UPCOMING EVENT: Bass Fishing League - 2016 - Lake Okeechobee

Heavyweights’ title hopes disappearing with the tides

Pro Kevin VanDam flips toward the bank as co-angler Darrell Stevens fishes behind him.

Kilby nets top stringer while some of tour's biggest names struggle mightily on James River

RICHMOND, Va. - As expected, today's weights confirmed what most people knew all along: The James River would prove to be a very tough fishery during the 2003 FLW Tour Championship. But what was not expected was the fact that some of the nation's top anglers would find themselves dangerously close to elimination after only the first day of competition. With household names like Kevin VanDam, Dan Morehead, Rick Clunn, Aaron Martens, Paul Elias and David Walker turning in performances ranging from subpar to dismal, it is already clear that surprises during this week's $1.5 million event will prove to be the rule and not the exception.

The first sign that the championship would deviate greatly from the script came when VanDam - arguably the best angler in the nation - appeared onstage with only 1 pound, 1 ounce, falling behind his head-to-head rival Terry Bolton of Paducah, Ky., by nearly 6 pounds with only one day left to make up the gap.

"It's tough out there and I really didn't adjust well," said VanDam, of Kalamazoo, Mich. "I had a terrible day out there today. But Terry is a great fisherman and like I said earlier, you're going to see a lot of surprises this week. Everybody who is in this championship has earned their way in."

The upsets didn't stop there. Morehead, the No. 1 seed and 2003 Land O'Lakes FLW Angler of the Year had an even rougher day - turning in a catch of 1 pound, 3 ounces and falling behind his bracket rival, 48th-seeded Alvin Shaw of State Road, N.C., by 7 pounds, 6 ounces.

"It's like I told Hank Parker earlier, I didn't have a good practice," said Morehead of Paducah, Ky. "I just didn't catch them today. I put all of my eggs in one basket and that was probably a mistake. I also stayed with my pattern too long. But it's not over yet."

So what happened? As usual, it depended on whom you asked.

"You have a full moon, a tropical system coming out of Florida and a hard northeast wind," said FLW Tour pro Clark Wendlandt, summing up today's extremely difficult fishing conditions which included strong tides, muddied water and fierce winds - conditions most anglers didn't have to face during the last week and a half of practice.

However, that wasn't the only perspective on what went wrong.

"When you don't get many bites, it's really hard to analyze the situation," said second-seeded David Dudley of Manteo, N.C. "But I'll tell you what, it's pretty obvious that all of the anglers who like to fish fast - VanDam, (Rick) Clunn and I'll put myself in that group - didn't really excel today. And when it gets like this, you really have to slow down, adjust and have patience. It takes a lot of discipline out there, and I didn't have a lot of it today."

Some anglers expressed almost absolute amazement on how different conditions had become in the last 24 hours.

"There's a ton of fish in my spot, but I just couldn't catch them today because the water was so high," said FLW Tour rookie Dave Lefebre of Erie, Pa. "It was crazy out there. The creek channel I was fishing became a lake. I'd never seen the water get that high before. Fish I was catching in about 3 feet of water were now in about 9 feet of water. Unfortunately, I didn't even bring a crankbait that ran that deep."

Kilby turns in top performance

In many respects, Rob Kilby of Hot Springs, Ark., was the exception to the rule in today's competition. Although the difficult conditions all but sank the chances of many top anglers, Kilby had no such problems, turning in a stellar catch of 11 pounds, 12 ounces while out-fishing the rest of the vaunted field.

And the secret to his success?

"I drew from past experience on the James River, and I think that really helped me out a lot today," said Kilby, who now leads his rival, fifth-seeded Tim Carroll of Owasso, Okla., by a hefty margin of 7 pounds, 4 ounces. "I've had six events here overall, three Bassmasters Classics and two top-10 finishes. I really like it here. After awhile, you kind of get an understanding on how this place works."

In fact, Kilby was so in tune with his environment that he even stumbled across an old friend.

"I found I log that I remember fishing back in 1988," he said. "I couldn't believe it was still there. And when you only have to make one cast to catch a fish on a spot you remember from a long time ago, it gives you some confidence."

But while Kilby turned in a remarkable performance, he said it definitely wasn't an easy day on the water.

"The wind here is as big of a problem as the muddy water and tides," said Kilby. "Right now there is a lot of water and the fish are spread out all over. But I think the key is throwing very high-profile baits. If your baits are too small, the fish aren't even going to see them in these types of conditions."

Kilby, who pitched a jig to land most of his larger fish, said that he has a carefully crafted game plan for tomorrow's event.

"I have a 7-pound lead, which is nice, but if I can go out there and catch another 5 to 6 pounds tomorrow, I think I'll use the rest of the day as practice," he said. "But what you can't do is go out there thinking that you have this thing wrapped up or else it could come back to haunt you."

