UPCOMING EVENT: Walmart Bass Fishing League - 2016 - Lake Okeechobee

Dudley does it again!

David Dudley can barely contain his emotions immediately after winning the 2003 FLW Championship in dramatic fashion.

RICHMOND, Va. - With a steeled determination and a poker face that would have intimidated the best card players on the Las Vegas circuit, David Dudley of Manteo, N.C., sat and watched as his main rival Harmon Davis of Marlow, Okla., methodically racked up a 9-pound, 4-ounce limit. At this point, no other finalist but Dudley could mathematically defeat Davis. The tension mounted. Dudley, who had only one fish remaining, desperately needed to come up with at least 2 pounds, 6 ounces to have any shot at the title. But did he have it? Nobody knew ... except Dudley, the man who already had a $700,000 payday under his belt for winning last year's Ranger M1 tournament.

As the crowd watched in nervous anticipation, Dudley walked to the scales, paused and then jerked out a 2-pound, 9-ounce largemouth bass - his fifth and final fish. Dudley pumped his fist. Davis, who had only weighed in four fish of a potential five-fish limit, was now only 4 ounces from victory. However, when Davis reached into his livewell, he grasped only air. Dudley, upon realizing that he had won perhaps the most difficult tournament of his life, thrust his arms toward the sky in victory. In one fell swoop, Dudley became the all-time money leader on the FLW Tour, pushing his career earning at FLW Outdoors and Ranger M1 events over the $1.5 million mark.

However, when asked to say a few words onstage about his fantastic and historic accomplishment, Dudley - perhaps for the first time in his life - was speechless. As he choked back tears, Dudley tried to regroup. But he failed, over and over again. Finally, after slumping back in his chair in complete exhaustion, Dudley spoke.

"I feel very proud of this win," said Dudley, who battled a highly competitive field and nasty weather all week to capture the first-place prize of $500,000. "This means more to me than winning the $700,000 at the Ranger M1 tournament because I feel like I really earned this victory. It feels great. This is probably the best win of my career."

Dudley said that he knew he had a good chance of capturing the title when he saw how high the water had risen earlier this morning.

"When I got to the boat ramp for takeoff and I saw that the water was over the dock, I was really happy," he said. "I was hoping for high water because I thought that'd really put me at an advantage."

As it turned out, he was right on.

"People kept talking all week about how tough it was to fish with the tides, but the tides weren't very important to me," he said. "The key to this water is figuring out where the fish are positioned in current. Whether it's high tide or low tide, you still have to understand where the fish are at."

David Dudley weighs in part of his 9-pound, 7-ounce limit in the finals. Although it wasnDudley threw a 1/2-ounce homemade spinner bait with a 6-inch trailer nicknamed the Rabbit Dog Spinner bait to land the majority of his catch in today's competition. However, Dudley argued that the key to his victory was finding a very unique flat near the mouth of the Appomattox River.

"I found a flat with current and a clean bottom - no muck or dead vegetation - where the fish would migrate to off the main channel," he said. "On this type of water, you always have to find a spot that's a migration route for the fish. Once I found it, I knew the spot would keep replenishing itself with fish because that's the first place they'd go when they came off the channel. When the fish are moving around a lot, you have to find their migration routes."

Dudley was then asked to put his accomplishment, as well as the tremendous growth of the sport, in perspective.

"It's taken Larry Nixon, one of the best fishermen of all time, his whole career to win $1 million," said Dudley. "And it's taken me just two tournaments. It just goes to show you how far this sport has come. I'm just glad I started my career when I did."

Unfortunately for the 11 other finalists, they were probably left wishing that Dudley had started his career in 2010.

Agony of defeat

For Harmon Davis of Marlow, Okla., the finals of the 2003 FLW Championship would only be remembered - at least in the short term - as a day of missed opportunities and great frustration.

"This is the only day all week that I didn't catch a limit and it cost me," said Davis, who had to settle for a second-place check for $75,000. "Three ounces was the difference between me getting to fish for a living and going home and going back to work. Next week, nobody is going to remember who finished in second place."

However, Davis acknowledged that he had his chances to win.

"I was on the fish to win this tournament, that's what's so frustrating," said Davis, who currently works as the part owner of a paint and body shop back home in Oklahoma. "I also missed three fish today, at least one of which was a 2- or 3-pounder. And that was the difference. If I catch that fish, I come in with at least 10 or 11 pounds."

Davis said today's tidal patterns wreaked havoc on his fishing plan.

"I had one little creek where I had been catching fish all week," he said. "The fish were really stacked there. But the tides just went nuts today. I needed to fish the incoming tides and it usually (occurred) around 11 a.m. The tides roared out today, but they didn't want to come back in. I guess it just wasn't meant to be."

Davis said he targeted big slick laydowns with a Bandit crankbait in a Louisiana shad color to land his fish.

