois, brought a five-bass limit to the scale Sunday weighing 11 pounds, 6 ounces to win the Walmart Bass Fishing League Illini Division Super Tournament on Lake Shelbyville with a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 26 pounds, 1 ounce. For his victory, Hemken earned $6,882. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-29-topwater-lifts-ragan-to-top

Topwater Lifts Ragan to Top

Thadeus Ragan of West Park, Florida, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 26 pounds, 8 ounces Sunday to win the Walmart Bass Fishing League Gator Division Super Tournament on Lake Okeechobee with a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 47 pounds, 10 ounces. For his victory, Ragan earned $6,922. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-29-martinkovic-runs-away-with-title

Martinkovic Runs Away with Title

Chris Martinkovic of Hamilton, Ohio, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 12 pounds, 9 ounces Saturday to win the fourth Walmart Bass Fishing League Hoosier Division tournament on the Ohio River. For his victory, Martinkovic earned $6,244. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-29-lake-erie-day-3-midday-update

Lake Erie Day 3 Midday Update

Lake Erie put on a different face for day three of the final Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event. After a rough day one, yesterday’s calm and mostly sunny conditions offered comfortable running and fishing conditions. Today was still a far cry from the brutal waves of day one - and prior practice days - but windier conditions and overcast skies seemed to present a more challenging scenario. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-28-top-5-patterns-from-lake-erie-day-2

Top 5 Patterns From Lake Erie Day 2

Pennsylvania pro Dave Lefebre and Ohio pro Jared Rhode tied for the day-two lead in Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division action on Lake Erie with 43 pounds, 9 ounces. Both pros caught their fish on drop-shots. Here are the details of the rest of the top five. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-28-lefebre-rhode-tied-at-the-top

Lefebre, Rhode Tied at the Top

Notching his second day of 20-plus pounds, FLW Tour pro Dave Lefebre tallied 43 pounds, 9 ounces and tied day-one leader Jared Rhode for the day-two top spot at the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie. Lefebre caught his 22-3 limit on Rapala DT-10 crankbaits, while Rhodes tempted his 19-15 catch with drop-shots. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-28-lake-erie-day-2-midday-update

Lake Erie Day 2 Midday Update

With winds shifting from yesterday’s northerly blow to a warmer southerly direction, day two of the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie brought calmer conditions with greater ability to methodically work key spots. Offshore, waves ran 1 to 2 feet, with leeward areas behind the Lake Erie Islands nearly flat. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-27-rhode-cracks-23-10-for-erie-lead

Rhode Cracks 23-10 for Erie Lead

Jared Rhode played his cards and the gamble paid off better than expected, as the pro from Port Clinton, Ohio, took the day-one lead at the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie with a limit catch weighing 23 pounds, 10 ounces. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-27-top-5-patterns-from-lake-erie-day-1

Top 5 Patterns from Lake Erie Day 1

Taking off this morning, the FLW Tour pro from Erie, Pa., knew the day’s north wind would keep him from making a long run to a big-fish spot close to his home. However, keeping it local and fishing a little past Pelee Island to the west delivered a solid second-place catch. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-27-lake-erie-day-1-midday-report

Lake Erie Day 1 Midday Report

Winds have subsided considerably since practice, but Lake Erie’s still showing her temperamental side to Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division anglers fishing the last divisional event out of Sandusky, Ohio. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-25-top-10-patterns-from-the-forrest-wood-cup

Top 10 Patterns from the Forrest Wood Cup

If you don’t believe that summertime bass fishing in the dog days of August is all over the map, just take a look at the top 10 patterns from the best bass pros on earth at the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. Brad Knight captured the Cup by mining one small creek end for four days. But beyond that, the rest of the top 10 patterns ran the gamut, from targeting schoolers over 40 feet to wolf packs of bass on the bank to brush piles to grass to mud flats and everywhere in between. Here’s a rundown. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-23-knight-slays-ouachita

Knight Slays Ouachita

Lancing, Tenn., pro Brad Knight won the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart on Lake Ouachita with a four-day total of 51 pounds, 12 ounces. In front of a standing-room-only crowd at Bank of the Ozarks Arena in Hot Springs, Ark., Knight weighed in 11-07 on day four to surpass Jacob Wheeler, who started the day with a 12-ounce lead. Fishing in just one area all four days, Knight locked up the first win of his FLW career. He earned $500,000 for his victory and pushed his career earnings total to more than $688,000. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-23-forrest-wood-cup-day-4-coverage

Forrest Wood Cup Day 4 Coverage

Daily updates from the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-22-wheeler-back-in-front

Wheeler Back in Front

Jacob Wheeler loves Lake Ouachita. It’s where he fished his first Forrest Wood Cup in 2011, and it’s where he’ll take the tournament lead into the final day of competition at the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart and hosted by Visit Hot Springs and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. Wheeler, the 2011 Cup champion, led this tournament on day one and slipped a couple spots on day two. He now has a very slim 12-ounce lead over Tennessean Brad Knight. The anglers will square off tomorrow on Ouachita starting at 7 a.m. against the rest of the top 10 pros for the top prize of $500,000. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-22-top-5-patterns-from-the-cup-day-3

Top 5 Patterns from the Cup Day 3

Jacob Wheeler may have regained his lead in the Forrest Wood Cup on day three, but Brad Knight is right on his heels. Going into the final day, the two pros are separated by just 12 ounces. The margin is tight, and what’s going to make the final day fun to watch is the difference in the two anglers’ strategies. Wheeler is running a topwater pattern on the main lake, and fishing new water is part of his plan. Knight, however, has caught almost all of his weight from one 250-yard stretch of bass-rich creek channel. He literally knows every target he is fishing by heart. On the surface, Knight’s area looks to be the better bet. But he has shared the general area with Brandon Cobb and Mark Daniels Jr. for three solid days. And the bad news, at least for Knight, is that both Cobb and Daniels will be sharing the water with him again on the final day as both made the top-10 cut. READ MORE »