UPCOMING EVENT: Walmart Bass Fishing League - 2015 - Kerr Lake

Dudley does it again

TOWER, Minn. - Tournament by tournament, lake by lake, 28-year-old David Dudley just keeps establishing himself as one of the best, most consistent pro anglers on tour. The last time he won, at the 2002 Ranger M1, he used a chainsaw to cut his way into the richest-ever payout in competitive bass fishing, $700,000.

There were no chainsaws Saturday in the final round of EverStart Series Northern Division competition at Minnesota's Lake Vermilion, but a defibrillator might have come in handy after Dudley's heartstopping defeat of Mark Zona by 1 ounce to win the Pro Division.

"I was more nervous today than I was at the M1," said Dudley, a fishing guide from Manteo, N.C.

As well he should have been. For a moment during Saturday's tense weigh-in it appeared Dudley and Zona were going to tie. But as Dudley watched his fish on the scale, his weight bobbed up and down, finally settling on 14 pounds, 7 ounces - 1 ounce more than Zona's 14-6. Dudley won by the weight of a few drops of water and collected $10,000 plus a new Ranger boat in the process.

"That more than likely will make the ride home a little bit longer," said Zona, a native of Sturgis, Mich., who won $10,000 for second place. "It's 12 hours, but it's going to seem like two days."

Dudley said he battled a tougher day of fishing in the finals. While Lake Vermilion coughed up five-bass limits all week, including Saturday where all the pros caught limits, the quality smallmouth spawning bite that anglers feasted on the first two days dissipated. Dudley spent a lot of time moving around the lake searching for new fish. And he caught some.

"I had to expand on my area to get the win," he said. "But the key was looking for giant boulders."

Dudley focused his watermelon and green-pumpkin Zoom Super Fluke on smallmouth relating to the biggest boulders he could find along Vermilion's rocky bottom. The tactic garnered him about 30 fish total, but it was his biggest bass, a smallmouth around 4 pounds, that pushed him over the edge.

"Yesterday, I had a blessing in disguise. This big fish came and blew up on my Spook and I missed it," he said. "I went back and caught her today. If she would have taken the bait yesterday, I would have caught her then and I would have never won."

Zona's been there, done that

Zona also targeted smallmouths early with tube baits, but he switched over to Senkos and jigs on a largemouth pattern he'd been saving for the finals because his early limit "had three rats in there."

"I went to the back of a few bays looking for largemouth, and my hands just got shredded," he said. "I had one magic dock where I caught about 10 good fish."

Even so, Zona knew it was going to be tight at the finish. He has seen it happen before. At the 2002 EverStart Championship, Zona held a tie for the lead but ultimately finished in third place after Koby Kreiger weighed in last and almost a pound heavier.

"Well, I guess I'm used to it by now. I did everything I could. When they bit, I caught them," he said. "It was a great week. The top 10 was stacked with talent, and I knew you were going to have to throw a pretty good jab to get them."

Rest of the best

Finishing third in the Pro Division and collecting $9,000 was Art Ferguson III of St. Clair Shores, Mich., who weighed in 13 pounds, 9 ounces.

"The first couple of days, I fished for spawning fish," he said. "Then the last couple of days, I tried to get some release fish out (near Fortune Bay) and tried some other things. I had a great practice and it was a great week."

Fourth place went to day-three leader Kreiger, who weighed in 11 pounds, 4 ounces and collected $8,000.

"It just wasn't meant to be," said the pro from Okeechobee, Fla. "But David and I roomed together last night. I told him that if I didn't win it, I wanted him to."

Fifth place and $7,500 went to the only Minnesotan in the finals, Jim Moynagh of Carver. He caught 11 pounds, 3 ounces.

"I was glad to see Minnesota host one of these things," he said. "It wasn't such a long drive for me."

Rounding out the top 10 pro finishers are Jim Tutt of Longview, Texas, (sixth place, $6,500) with 10 pounds, 11 ounces; Kevin Vida of Clare, Mich., (seventh, $5,500) with 9-5; Ricky Doyle of Keeseville, N.Y., (eighth, $5,000) with 9-0; Dion Hibdon of Stover, Mo., (ninth, $4,500) with 7-13; and Tony Defilippo of Lake Ann, Mich., (10th, $4,000) with 7-10.

