Day-four preview" /> Day-four preview" />

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

Scary good

All-American champ Christian leads another one, lands over 10 pounds in EverStart Halloween semifinals

GALLATIN, Tenn. - Tony Christian's so good at this that it's starting to get a little spooky. The reigning BFL All-American champion from Hull, Ga., caught the day's only stringer weighing more than 10 pounds Friday and led the Pro Division in semifinal-round action at the EverStart Series Championship on Old Hickory Lake. Anchoring that stringer was a kicker bass weighing nearly 5 pounds, and, on this Halloween, that has to be one scary prospect for the other nine pros who will face him in tomorrow's finals.

It was another rough day of fishing on Old Hickory. Just two pros out of 22 managed to catch limits, and even those were light by five-bass standards. Second-place Steve Kennedy's limit weighed 8 pounds, 10 ounces and third-place Kevin Vida's rang in at 8-1.

But that's been about the norm all week at a stingy Old Hickory, which is why Christian's three bass weighing 10 pounds, 11 ounces took top honors today. Of course, you don't weigh in a three-bass stringer for 10 pounds unless you have at least one nice fish in there; and, indeed, it was his 5-pound kicker that made all the difference.

"I lost a good fish off a dock on the first day that broke my line," Christian said. "Today, I went back in there this morning and got him. It was the first one that I caught. After that, I started to relax, and it always seems that's when you start to fish better."

When Christian starts to relax near the end of a tough-bite tournament, look out, because that's when he starts to land his signature lunkers. In May at the All-American, he went out on the Mobile Delta and relaxed his way to an 8-pound victory over the rest of the field. That day, he also weighed in just three fish - worth an astonishing 16 pounds - anchored by a 6 1/2-pound monster. The Delta's tough; nobody else could muster more than 6 pounds total in the finals.

Before that, in March at Lake Martin - another tricky lake for big fish - he won his first EverStart Eastern Division tournament by over 7 pounds, catching a total over 19 pounds. In those finals, he brought in two kickers in the 6-pound range. In his short career, Christian has already cashed countless big-bass checks in the EverStart and BFL ranks.

So it was really no surprise to see the "Big-Fish Magician" working his mojo once again Friday. It is Halloween, after all, and much weirder things have happened.

But what is almost shocking, given his torrid track record, is that it took Christian three days to start really making some noise here this week. He has been fishing in shallow-water creeks "up toward the dam," he said, and he caught all of his fish in the semifinals on a ¾-ounce jig. Before Friday, he had been throwing a lizard, but decided to upsize his lure and get after the big ones in the semifinals.

"I have fished a thousand docks so far," he said. "But the fish here have been hit a lot. I haven't been able to get a limit all week. One dock we caught four fish on and mine just happened to be the big keeper. I quit fishing by 9:30."

So Christian hasn't been able to catch a limit and yet he leads some of the nation's top pro anglers heading into the final day of a $335,000 championship tournament. How good is this guy?

Consider this: "I only practiced two days for this tournament," he said.

Now that's just frightening.

Pro Steve Kennedy fishes near a rock wall in FridayThe two limits

Kennedy caught his limit using a Zoom trick worm and a Senko. He fished, like many competitors, around isolated trees on some flats.

Since Craig Powers, Clark Wendlandt and Wesley Strader all missed the cut Friday, Kennedy is the last remaining former FLW winner fishing in the EverStart Championship finals. Kennedy, who won at FLW Kentucky Lake earlier this season, isn't quite feeling as confident here at Old Hickory, however, as he did at that big-fish fest.

"No way," he said. "This one's almost painful compared to that."

While Vida wasn't exactly brimming with confidence about his 8 pounds, either, he was happy just to land a limit.

"We'll take that today," he said.

Rest of the best

Troy Eakins of Nixa, Mo., picked up where his father left off and qualified for the finals in fourth place with a four-bass weight of 7 pounds, 11 ounces. In 2001, Eakins' dad, Jim, finished the EverStart Championship in third place and cashed in a 21st place at the same tournament last year.

Eakins caught his fish by pitching his namesake jig, in brown-pumpkin color, on rock structure.

Dave Lefebre of Erie, Pa., rounded out the top five pros in fifth place with a three-bass catch weighing 7 pounds, 8 ounces.

Rounding out the rest of the top 10 pros to qualify for the finals were Dick Shaffer of Celina, Ohio, with four bass weighing 6 pounds, 10 ounces (sixth place); Scott Sills of Dahlonega, Ga., with two bass weighing 6-8 (seventh); Vic Vatalaro of Kent, Ohio, with three bass weighing 5-11 (eighth); Clifford Pirch of Payson, Ariz., with four bass weighing 5-6 (ninth); and Tommy Dillon of Manhattan, Kan., with three bass weighing 5-4 (10th).

The final round of the 2003 EverStart Series Championship begins at 7 a.m. as the top 10 pros take off from Bull Creek marina on Old Hickory Lake in Gallatin. Weights will again be reset to zero, and the winner after the one-day shootout will receive as much as $35,000 in cash and a fully rigged Ranger boat.

Click here for a preview of day four.

Tags: headline-story  jeff-schroeder 


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 »