Slammin’ Saso

OAKLEY, Calif. - Despite furious charges by Clifford Pirch and Mike Folkestad Saturday that included one enormous largemouth bass, pro Mike Saso of Elk Grove, Calif., won the EverStart Series Western Division season finale with a total of 10 bass weighing 36 pounds, 2 ounces over the last two days of competition at the California Delta. If upsets can occur in tournament fishing, this was one of them. Saso, a 40-year-old local truck driver who had never before entered an FLW Outdoors tournament, signed up to compete in this event just minutes before registration ended Tuesday night. After making the cut with just over 35 pounds of fish the first two days, he posted a huge 22-3 limit of fish Friday to take a 5 1/2-pound lead. Saturday, all he really needed to do was catch another limit, which he did, weighing in five bass worth 13-15. In the process, he defeated some of tournament fishing's heaviest hitters from the Left Coast, including 2004 Western Division points champ Folkestad and 2003 California Delta champ Gary Dobyns. Saso collected $8,000 and a new Ranger Comanche 519 for his first major win. "I'm speechless," he said. "This is more than I know how to handle. This is more than I've ever won in my life." Saso's strategy the last two days on the delta was to roll with the tide. He started each morning fishing in Sherman Lake then worked his way over to some key spots in popular Franks Tract. It was there that he won the tournament, which he did by catching three solid bass in the 4- to 6-pound range late Friday afternoon. "The last 45 minutes yesterday, holy cow," he said. For his first major victory, Mike Saso was awarded $8,000 cash plus a Yamaha-powered Ranger 519 VS equipped with Garmin electronics, a Minn Kota trolling motor and EverStart Batteries.Saturday's fishing was less productive for Saso, but he continued to throw Zoom Brush Hogs and a Sweet Beaver creature bait - which is designed by FLW pro Andre Moore - and landed a limit. "It was tough," he said. "I lost one that was huge on a Rat-L-Trap. The bite was actually even later today. I couldn't be there when I needed to be." No matter. His 13 pounds, 15 ounces was just enough. Asked what his future plans are in tournament fishing after winning an EverStart event on his first try, Saso said he wants to spend time with his 11-year-old son, who is big into motocross, and that he'll probably maintain a low profile for a while. "But I will be back," he said. "Trust me." Pro Clifford Pirch of Payson, Ariz., finished in the second spot and collected $7,600 after mounting a furious comeback attempt Saturday with a limit weighing 19 pounds even.Pirch feasts on bigger bass for second Pro Clifford Pirch of Payson, Ariz., finished in the second spot and collected $7,600 after mounting a furious comeback attempt Saturday with a limit weighing 19 pounds even - the second-heaviest sack of the day. He caught 34-8 over the last two days. Pirch, a 2003 EverStart Championship finalist, used a variety of baits to catch his fish, which included several over 5 pounds. He said that each area that he fished on the delta "kind of had its own personality." His big sack was certainly aided by a 4-pound bass that he caught on his last cast Saturday, but it was the two that he missed earlier in the morning that he'll remember. "I was fishing a top-water, and I lost two fish that were about 5 (pounds apiece) this morning," he said, smiling. "They both just blew it out of the water." Pro Mike Folkestad of Yorba Linda, Calif., punctuated his 2004 standings title by landing this enormous 11-pound, 5-ounce kicker largemouth in the finals. His limit was the largest of the day at 19-8 and earned him third place and $6,700.Folkestad wows with an 11-5 Folkestad, of Yorba Linda, Calif., punctuated his 2004 standings title - which he secured earlier in the week - by landing an enormous 11-pound, 5-ounce kicker largemouth in the finals, which might be the largest bass ever caught on an EverStart Series Saturday. Combined with his four other fish, his limit was the largest of the day at 19-8 and earned him third place and $6,700. "I had a great tournament," he told the weigh-in crowd. "I couldn't seem to do anything wrong. This delta's one of the best fisheries in the nation. You guys should be really proud of this place." While Folkestad caught the bulk of his fish this week using Roboworms on a drop-shot, he landed his big bass Saturday morning pitching a Brush Hog in some trees. "I caught that fish at 8:30," he said. "After that, 2 1/2-pounders were the best I could catch." Gaunt fourth The other big-bass hunter this week, Bernie Gaunt of West Sacramento, Calif., ended up in fourth place in the Pro Division and earned $5,800 after posting a two-day weight of 30 pounds, 2 ounces in the finals. Gaunt, who caught a 12-pound, 9-ounce bass and led on day one, caught almost all of his fish this week at a relatively small area using a drop-shot with a Roboworm. "(The area) is about 100 yards long and 50 yards wide," he said. "I think we had close to 200 pounds (of bass) taken off that 100-yard stretch this week." Howell fifth Opening-round pro leader Gary Howell of Stockton, Calif., finished with 30 pounds, 1 ounce and earned fifth place. He collected $5,300. "Everything almost went perfectly," he said. "The first three days I never lost a fish that mattered, but today I lost a 4-pounder early." Rest of the best Rounding out the top 10 Pro Division finishers in EverStart Western competition at the California Delta are Jimmy Reese of Witter Springs, Calif., with a final-round weight of 30 pounds, 1 ounce (6th place, $4,800); 2003 California Delta champion Dobyns of Yuba City, Calif., with 23-10 (7th, $4,300); Bob Cagle of Yuba City, Calif., with 22-5 (8th, $3,800); Jason Cordiale of Orinda, Calif., with 22-0 (9th, $3,350); and Clayton Meyer of San Diego with 19-7 (10th, $2,900). All of the top 10 pros except Cordiale caught five-bass limits Saturday. Coming up This concludes the 2004 Western Division season. The top 30 pros and co-anglers in the year-end standings have qualified for the 2004 EverStart Series Championship to be held at Lake Cumberland near Burnside, Ky., Nov. 3-6. The next EverStart Series event is an Eastern Division contest at Lake Guntersville near Guntersville, Ala., May 19-22.

