No stopping Pappas

HAMBURG, N.Y. - Joseph Pappas couldn't wait for the storms to arrive Saturday because, when they finally hit around noon, his bass started biting like crazy - crazy enough for the third-year pro from Southgate, Mich., to win his first EverStart Series tournament in Northern Division action on Lake Erie. Pappas won the Pro Division in this week's smallmouth frenzy after popping two limits close to 20 pounds the last two days in the final round. His winning weight - 39 pounds, 13 ounces - bested runner-up Thomas Lavictoire by over 6 pounds. "I feel great," said Pappas, who collected $24,000 in cash (winnings and incentives) plus a new Ranger boat for the victory. "I put in a lot of time out there on the water and I sacrificed a lot to be here. It's just a great feeling finally to get a win." The weather took a turn for the nasty Saturday afternoon on the east end of Lake Erie, with violent lightning and bursts of pouring rain. That caused some hair-raising moments for a few anglers already dealing with the lake's big water. A couple competitors reported that they had to put away their gear for a while as lightning moved into the area and they could feel the buildup of static electricity in their fishing rods. "Oh yeah, the rods were humming," said Andrew Bray, who finished third in the Co-angler Division. Fortunately, nobody was hurt. In fact, the onslaught of shifty weather and, most importantly, the wind probably helped anglers Saturday, especially Pappas. The last two days have been relatively calm on big Lake Erie, and that seems to have a detrimental effect on the smallmouth bite. When a breeze finally picked up in front of the storms, that's when many finalists started catching them. "This morning was tough because there was no wind. It was just kind of swirling around," Pappas said. "Then, about 11 o'clock, we got a little bit of a ripple on the water, and I think it made a difference." Pappas started fishing Saturday morning on the high, flat area that gave him a leading 19-pound, 15-ounce limit Friday, but found the fish weren't cooperating in the calm water. So he left, caught three middling smallies and was worrying about just filling out his limit when the breeze picked up in front of the nasty weather. "I knew something was going to happen with the weather because the fish started biting about 15 minutes before the storms hit," he said. "That's when I ran back and started fishing my big-fish spot." "Big fish" is an understatement. His kicker bass was a monster Erie smallmouth estimated to weigh about 6 pounds by itself. The rest of his 19-pound, 14-ounce limit Saturday was filled out with the chunky 3- and 4-pound bass that make this lake one of the best smallmouth destinations in the world. "I didn't think I had that much weight," Pappas said. "When I put (the 6-pounder) in the livewell, I didn't think it was that big. But it just kept growing and growing." Pappas' big-fish technique all week involved using a drop-shot in water 35 to 42 feet deep in his flat area. He used two winning baits (the identities of which he guarded until the tournament was over): a 4-inch, melon-gold Zoom worm and an imitation Goby. Pro angler Joseph Pappas of Southgate, Mich., turned his semifinal-round lead into his first career EverStart Series victory Saturday at the EverStart Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie. He collected $24,000 in winnings and incentive cash plus a new Ranger boat for the victory.Pappas, a 32-year-old project engineer, looks to be an angler on the rise. He started competing in the Northern Division as a co-angler in 2001 and ended up ranked fourth. After switching over the pro side the following year, he won his first FLW Outdoors tournament, a BFL Michigan Division event at the Detroit River, in 2003. With his win this week, he climbed up to 40th in the Northern rankings and doubled his career winnings. "I was fortunate," he said. " Today I just ended up with the big bites again." Pro Thomas Lavictoire of West Rutland, Vt., caught a limit weighing 16 pounds, 5 ounces and finished in second place with a two-day weight of 33-11.Lavictoire comes up short Lavictoire (pronounced "luh-victory") put together the second-best stringer Saturday but couldn't compete with Pappas. He caught a limit weighing 16 pounds, 5 ounces and finished in second place with a two-day weight of 33-11. He collected $10,000. "I made a pretty brutal run every day. It didn't matter whether there was rain, wind or whatever," said Lavictoire, who hails from West Rutland, Vt. "I was fishing a tube and a drop-shot, just like everyone else. The main thing was just keeping them pinned. I didn't catch a fish but once every half-hour or 45 minutes. I just stayed with it." Thomas goes shallow for third Jeffrey Thomas of Broadway, N.C., who is admittedly what you might call a "foreigner" to these waters, brought his Southern ways to Lake Erie this week and worked them to his advantage. While most of the leaders were fishing deep with drop-shots and tubes, Thomas proved with his third-place finish that a good ol' shallow-running spinnerbait works on these Northern smallies, too. "Everything I've caught the last four days was in 3 feet of water or less," he said. "I was throwing a ¾-ounce Hawg Caller spinnerbait. It was kind of scary because a couple of times the waves threw my boat up on those rocks." His Erie spinnerbait technique caught Thomas 32 pounds, 9 ounces in the finals and he collected $9,000. Pro Brad Brodnicki of Amherst, N.Y., caught a total of 31 pounds, 14 ounces and finished fourth.Brodnicki brings home fourth Brad Brodnicki, a local favorite from Amherst, N.Y., caught a total of 31 pounds, 14 ounces and finished fourth. He won $8,000. "I didn't travel far all week," said Brodnicki, who used a drop-shot all week. "I just found a little hump close by the ramp." Balog fifth Joe Balog, the Harrison Township, Mich., pro who won the 2001 EverStart Series Championship, finished this tournament in fifth place with a final-round total of 31 pounds, 8 ounces. He won $7,500. Cancer-surviving pro Kevin Bartsch of Spooner, Wis., caught two limits weighing a total of 29-15 in the finals that earned him a career-best seventh-place finish.Bartsch's battle The most inspiring story of the week was the tale of Kevin Bartsch, a young pro from Spooner, Wis., who has been fighting cancer since he was an infant. He underwent his fourth surgery and treatment for the illness prior to this event, and word is that he hasn't eaten much since the tournament started just so he could feel well enough to fish. "I didn't even think I would be able to fish on the second day," he said. "I thought I was going to have to go to the hospital." Not only did he not go to the hospital, he caught almost 35 pounds of bass in the opening round and made the cut. His two limits weighing a total of 29-15 in the finals earned him a career-best seventh-place finish and $5,500. At the last Northern event, the Detroit River, Bartsch finished 22nd. "I'm just glad I'm here. I've been sick all week battling my cancer," he said. "But fishing has always been part of my therapy. When I'm healing from surgery, I just go fishing. It's a good way to keep your mind strong, and that's the strongest muscle in your body." Rest of the best Rounding out the top 10 Pro Division finishers in EverStart Northern competition at Lake Erie are day-one leader Mike Desforges of Burlington, Ontario, with a final-round weight of 30 pounds, 14 ounces (6th place, $6,500); Bartsch (7th); David Trautman of Kent, Ohio, with 22-0 (8th, $5,000); Ron Fabiszak of South Bend, Ind., with 20-14 (9th, $4,500); and Kevin Bishop of Hilton, N.Y., with 16-12 (10th, $4,000). Standings update With one tournament left to fish, Bob Izumi of Milton, Ontario, took a narrow lead in the Northern Division pro standings with 535 points. Charlie Hartley of Grove City, Ohio, is close behind with 532 points. Coming up The next EverStart Series event is a Northern Division contest at Lake Champlain near Plattsburgh, N.Y., Sept. 22-25. It is the fourth and final Northern tournament of the season, and is the final EverStart regular-season event of the year.

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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