UPCOMING EVENT: Rayovac FLW Series - 2015 - Lake Erie

Kenney’s 8-11 Friday’s best at FLW Championship

J.T. Kenney busted the day's biggest bag to defeat Mike Hawkes and live to fish another day.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - J.T. Kenney and Chad Grigsby are buddies and fishing partners on the Wal-Mart FLW Tour. Throughout the long slog of a demanding tournament season, the two Northern bass pros share information, practice together and generally try to help each other out on the water. That's why things just got very interesting heading into the 12-angler final round of the Forrest L. Wood Championship. What happens when two friends like Kenney and Grigsby - who both caught leading weights in Friday's second round - have to fish against each other for a half-million dollars? Kenney, who hails from Frostburg, Md., caught a five-bass limit weighing 8 pounds, 11 ounces and defeated bracket opponent Mike Hawkes of Sabinal, Texas, to advance into Saturday's finals. Hawkes caught a limit, but it came up 3 1/2 pounds short at a total of 5-2. "I started fishing under a bridge early, trying to catch a few keepers and get a limit," Kenney said. "Then I left and tried for some big fish, and I actually caught two of them today." Kenney said he's been fishing the same way all week long at Lake Hamilton: catching a little limit first, then going hunting for some of those precious 3-pound kickers. "I've been going for schoolers early," he said. "Once I get five, I'll leave and just throw a buzzbait all day. Today, I caught five schoolers by 9:30, and the first place I hit with the buzzbait, I caught a couple good ones within two hours." While it only counted within his bracket matchup against Hawkes, Kenney's limit was the heaviest Friday. But he wasn't the only one capitalizing on the schooling fish/buzzbait pattern. Chad Grigsby angled past No. 2 seed Toshinari Namiki to earn a spot in the final round.Grigsby, of Colon, Mich., landed the third-heaviest limit - 7 pounds, 6 ounces - and defeated Andy Morgan of Dayton, Tenn., who caught just one bass that weighed 1-4. Grigsby, who landed six keeper fish Friday, also caught a limit of schoolers first, then went kicker-hunting with a buzzbait in shallow water. "We're both doing the same thing. We're not in the same spots, but we're doing the same thing," Kenney said. "I figured out the schoolers in practice, and he figured out the buzzbait. We'll just put them together and see what we can do." "I went to an all-new area today," Grigsby said. "I had one 2 1/2-pounder, but the difference was that I didn't have any little 12-inchers. Plus, I had a couple of missed bites in the 2 1/2- to 3-pound range. I'm just covering water, man. I put my trolling motor on 70 and threw the buzzbait most of the day." So, is it mere coincidence that he and Kenney once again managed to land themselves in an FLW final round together, more so at the biggest one of the year? "Nah, we're just the best fishermen out there. The cream rises to the top," Grigsby laughed. "You know I'm just kidding. The biggest thing is that we've been doing basically the same thing to catch the big ones." Dean Rojas takes a good look at his fish and likes what he sees - his 8-1 stringer was plenty enough to knock over bracket-mate Danny Correia.Rojas ready this year Sandwiched between Kenney and Grigsby's weights was the 8-pound, 1-ounce total posted by Dean Rojas of Grand Saline, Texas, which was the second-heaviest catch of the day. He defeated Danny Correia of Marlborough, Mass., who caught four fish weighing 3-11, to advance to the round of 12. Rojas caught just four bass Friday, but they were quality fish on a lake with a tough bass bite. "I'm not getting a whole lot of bites, but when I do, it's a good one," Rojas said. "I was going for big bites, and it really paid off for me today." He said his big-bite strategy relied on his use of a topwater bait that he designed, but which he understandably didn't want to reveal until after tomorrow. The key for Rojas, who got bumped out of the championship brackets last year despite being on some good fish, was to pace himself. "The first day, I just kind of went out to catch my limit and go from there. The same