UPCOMING EVENT: Rayovac FLW Series - 2015 - Lake Champlain

Out-Manned

Tom Mann Jr. caught three bass weighing 8 pounds Saturday, including this 4-pound kicker that gave him the victory.

KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Tom Mann Jr. of Buford, Ga., and Art Berry of Hemet, Calif., have each felt the sting of second place many times before; both are well-known for having a string of near-miss performances on tour.

So when they squared off against each other in the final round of Wal-Mart FLW Tour action at Lake Toho Saturday, there was a collective sense of relief among fishing fans because it became clear that, hey, one of them would finally get a win.

“I’ve stood on this stage a lot of times and I’ve finished second a lot of times,” Mann said before the last fish hit the scale. “I sure would like to win one.”

And win one he did. In a classic pro bass fishing showdown that pitted a grizzled tournament veteran versus a hot young gun – who were both anxious to shake the dreaded runner-up monkeys from their backs – the veteran Mann came out ahead and won $100,000 with a close 10-ounce victory over FLW rookie Berry.

Veteran pro Tom Mann Jr. of Buford, Ga., earned $100,000 with a two-day total of eight bass weighing 16 pounds, 2 ounces at FLW Lake Toho.“Wow, this feels good,” Mann said. “When you finally win a tournament, it does so many things. It’s just awesome. It’s great for your family; it’s great for your sponsors; and it boosts your confidence and gets you going again.”

Mann won with a final-round total weight of 16 pounds, 2 ounces. Despite a strong comeback Saturday, Berry came up short with 15-7.

This was clearly a two-man race by the end of the day. Despite calm, bluebird skies Saturday, the cold front that swept through central Florida two days ago gave the bass in Toho and Kissimmee lakes a case of lockjaw that stretched into the final day. Nobody caught a five-bass limit. Mann and Berry led the day by catching three keepers and, in the end, it came down to a contest between each of their kicker fish: Mann’s outweighed Berry’s by about half a pound.

And that was the difference. Mann, a two-time runner-up on the FLW Tour whose last tournament win was a BASS event 13 years ago, edged out Berry, probably the best young pro out of the West without a tournament win – but with a lot of second places.

Senko or swim

In the second position after Friday, Mann liked his chances today after seeing his partner Kenneth Chapman win the Co-angler Division with a dominant sack of fish. He knew that his fish were still there, so Mann returned to his area on Lake Kissimmee in the morning and started throwing the bait that led him into the finals: a watermelon-with-red-flake Senko.

“I spent two hours there this morning and I never got a bite,” he said. “So I went to my second-best spot and immediately caught a 2-pounder. Then I caught that 4-pounder. I didn’t have any idea that I would win, but I knew that it was going to be close.” Tom Mann Jr. landed his winning catch with the same watermelon-red-flake Senkos that he used to catch all but two of his fish this week.

Mann’s water on Kissimmee was a stretch of bank with shallow water populated by grasses: maiden cane, arrowheads and lily pads. The bass he targeted all week were staging females hiding out underneath the grass waiting to spawn. The trick to catching them, he said, was the Senko and a lot of patience.

“I think more than anything it was the technique,” he said. “I was fishing the Senko really slow and just picking apart the grass line. Ninety percent of the bites came when the bait was on the fall. With that cold front, the water’s temperature dropped 10 degrees and it got dirty, which put the fish in a bad mood. I worked my main area over twice really hard and didn’t get bit, so I made the decision and said I’ve got to make the move.”

It turned out to be a veteran move. Already with a nearly 2-pound lead over Berry, the three fish he plucked off his secondary spot weighed a collective 8 pounds even and were just enough to push him past the hard-luck rookie.

“It’s not easy to take because you’re so close,” Mann said about Berry’s second place. “I know because I’ve been there. I thought I’d be there again because I thought he did it when I heard that he caught that last big fish on a swim bait. But it worked out.” Art Berry lets his guard down onstage when he realizes that Mann has beaten him and handed him yet another second-place finish.

Bittersweet Art

Berry is making it his mission to leave a Western imprint on the traditionally Eastern sport of pro bass fishing. The FLW rookie takes great pride in being from Southern California and gladly carries the torch of “Western pro” wherever he competes.

That’s why, when he caught what he thought was his winning fish late in the day on a swimbait – a distinctly Western technique – he was more than happy.