Kilby comes up short as well

(Photo by Gary Mortenson)" BORDER="1" ALIGN="LEFT">Rob Kilby of Hot Springs, Ark., had no intention of fishing for anything other than first place. But although he didn't win the title, he did come away with a pretty good consolation prize - a third-place finish and a check for nearly $41,000.

"I was one of those guys who went for broke today," said Kilby. "I knew all of my areas were too muddy to fish, so I basically abandoned all of the spots I had found before. I made a run that probably took about one hour and 25 minutes. I also lost a fish that was probably between 5 and 6 pounds. But I knew I was in trouble when I saw the weather this morning.

"I had a little pattern going in the back of the creeks, but the water kind of blew everything out today," Kilby continued. "I just ran out of fish."

Kilby, who ultimately recorded a total catch of 5 pounds, 15 ounces, used a combination of Terminator jigs, spinner baits and wooden crankbaits to land his catch in the finals.

Bird's magic finally runs out

Despite fishing a fantastic tournament, Cody Bird of Granbury, Texas, came up short in the finals.

"I really thought I'd do a lot better today," said Bird, who recorded a total catch of 3 pounds, 15 ounces to capture fourth place and a check for $35,000. "I caught a 3-pounder right off the bat, and I was feeling pretty good for a while. But things just didn't work out. I've had a good time, but I really wanted to get the lettuce (top prize)."

Schenck turns in memorable performances

Shad Schenck of Waynetown, Ind., appeared to be the most upbeat finalist aside from Dudley by the time weigh-in had concluded. Schenck, an up-and-coming young gun on the FLW Tour, ultimately turned in a 3-pound, 10-ounce catch to finish in fifth place.

"It was a remarkable tournament," said Schenck. "Everywhere I fished today were places where I had caught a big fish in practice. I just couldn't get the bites. But three of my best friends drove 700 miles to be with me today and that meant a lot. Overall, I had a great time."

VanDam fails in bid to capture first FLW title

Although Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich., has won nearly every prize there is to win on the professional bass-fishing circuit, he again failed to capture the one thing that has eluded him throughout his career - an FLW tournament crown.

"The water just got real muddy with all of that rain so I had to move around a lot," said VanDam. "But I never gave up. I was casting like a madman all day. I just knew the next stop was where I'd catch a 5-pounder. I spent most of the time trying to find that one magic area, but all I was able to find were two little fish. We're all swinging for the fences today. I just came up a little short. But I have no regrets."

VanDam ultimately finished the championship in sixth place after landing a 2-pound, 14-ounce catch.

Best of the rest

Jimmy Millsaps of Canton, Ga., took seventh place with a catch of 2 pounds, 14 ounces; John Crews of Jetersville, Va., finished in eighth place with a catch of 2 pounds, 7 ounces; Alvin Shaw of State Road, N.C., took home ninth place with a catch of 1-pound, 6-ounces; Paul Elias of Pachuta, Miss., finished in 10th place with a catch of 15 ounces; Larry Nixon of Bee Branch, Ark., ended up in 11th place with a catch of 0 ounces; and Greg Hackney of Gonzales, La., finished the tournament in 12th place with a catch of 0 ounces.

The 2004 FLW Tour season will commence Jan. 21 on Lake Okeechobee in Clewiston, Fla.

Related links:

Championship bracket update
Championship Bites: James River, Day 4
Press releases

Tags: headline-story  gary-mortenson 


Devere Takes BFL Wild Card Win

The decision of what to fish come tournament time can be difficult for most. For others – like Mike Devere – relying on a single bait that you have confidence in is all you need. Devere’s one bait, one rod method was strong enough to carry him to victory by nearly 2 pounds in the BFL Wild Card held on Lake Hartwell. READ MORE »


Hanselmania 4.0

Saturday, in Paducah, Ky., on the shores of the Ohio River, Ray Hanselman rewrote history for the second time this season. After winning all three 2015 Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division events, which had never been done before, Hanselman came to Kentucky and won the Rayovac FLW Series Championship. READ MORE »


Rayovac Championship Day 3 Coverage

The final day of the Rayovac FLW Series Championship on the Ohio River will largely be fished on the Tennessee River, as all but two anglers rolled up it to chase smallmouths. READ MORE »


Hanselman on the Verge of Four-Peat

Day two of the Rayovac FLW Series Championship on the Ohio River was fished primarily on the nearby Tennessee River and resulted in a major shuffling of the leaderboard. In the end, Ray Hanselman rose from second to first and will lead the top 10 into the final day with 30 pounds, 14 ounces. READ MORE »


Top 5 Patterns from the Ohio River Day 2

After two days of competition, Ray Hanselman leads the Rayovac FLW Series Championship on the Ohio River, but as the leaderboard has reflected, the river’s hefty smallmouths are certainly capable of producing some fireworks and providing some surprises. READ MORE »