thing happened today. I never really beat up my fish," he said. "The area I'm fishing is where they go to feed. Hopefully, they'll replenish themselves tomorrow." Alton Jones benefitted from Matt HerrenJones knocks out Herren Alton Jones of Waco, Texas, caught the fourth-heaviest total - five bass weighing 7 pounds, 4 ounces - and bumped day-one standout Matt Herren of Trussville, Ala., out of competition. Herren, who caught a single fish weighing 1-3, said that he just ran out of fish. Jones, however, seems to be gaining strength as the tourney wears on. His limit would have weighed more except that he had a full 1-pound penalty for two dead fish. "I had a couple casualties today because I was catching them real deep. When you take them out of that cool, deep water and put them in a livewell where the water's 90 degrees, it's tough to keep them alive sometimes," said Jones, who said he used a 7-inch Yum ribbontail worm to catch his keepers. "You just have to stay in water where you have the potential to catch a 3- or 4-pounder and hope to get a limit along the way." Reigning Bassmaster Classic champ Takahiro Omori put himself in position to claim a Forrest L. Wood Championship title with a 7-2 catch on day three.Omori lined up for another big one Former Bassmaster Classic champion Takahiro Omori of Emory, Texas, put himself into position for yet another championship victory by taking out Buford, Georgia's Mickey Bruce Friday. Omori caught a limit weighing 7 pounds, 2 ounces - the day's fifth-heaviest weight - and Bruce caught a limit worth 5-6. "I've been fishing 10 years on the FLW Tour, and my whole career winnings aren't even a half-million dollars," Omori said. "So I hope to win my whole career in one day tomorrow." For the record, Omori has $351,791 in FLW Outdoors career earnings. More notable brackets Wesley Strader of Spring City, Tenn., (7-0) took out first-round top dog Tracy Adams of Wilkesboro, N.C., (4-2). Hometown favorite George Cochran of Hot Springs (5-15) advanced over Brent Chapman of Lake Quivera, Kan., (4-12). "I'm honored," Cochran said about the show of fan support he's been receiving all week. "I hope it psyches out everybody else." Another favorite Arkansan, Larry Nixon of Bee Branch, topped 2005 Angler of the Year Greg Hackney in a low-weight shootout. Nixon caught 4 pounds, 3 ounces, and Hackney mustered just one 12-ounce fish. Chip Harrison connects - but it's a non-keeper.In another twist-of-fate category, Chip Harrison of Bremen, Ind., (5-8) topped local Scott Suggs of Bryant, Ark., (2-3). Harrison also pals around with Kenney and Grigsby, not to mention Trevor Jancasz, who won the 2005 FLW Championship Co-angler Division title Friday. John Murray of Phoenix (4-10) defeated Andy Morgan of Dayton, Tenn., (1-4). The low weights The last two bracket winners Friday give hope to any aspiring bass angler out there looking to score a big payday someday. Anthony Gagliardi of Prosperity, S.C., advanced to the final round on the backs of his two small bass that weighed a collective 1 pound, 9 ounces. He beat Zell Rowland of Montgomery, Texas, who zeroed. And in an unprecedented turn of events since the FLW Championship went to the bracket format, Robert Karbas Jr. of Wake Forest, N.C., advanced to the finals and will compete for a half-million dollars despite not catching a single keeper bass. His opponent, Lendell Martin Jr. of Nacogdoches, Texas, also zeroed, and Karbas won by tiebreaker since he was the higher seed coming into the championship. "I feel like I've been shot at and missed," Karbas said. "But I think, with this fishery and how it's fishing right now, any 12 of us has the potential to get the right bag and win the half-million dollars." Next up: final showdown for all the marbles The entire FLW season is now boiled down to this: 12 pro anglers vying against each other for the $500,000 winner's check. All weights will be reset to zero for Saturday's final round as the field competes in a one-day shootout to determine the champion. Heaviest sack of bass wins. Saturday's takeoff is scheduled to take place at 7 a.m. Central time at Andrew Hulsey State Fish Hatchery ramp on Lake Hamilton, located at 350 Fish Hatchery Road in Hot Springs.