“I was fishing right in Toho. I caught one flipping fish and one on a flat on a spinnerbait,” Berry said. “I kept looking at the water and I was thinking, man, I could throw a swimbait around. For some reason, I just had a gut instinct about my swimbait. So I took it out of my rod locker and caught the big one on my second or third cast. It’s a Baby E swimbait, and it’s really the first true tournament-ready swimbait. It’s a smaller, shallow-running grass swimbait and it’s just phenomenal. I was really happy with my performance today.” Art Berry of Hemet, Calif., caught three bass weighing 9 pounds, 2 ounces - including a 3 1/2-pound kicker - to boost his two-day total catch to six bass weighing 15 pounds, 7 ounces.

However, his kicker bass, at about 3 ½ pounds, wasn’t quite enough. His three fish Saturday totaled 9 pounds, 2 ounces – the heaviest catch of the day – but it was only good enough for second place and $36,000 in the two-day final round.

This was Berry’s fourth second-place finish in FLW Outdoors competition in the last three years. He collected three runner-up finishes in eight tournaments the first two years of EverStart Series Western Division competition and finished second in the points there last year. After having fished just three FLW Tour events in his career, he has already claimed two top-10 finishes, including today’s runner-up.

All of that is an enviable record by any measure, but for Berry, it’s still not a win.

“I’m sorry. I really don’t know what to say,” he said afterward. “I really thought I had it. I knew that, today, I probably fished harder than I ever have, and I fished smart. I could sit here and say that I lost four fish yesterday, but I am convinced that these are the things that make you a better fisherman. “You know what? I’m excited about not winning because I know that it’s just going to make me work harder and harder at this. There’s nothing that I want more than to win.”

Lane slips to third Bobby Lane of Lakeland, Fla., caught two fish weighing 2 pounds, 5 ounces Saturday and finished third with a final weight of 13-3.

Hometown favorite Bobby Lane of Lakeland, Fla., likely felt the pain of the lockjawed bass the most. After leading Friday, he caught just two fish weighing 2 pounds, 5 ounces Saturday and finished third with a final weight of 13-3. He earned $25,000.

Lane’s pain is perhaps eased by the fact that he rose to the top of the yearly standings after this week’s tournament. The FLW rookie has 392 points and leads Kelly Jordon of Mineola, Texas, the Okeechobee winner, and Greg Pugh of Cullman, Ala., by four points.

Kenney fourth

Florida flipping phenom J.T. Kenney of Frostburg, Md., the opening-round leader, caught three bass Saturday and finished with a final weight of 11 pounds, 11 ounces. He finished fourth and collected $20,000.

“I felt like I couldn’t do anything wrong coming into the tournament,” he said. “But I had a few missed opportunities today.”

Hartsell fifth

Toby Hartsell of Livingston, Texas, finished fifth and won $18,000 with a final weight of 10 pounds, 6 ounces. Saturday he caught two bass weighing 4-9.

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 pros finishers at FLW Lake Toho:

6th: Ricky Shumpert of Lexington, S.C., 9-3, $17,000

7th: Dan Morehead of Paducah, Ky., 8-15, $16,000

8th: Pugh, 6-5, $15,000

9th: Dion Hibdon of Stover, Mo., 5-12, $14,000

10th: Warren Wyman of Calera, Ala., 2-5, $13,000

 

Coming up

The next Walmart FLW Tour event is scheduled for the Ouachita River near West Monroe, La., March 9-12.

Tags: tom-mann-jr-  prespawn  lake-toho  lake-kissimme  gary-yamamoto-custom-baits  soft-plastic  headline-story  jeff-schroeder 

/news/2015-07-21-top-picks-from-icast

Top Picks From ICAST

A few days of walking the floor at ICAST is enough to exhaust a body, but it isn’t enough to know exactly what’s worthwhile. For that, you need some time to reflect and probably a few tournament seasons to fly by to see what rises up. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-20-renfrew-fished-to-win

Renfrew Fished to Win

Ian Renfrew of Phoenix, New York, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 16 pounds, 11 ounces Saturday to win the third Walmart Bass Fishing League Northeast Division tournament on Oneida Lake presented by Navionics. For his victory, Renfrew earned $4,695. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-20-docks-and-rocks-key-for-synders

Docks and Rocks Key for Synders

Rus Snyders of Nashville, Tennessee, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 16 pounds, 6 ounces Saturday to win the fourth Walmart Bass Fishing League Music City Division tournament on Old Hickory Lake presented by Navionics. For his victory, Snyders earned $2,703. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-20-jig-crankbait-carry-powroznik

Jig, Crankbait Carry Powroznik

Ryan Powroznik of Prince George, Virginia, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 17 pounds, 15 ounces Saturday to win the fourth Walmart Bass Fishing League Piedmont Division tournament on the James River. For his victory, Powroznik earned $7,507. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-20-persistence-pays-for-arning

