Jordon jolts field to capture FLW title on the Big O

Pro Kelly Jordon of Mineola, Texas, shows off his first-place check after winning the FLW Tour event on Lake Okeechobee.

CLEWISTON, Fla. - Heading into Saturday's finals, Kelly Jordon of Mineola, Texas, found himself in sixth place, nearly 10 pounds behind day-three leader Steve Kennedy and with very little hope of winning the tournament title on Lake Okeechobee. To make matters worse for Jordon, the scheduled 7 a.m. takeoff didn't even commence until 8:30 a.m. due to a severe fog delay. With only four and a half hours of actual fishing time on the docket, a ton of ground to make up and some of the best anglers in the nation ahead of him in the standings, it seemed that Jordon had every conceivable obstacle standing between him and a championship. But as everyone knows, no one is ever completely out of a tournament - especially if they are fishing on the Big O. Skyrocketing up the leaderboard with a stunning catch of 23 pounds in today's final contest, Jordon shocked the tournament field, outfishing his nearest rival over the final two days by more than 4 pounds. Even more impressive was the fact that he did it all with only four fish in the finals. Despite the highly stressful affair, Jordon said he wouldn't have had it any other way. Kelly Jordon of Mineola, Texas, shows off his first-place trophy at Lake Okeechobee."That was amazing," said Jordon in perhaps the understatement of the day. "I had a 30-minute streak today where I caught almost all of my fish. It was the most amazing 30 minutes of my life. It was just one of those deals where everything lined up." Although Jordon knew that he had a day that he wouldn't ever forget, he was doubtful he had enough fish to put him over the top heading back to the boat ramp. "I felt great coming in, but I didn't think I had it," said Jordon, who only managed a four-fish stringer despite his best efforts. "I thought I'd make a pretty good push on the leaders, but I still thought I needed one more fish. "It's just such a great accomplishment. I've never won on the FLW Tour before. It is extremely exciting. I don't know what else to say." Jordon said part of the reason he won the tournament was that he made a gamble, which ultimately paid big dividends. Instead of going to a spot where he knew he could catch a limit, he went straight for an area he thought had a high concentration of big fish. Kelly Jordon of Mineola, Texas, holds up part of his winning 30-pound, 13-ounce stringer."This was a big-fish tournament, and I knew that whoever was going to win was going to have to get the big bites," he said. "I went to an area and tried to find the thickest (grass mat) cover I could find. Even though I didn't catch a limit, I knew that I made the right decision. I never second-guessed myself." Jordon targeted largemouth bass in the heavily fished "Monkey Box" area - flipping a Lake Fork Tackle Craw Tube in a June bug color, accompanied with 65-pound Spider wire and a 1 3/8-ounce weight. It was a rig and presentation he'll remember for a long time to come. "This is one of my favorite lakes, so this win is very special to me," said Jordon, who won a first-place check totaling $100,000. "I'll cherish this forever." Kennedy's inauguration put on hold Although day-three leader Steve Kennedy fished one of the best tournaments of his career, his final two-day catch of 26 pounds, 9 ounces came up just little short. However, in the end, Kennedy managed to be gracious in defeat. Steve Kennedy of Auburn, Ala., finished the Lake Okeechobee event in second place after recording a catch of 26 pounds, 9 ounces."Kelly Jordon is the man. He deserved it," said Kennedy, who was gunning for his second FLW Tour title. "I would have loved to have won it. I really felt like the short day was playing into my hands. But you need to get those big bites" Kennedy said that heading back to the boat ramp he had a feeling it was going to come down to the wire. "Coming in, I was extremely nervous," the resident of Auburn, Ala., said. "I thought, `I need 20 pounds today to feel comfortable,' and I didn't even have 10 pounds. It was a rough day today. I had a lot of bites. But I just couldn't get that one big bite I needed." Kennedy - who was flipping hydrilla mats in the Monkey Box area with a Gambler cricket and 4-inch craw with a 1 ¾-ounce weight - said he had few regrets. "I'm not disappointed at all," said Kennedy, who walked away with $36,000 in prize money. "I had a blast all week." Rojas comes up short ... again Dean Rojas of Grand Saline, Texas, really thought this was his time. Heading into the finals, Rojas was only 7 ounces off the leaderboard. In addition, he had a great area with lots of big fish and six FLW Tour top-10 finishes under his belt. However, in the end, Rojas ran into a combination of factors that were too difficult to overcome. "It's just the way it goes," he said. "When I got to my area this morning, there were 10 or 12 boats already around my spot. The grass was all torn up. It was a mess. There was a local tournament going on, and there's really nothing you can do about it. I fished hard but I just couldn't get the big bites today." Rojas said the hardest part was that he believed he finally had the winning formula to nail down his first-ever FLW title. "Man this hurts," he said. "I was in the right area; I was doing the right technique; but it just didn't happen today. But, on the bright side, I'm fishing really well right now. And I'm really looking forward to (FLW Tour stop No. 2) Lake Toho in a few weeks." As well he should. At Lake Toho in 2001, Rojas set the record for the largest, single-day stringer ever recorded at 45 pounds, 2 ounces. For now, however, Rojas was content to settle for a nice consolation prize as well as a hefty check for $25,000. Namiki shows that Fukae isn't the only Japanese angler worthy of the spotlight Toshinari Namiki of Tokyo, Japan, proudly displays part of his 19-pound, 5-ounce catch. Namiki finished the tournament in fourth place.Although Shinichi Fukae grabbed most of the international headlines during the 2004 FLW Tour, Toshinari Namiki of Tokyo made a huge statement of his own during today's finals. Using a two-day catch of 19 pounds, 5 ounces, Namiki took home a fourth-place finish, a check for $20,000 and the added respect of some of the nation's top pros. "I thought if the water was clearer, I could catch some fish," Namiki said of his tough final day of fishing. "But it was a great tournament. I'm looking forward to Lake Toho." Bolton pleased with finish Terry Bolton of Paducah, Ky., used a two-day catch of 17 pounds, 11 ounces to grab fifth place.Although Terry Bolton of Paducah, Ky., wanted a tournament title just like every top-10 finalist, he said that he had a pretty good idea today's finals were going to be tough. "I kind of knew yesterday that I didn't have many fish left," said Bolton, who recorded a two-day catch of 17 pounds, 11 ounces. "I just picked up my spinnerbait today and fished real slowly. I was patient. I stayed at my spot all day. It just didn't work out." For his efforts, Bolton walked away with $18,000 in prize money. Best of the rest Bobby Lane of Lakeland, Fla., recorded a two-day catch of 14 pounds, 7 ounces to finish in seventh place.Rounding out the top 10 finalists were the following: • Greg Pugh (6th) of Cullman, Ala. - 17 pounds, 1 ounce • Bobby Lane (7th) of Lakeland, Fla. - 14 pounds, 7 ounces • Keith Williams (8th) of Conway, Ark. - 10 pounds, 8 ounces • Chad Grigsby (9th) of Colon, Mich. - 9 pounds, 15 ounces • Jerry Green (10th) of Justiceburg, Texas - 14 ounces FLW action resumes Feb. 9-12 on Lake Toho in Kissimmee, Fla.

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/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 »

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Beaver Lake Day 4 Coverage

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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 »

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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 »

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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 »

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Beaver Lake Day 3 Coverage

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/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 »

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Beaver Lake Day 2 Coverage

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/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 »

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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 »

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Beaver Lake Day 1 Coverage

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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 »

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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 »

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Jig Bite Carries Holmes on Wateree

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Bryan Slows Down for Chickamauga Win

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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 »

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Salzman Cracks 31 Pounds on Guntersville

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