Tags: headline-story  jeff-schroeder 

/news/2015-08-29-matual-masters-erie

Matual Masters Erie

David Matual of Chicago, Ill., leaned on his spot hard and sacked up the biggest bag of day three weighing 22 pounds, 6 ounces. For his final-day rally he claimed the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division victory on Lake Erie with a three-day total of 65 pounds, fending off Jared Rhode by a mere 7 ounces. Drop-shotting over shallow reefs delivered all of Matual’s fish and earned him a check worth more than $31,000. READ MORE »

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Lake Erie Day 3 Midday Update

Lake Erie put on a different face for day three of the final Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event. After a rough day one, yesterday’s calm and mostly sunny conditions offered comfortable running and fishing conditions. Today was still a far cry from the brutal waves of day one - and prior practice days - but windier conditions and overcast skies seemed to present a more challenging scenario. READ MORE »

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Top 5 Patterns From Lake Erie Day 2

Pennsylvania pro Dave Lefebre and Ohio pro Jared Rhode tied for the day-two lead in Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division action on Lake Erie with 43 pounds, 9 ounces. Both pros caught their fish on drop-shots. Here are the details of the rest of the top five. READ MORE »

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Lefebre, Rhode Tied at the Top

Notching his second day of 20-plus pounds, FLW Tour pro Dave Lefebre tallied 43 pounds, 9 ounces and tied day-one leader Jared Rhode for the day-two top spot at the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie. Lefebre caught his 22-3 limit on Rapala DT-10 crankbaits, while Rhodes tempted his 19-15 catch with drop-shots. READ MORE »

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Lake Erie Day 2 Midday Update

With winds shifting from yesterday’s northerly blow to a warmer southerly direction, day two of the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie brought calmer conditions with greater ability to methodically work key spots. Offshore, waves ran 1 to 2 feet, with leeward areas behind the Lake Erie Islands nearly flat. READ MORE »

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Rhode Cracks 23-10 for Erie Lead

Jared Rhode played his cards and the gamble paid off better than expected, as the pro from Port Clinton, Ohio, took the day-one lead at the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie with a limit catch weighing 23 pounds, 10 ounces. READ MORE »

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Top 5 Patterns from Lake Erie Day 1

Taking off this morning, the FLW Tour pro from Erie, Pa., knew the day’s north wind would keep him from making a long run to a big-fish spot close to his home. However, keeping it local and fishing a little past Pelee Island to the west delivered a solid second-place catch. READ MORE »

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Lake Erie Day 1 Midday Report

Winds have subsided considerably since practice, but Lake Erie’s still showing her temperamental side to Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division anglers fishing the last divisional event out of Sandusky, Ohio. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-25-top-10-patterns-from-the-forrest-wood-cup

Top 10 Patterns from the Forrest Wood Cup

If you don’t believe that summertime bass fishing in the dog days of August is all over the map, just take a look at the top 10 patterns from the best bass pros on earth at the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. Brad Knight captured the Cup by mining one small creek end for four days. But beyond that, the rest of the top 10 patterns ran the gamut, from targeting schoolers over 40 feet to wolf packs of bass on the bank to brush piles to grass to mud flats and everywhere in between. Here’s a rundown. READ MORE »

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Knight Slays Ouachita

Lancing, Tenn., pro Brad Knight won the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart on Lake Ouachita with a four-day total of 51 pounds, 12 ounces. In front of a standing-room-only crowd at Bank of the Ozarks Arena in Hot Springs, Ark., Knight weighed in 11-07 on day four to surpass Jacob Wheeler, who started the day with a 12-ounce lead. Fishing in just one area all four days, Knight locked up the first win of his FLW career. He earned $500,000 for his victory and pushed his career earnings total to more than $688,000. READ MORE »

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Forrest Wood Cup Day 4 Coverage

Daily updates from the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-22-wheeler-back-in-front