And what about fishing for a first-place prize of $500,000?

"You can't even think about that right now," he said. "You really just have to keep going forward, doing what brought you success in the first place."

Bracket of Doom produces a few surprises

While there were many story lines coming into the FLW Championship, perhaps the biggest pre-tournament buzz surrounded the so-called Bracket of Doom - a four-man head-to-head battle that included VanDam, Wendlandt, Walker and Terry Bolton - billed as the toughest bracket in the championship. However, although Bolton was considered by some as the least likely of the four to emerge, the veteran from Paducah, Ky., had other ideas. In short, Bolton pulled out all of the stops, stunning many by outfishing VanDam - one of the heavy pre-tournament favorites - by a full 5 pounds, 12 ounces.

"I had an opportunity a couple of years ago to fish against Kevin, and I know that he sets the bar really high," Bolton said. "I'm learned over the years that you can't really make any mistakes against him. Today, I made a real long run and went for broke. I only wound up catching four fish, but it kind of worked out for me."

Wendlandt emerged as the early frontrunner on the other end of the Bracket of Doom - outfishing Walker by a full 6 pounds, 6 ounces.

"I have a pretty good lead now, and I might be able to go out there and get away with catching 3 or 4 pounds. But what if David comes back tomorrow with a 13-pound stringer?" said Wendlandt. "So, to be safe, I'm probably going to go out there and catch as many fish as I can."

However, that being said, Wendlandt says he likes his chances of moving on to the round of 24 after tomorrow's competition.

"I really like fishing this type of water," said Wendlandt. "I feel pretty confident right now. The only problem is that I'm sharing water with Randy Blaukat, and he's probably going to have the first crack at that spot tomorrow. I might have a tough day if I can't fish there. But overall, I feel pretty good about my chances."

Wendlandt said that he used a combination of crankbaits and Gambler Bacon Bits to land the majority of his catch.

Clunn, Dudley and Hibdon struggle, but remain in good shape

Although legendary angler Rick Clunn of Ava, Mo., turned in a mediocre performance during today's competition, he had the comfort of knowing that his head-to-head rival John Crews - the only Virginia native in the entire tournament - produced an equally unremarkable sack.

"The fish are going to have the final say in this," said Clunn, who produced a 2-pound, 4-ounce stringer in today's competition - 8 ounces less than Crews. "We both have a shot tomorrow, and that's the advantage of this type of format."

After acknowledging that he expected tomorrow's battle to be close, Crews was almost apologetic to the crowd concerning the duo's most recent showing.

"Maybe tomorrow will be a different day," he said. "Hopefully we'll have some more exciting weights for you guys."

Meanwhile, Dion Hibdon of Stover, Mo. - another pre-tournament favorite - found himself in a similar position as Clunn. Although he didn't fish very well, he was still very much alive heading into tomorrow's competition.

"I'm tickled to death to still be in this," said Hibdon, who turned in a 3-pound, 9-ounce stringer. "The brackets are finally being kind to me."

Hibdon, who finds himself trailing 2002 FLW Champion John Sappington of Wyandotte, Okla., by 10 ounces, said he wasn't about to start pointing fingers at the difficult fishing conditions as the reason behind his lack of success today.

"I'm not going to blame this on the tides because I watched them cycle all the way through, and I eventually had the tides I wanted," said Hibdon. "But it was a frustrating day. I think I'm just going to have to go out tomorrow and move around a lot more. I'm going to need to hustle."

Sappington, like many anglers, seemed perplexed by the conditions as well.

"Today was the highest the water has been, and I really didn't know what to do out there," he said. "It's frustrating."

However, Dudley - never at a loss for words - appeared unmoved by all the talk of the tough conditions despite his own struggles.

"Everybody is crying about the same thing, but we all have to deal with the same conditions," said Dudley, who outfished his opponent Jim Moynagh of Carver, Minn., by 2 pounds, 10 ounces, despite only landing a total catch of 4 pounds, 7 ounces. "Some of this is just luck. I had two bites and so did Jim. It just turned out that my bites were a little bit bigger."

Although Dudley was a heavy favorite coming into his first-round match, he said that he is not taking Moynagh lightly.

"Jim is a good fisherman and he likes to fish slowly, which is probably what you need to do," Dudley said. "It worked out for me today, but tomorrow the advantages could go in Jim's favor. I'm definitely going to have a good day tomorrow to advance."

Schenck lands biggest fish

(Photo by Jeff Schroeder)" BORDER="1" ALIGN="LEFT">Shad Schenck of Waynetown, Ind. - who had the second-heaviest stringer of the day after landing a catch of 11 pounds, 5 ounces - also claimed the day-one Snicker's Big Bass honors with a 4-pound, 11-ounce bass. Schenck won $1,000 for his efforts.