Persistence Pays for Arning

Ray Arning Jr. of Walnut Hill, Illinois, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 13 pounds, 5 ounces Saturday to win the third Walmart Bass Fishing League Illini Division tournament on Rend Lake presented by Navionics. For his victory, Arning earned $5,804. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-17-new-rod-roundup

New Rod Roundup

Rod companies continue to impress each year with a new crop of lighter, faster and more affordable (sweet!) rods. On the subject of price, these days, a tournament pro or an average angler could be fishing with rods that cost less than $100 apiece, but without giving up anything in the realm of quality. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-17-new-terminal-tackle

New Terminal Tackle

Don’t skimp where it counts the most – terminal tackle. Hooks, weights, jigheads and the like are the keys to taking all those new soft baits and swimbaits to the fish, hooking them and getting them in the boat. Here’s the best stuff we saw on the floor at ICAST 2015. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-16-flw-announces-2016-tour-schedule

FLW Announces 2016 Tour Schedule

FLW announced the 2016 Walmart FLW Tour regular-season schedule today in a live press conference held at the 2015 ICAST show in Orlando, Fla. With the help of six veteran Tour pros, the company unveiled each of the six events, one-by-one, to a crowd of observers gathered around the FLW booth. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-16-6-new-reels-to-try

6 New Reels to Try

Whether you need to replace an old reel or you’re just looking to add to the arsenal, here are some of the latest and greatest from ICAST. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-16-6-new-lines-from-icast-2015

6 New Lines from ICAST 2015

Line might just be the most important part of the package when it comes to landing fish. From presenting the bait to getting them in the net, your line is involved the entire way. If you’re looking for something new to try, the following lines are worth a shot. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-16-icast-best-of-show-winners-

ICAST Best Of Show Winners

One of the highlights of ICAST is the annual “Best of Show” awards. Not everything at ICAST is of interest to bass anglers, but the below might end up being staples for a long time to come. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-16-10-new-frogs-and-toads

10 New Frogs and Toads

These days, frogs and toads aren’t just mimicking frogs and toads. They’re designed to be perfect imitations of rats, bream and various oddball creatures. New models at ICAST this season offer anglers some of these “alternative” species, as well as new sizes, colors, action types and degrees of realism. Here are 10 new models that we feel are of greatest interest. Click here for complete 2015 ICAST coverage. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-16-7-terrific-topwater-baits

7 Terrific Topwater Baits

If you don’t like fishing topwater, just give up fishing already. These seven new baits will help you get your surface-fishing fix next season. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-16-critters-and-craws

Critters and Craws

Nearly everyone already has a tackle box overflowing with soft baits. That said, there are always more to try. If you’re looking for something new, the following might do the trick. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-15-new-hard-baits-for-2015

New Hard Baits for 2015

It doesn’t take long to find yourself overwhelmed on the show floor of ICAST. Hundreds of companies are here unveiling cool, new products. When it comes to the hard bait category it can be daunting to sift through all the new stuff. Its early, but here are a few things that might be worth adding to the tackle box. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-15-icast-2015-fishing-accessories

ICAST 2015 Fishing Accessories

Check out these tools and accessory items that fill a variety of roles when on the water. We’ll update the list later tomorrow too. Click here for complete 2015 ICAST coverage. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-15-cool-new-electronics-at-icast-2015

Cool New Electronics at ICAST 2015

These days, anglers rely on cutting edge electronic devices not only to find and catch fish, but also to share their fishing experiences with the world. The following new products, as seen on day one at ICAST 2015, will help you do all of the above. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-15-new-clothing-and-sunglasses-at-icast-2015

New Clothing and Sunglasses at ICAST 2015

Sunglasses and clothing that can resist all that Mother Nature throws at it are critical for hard-core anglers. Here’s what’s new in those categories at this year’s ICAST show. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-15-three-new-finesse-worms

Three New Finesse Worms

Though there is a ton of finesse worms already available on the market, but the following three from the first day of ICAST might be worth a look if you sense a gap in your arsenal. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-14-dance-detweiler-and-east-win-icast-cup

Dance, Detweiler and East Win ICAST Cup

Weighing in midway through the 48-boat field, Bill Dance, Cody Detweiler, and Dave East repped Mystik Lubricants brought a five-bass limit for 17 pounds, 1 ounce to the scale for the win. The team focused on two shallow, grassy areas within sight of Big Toho Marina for the entirety of the event and caught about 10 bass and culled twice before 8 a.m. READ MORE »