UPCOMING EVENT: Rayovac FLW Series - 2015 - Lake Erie

Cool-hand Luke

Wal-Mart FLW Tour rookie Luke Clausen of Spokane, Wash., continued his momentum Friday at the $1.5 million Wal-Mart FLW Tour Championship, hauling in a field-leading limit of 14 pounds, 3 ounces.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Under almost any other circumstances, at almost any other fishing tournament, Luke Clausen would probably feel pretty good about himself right now. After all, he just caught another limit worth more than 14 pounds and led all pros in total weight for the third day in a row at the Wal-Mart FLW Tour Championship. But this is competitive fishing bracket-style, and Clausen's 40 pounds, 6 ounces of bass caught thus far won't mean squat when he hits Logan Martin Lake Saturday in search of the $500,000 prize. All weights are reset to zero for tomorrow's 12-man shootout for the title. "Man, it really makes me wish this was a cumulative-weight tournament," Clausen said Friday after catching the heaviest limit of the semifinal round - 14 pounds, 3 ounces - to beat Greg Hackney of Gonzales, La., and advancing to Saturday's finals. With his second limit over 14 pounds in three days, Clausen has caught the most bass two out of the first three days of the championship. Tournament-fishing traditionalists can probably sympathize with Clausen's lament, but remember this: Before there were brackets, there was no fishing for a half-million dollars. Another perspective, to use a hypothetical NCAA basketball analogy, is that it doesn't matter if Duke scores 140 points per game from the Round of 64 all the way to the Final Four; they're only as good as the last team they beat until after the tournament's final game. Clausen seems to understand this. He didn't set out to catch the heaviest limit again Friday. Instead, his clearly stated goal was to beat Hackney, who was arguably the most consistent heavy hitter on the pro circuit in 2004. That, by definition, meant he had to catch a lot of bass. "You're probably going to hear a lot about him from me on the (TV) tape," Clausen said. "I was just scared that I was going to be a victim of the Hack Attack today. He can catch a huge sack on any day." The Hack didn't attack Friday, catching a smaller limit worth 9 pounds, 5 ounces. But he did mentally victimize Clausen a little bit by exaggerating his day's catch both before and during weigh-in - much like he did to Todd Ary in the opening round, except in reverse. Clausen is an FLW rookie, which makes his run this week that much more impressive. The Spokane, Wash., pro is no greenhorn, however, having won scores of tournaments in the West prior to this year's FLW season. What is remarkable, though, is that this is Clausen's first trip ever to Logan Martin Lake. The guy's never seen the place before, and he's fishing it like he owns it. "I caught all of my fish off of new water today," said Clausen, whose biggest bass of the day weighed around 3 1/2 pounds. "I only had three fish by 11 o'clock, but I ended up with about 20 keepers. I didn't catch many little ones, just a lot of 2-pounders. I'm really excited about how I did the first three days, but I don't really know if it will hold up tomorrow." While he did admit that he caught a few fish throwing finesse worms around docks, all week the rookie Clausen has taken a decidedly old-school approach to describing his winning technique: He's revealing nothing. "Can't I tell you tomorrow?" he responded when asked what's working for him. In a tournament this high-stakes, Clausen is probably right. Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Kevin Vida of Clare, Mich., brought in the day's second-heaviest limit, handily defeating No. 6 seed Tracy Adams of Wilkesboro, N.C., thanks to a 12-pound, 6-ounce stringer.Vida, Gagliardi stay sharp One pro who's not shy about revealing his secrets is Kevin Vida of Clare, Mich., who caught the day's second-heaviest limit - 12 pounds, 6 ounces - to defeat Tracy Adams of Wilkesboro, N.C., (8-10) in semifinals. "I went down(river) to the dirty water and caught a small limit, then I went looking for bigger fish," Vida said. "The fish just got bigger and bigger as the day went on. I was just running and fishing a pattern." Like Clausen, Vida's been a force all week running his pattern. He said he's caught all of his fish on just two jigs: one a white, ¼-ounce Hildebrandt jig and the other a green-pumpkin, 3/8-ounce Berkley jig. Like many semifinalists dealing with the cooler, sunnier weather Friday, Anthony