2003 FLW Championship action continues tomorrow morning, with takeoff scheduled to take place at 7 a.m. at the Osborne Boat Landing, located at 9680 Osborne Turn Pike in Richmond, Va.

Click here for a preview of day two.

Related links:

Photos
Results
Championship bracket update
Results of day-one pairings
Day-two pairings
Championship Bites: FLW James River, Day 1
Kitchens is cooking
Press releases

Tags: gary-mortenson  headline-story  2003-09-10-jacobs-cup 

/news/2016-07-25-top-10-patterns-from-the-1000-islands

Top 10 Patterns from the 1000 Islands

High wind and fluctuating water temperatures made things a little difficult for the anglers, but the top-10 pros adapted and utilized the whole playing field to exploit everything from deep smallmouth to shallow largemouth. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-25-mccartney-o-keefe-tie-for-win-at-flw-bass-fishing-league-great-lakes-division-event-on-mississippi-river-presented-by-navionics

McCartney, O’Keefe Tie For Win at FLW Bass Fishing League Great Lakes Division Event on Mississippi River Presented By Navionics

LA CROSSE, Wis. (July 25, 2016) – Mark McCartney of Davis Junction, Illinois, and Nick O’Keefe of La Crosse, Wisconsin, each weighed three bass totaling 11 pounds even, Saturday to win the third FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Great Lakes Division tournament of 2016 on the Mississippi... READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-25-mccartney-o-keefe-tie-on-the-mighty-miss

McCartney, O'Keefe tie on the Mighty Miss

Mark McCartney of Davis Junction, Illinois, and Nick O’Keefe of La Crosse, Wisconsin, each weighed three bass totaling 11 pounds even, Saturday to win the third FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Great Lakes Division tournament of 2016 on the Mississippi River presented by Navionics. For his win, McCartney earned $5,540 after bonuses, and O’Keefe took home $3,540. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-25-country-music-superstar-dustin-lynch-to-perform-free-concert-in-huntsville-presented-by-wdrm-102-1

Country Music Superstar Dustin Lynch to perform Free Concert In Huntsville presented by WDRM 102.1

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Country music superstar Dustin Lynch will perform a free concert on the Walmart weigh-in stage at the Propst Arena in the Von Braun Center in Huntsville on Sunday, August 7, starting at 4 p.m., prior to the final weigh-in of the world championship of professional bass fishing, the 2016 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart. The concert is presented by WDRM... READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-25-canterbury-s-next-challenge-

Canterbury’s Next Challenge

At the time of writing, Canterbury had been picked by every pundit and 50 percent of players overall, which is a decent bump over Morgan at 47 percent. The dollars attached obviously make a difference, but there’s no doubt that everyone expects great things. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-25-jay-kendrick-the-rookie-

Jay Kendrick – The “Rookie”

A rookie by designation if not by experience, Forrest Wood Cup contender Jay Kendrick finished 34th in the standings in his first year on the Walmart FLW Tour to clinch a spot in the championship. What makes it even more fortuitous for him is that because the Cup is taking place on Wheeler Lake, he’ll be able to stay at his own house for the event, which is just about 30 minutes from takeoff at Ditto Landing. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-25-fan-freebies-and-contests-at-the-cup

Fan Freebies and Contests at the Cup

One pro angler is going to win $300,000 at the Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart Aug. 4-7 on Wheeler Lake in Huntsville, Ala. That’s good for him. For fans, the chance to win is pretty good too. FLW and its partners and sponsors have lined up a sweet selection of giveaway prizes for the Cup and the accompanying FLW Expo, ranging from a tricked-out bass boat to a fishing trip with Jimmy Houston. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-24-1000-islands-top-10-baits

1000 Islands Top 10 Baits

The top pros from the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event presented by Mercury at 1000 Islands kept it pretty simple to catch both largemouths and smallmouths from this massive fishery that includes the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario. Drop-shots, spinnerbaits and jigs all saw action and got it done from the lake to the river. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-24-penn-state-taps-docks-at-chautauqua-

Penn State Taps Docks at Chautauqua

The Penn State University duo of Clayton Frey of York, Pennsylvania, and Derek Horner, of State College, Pennsylvania, won the FLW College Fishing Northern Conference event at Chautauqua Lake Saturday with five bass weighing 13 pounds, 3 ounces. The victory earned the club $2,000 and qualified the team for the 2017 FLW College Fishing National Championship. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-23-thompson-co-angler-champ-on-1000-islands

Thompson Co-angler Champ on 1000 Islands

The 1000 Islands is a great place to take a vacation, especially if you are from the south and want to escape the heat. That is exactly what co-angler Joe Thompson of Clayton, Ga., did and wound up capturing the top spot in the co-angler division bringing home a Ranger Z117 with a 90 hp motor. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-23-penn-state-university-wins-flw-college-fishing-northern-conference-event-on-chautauqua-lake