Wheeler Back in Front

Jacob Wheeler loves Lake Ouachita. It’s where he fished his first Forrest Wood Cup in 2011, and it’s where he’ll take the tournament lead into the final day of competition at the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart and hosted by Visit Hot Springs and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. Wheeler, the 2011 Cup champion, led this tournament on day one and slipped a couple spots on day two. He now has a very slim 12-ounce lead over Tennessean Brad Knight. The anglers will square off tomorrow on Ouachita starting at 7 a.m. against the rest of the top 10 pros for the top prize of $500,000. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-22-top-5-patterns-from-the-cup-day-3

Top 5 Patterns from the Cup Day 3

Jacob Wheeler may have regained his lead in the Forrest Wood Cup on day three, but Brad Knight is right on his heels. Going into the final day, the two pros are separated by just 12 ounces. The margin is tight, and what’s going to make the final day fun to watch is the difference in the two anglers’ strategies. Wheeler is running a topwater pattern on the main lake, and fishing new water is part of his plan. Knight, however, has caught almost all of his weight from one 250-yard stretch of bass-rich creek channel. He literally knows every target he is fishing by heart. On the surface, Knight’s area looks to be the better bet. But he has shared the general area with Brandon Cobb and Mark Daniels Jr. for three solid days. And the bad news, at least for Knight, is that both Cobb and Daniels will be sharing the water with him again on the final day as both made the top-10 cut. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-22-forrest-wood-cup-day-3-coverage

Forrest Wood Cup Day 3 Coverage

Daily updates from the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-21-ramie-races-into-the-lead

Ramie Races into the Lead

On the back of a 17-pound, 14-ounce limit, which is the biggest of the tournament thus far, Ramie Colson Jr. jumped from seventh place to take over the lead at the halfway point of the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart. Colson’s two-day total is 31 pounds, 1 ounce, which puts him almost 3 pounds ahead of Tennessee’s Brad Knight. The Forrest Wood Cup, which is hosted by Visit Hot Springs and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, moves into its top-20 round on Saturday. The top 10 pros after Saturday’s weigh-in advance to Sunday’s final round for a shot at the $500,000 top prize. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-21-top-5-patterns-from-the-cup-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from the Cup Day 2

At times, bass fishing can be a lot like real estate, where the three most important rules are location, location and location. The 2015 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita presented by Walmart is starting to become a bit of a real estate game where location is the primary consideration in who climbs the leaderboard. And those mining the backs of creeks and tributaries are on the prime pieces of real estate. Consider that after day two, four of the top five pros are concentrating their fishing efforts in the back ends of creeks or rivers. All of these areas fit a classic late-summer, early-fall pattern where shad pack into the back of creek ditches that meander through shallow flats. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-21-forrest-wood-cup-day-2-coverage

Forrest Wood Cup Day 2 Coverage

Daily updates from the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-20-wheeler-hunting-history

Wheeler Hunting History

It’s never been done before, and it hasn’t happened yet, but Jacob Wheeler is in prime position to become the first two-time Forrest Wood Cup champion in history. Wheeler, of Indianapolis, Ind., brought in a 16-pound, 2-ounce limit of Lake Ouachita bass on the first day of the Cup, which is presented by Walmart and hosted by Visit Hot Springs and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-20-top-5-patterns-from-the-cup-day-1

Top 5 Patterns from the Cup Day 1

After day one of the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita, several things have come to light. For one, this event is not likely to produce a runaway win for anyone like it did when Scott Martin won here in 2011. Second, when the pros said Ouachita was going to be stingy, they meant it – only 29 of the 50 pros checked in limits today. Third, firm patterns are hard to come by on Lake Ouachita in August. Jacob Wheeler took the lead on day one in the event that’s presented by Walmart and hosted by Visit Hot Springs and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. With the help of a 5-pound bass, Wheeler weighed in a limit of 16 pounds, 2 ounces, but he had to sample a lot of different areas for his catch. Here’s how the rest of the top five got it done. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-20-forrest-wood-cup-day-1-coverage

Forrest Wood Cup Day 1 Coverage

Daily updates from the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. READ MORE »