As the Crow flies

PADUCAH, Ky. - For Alabama boater Brent Crow, beginner's luck is nothing new. In 2002, Crow finished second in his first-ever BFL event, a Choo Choo Division tournament held on Guntersville Lake. Now, in his first-ever All-American, Crow leads the field with a five-bass catch of Ohio River bass that weighed 11 pounds, 11 ounces. "It's been great so far," he said. "If it keeps going like today, it'll be even better." Crow rode into the All-American on a wave of momentum after qualifying for two different regionals out of two different divisions. In 2004, he finished fourth in the Choo Choo Division and 15th in the Bama Division, and though he didn't make the cut via the Lake Seminole regional (he finished 16th), he finished third at the Kentucky Lake regional to earn his third career top-10 finish and a trip to the All-American. Going into today's competition, the anglers knew they needed at least one 4-pounder to make the grade. Crow came close, weighing in a 3-pound, 14-ouncer to anchor his bag. On stage, he reported he'd been catching fish since his first casts of the day, and the bites never stopped. Boater Division leader Brent Crow holds up a 3-pound, 14-ounce bass."I've just been fishing current, using plastics," he said. "They ran current all day, and they've done it every day I've been here. I don't think where I'm fishing will run out of fish, because the ones I'm catching don't live there." Crow's transient current fish indeed seem to be a replenishing supply, as Crow said he caught seven fish over 3 pounds in one afternoon the first day he showed up for practice. "Today was the worst day I've had as far as catching big fish," he said. "I caught them the same way in practice. Those fish were probably spawning, so they're gone now." Crow is not among the anglers locking through and making a lengthy run to the Smithland Pool. Instead, he's finding his fish within 15 minutes of the launch ramp in Paducah. Tomorrow, Crow will be paired with a cameraman, who will record his every cast for the "Wal-Mart FLW Outdoors" TV program on FSN. It's Crow's first time under the lights, but he's keeping it all in perspective. "It's still just fishing," he said of the opportunity to fish for $100,000. "If I were to win, I'd probably try to fish the FLW Tour next year and invest the rest." Bryson fights mud, lands in second Count No. 2 boater Michael Bryson of LaFayette, Ga., is among the anglers who lost a fishing hole or two due to the mud churned up by last night's downpour. Bryson said that if he had that honeyhole today, he would have caught more than he did - a more-than-respectable limit weighing 11 pounds, 7 ounces that has him only 4 ounces behind Crow.Michael Bryson caught 11 pounds, 7 ounces to land in second after day one at the All-American. "I'm making a 40-minute run to the Smithland Pool," Bryson said. "It takes 45 minutes to an hour to lock through. I'm fishing shallow structure, using about five different baits." Bryson's arsenal today included a crankbait, a spinnerbait, a buzzbait and a jig, all of which he worked over stumps and cover, finding a lot of fish hiding along the breaks. Bryson was the No. 14-ranked angler in the Choo Choo Division in 2004 and finished fourth at the Kentucky Lake regional to claim his All-American slot. Hudgens' lucky seven lands him in third Boaters hungry for the $100,000 top prize might be wise to look out for No. 3 Wayne Hudgens of Hot Springs, Ark., who claims he fished only two of his seven hot spots today. Those two holes earned him five bass weighing 11 pounds. "I had a good practice," he said. "I hit two of my seven spots, so if they bite tomorrow, I can do good. I've just got to concentrate and focus on what's going on."Wayne Hudgens sits in the No. 3 spot on the boater side at the All-American. Hudgens also stayed close to Paducah today and said that, for him, it was a slow bite even though he had a limit by 11:30 a.m. "I culled twice, and I left my fish by 1:30 and went looking around," he said. "It's a slow bite. I'm not catching a lot of fish - just kind of like what I caught today." Hudgens was a rookie in 2004 when he ended the season ranked 10th in the Arkie Division. His fifth-place finish at the Toledo Bend regional afforded him his first All-American appearance. "Last year was my first year to fish the BFL, and I made the All-American," he said. "It's a dream come true." Best of the rest Rick Byrnes of Tamaroa, Ill., was among the first to weigh in Thursday, and his 10-pound, 8-ounce limit held up, keeping him among the top five, in fourth place after day one. Behind him in fifth is Cadiz, Ky., angler Brian Hickey with a five-bass catch weighing 10 pounds, 1 ounce. Rounding out the top 10 boaters at the All-American: 6th: Kim Carver, Milledgeville, Ga., five bass, 9-12 7th: Robert Beatty, Clermont, Fla., five bass, 9-10 8th: John Pearson, Perry, Ga., five bass, 9-5 9th (tie): Jeff Wooldridge, Lafayette, La., five bass, and Mark Stewart, Gaithersburg, Md., four bass, 9-0 McManaway leads co-angler contingent Altamont, Ill., co-angler Aaron McManaway caught a five-bass limit weighing 11 pounds to lead the Co-angler Division by more than 2 pounds. He caught his bass behind Cookeville, Tenn., boater Adam Wagner, who fared pretty well himself, landing in 12th on the boater side with 8-11. Aaron McManaway prepares to weigh in the fish that gave him the All-American co-angler lead."He was there for me, and I was there for him - it was a team," McManaway said. "I'm as happy as can be. We had a great day - I was wanting really bad to do that today." McManaway is no stranger to All-American success - he's last year's co-angler runner-up. His back-to-back All-American dominance is all the more impressive considering the young angler has only fished the BFL since 2003. McManaway earned his All-American berth by ranking 27th in the Illini Division points standings and finishing fifth in the Columbus Pool regional. "I don't know why you're giving me a room; I doubt if I'll sleep," he said. Hooter, Floyd make a mark Two-time All-American qualifier Richard Hooter of Natchitoches, La., sits in the No. 2 spot on the co-angler side with a five-bass catch Thursday weighing 9 pounds, 3 ounces. "I'm going to win it," Hooter said. Jamie Floyd of Prarierville, La., is in third place in his first All-American with a catch of five bass weighing 8 pounds, 7 ounces, despite experiencing a bit of boat trouble on day one. Best of the rest Thomas (Chip) Morris of Mableton, Ga., holds down the No. 4 spot with four bass weighing 8 pounds, 2 ounces. In fifth is Mark Heimburger of Sidney, Ill., with four bass weighing 7 pounds, 13 ounces. Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers at the All-American: 6th: Phillip Eakes of Bahama, N.C., four bass, 6-11 7th: Melvin McNeal of Circleville, Ohio, five bass, 6-9 8th: Steve Caudill of Morehead, Ky., five bass, 6-1 9th: Matt Linton of Kingston, Tenn., five bass, 6-0 10th: Davey Lance of Hartselle, Ala., five bass, 5-10 The top 10 All-American boaters and co-anglers assemble after the day-one weigh-in. The full field of competitors will fish again tomorrow, and the co-angler champion will earn $50,000 at the conclusion of tomorrow's weigh-in. The top 10 boaters, based on their two-day accumulated weights, will advance to Saturday's competition, where they will compete for the top prize of $100,000 cash. Friday's takeoff begins at 7 a.m. from the Paducah City Ramp, located on the riverfront in downtown Paducah.