The winning attitude

Dudley, who credited his friend Kreiger for much of his success over the past two seasons, said he isn't finished winning yet.

"I've accomplished two of my five goals," he said, referring to his EverStart and Ranger M1 victories. "I also want to win an FLW tournament, the FLW Championship and FLW Angler of the Year (Dudley is currently second in FLW points with one tournament to go).

"If I was to tell you I've had a great year, I'd be lying to you. If I was the best and won every tournament throughout the year, I could say I was having a great year. All I can tell you is that I'm fishing well and putting myself into a position to win. I'm not satisfied yet. That's all I'm saying."

And that's why he's called the Manteo Machine.

Notable

Almost to a one, every angler loved the Lake Vermilion bass fishery. The waterway likely set tournament records for number of limits caught (they're being verified), and tales of hundred-bass days were not uncommon throughout the week.

Hibdon, who's no stranger to bass fishing anywhere, had this to say about Vermilion: "I probably had one of the better bass-fishing days I've ever spent on the water that first day. I caught well over a hundred fish. I've been fortunate enough to come to Minnesota a few times over the years, and these people really know how to take care of their fish. It's just phenomenal. I think there's a fish on every rock. And I think a lot of states could learn a few lessons from Minnesota because it thrives on keeping its fisheries in good shape."

Coming up

The next EverStart Series tournament is an Eastern Division contest at Guntersville Lake in Guntersville, Ala., June 11-14. The next Northern Division tournament will be held at the Detroit River in Trenton, Mich., July 23-26.

Day-four links:

Photos
Final results
Press release
"McNeil tops co-anglers at Vermilion"

Tags: headline-story  jeff-schroeder 

/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-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 »

/news/2015-08-22-forrest-wood-cup-day-3-coverage

Forrest Wood Cup Day 3 Coverage

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

/news/2015-08-21-ramie-races-into-the-lead

Ramie Races into the Lead

On the back of a 17-pound, 14-ounce limit, which is the biggest of the tournament thus far, Ramie Colson Jr. jumped from seventh place to take over the lead at the halfway point of the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart. Colson’s two-day total is 31 pounds, 1 ounce, which puts him almost 3 pounds ahead of Tennessee’s Brad Knight. The Forrest Wood Cup, which is hosted by Visit Hot Springs and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, moves into its top-20 round on Saturday. The top 10 pros after Saturday’s weigh-in advance to Sunday’s final round for a shot at the $500,000 top prize. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-21-top-5-patterns-from-the-cup-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from the Cup Day 2

At times, bass fishing can be a lot like real estate, where the three most important rules are location, location and location. The 2015 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita presented by Walmart is starting to become a bit of a real estate game where location is the primary consideration in who climbs the leaderboard. And those mining the backs of creeks and tributaries are on the prime pieces of real estate. Consider that after day two, four of the top five pros are concentrating their fishing efforts in the back ends of creeks or rivers. All of these areas fit a classic late-summer, early-fall pattern where shad pack into the back of creek ditches that meander through shallow flats. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-21-forrest-wood-cup-day-2-coverage

Forrest Wood Cup Day 2 Coverage

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

/news/2015-08-20-wheeler-hunting-history

Wheeler Hunting History

It’s never been done before, and it hasn’t happened yet, but Jacob Wheeler is in prime position to become the first two-time Forrest Wood Cup champion in history. Wheeler, of Indianapolis, Ind., brought in a 16-pound, 2-ounce limit of Lake Ouachita bass on the first day of the Cup, which is presented by Walmart and hosted by Visit Hot Springs and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-20-top-5-patterns-from-the-cup-day-1

Top 5 Patterns from the Cup Day 1

After day one of the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita, several things have come to light. For one, this event is not likely to produce a runaway win for anyone like it did when Scott Martin won here in 2011. Second, when the pros said Ouachita was going to be stingy, they meant it – only 29 of the 50 pros checked in limits today. Third, firm patterns are hard to come by on Lake Ouachita in August. Jacob Wheeler took the lead on day one in the event that’s presented by Walmart and hosted by Visit Hot Springs and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. With the help of a 5-pound bass, Wheeler weighed in a limit of 16 pounds, 2 ounces, but he had to sample a lot of different areas for his catch. Here’s how the rest of the top five got it done. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-20-forrest-wood-cup-day-1-coverage

Forrest Wood Cup Day 1 Coverage

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