UPCOMING EVENT: Rayovac FLW Series - 2015 - Lake Erie

Ritter reigns supreme on Mississippi River

RED WING, Minn. - Jeff Ritter of Prairie du Chien, Wis., had a simple goal heading into the $250,000 Northern Division event on the Mississippi River: to beat his highest-ever EverStart Series finish - 14th place - which, interestingly, came on the same waterway in 2002. Heading into the final day of competition, it was clear that Ritter was well on his way to achieving that goal. However, what transpired for Ritter during the final weigh-in turned out to be nothing short of a dream come true. After hauling in a two-day total of 23 pounds, 1 ounce, Ritter outpaced rival and fellow FLW Tour pro Dave Lefebre by nearly 3 pounds to capture the first EverStart title of his career. Not surprisingly, Ritter was nearly at a loss for words after realizing that he had won it all. "It's awesome. I don't know what to say," said the victorious angler, who was nearly overcome by emotion after his family poured onto the stage to congratulate him. "It's really indescribable. I'm a shaking mess right now, but it feels great." However, his victory was far from easy. "I caught a 2-pound fish right off the bat, but then I went nearly three hours without getting another bite," said Ritter, who fished the area of the Mississippi primarily below the Wabasha Bridge. "I was starting to really get nervous. But at about 10:30 a.m., I got three quick bites in a row and got back on track." To his credit, Ritter never deviated from his overall fishing strategy all week, despite enduring conditions that would make most veteran anglers hang up their rods for good. In fact, over the four days of competition, temperatures fluctuated from a high of 96 degrees to a low of 56. To make matters worse, pouring rains, high winds and severe waves over the first three days of competition finally gave way to a high-pressure system that served up its own curveball during the finals: bluebird skies, a light breeze and searing temperatures. But through it all, Ritter persevered. "I used the same technique all week, swimming a jig through the grass," said Ritter. "The key was fishing the green grass. The water dropped on me a little bit, but it really didn't affect my fish. They stayed pretty shallow the whole time. You could literally see the water move when the fished moved; that's how shallow they were." So what kind of jig wound up winning Ritter the biggest prize of his career? "It was a homemade jig," he said. "I really don't have a name for it yet. Maybe I should start thinking about one?" Once again, Ritter zigged when others zagged. While most anglers were using a combination of smallmouth and largemouth bass, Ritter decided that he would only target the largemouth bass in an effort to maximize his catch weight. "All of my fish were largemouth bass," Ritter said. "I didn't catch a smallmouth all week." With $10,000 in cash, a fully rigged Ranger boat valued at $40,000 and his first EverStart title of his career, it was clear that Ritter had had one of the best weeks of his career. "This is by far the biggest win," he said. "Hopefully, it won't be my last." Second tourney title on Mississippi barely eludes Lefebre After winning the EverStart Northern Division tournament title on the Mississippi River in 2002, pro Dave Lefebre proved yet again that he still has the Mississippi magic, turning in an impressive two-day catch of 20 pounds, 7 ounces, to grab second place overall. After winning the EverStart Northern Division tournament title on the Mississippi River in 2002, Lefebre proved yet again that he still has the Mississippi magic, turning in an impressive two-day catch of 20 pounds, 7 ounces, to grab second place overall. But with back-to-back stellar performances on the Mississippi River and $10,000 in prize money to add to his growing bank account, Lefebre said there was still room left for some good old-fashioned frustration to set in. "It's disappointing," said Lefebre, who hails from Erie, Pa. "I really thought I had this tournament won. I gambled today and I thought it was going to pay off. But I came up a little short." Fishing a Kimami Flash Senko-style bait, Lefebre said that he targeted bass in shallow water for most of the tournament. "I was fishing super, super shallow," said Lefebre. "I was targeting bass under little pieces of duckweed. But I honestly don't think I caught a fish in any water deeper than 1 foot." With strict DNR requirements that forced anglers to immediately decide whether to keep a fish or not - per state regulations, once a fish is in the livewell, it can't be exchanged for another larger fish later on - Lefebre was forced to make some tough decisions. "Heading into the finals, I was only going to keep a fish if it was over 16 inches," he said. "But then I started thinking how the recent high-pressure system was going to keep catch weights low. So I decided to gamble everything and not throw back any fish today. I really thought my gamble paid off. I really did. I guess I was wrong." Baumgardner nets third place Pro Chris Baumgardner of Gastonia, N.C., used a total two-day catch of 18 pounds, 7 ounces, to win $9,000. Chris Baumgardner of Gastonia, N.C., used a total two-day catch of 18 pounds, 7 ounces to win $9,000. However, had it not been for the sunshine, Baumgardner just might have pulled out a victory. "I caught all of my (four) fish in the first hour, but then the sun came out and everything just shut down," he said. "I never could quite get that fifth fish." Mike Feldermann of Galena, Ill., finished the tournament in fourth place after landing a total catch of 17 pounds, 12 ounces. Unfortunately for Feldermann, he met a fate similar to Baumgardner. Pro Mike Feldermann of Galena, Ill., finished the tournament in fourth place after landing a total catch of 17 pounds, 12 ounces."I was catching fish on a buzzbait all week. But then the sun came out today and the bite was just dead." Feldermann, who targeted "weeds and lily pads" most of the week, said he was generally happy with his performance despite the tough going in the finals. "Overall, I had a good tournament," said Feldermann, who pocketed $8,000 in winnings. "I had a lot of fun." Aaron LaRocque of Wabasha, Minn., took home fifth place and a check for $7,500 after landing a two-day total of 14 pounds, 4 ounces. "The day started out slow right away," said LaRocque. "The water started to drop and the sun came out and I started to realize I was in trouble. I was really hoping for rain." Best of the rest Pro Wesley Strader of Spring City, Tenn., finished seventh with a catch of 10 pounds, 3 ounces.Rounding out the top 10 pro finalists are Bob Izumi (sixth) of Milton, Ontario, with a two-day catch of 14 pounds; Wesley Strader (seventh) of Spring City, Tenn., with a catch of 10 pounds, 3 ounces; Douglas Stanton (eighth) of Winona, Minn., with a catch of 8 pounds, 14 ounces; Pete Gluszek (ninth) of Franklinville, N.J., with a catch of 7 pounds, 10 ounces; and Bill Chapman (10th) of Salt Rock, W. Va., with a catch of 7 pounds. EverStart Series Northern Division action resumes July 21 on the Detroit River in Trenton, Mich.

