Run for the money

Fans line the bank and cameras roll at Logan Martin Lake as young John Crews and the other 11 pros idle out for the final round of the 2004 Wal-Mart FLW Tour Championship.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Twelve anglers. Eight hours to fish. $500,000 on the line. How would you feel about it? "I'll tell you what. If you're not nervous today, you must be dead," Clark Wendlandt of Cedar Park, Texas, said before the start of the Wal-Mart FLW Tour Championship's final round at Logan Martin Lake Saturday. If Wendlandt, the third-richest pro in Wal-Mart FLW Tour history, is nervous, how about the other 11 finalists? "Fishing for big money is nothing new to me," said Mickey Bruce of Buford, Ga., who is perhaps the most seasoned tournament angler in the field. "But fishing for $500,000, that's something completely different." Some of the 12 - particularly the newer guys to the tour - seemed to be making a concerted effort to block out that number, $500,000. Dave Lefebre holds up what he hopes is the secret to winning a half-million dollars at Logan Martin Lake.Dave Lefebre of Erie, Pa., employed a little sarcasm as his shield: "I'm just going to go out, catch 6 or 7 pounds and be happy with eighth place or something like that." Jason Kilpatrick of Satsuma, Ala., seemed to be using some sort of Jedi mind trick on himself. "Yeah, the pressure's off now," he said seriously. And the man of the week, rookie Luke Clausen of Spokane, Wash., stayed cool as ice - at least on the surface: "I think I understand what the fish are doing here. I'm just going to go fishing." But none of these guys is fooling anybody. Nobody is "just going fishing" today. Every single one of them is competing for the biggest prize in fishing - $500,000 - and only one of them will get it. Second place? Forget about it. This isn't the Wal-Mart Open or Forrest Wood Open. At the FLW Championship, the difference between first and second place is $450,000. Second place will only earn you twice as much as the co-angler winner, $50,000. Ask Harmon Davis, last year's championship runner-up, about second place. Like Davis and David Dudley last year, this one is probably going to come down to a matter of ounces. And it's certainly going to sting whomever fills Davis' shoes in second place this year. Everybody restarted the day at zero; heaviest one-day catch wins. Weights have been tight throughout the week, and that trend should continue Saturday. Most people are saying anywhere from 12 to 14 pounds will win. Jason Kilpatrick takes off for the FLW Championship finals.Twelve or more pounds of bass: That's what these guys are after. That's what will push these 12 pros to fish as hard as they've ever fished before - no matter what they say into the microphone. That, and $500,000. No, it's not just another day of fishing. Come to the show, win another boat On Friday, a lucky fan won the first Ranger Z-Series Comanche ever produced, which was unveiled at weigh-in. Saturday, another lucky fan attending the final weigh-in will win a NASCAR Limited Series Ranger 521VX Comanche powered by Evinrude, courtesy of The Birmingham News and Birmingham Post-Herald. The outdoor show in conjunction with this week's championship runs from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. Saturday at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex. Friday's weigh-in at the convention center, located at 2100 Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd. in Birmingham, begins at 5 p.m. CDT. Can't be there? No worries, just log on Thanks to some innovative technology, bass-fishing enthusiasts have access to all of the sights and sounds of each day's weigh-in from the Aug. 11-14 Wal-Mart FLW Tour Championship at Logan Martin Lake. Fans will get up-to-the-second weigh-in results, live streaming video and real-time audio immediately on "FLW Liveâ„¢" - a new feature on that brings the live weigh-in format right to your computer screen. To locate FLW Live, simply go to the FLW Tour home page and click on FLW Live, located on the left-hand navigation bar. The start page will appear. Follow the directions to activate FLW Live. Saturday's conditions: Sunrise: 6:09 a.m. Temperature at takeoff: 63 degrees Expected high temperature: 80 degrees Water temperature: 75-82 degrees Wind: from the north at 10 mph Humidity: 72 percent Day's outlook: sunny

Tags: morning-story  jeff-schroeder 


Front and Center

There is little doubt it’s coming. The uncertainty lies in what will happen because of it. If the forecast holds true, at some point this evening the severe weather system that dropped tornados across the central plains Wednesday will arrive at Lewis Smith Lake. Along with the rain and thunder, the front promises to bring with it a significant drop in temperature, with lows projected in the low 30s by the weekend. It’s a storm that looms over the 154 pros and co-anglers set to fish the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Evinrude and hosted by the Walker County Chamber of Commerce. And while they, the anglers, should stay dry, the weather might be the key question mark for a tournament already overflowing with them. READ MORE »


Record Catch for Record College Field?