Tags: headline-story  jeff-schroeder 

/news/2015-04-26-arey-does-it-again

Arey Does it Again

Quaker State pro Matt Arey of Shelby, N.C., wowed the crowed in Rogers, Ark., today with an incredible 17-pound, 3-ounce five-bass limit to come from behind and win the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Rayovac on Beaver Lake. This is Arey’s second consecutive Beaver Lake FLW Tour victory. Arey’s final-day surge was enough to surpass two-time reigning Angler of the Year Andy Morgan, who led yesterday but weighed in only 9-08 today and fell to third. Arey’s four-day total was 55-06, earning the pro $125,000. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-26-beaver-lake-day-4-coverage

Beaver Lake Day 4 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Beaver Lake presented by Rayovac. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-25-morgan-maintains-his-lead

Morgan Maintains His Lead

One of Andy Morgan’s fishing mottos is to make the best of what you have got “in front of you” to survive and fish another day. Beaver Lake doesn’t give much. So when an angler as resourceful as Morgan gets to a lake that doesn’t give out many resources, the two work well together. Instead of worrying about hitting it out of the park or putting immense pressure on himself to come up with a grand winning strategy, Morgan just scraps, scrapes and claws at the ground right in front of him, making the best of what he’s got. Morgan’s performance on day three of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Rayovac on Beaver Lake was a prime example of his “make the best of it” attitude. After burning up the spawning fish he had located in practice during the first two days of the tournament, he was forced to fish by the seat of his pants today – something he thoroughly enjoys. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-25-gordon-and-gagner-crowned-tbf-champs

Gordon and Gagner Crowned TBF Champs

Two more anglers qualified for the Forrest Wood Cup today by winning the 2015 The Bass Federation National Championship on Grand Lake in Grove, Okla. Shawn Gordon of Russellville, Ark., earned the TBF crown on the boater side by catching a three-day limit of 50 pounds, 2 ounces, capped by the largest limit caught today – 18 pounds, 10 ounces. Gordon earned $5,000 for his win, but more importantly, he’ll be competing against the best pros in the business in August at the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. Gordon also won the TBF “Living The Dream” package, which includes paid entry into the 2016 Walmart FLW Tour, a travel stipend, and use of a wrapped truck and Ranger bass boat. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-25-top-5-patterns-from-beaver-lake-day-3

Top 5 Patterns from Beaver Lake Day 3

Andy Morgan didn’t light up the world on day three of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Rayovac on Beaver Lake, but he caught what he needed to maintain the lead and put a 1-pound, 9-ounce cushion between he and Matt Arey. Most of the rest of the top 20 scrambled today, abandoning their patterns and trying new options to try and make the final-day cut. Here’s how the top five got it done. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-25-beaver-lake-day-3-coverage

Beaver Lake Day 3 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Beaver Lake presented by Rayovac. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-24-make-way-for-morgan

Make Way for Morgan

“Hidden largemouths” is quickly becoming the buzz term at the Walmart FLW Tour event on Beaver Lake presented by Rayovac, as those atop the leaderboard are using the term to refer to spawning largemouths that are so well hidden that other competitors never found them. These hidden fish are covered by thick brush, hidden so deep that they were only found during the very rare windows of sunshine during practice or located off the beaten path. The latter are not in obvious pockets or places where one would expect to find beds, but rather out on the main bluff channels where few ever look. On day one, Jacob Wheeler caught hidden largemouths to take the lead. On day two, former Beaver Lake champion Andy Morgan caught hidden largemouths to take over the pole position going into the weekend. His catch of 15 pounds, 7 ounces today gives Morgan a two-day total of 28-09 to take the lead by just 11 ounces. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-24-top-5-patterns-from-beaver-lake-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from Beaver Lake Day 2

At halftime of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Rayovac, the top five reads like a who’s who of Beaver Lake. Leader Andy Morgan is a former Beaver Lake champion. Behind him, Darrel Robertson has been very close to winning here with a runner-up finish in 2005. In third is 2014 Beaver Lake champion Matt Arey. Bryan Thrift, in fourth, has never won on Beaver Lake, but has led here before. And finally, fifth-place pro Stetson Blaylock knows his way around this lake pretty well, too, with a couple of top 10s. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-24-heckman-heads-up-tbf-championship-field