Tags: headline-story  jennifer-simmons 

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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 »

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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

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Beaver Lake presented by Rayovac. READ MORE »

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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 »

/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 »

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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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Lanter Wins on Rend Lake

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/news/2015-04-19-top-10-patterns-from-lake-murray

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Murray

As contestants in the FLW College Fishing National Championship on Lake Murray discovered last week, fishing the blueback herring spawn can be backbreaking work. All that stooping over to grab a different rig to cast at bass busting their favorite forage, and then quickly straightening, is hard on the old spinal column. Flexing up and down is what it took to contend in the championship, however, as bass couldn’t make up their minds whether they wanted their grub served on the surface or closer to the bottom. Typically, the collegians were fan-casting Carolina rigs, umbrella rigs, hard jerkbaits and even crankbaits to likely looking points and broad flats. Sometimes they caught fish with such random prospecting, but perhaps more bass were taken when anglers found themselves within casting distance of blowups and were quick enough to grab a soft jerkbait rig or topwater lure and virtually spoon-feed it to the fish. READ MORE »

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Gamecocks Win College Title

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Gamecocks Win National Title

As any good Palmetto State bass fisherman will tell you, home lake advantage only works if you’re consistent in your catches from day to day. Anthony Gagliardi proved it here on Lake Murray last summer in the Forrest Wood Cup, and the University of South Carolina proved it again in the FLW College Fishing National Championship that concluded Saturday. READ MORE »

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Hallman Prevails On Grand

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Lake Murray Midday Update Day 3

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