Rayovac Championship Day 2 Coverage

Down at Paducah, the start of day two of the Rayovac FLW Series Championship was just about perfect – a light wind, temps in the low 40s and no fog. That’s not the case elsewhere. READ MORE »


Barnes Blasts 21 on the Ohio

On day one of the Rayovac FLW Series Championship on the Ohio River David Barnes Sr. of China, Maine, hauled exactly 21 pounds of smallmouth across the stage to take the lead on a day that was tough for many. READ MORE »


Top 5 Patterns from the Ohio River Day 1

Shortly after David Barnes electrified the Rayovac FLW Series Championship weigh-in with his leading weight of 21 pounds of smallmouths, Ray Hanselman followed suit with an all-smallmouth limit weighing 19 pounds. READ MORE »


Rayovac Championship Day 1 Coverage

Updates from day one of the Rayovac FLW Series Championship on the Ohio River. READ MORE »


McCaig Wins Neely Henry Regional

There are times that a little local knowledge helps you in a bass tournament, and then there are times it does not. And sometimes, it pays to ignore past experiences altogether, as Mark McCaig figured out en route to winning the Oct. 22-24, 2015 Walmart Bass Fishing League Regional presented by Ranger Boats on Lake Neely Henry out of Gadsden, Ala. By disregarding what his local experience might have suggested he do and approaching the tournament a little differently, the Oxford, Ala., boater posted a three-day total weight of 45 pounds, 7 ounces to take home the $20,000 winner’s purse as well as a 2015 Ranger Z518C with 200-hp outboard. READ MORE »


Goodwin Wins at Lake of the Ozarks

Day-two leader Shonn Goodwin of Moore, Okla., held on to win the Walmart Bass Fishing League Regional presented by Mercury at Lake of the Ozarks Oct. 22-24 by bringing four bass to the scale on the third and final day. Those fish weighed 8 pounds, 11 ounces. His three-day total of 14 bass weighed 43-13. For the win, Goodwin earned $20,000 and a new Ranger bass boat. READ MORE »


Walters Wins Wateree BFL Regional

Todd Walters relied on a combo pattern to win the Walmart Bass Fishing League Regional on Lake Wateree. The North Carolina boater fished rocky cover upstream and brush piles in the lake's clear lower end. The two-part program produced a three-day winning weight of 47 pounds, 4 ounces, which was 11 pounds better than second place. READ MORE »


Uribe By An Ounce

After Jody Jordan brought 24 pounds, 5 ounces to push his total past 66 pounds on the final day the crowd waited with bated breath for day two leader Joe Uribe Jr. to bring his fish to the scale. As Uribe transferred his third bass from the bag to the scale, he shook his head and whispered back “you’ve got it,” to the watching Jordan. READ MORE »


Anderson Wins KY Lake Regional

You might say there weren’t any surprises at the 2015 Walmart Bass Fishing League Regional presented by Lowrance on Kentucky Lake Oct. 15-17. The techniques of the top 12 pros who fished the final day were typical of the Tennessee River in fall: surface fishing with frogs and Zara Spooks and winding Rat-L-Traps and ChatterBaits. The winners weren’t surprising either: Ryan Sykes of Hamilton, Ohio, won the co-angler division for the second consecutive year, and Tennessee pro Brent Anderson earned his sixth win on the Kentucky/Barkley system since 2009. READ MORE »


Grover Takes Co-angler Title on Clear Lake

Rick Grover of Trabuco Canyon, Calif., pulled in 55 pounds, 5 ounces of bass for the Rayovac FLW Series co-angler win on Clear Lake. All told, it was worth a new Ranger Z117 with a 90-horsepower outboard and $5,000. READ MORE »


Clear Lake Midday Update Day 3



Uribe Takes Lead and AOY at Clear Lake

Joe Uribe Jr. jumped into the lead going into the final day of the Rayovac FLW Series presented by Evinrude on Clear Lake. Uribe caught 20 pounds, 13 ounces on day two for a total of 44 pounds, 8 ounces and was the only pro to weigh more than 20 pounds both days. READ MORE »


Top 5 Patterns from Clear Lake Day 2

When the scales had closed after the second day of the Rayovac FLW Series Western Division tournament presented by Evinrude on Clear Lake, no doubt more than a few anglers breathed a sigh of relief that they were still in contention. READ MORE »


Clear Lake Midday Update Day 2

Day two of the Rayovac FLW Series presented by Evinrude on Clear Lake has been a little slower than day one. READ MORE »


Crutcher Cracks 29-9

Midway through a weigh-in that was noticeably lacking in super-sized bags, Mark Crutcher of Lakeport, Calif., lit up the leaderboard with 29 pounds, 9 ounces of Clear Lake goodness. READ MORE »