UPCOMING EVENT: Rayovac FLW Series - 2015 - Lake Erie

Rookie romp reaps bass fishing’s richest reward

Luke Clausen, 26, of Spokane, Wash., completed a four-day sweep of the $1.5 million Wal-Mart FLW Tour Championship to win $500,000 Saturday. Also pictured is Forrest L. Wood, the founder of Ranger Boats and the FLW Tour's namesake.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - If there were ever any doubts about whether the best pro angler would beat the brackets and win at Logan Martin Lake this week, Luke Clausen put them all to rest Saturday. The 26-year-old rookie pro from Spokane, Wash., led all challengers for the fourth day in a row and won the 2004 Wal-Mart FLW Tour Championship with a five-bass limit weighing 14 pounds, 10 ounces. Simply put, Clausen was the best angler here this week, and he earned every penny of the $500,000 winner's check. "I can't even believe what's happening," Clausen said. "I was so stressed out this morning that I couldn't even make a cast under a dock. I was so nervous." Nervous? Maybe. Rattled? Not even close. Clausen spent the week mowing over some of the toughest competition in the brackets, competition that included a heavyweight shootout with Shad Schenck of Waynetown, Ind., in the opening round and a hard-fought win over Greg Hackney of Gonzales, La., in the semifinals. Clausen caught the heaviest limits of the entire 48-angler pro field three of the tournament's four days and led in total weight throughout the event. Overall, he caught 55 pounds of bass during the championship. Luke Clausen caught a five-bass limit weighing 14 pounds, 10 ounces Saturday, his third catch over 14 pounds in four days.Not only did the 26-year-old make history as the youngest to win the FLW Championship, he became the first pro to complete a four-day sweep in an FLW tournament. Several have come close since the tour began in 1996 - like David Fritts of Lexington, Ky., and Alton Jones of Waco, Texas - but none have won before. "I think that's pretty awesome," Clausen said. "Everything was just going right for me this week. It's great to fish against company like this. It's just amazing." What's more amazing is that Clausen defeated the likes of Scott Martin, Mickey Bruce, Charlie Ingram and Clark Wendlandt, among others, on a lake that he had never even fished before. This was his first trip Logan Martin Lake. With the way the fishing developed for this tournament, perhaps that played right into the winner's hands. Water fluctuations - first a drop in water level in the opening round, then a rise on Friday - plus a cold front threw many pros off balance when the tournament started Wednesday. Clausen, however, never strayed from his finesse-fishing pattern around docks, but he did have to adjust every day. "The day it got overcast, I really struggled until I realized that they were under docks. I caught almost all of my fish off of docks, though I did catch a few off secondary points," he said, adding that his magic bait was a prototype Reaction Innovations green-pumpkin finesse worm on 6- and 8-pound line. "I would run out of water each day, so I'd go find some more. A lot of fish I was catching were suspended and they were biting it on the fall. I think the light bait was key." Luke Clausen hoists the 2004 Wal-Mart FLW Tour Championship trophy.Clausen said he caught about 10 keepers when it counted Saturday, almost all spotted bass. He caught one largemouth the entire week, he said, which was his big fish this morning. Clausen's win capped a triumphant week for West Coast anglers at this year's championship. The co-angler winner, Stephen Tosh Jr., is from Waterford, Calif., and both he and Clausen came to the FLW Tour this season after posting big numbers in the nascent EverStart Series Western Division the last two years. There, Clausen won the Clear Lake tournament in 2003. Clausen's FLW Outdoors career earnings prior to this week stood at $31,500. Now he can tack a big old "5" on the front of that figure. "This is incredible," he said. "I don't even know what I'll do with the money. I'll probably put it in the bank and look at the balance every day. The hardest part's going to be writing that check to the government." Scott Martin put up another nice limit - 14 pounds, 4 ounces - and nearly won his second FLW tournament in a row.Martin misses win No. 3 Clausen had to earn his win Saturday because Scott Martin put up another nice limit - 14 pounds, 4 ounces - and nearly won his second FLW tournament in a row. Last month, Martin won the Forrest Wood Open and $200,000 at Lake Champlain. The son of TV bass legend Roland Martin, the Clewiston, Fla., native won his