Heckman Heads up TBF Championship Field

Some bass are still spawning in Grand Lake, and others are yet to make their way up to the shallows, but none of that interests Sam Heckman. Diligent commitment to his postspawn plan here Friday landed Heckman atop the boater field with 34 pounds, 3 ounces and locked up his Southwest Division win at the 2015 The Bass Federation National Championship. Saturday, the top boater from each of seven TBF divisions will vie for the TBF National Championship and the “Living the Dream” package that goes with it. The package includes paid entry in the 2016 Walmart FLW Tour as a pro, a Forrest Wood Cup berth and use of a custom-wrapped truck and Ranger boat on Tour for the year, as well as a travel stipend for each event. Seven non-boaters – one from each TBF division – also will fish in tomorrow’s final round for a chance at paid entry into a Rayovac FLW Series division of choice. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-24-beaver-lake-day-2-coverage

Beaver Lake Day 2 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Beaver Lake presented by Rayovac. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-23-wheeler-with-a-slim-lead

Wheeler with a Slim Lead

Jacob Wheeler has a plan to win the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Rayovac on Beaver Lake this week. That plan involves primarily the largemouth species, a target weight of 14 pounds per day and a lot of fish management. Today, Wheeler surpassed his target by nearly 2 pounds with a 15-pound, 14-ounce catch that puts him in the driver’s seat at Beaver Lake, in the lead by just a scant 5 ounces over second-place pro Bryan Thrift. “Largemouths are the way to win here at Beaver Lake,” Wheeler says. “They are the fish to go the distance here, and that’s what I’m focusing on.” READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-23-top-5-patterns-from-beaver-lake-day-1

Top 5 Patterns from Beaver Lake Day 1

Though there were plenty of fish caught off beds at Beaver Lake on day one of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Rayovac, the top five is rounded out by a group of anglers who relied on sight-fishing very little. Opinions on where exactly bass are in the spawning cycle at Beaver Lake vary greatly from angler to angler, but a few common denominators did come to light on day one. For starters, most agree that one major spawning cycle has already occurred. Plenty of empty beds and a lot of gaunt, postspawn fish at the scale were evidence of that. Second, there are still some bass (of all species) trying to spawn, but the ones left on beds are extremely wary. Finally, the order of difficulty to catch each species ranks as follows: smallmouth bass – extremely easy; spotted bass – not as easy; largemouth bass – extremely difficult. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-23-griffith-grabs-tbf-lead-

Griffith Grabs TBF Lead

By midday, the prospects were unclear for Jon “Scooter” Griffith here in The Bass Federation National Championship on Grand Lake, but in a roundabout way it provided just the clarity he needed to dial in a pattern that helped him take the day-one lead with an 18-pound, 13-ounce limit. Griffith began his day by sight-fishing the clear water down by the Pensacola Dam. This opening move, he says, gave him some early comfort, as it matched the transparent water he’s used to fishing near his home in Mesa, Ariz. Targeting windblown points, Griffith got his early bites with reaction baits in about 4 to 8 feet of water. Unfortunately, the plan turned out to be less productive than he had expected. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-23-beaver-lake-day-1-coverage

Beaver Lake Day 1 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Beaver Lake presented by Rayovac. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-23-tbf-championship-tips-off

TBF Championship Tips Off

The spawn is on at Grand Lake, but that’s not the only game in town. As the 2015 The Bass Federation National Championship plays out for the next three days, anglers will find this northern Oklahoma impoundment abounding with lots of fishing options. Brian Maloney, the 2012 Walmart Bass Fishing League All-American champion, says he was impressed with what he found in practice. “The quality of fish on Grand is just amazing,” notes the Missouri angler. “This lake continues to put out 3- and 4-pounders, and right now there’s a variety of things we can do. “There are guys sight-fishing for spawning fish, and we’re probably looking at another wave or two of fish coming in soon. I’m sure the full moon coming up in another week or so will move them in.” Adding that the lake currently has fish in all prespawn, spawning and postspawn stages, Maloney thinks that TBF contenders will be greeted by a mix of water conditions typical for Grand this time of year. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-20-top-10-baits-from-lake-murray

Top 10 Baits from Lake Murray

Competitors in the FLW College Fishing National Championship mostly targeted bass feeding on spawning blueback herring on shallow points and main-lake pockets. Across the board, herring-imitating baits such as soft jerkbaits, swimbaits, topwaters, wake baits and umbrella rigs dominated the event. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-20-jig-bite-carries-holmes-on-wateree

Jig Bite Carries Holmes on Wateree

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/news/2015-04-20-bryan-slows-down-for-chickamauga-win

Bryan Slows Down for Chickamauga Win

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/news/2015-04-20-morfis-dominates-with-34-pound-limit

Morfis Dominates With 34-Pound Limit

OKEECHOBEE, Fla. – Joshua Morfis of Cape Coral, Florida, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 34 pounds, 14 ounces Saturday to win the fourth Walmart Bass Fishing League Gator Division tournament of 2015 on Lake Okeechobee. For his victory, Morfis earned $6,336. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-20-salzman-cracks-31-pounds-on-guntersville

Salzman Cracks 31 Pounds on Guntersville

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