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

UPCOMING EVENT: Walmart Bass Fishing League - 2015 - Ohio River

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 


Balog Back on Top

Joe Balog of Harrison Township, Michigan, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 21 pounds, 8 ounces Saturday to win the third Walmart Bass Fishing League Michigan Division tournament on Lake St. Clair. For his victory, Balog earned $6,418. READ MORE »


Edwards Finally Brings it Home

Gary Edwards of Milton, Kentucky, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 11 pounds, 11 ounces Saturday to win the third Walmart Bass Fishing League Hoosier Division tournament on the Ohio River. For his victory, Edwards earned $6,963. READ MORE »


Browne Sticks To The Bank To Win

A lot would have had to happen for Glenn Browne to relinquish his hard-earned lead on the final day of the Rayovac FLW Series event presented by Plano on Lake Champlain. It turned out that a lot did happen, but with help from his friends and a great pattern, Glenn Browne socked 18 pounds, 7 ounces on the final day for a 63-pound, 8-ounce total and a payday of $34,097 plus a new Ranger Z518 with a 200-hp outboard. READ MORE »


Champlain Midday Update Day 3

Day three of the Rayovac FLW Series presented by Plano on Lake Champlain started with a beautiful sunrise and light rain that had tapered off by the beginning of takeoff. For leader Glenn Browne, the beauty was soon marred by a breakdown that occurred shortly into his run south. READ MORE »


Top 5 Patterns from Champlain Day 2

Day two of the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event presented by Plano on Lake Champlain definitely shook up the leaderboard. While Glenn Browne took a huge lead, the rest of the pack swapped around and remained pretty tight. Browne is catching his fish down south near Ticonderoga, but the north end has also produced very well for the rest of the field. READ MORE »


Browne Crushes Again, Leads By 6+

Averaging 20 pounds or more is a difficult thing to do in a multi-day tournament on Lake Champlain, but Glenn Browne might be on his way to doing it in the Rayovac FLW Series presented by Plano. After two days, the Ocala, Fla., pro has run to Ticonderoga twice and sacked up nearly identical bags for a total of 45 pounds, 8 ounces. READ MORE »


Champlain Midday Update Day 2

While day one of the Rayovac FLW Series presented by Plano on Lake Champlain was wracked by high winds and rain in the morning, day two has been almost as good as Champlain can be. READ MORE »


Cioppa Leads On Champlain

David Cioppa of Hopkinton, Mass., weighed 22 pounds, 13 ounces late in the weigh-in to grab the lead after the first day of the Rayovac FLW Series event on Lake Champlain. Cioppa weighed all largemouths and says that he caught the entirety of his weight by about 9 a.m. from one location in the northern end of the lake. READ MORE »


Top 5 Patterns from Champlain Day 1

Lake Champlain was rough and wild on day one of the Rayovac FLW Series event presented by Plano, and a bunch of the anglers still got it done in a big way. David Cioppa caught largemouths in the Inland Sea, but the rest of the top guys spread out all over the massive lake. READ MORE »


Champlain Midday Update Day 1

Takeoff was placid enough, with a beautiful sunrise and a light breeze in the slightly protected corner that is Plattsburgh. By about 6:30 a.m., day one of the Rayovac FLW Series presented by Plano on Lake Champlain was already beginning to get rough. READ MORE »


Top Picks From ICAST

A few days of walking the floor at ICAST is enough to exhaust a body, but it isn’t enough to know exactly what’s worthwhile. For that, you need some time to reflect and probably a few tournament seasons to fly by to see what rises up. READ MORE »


Renfrew Fished to Win

Ian Renfrew of Phoenix, New York, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 16 pounds, 11 ounces Saturday to win the third Walmart Bass Fishing League Northeast Division tournament on Oneida Lake presented by Navionics. For his victory, Renfrew earned $4,695. READ MORE »


Docks and Rocks Key for Synders

Rus Snyders of Nashville, Tennessee, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 16 pounds, 6 ounces Saturday to win the fourth Walmart Bass Fishing League Music City Division tournament on Old Hickory Lake presented by Navionics. For his victory, Snyders earned $2,703. READ MORE »


Jig, Crankbait Carry Powroznik

Ryan Powroznik of Prince George, Virginia, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 17 pounds, 15 ounces Saturday to win the fourth Walmart Bass Fishing League Piedmont Division tournament on the James River. For his victory, Powroznik earned $7,507. READ MORE »


Persistence Pays for Arning

Ray Arning Jr. of Walnut Hill, Illinois, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 13 pounds, 5 ounces Saturday to win the third Walmart Bass Fishing League Illini Division tournament on Rend Lake presented by Navionics. For his victory, Arning earned $5,804. READ MORE »


New Rod Roundup

Rod companies continue to impress each year with a new crop of lighter, faster and more affordable (sweet!) rods. On the subject of price, these days, a tournament pro or an average angler could be fishing with rods that cost less than $100 apiece, but without giving up anything in the realm of quality. READ MORE »


New Terminal Tackle

Don’t skimp where it counts the most – terminal tackle. Hooks, weights, jigheads and the like are the keys to taking all those new soft baits and swimbaits to the fish, hooking them and getting them in the boat. Here’s the best stuff we saw on the floor at ICAST 2015. READ MORE »


FLW Announces 2016 Tour Schedule

FLW announced the 2016 Walmart FLW Tour regular-season schedule today in a live press conference held at the 2015 ICAST show in Orlando, Fla. With the help of six veteran Tour pros, the company unveiled each of the six events, one-by-one, to a crowd of observers gathered around the FLW booth. READ MORE »


6 New Reels to Try

Whether you need to replace an old reel or you’re just looking to add to the arsenal, here are some of the latest and greatest from ICAST. READ MORE »


6 New Lines from ICAST 2015

Line might just be the most important part of the package when it comes to landing fish. From presenting the bait to getting them in the net, your line is involved the entire way. If you’re looking for something new to try, the following lines are worth a shot. READ MORE »