Tags: headline-story  gary-mortenson 

/news/2015-08-29-matual-masters-erie

Matual Masters Erie

David Matual of Chicago, Ill., leaned on his spot hard and sacked up the biggest bag of day three weighing 22 pounds, 6 ounces. For his final-day rally he claimed the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division victory on Lake Erie with a three-day total of 65 pounds, fending off Jared Rhode by a mere 7 ounces. Drop-shotting over shallow reefs delivered all of Matual’s fish and earned him a check worth more than $31,000. READ MORE »

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Lake Erie Day 3 Midday Update

Lake Erie put on a different face for day three of the final Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event. After a rough day one, yesterday’s calm and mostly sunny conditions offered comfortable running and fishing conditions. Today was still a far cry from the brutal waves of day one - and prior practice days - but windier conditions and overcast skies seemed to present a more challenging scenario. READ MORE »

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Top 5 Patterns From Lake Erie Day 2

Pennsylvania pro Dave Lefebre and Ohio pro Jared Rhode tied for the day-two lead in Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division action on Lake Erie with 43 pounds, 9 ounces. Both pros caught their fish on drop-shots. Here are the details of the rest of the top five. READ MORE »

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Lefebre, Rhode Tied at the Top

Notching his second day of 20-plus pounds, FLW Tour pro Dave Lefebre tallied 43 pounds, 9 ounces and tied day-one leader Jared Rhode for the day-two top spot at the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie. Lefebre caught his 22-3 limit on Rapala DT-10 crankbaits, while Rhodes tempted his 19-15 catch with drop-shots. READ MORE »

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Lake Erie Day 2 Midday Update

With winds shifting from yesterday’s northerly blow to a warmer southerly direction, day two of the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie brought calmer conditions with greater ability to methodically work key spots. Offshore, waves ran 1 to 2 feet, with leeward areas behind the Lake Erie Islands nearly flat. READ MORE »

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Rhode Cracks 23-10 for Erie Lead

Jared Rhode played his cards and the gamble paid off better than expected, as the pro from Port Clinton, Ohio, took the day-one lead at the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie with a limit catch weighing 23 pounds, 10 ounces. READ MORE »

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Top 5 Patterns from Lake Erie Day 1

Taking off this morning, the FLW Tour pro from Erie, Pa., knew the day’s north wind would keep him from making a long run to a big-fish spot close to his home. However, keeping it local and fishing a little past Pelee Island to the west delivered a solid second-place catch. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-27-lake-erie-day-1-midday-report

Lake Erie Day 1 Midday Report

Winds have subsided considerably since practice, but Lake Erie’s still showing her temperamental side to Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division anglers fishing the last divisional event out of Sandusky, Ohio. READ MORE »

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Top 10 Patterns from the Forrest Wood Cup

If you don’t believe that summertime bass fishing in the dog days of August is all over the map, just take a look at the top 10 patterns from the best bass pros on earth at the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. Brad Knight captured the Cup by mining one small creek end for four days. But beyond that, the rest of the top 10 patterns ran the gamut, from targeting schoolers over 40 feet to wolf packs of bass on the bank to brush piles to grass to mud flats and everywhere in between. Here’s a rundown. READ MORE »