first FLW event as a pro at the Pascagoula River in 2000. This week, he earned $50,000 for second place at the championship. Asked about his hot hand right now, Martin said: "I've been getting up really early and staying really late, and it's paid off. "I'm happy. I fished really efficiently and I fished really clean." Finishing third and earning $40,000 was 2004 Kentucky Lake champion Anthony Gagliardi of Prosperity, S.C., with a five-bass limit weighing 13 pounds, 7 ounces.Gagliardi falls short of No. 2 Another 2004 FLW winner, Anthony Gagliardi of Prosperity, S.C., claimed the third spot with a limit weighing 13 pounds, 7 ounces. Gagliardi, who won at Kentucky Lake in May, added another $40,000 to his career earnings this week. "I got lucky. I caught two big fish before 9 o'clock," he said. "It makes for a long day when you've got two good fish in your livewell and you're struggling all day to get some 2-pounders to go with it." Millsaps fourth, Bruce fifth, Vida sixth Jimmy Millsaps of Canton, Ga., delighted the capacity crowd with a crazy catch Saturday, dredging up a log, some weeds and who knows what else in an valiant effort to land a fish. He finished in fourth place with a limit weighing 12 pounds, 4 ounces and earned $35,000. Jimmy Millsaps and the other finalists made a big entrance at Saturday"This was a heart-attack fish," he said at weigh-in as video of the catch rolled. Mickey Bruce of Buford, Ga., finished fifth and collected $30,000 with a limit weighing 11 pounds, 12 ounces. "I had an opportunity for a big stringer today, but a few of them just got off," he said. Kevin Vida of Clare, Mich., rounded out his solid week at Logan Martin Lake with another decent limit - 11 pounds, 8 ounces - and finished in sixth place. He earned $24,000. "What a tremendous fishery this is," he said. "I've never caught spotted bass like this in my life." Rest of the best A number of pros admitted to "swinging for the fences" and going for big fish instead of just a limit Saturday. Consequently, the weights fell off in the bottom half of the leaderboard. Rounding out the top 12 finishers at the championship are Dave Lefebre of Erie, Pa., with five bass weighing 6 pounds, 15 ounces (7th place, $23,000); Charlie Ingram of Santa Fe, Tenn., with five bass weighing 6-10 (8th, $22,000); Clark Wendlandt of Cedar Park, Texas, with five bass weighing 6-3 (9th, $21,000); Glenn Browne of Ocala, Fla., with five bass weighing 5-0 (10th, $20,000); Jason Kilpatrick of Satsuma, Ala., with two bass weighing 4-6 (11th, $19,000); and John Crews of Jetersville, Va., with three bass weighing 3-15 (12th, $18,000). Catch all the action Coverage of the Wal-Mart FLW Tour Championship will be broadcast on the Outdoor Life Network on the "FLW Outdoors" television program. A tournament preview show featuring bass-fishing legend Hank Parker will air Aug. 15 at noon CDT and Aug. 19 at 4 p.m. CDT, and fishing fans can watch the tournament weigh-in with hosts Carlton Wing, Taylor Carr and Charlie Evans Aug. 22 at noon and Aug. 26 at 4 p.m. Tournament veteran Larry Nixon will host a tournament wrap-up show Aug. 29 at noon, and that show will re-air Sept. 2 at 4 p.m.

Tags: headline-story  jeff-schroeder 

/news/2015-08-28-top-5-patterns-from-lake-erie-day-2

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 »

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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 »

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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 »

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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 »

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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 »

/news/2015-08-20-top-5-patterns-from-the-cup-day-1

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 »

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Forrest Wood Cup Day 1 Coverage

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

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Elkins Looked Deep on Erie

Matt Elkins of Spencerville, Ohio, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 22 pounds, 6 ounces Saturday to win the fourth Walmart Bass Fishing League Michigan Division tournament on the Detroit River. For his victory, Elkins earned $5,337. READ MORE »

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Manson Targets Shad

Scott Manson of Covington, Ohio, weighed four bass totaling 8 pounds, 10 ounces Saturday to win the fourth Walmart Bass Fishing League Buckeye Division tournament on the Ohio River. For his victory, Manson earned $5,205. READ MORE »