GILBERTSVILLE, Ky. – Panama City, beach parties, Florida sunshine, bikini weather – big deal. Who needs Spring Break when you’ve got Kentucky Lake in March? OK, maybe that’s a stretch, but how else to explain why a record-setting number of teams showed up for the FLW College Fishing Open tournament here? The official tally of bass fishing teams is 201, according to College Fishing Tournament Director Kevin Hunt, making this the largest collegiate fishing event ever. Teams from every corner of the country are represented here, with squads from as far away as Eastern Washington University competing the next two days. A flotilla left Moor’s Resort & Marina this morning, with individual boats scattering in all directions. READ MORE »


Guntersville Grab Bag

Lake Guntersville will always have a place in bass-fishing history – most recently because of Paul Elias and the umbrella rig ­– but it represents so much more. With boat ramps seemingly on every street corner, and a town and community that caters to anglers like no other, the legendary lake is always a popular stop. READ MORE »


Toho Midday Report Day 2

If you’ve been following the FLW On The Water feed, you might have seen a slight uptick in the reports in the last hour or so. A crisp north wind, which was cold enough to force many anglers into their rain gear this morning, seems to have tapered off to a breeze. Down south on Kissimmee the sun is shining. And as the weather has improved, so too has the bite – as evidenced by the sudden surge in fish-catching reports. The increase in action is good news for many anglers who experienced slower fishing this morning than yesterday. Stacey King, who came into today in second place, is among that group. Unfortunately for day-one leader JT Kenney, “slow” for King is still pretty good. He’s got a limit, including a pair of 4-pounders, and has already culled. That makes King our unofficial leader right now. READ MORE »


Boom or Bust at Toho

To varying degrees of success, tournament anglers are used to figuring out lakes that seemingly are a bundle of contradictions. Be that as it may, Lake Toho threatens to boggle their collective minds as the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour kickoff event presented by Mercury gets underway this morning. READ MORE »


Mighty Amistad Issues a Challenge

Legendary south Texas reservoir Lake Amistad has hosted some of FLW’s most infamous smash-fests – the kind of tournaments where anglers weren’t challenged to catch fish, but were pushed to keep up with the competition when 20- and even 30-pound stringers were being hauled across the stage. READ MORE »


Heating Up on Havasu

Lake Havasu City, Ariz. – Warming weather could provide the spark that is needed to ignite a big-time bite on Lake Havasu this week for the first event of the 2015 Rayovac FLW Series Western Division, which is presented by Mercury. Past FLW events on Havasu have been plagued by lower temperatures and strong winds that slowed the bite – fishing was good, but the anglers didn’t experience the lake’s full potential. The last few days on the Colorado River impoundment, however, have seen temperatures near 80 degrees with nearly no wind. As it stands now, the forecast for competition days is calling for more of the same, and many of the 152 pros in this tournament feel like that could open things up. READ MORE »


Here They Come

Big things are coming on Lake Okeechobee – big bass, big weights and the biggest tournament field in Rayovac FLW Series history. READ MORE »


Grinding Wheel-er

ROGERSVILLE, Ala. – The story was much the same among the 141 pro and co-anglers that launched out of Joe Wheeler State Park this morning for the first day of the Rayovac FLW Series Championship on Wheeler Lake. Fishing on the Tennessee River in the fall can be hit or miss and right now anglers are experiencing the latter. READ MORE »


