Hoernke’s the hottest on the Red

Texas pro wins Central Division closer; Davis wins points title

NATCHITOCHES, La. - When Sean Hoernke beat 2002 FLW Tour champion John Sappington by 4 ounces in the final round of EverStart Series Central Division competition Saturday, it was the next step toward making his dream come true. Hoernke caught five bass weighing 12 pounds, 10 ounces to win the Pro Division, collected $10,000 and took home a new Ranger boat.

"This feels great," said a teary-eyed Hoernke. "It's been a long time coming. This is the greatest thing in the world."

What started for Hoernke, who hails from Euless, Texas, as a stint in competitive motorcycle racing as youth eventually evolved into a passion for tournament fishing that culminated in Saturday's EverStart victory.

"When I was 13 years old, I dreamed of fishing as a pro," he said. "I grew up in motorcycle racing, but then my uncle got me fishing from the bank. When I turned 16 and got my driver's license, I was gone. At Texas A & M, I actually structured my college courses in marketing and public relations so that I would be specifically geared for a career in pro fishing."

It seems to have worked so far for Hoernke, who guides at Lake Fork, Texas, between tournaments. While he competed at the 2000 BFL All-American and even won a BFL Cowboy Division event in 1998, this was his first-ever top-10 appearance at the EverStart level. He has fished the Central Division sporadically since 2001, but this week's tournament was his sole entry into EverStart competition this season.

"This is the only one I've fished this year, so I wasn't in the running for the points. My plan was to win," he said.

The plan worked to a T. While Hoernke owns a regular 21-foot bass boat, he brought and used a flat-bottom, 17-foot aluminum boat all week long on the Red River. The idea was to gain access to some of the more remote backwater areas that bigger boats couldn't reach. The first two days of competition, he used that access to his advantage when he found a little backwater area off the river's heavily fished Pool 4 and made the cut. The last two days when there were fewer tournament boats, he fell back to his second scouted location, which involved a more conventional - and accessible - shallow-water pattern on nearby Pool 3. There, he shared the same water as Sappington.

"We watched each other catch fish all through the event," Hoernke said. "I knew it was going to be won out of that area. When I saw that there were just two of us in there, I poured it on because I have a lot of respect for John."

Hoernke landed a total of 28 bass Saturday, eventually culling out to his winning weight. In the finals, he said he alternated between throwing a chartreuse, lime and white spinner bait and flipping a black-and-red-flake tube.

Second place bittersweet for Sappington

Sappington, from Wyandotte, Okla., caught a limit weighing 12 pounds, 6 ounces in the finals and collected $10,000 for second place. He admitted to feeling slightly disappointed by the outcome if only because he fished within sight of Hoernke and because he loves Louisiana fishing, having tasted victory here before. The last time he fished a major tournament in this state, he won the 2002 FLW Championship at Cross Lake in Shreveport.

"Sean and I fished the exact same place up the river a little bit from the takeoff (at Morgan's Landing)," he said. "I kind of did think I had it (won). I felt like I caught enough fish to win it, but he caught more fish than I did so he deserved it."

Sappington used a Lake Fork craw to land the bulk of bass, but said he did lose one 5-pounder early Saturday morning that could have made the difference between first and second place, which the veteran knows can be crucial in pro fishing.

"If you would have asked me three days ago about second place, I would have said, `great,'" he said. "But the problem with second place is that nobody remembers second place. But I've had a good tournament. There was nothing more I could do."

Gulledge lands in third

Danny Gulledge of Hamburg, Ark., who took a sizable lead on day one with an 18-pound stringer, finished the tournament in third place with a five-bass weight of 10 pounds, 9 ounces. He collected $9,000.

Like earlier in the week, conditions were hot, humid and blindingly sunny Saturday. That's just the way Gulledge, who used a War Eagle spinner bait, liked it.

"The sun was key for what I was doing," he said. "Anytime I could see the brim suspended, I could catch fish. My last two fish I caught in the last 10 minutes."

Hester good for fourth

The high temperatures even had the locals sweating. Jerry Hester, who hails from nearby Coushatta, La., finished in fourth place with five bass weighing 9 pounds, 2 ounces. He collected $8,000.

"It was hot - real hot - out there," he said. "I had a plan to save my big ones and catch them today, but they just didn't bite."

Stegall finishes fifth

Roger Stegall of Iuka, Miss., also caught five bass weighing 9 pounds, 2 ounces, but finished in fifth place due to a tiebreaker. He collected $7,500.

"I'm not bragging, but I've been sort of consistent. I've had about 9 or 10 pounds every day," he said, adding that he made a grueling 50-mile, lock-to-lock run in the heat in search of a 5-pound bite. "I caught most of them on a Strike King spinner bait and June bug worm."

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 pro finishers are Lendell Martin Jr. of Nacogdoches, Texas, (sixth place, $6,500) with five bass weighing 7 pounds, 8 ounces; Craig Powers of Rockwood, Tenn., (seventh, $5,500) with four bass weighing 7-7; Randall Osborne of Mount Sterling, Ky., (eighth, $5,000) with five bass weighing 7-7; Bobby Graves of Mount Ida, Ark., (ninth, $4,500) with three bass weighing 4-14; and Slade Dearman of Onalaska, Texas, (10th, $4,000) with two bass weighing 4-6.

Davis wins points title

Jackie Davis of Willard, Mo., won the 2003 Central Division standings title when Powers finished in seventh place Saturday. Davis finished the year with 763 points and Powers finished with 757.

"Jackie Davis is a great competitor, and he's a great guy. He deserved it," Powers said. "It worked out as it should have."

Coming up

The Central Division is done for the 2003 season. The next EverStart Series tournament is a Northern Division contest at the Detroit River in Trenton, Mich., July 23-26.

Day-four links:

Photos
Final results
Press release
'Barber clips co-angler title at Red River'

Tags: headline-story  jeff-schroeder 

/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 »