Gagliardi of Prosperity, S.C., found the bite to be a little "off." Nevertheless, he caught six keepers and culled out to the third best limit of the day - 12 pounds, 3 ounces - and defeated Dean Rojas of Grand Saline, Texas, (9-6) to advance to the finals. In the opening round, he topped Randy Blaukat of Lamar, Mo., in a tough heavyweight showdown. "So far, all of my fish the first three days have come from pretty much the same places," said Gagliardi, an FLW winner earlier this season at Kentucky Lake. "I have some places that I didn't visit today. I figured, if he beats me with 13 pounds, then he beats me. I took my chances and saved my best fish for tomorrow. But, regardless of what happens tomorrow, I'm proud of myself. I beat two really tough fisherman to get this far." The close ones Logan Martin proved itself to be a great leveler again Friday, serving up a few more closely fought matchups like in the opening round. Scott Martin of Clewiston, Fla., this year's FLW Lake Champlain winner, edged out Lee Bailey Jr. of Amston, Conn., by weight of 11 pounds, 10 ounces to 10-9. "I'm scared to death," Martin said. "But if I can figure out how to catch a good bag of fish tomorrow, I'll feel pretty confident." After surviving big weights by Castaic, California's Aaron Martens in the opening round, Mickey Bruce of Buford, Ga., caught them again and ended the amazing season of FLW Angler of the Year Shinichi Fukae of Osaka, Japan. Bruce caught 11 pounds, 4 ounces and Fukae landed 10-2. Glenn Browne of Ocala, Fla., squeezed by Mark Hardin of Canton, Ga., by just a half pound. Browne caught 9-8 and Hardin had 9-0. Even the mighty Clark Wendlandt catches them like you and I do sometimes. The difference? When he does it, heThe lightweights It's hard to call two-time FLW AOY Clark Wendlandt of Cedar Park, Texas, a "lightweight" with a straight face, but that's exactly what he has been this week. He advanced to the half-million-dollar finals with a catch weighing just 5 pounds, 8 ounces Friday, defeating Shawnee, Kansas' Brent Chapman's 4-7. Wendlandt's catch was the lightest qualifying weight for the finals, and he has averaged just under 7 pounds of fish the first three days to make it this far. "Hey, all I've got to do is make it to tomorrow," he said. "I've said all along that this is a tournament of adjustments. Hopefully, I can make the right adjustments tomorrow. You just never know in this format." John Crews of Jetersville, Va., landed the second-lightest sack - 6 pounds, 14 ounces - to defeat Chris McCall of Jasper, Texas, (5-6). Dave Lefebre of Erie, Pa., topped Mark Rose of Marion, Ark., by 9 ounces with a weight of 7-5 to 6-12. Jimmy Millsaps of Canton, Ga., beat local favorite Matt Herren of Trussville, Ala., by a weight of 7-12 to 3-15.Jimmy Millsaps of Canton, Ga., beat local favorite Matt Herren of Trussville, Ala., by a weight of 7 pounds, 12 ounces to 3-15. In the middle The rest of the 2004 championship final-round field will consist of Jason Kilpatrick of Satsuma, Ala. - who beat David Walker of Sevierville, Tenn., by a weight of 8 pounds, 13 ounces to 7-11 - and Charlie Ingram of Sante Fe, Tenn., who defeated Andy Morgan of Dayton, Tenn., 8-13 to 6-0. For all the marbles The entire 2004 FLW season has been boiled down to this: 12 pro anglers vying against each other for the $500,000 winner's check. All weights will be reset to zero for Saturday's final round as the field competes in a one-day shootout to determine the champion. Heaviest sack of bass wins. Saturday's takeoff is scheduled to take place at 7 a.m. at Pell City Lakeside Park Marina on Logan Martin Lake, located at 2801 Stemley Bridge Road in Pell City, Ala.

Tags: headline-story  jeff-schroeder 

/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 »

/news/2015-08-29-lake-erie-day-3-midday-update

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 »

/news/2015-08-28-lake-erie-day-2-midday-update

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 »

/news/2015-08-27-rhode-cracks-23-10-for-erie-lead

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 »

/news/2015-08-27-top-5-patterns-from-lake-erie-day-1

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 »

/news/2015-08-25-top-10-patterns-from-the-forrest-wood-cup

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 »

/news/2015-08-22-wheeler-back-in-front

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 »

/news/2015-08-22-top-5-patterns-from-the-cup-day-3

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 »