A Clear Challenge

Challenging conditions including low water, abundant baitfish and a late-season algae bloom set the stage for an epic bass battle among the 212 pros and co-anglers vying for top honors Oct. 9-11 in the Rayovac FLW Series Western Division Clear Lake tournament, which kicked off this morning at 7:30 a.m. PT. Presented by Evinrude, the three-day event promises plenty of drama. Anglers are competing for lucrative paybacks, including $32,448 in cash for first place on the pro side, plus a fully rigged Ranger Z518C with 200-hp Evinrude outboard if the winner is Ranger Cup compliant, for a total purse worth more than $80,000. On the co-angler side, the victor claims a fully rigged Ranger Z117 with 90-hp Evinrude, plus $5,000 in Ranger Cup cash if entered in that contingency program. READ MORE »


Rayburn Returns

ZAVALLA, Texas – If Sam Rayburn Reservoir were a stock on Wall Street, now would be the time to buy. READ MORE »


The Mississippi Mix-Up

LA CROSSE, Wis. – Things are much different since the last time the Rayovac FLW Series Central Division launched from the Clinton Street Landing back in 2012. Cooler temperatures, higher water levels and scattered fish will make things interesting for the 119 pros and co-anglers this week on the Mississippi River. READ MORE »


James River Jam

RICHMOND, Va. – On tidal fisheries like the James River, optimism and opportunity are inextricably linked to water level. For anglers competing in the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division, today’s tide schedule will present a brief period of opportunity, followed by a long grind the rest of the day. READ MORE »


Hopes High on Champlain

PLATTSBURGH, NY - Fair weather and a fishery flush with bassin’ options fueled contagious optimism among the 142 competitors squaring off in the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event on Lake Champlain. READ MORE »


Kentucky Lake: The pressure is palpable

PARIS LANDING, Tenn. – If the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Evinrude needed a theme song, David Bowie’s rendition of “Under Pressure” would be as good as it gets. The entire field will be under more pressure than usual as the four-day competition opens this morning. There’s the pressure to win or at least take advantage of a final opportunity to take home a good check this season, the pressure to pull out all the stops and make up ground in the Angler of the Year standings and gain entry into the Forrest Wood Cup, the pressure to not take chances and lose a shot at the Cup – and so it goes. READ MORE »


The Task of Timing

FLORENCE, Ala. – Fishing tournaments inherently rely on timed competition – get as much weight as you can within the allotted time frame. However, as the country's top 49 boaters and co-anglers take to Wilson Lake for the Walmart BFL All-American presented by Chevy timing will greatly impact outcomes. READ MORE »


Pick a number at Pickwick

FLORENCE, Ala. – To listen to some of the pros gathered here for the Walmart FLW Tour on Pickwick Lake presented by StraightTalk, here’s the scenario that will play out for the next couple of days: Each morning anglers will depart the takeoff area and proceed to their first stop where, depending on their draw, they will be required to wait in line until it’s their turn to fish. Once they’ve caught a keeper, they will move on to the next community hole, where they will again repeat the process. And so the tournament will proceed until Sunday evening when the champion will be crowned. OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but not by much. Veterans and newcomers alike agree that Pickwick will fish much smaller than it really is in this, the fifth 2014 Tour stop that’s hosted by the Florence/Lauderdale Tourism Bureau. Because fish-finding electronics have become so precise, most of the locations that consistently hold bass in early summer on Pickwick seem to have found their way into the waypoint logs of just about every angler entered. As veteran Texas pro Tommy Martin puts it, “either we’re going to have to play nice and share places and get along, or go find six or eight spots that nobody knows about. Good luck with that; I plan to play nice.” READ MORE »


Kentucky Lake slugfest begins

There are no secrets on Kentucky Lake this week. If you want to catch a winning stringer, you’d better be ledge fishing. Rayovac FLW Series anglers launched out of Kenlake State Resort Park this morning to near-perfect ledge-fishing conditions for the start of the second Central Division event of the season. READ MORE »


High tide on the Delta

BETHEL ISLAND, Calif. – Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing – or, at least, a challenging thing. Gotta have water to fish and current generally stimulates fish, but this week’s tide schedule may prove perplexing for Rayovac FLW Series Western Division anglers on the California Delta. READ MORE »


Guntersville’s great mystery

GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. -- Largemouth bass in Lake Guntersville just might be some of the most prolific bass in the world. How one fishery continues to pump out so many bass under the duress of so much fishing pressure is a mystery that many bass pros have pondered. READ MORE »