Penn State University wins FLW College Fishing Northern Conference Event on Chautauqua Lake

CHAUTAUQUA, N.Y. – The Penn State University duo of Clayton Frey of York, Pennsylvania, and Derek Horner, of State College, Pennsylvania, won the FLW College Fishing Northern Conference event at Chautauqua Lake Saturday with five bass weighing 13 pounds, 3 ounces. The victory earned the club $2,000 and qualified the team for the 2017 FLW College Fishing National... READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-23-michigan-s-dobson-leads-wire-to-wire-wins-costa-flw-series-event-at-1000-islands-presented-by-mercury

Michigan’s Dobson leads wire-to-wire, wins Costa FLW Series Event at 1000 Islands presented by Mercury

CLAYTON, N.Y. – Scott Dobson of Clarkston, Michigan, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 21 pounds, 12 ounces Saturday to win the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event at 1000 Islands presented by Mercury with a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 68 pounds, 8 ounces. For his win, Dobson earned $82,669, including a new Ranger Z518 with a 200-horsepower Evinrude or... READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-23-dobson-dominates-1000-islands

Dobson Dominates 1000 Islands

Scott Dobson didn’t expect it to come so quickly, but 30 minutes is all it took for him to find the winning pattern during his first day of practice for the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event presented by Mercury at 1000 Islands. That pattern would lead him to three consecutive limits of more than 20 pounds, including today’s final-round bag worth 21-12 – the day’s biggest limit, yet his smallest of the tournament. His three-day total weight of 68-8 earned him a check for more than $37,000 along with a Ranger Z518C with a 200-hp engine for being Ranger Cup qualified. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-22-1000-islands-top-5-patterns-day-2

1000 Islands Top 5 Patterns Day 2

Strong winds limited competition to only the St. Lawrence River on day two of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event presented by Mercury at 1000 Islands, but that was no problem for the majority of the top 10. Even though most of them fished Lake Ontario on day one, they were able to adjust and stay on the fish today. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-22-dobson-extends-lead-at-1000-islands

Dobson Extends Lead at 1000 Islands

A windy day two of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event on the 1000 Islands didn’t stop day-one leader Scott Dobson of Clarkston, Mich., from sacking up the biggest bag of the day. Dobson threw down an impressive 22-pound, 3-ounce limit to extend his lead to 5 pounds over Cal Climpson – a noted Lake Ontario maestro. Dobson’s two-day total stands at 46-12, and with lighter winds tomorrow some big bags are expected. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-22-lake-ontario-out-for-day-2

Lake Ontario Out for Day 2

It is never good when you wake up the morning of a tournament and every flag you see is standing straight out at 3 a.m., but that was the case this morning for day two of the Costa FLW Series event on the 1000 Islands. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-21-1000-islands-top-5-patterns-day-1

1000 Islands Top 5 Patterns Day 1

Past experience on this fishery seems to be a big advantage for the top pros through one day of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event presented by Mercury at 1000 Islands. Scott Dobson leads the way with 24 pounds, 9 ounces, yet there are some serious hammers right on his heels. Dobson fished both the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario for his limit, while others went straight to the lake and stayed there. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-21-dobson-drops-24-9

Dobson Drops 24-9

Despite the weights being dropped on the scale for the opening round of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event on the 1000 Islands presented by Mercury, it has actually been a tough day of fishing. Strong winds made it hard for the anglers regardless of if they were fishing the lake or river. Smallmouth guru Scott Dobson of Clarkston, Mich., sacked up 24 pounds, 9 ounces on day one to take a 1-8 lead over Canadian stick Cal Climpson. Dobson utilized both the river and lake for his limit, which could play to his advantage if the wind blows like the weathermen are forecasting tomorrow. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-21-professional-bass-fishing-s-forrest-wood-cup-set-to-visit-wheeler-lake

Professional Bass Fishing’s Forrest Wood Cup set to visit Wheeler Lake

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart, the world championship of professional bass fishing, will visit Wheeler Lake and the Huntsville, Alabama, area August 4-7 to crown bass fishing’s top angler of 2016. Hosted by the Huntsville/Madison County Convention and Visitors Bureau, the tournament will feature 50 of the world’s best bass-fishing... READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-21-1000-islands-midday-update-day-1

1000 Islands Midday Update Day 1

Day one of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event presented by Mercury at 1000 Islands hasn’t been about if the wind will blow, but when. Everyone knew the gales were coming eventually. Still, the majority of anglers hung a left out of the dock this morning and charged toward Lake Ontario into a steady breeze that turned into a howling wind by midmorning. READ MORE »