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Knight Slays Ouachita

Lancing, Tenn., pro Brad Knight won the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart on Lake Ouachita with a four-day total of 51 pounds, 12 ounces. In front of a standing-room-only crowd at Bank of the Ozarks Arena in Hot Springs, Ark., Knight weighed in 11-07 on day four to surpass Jacob Wheeler, who started the day with a 12-ounce lead. Fishing in just one area all four days, Knight locked up the first win of his FLW career. He earned $500,000 for his victory and pushed his career earnings total to more than $688,000. READ MORE »

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Forrest Wood Cup Day 4 Coverage

Daily updates from the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. READ MORE »

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Wheeler Back in Front

Jacob Wheeler loves Lake Ouachita. It’s where he fished his first Forrest Wood Cup in 2011, and it’s where he’ll take the tournament lead into the final day of competition at the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart and hosted by Visit Hot Springs and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. Wheeler, the 2011 Cup champion, led this tournament on day one and slipped a couple spots on day two. He now has a very slim 12-ounce lead over Tennessean Brad Knight. The anglers will square off tomorrow on Ouachita starting at 7 a.m. against the rest of the top 10 pros for the top prize of $500,000. READ MORE »

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Top 5 Patterns from the Cup Day 3

Jacob Wheeler may have regained his lead in the Forrest Wood Cup on day three, but Brad Knight is right on his heels. Going into the final day, the two pros are separated by just 12 ounces. The margin is tight, and what’s going to make the final day fun to watch is the difference in the two anglers’ strategies. Wheeler is running a topwater pattern on the main lake, and fishing new water is part of his plan. Knight, however, has caught almost all of his weight from one 250-yard stretch of bass-rich creek channel. He literally knows every target he is fishing by heart. On the surface, Knight’s area looks to be the better bet. But he has shared the general area with Brandon Cobb and Mark Daniels Jr. for three solid days. And the bad news, at least for Knight, is that both Cobb and Daniels will be sharing the water with him again on the final day as both made the top-10 cut. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-22-forrest-wood-cup-day-3-coverage

Forrest Wood Cup Day 3 Coverage

Daily updates from the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-21-ramie-races-into-the-lead

Ramie Races into the Lead

On the back of a 17-pound, 14-ounce limit, which is the biggest of the tournament thus far, Ramie Colson Jr. jumped from seventh place to take over the lead at the halfway point of the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart. Colson’s two-day total is 31 pounds, 1 ounce, which puts him almost 3 pounds ahead of Tennessee’s Brad Knight. The Forrest Wood Cup, which is hosted by Visit Hot Springs and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, moves into its top-20 round on Saturday. The top 10 pros after Saturday’s weigh-in advance to Sunday’s final round for a shot at the $500,000 top prize. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-21-top-5-patterns-from-the-cup-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from the Cup Day 2

At times, bass fishing can be a lot like real estate, where the three most important rules are location, location and location. The 2015 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita presented by Walmart is starting to become a bit of a real estate game where location is the primary consideration in who climbs the leaderboard. And those mining the backs of creeks and tributaries are on the prime pieces of real estate. Consider that after day two, four of the top five pros are concentrating their fishing efforts in the back ends of creeks or rivers. All of these areas fit a classic late-summer, early-fall pattern where shad pack into the back of creek ditches that meander through shallow flats. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-21-forrest-wood-cup-day-2-coverage

Forrest Wood Cup Day 2 Coverage

Daily updates from the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-20-wheeler-hunting-history

Wheeler Hunting History

It’s never been done before, and it hasn’t happened yet, but Jacob Wheeler is in prime position to become the first two-time Forrest Wood Cup champion in history. Wheeler, of Indianapolis, Ind., brought in a 16-pound, 2-ounce limit of Lake Ouachita bass on the first day of the Cup, which is presented by Walmart and hosted by Visit Hot Springs and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. READ MORE »

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Top 5 Patterns from the Cup Day 1

After day one of the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita, several things have come to light. For one, this event is not likely to produce a runaway win for anyone like it did when Scott Martin won here in 2011. Second, when the pros said Ouachita was going to be stingy, they meant it – only 29 of the 50 pros checked in limits today. Third, firm patterns are hard to come by on Lake Ouachita in August. Jacob Wheeler took the lead on day one in the event that’s presented by Walmart and hosted by Visit Hot Springs and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. With the help of a 5-pound bass, Wheeler weighed in a limit of 16 pounds, 2 ounces, but he had to sample a lot of different areas for his catch. Here’s how the rest of the top five got it done. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-20-forrest-wood-cup-day-1-coverage

Forrest Wood Cup Day 1 Coverage

Daily updates from the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. READ MORE »