UPCOMING EVENT: Bass Fishing League - 2016 - Lake Okeechobee

By George, he caught ‘em

George Cochran of Hot Springs, Ark., hoists the $500,000 winner's check at the 2005 Forrest L. Wood Championship at Lake Hamilton.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Everyone said the locals had an advantage at tough-fishing Lake Hamilton this week, and they were right. George Cochran, the Hot Springs pro who has lived on the lake for more than 15 years, took home $500,000 as the 2005 Wal-Mart FLW Tour Forrest L. Wood Championship winner after catching a five-bass limit weighing 10 pounds, 3 ounces Saturday.

And he won it, literally, right in his own backyard.

"My first fish, I caught it on a buzzbait about 300 yards from my house," he said. "That's what I've been doing most of the week. I've been fishing shallow, which is what I love to do. When you're in big tournaments like this, you've got to fish to your strengths. If I was going to win, it was going to be shallow."

Cochran - who beat Sandy Melvin and Brent Chapman in the first two bracket rounds to advance to the finals - attacked the shallows of his home lake this week with a trio of topwater baits. Under the heat and dealing with a light bass bite, he said that he caught fish on a Spit-N-King popper as well as a 5-inch trick worm. But it was his red-and-white, ¼-ounce Strike King buzzbait that was his main weapon - that, and a secret stash of bass within sight of his house that he'd been saving for the final round.

George Cochran weighs in his last, kicker bass shortly before winning the 2005 Forrest L. Wood Championship trophy."I stayed on top the whole tournament. If I made it this far, I saved some deep docks for the final round," he said. "There are very few times that everything goes just like you plan, but I had a bank where I knew I could catch some fish. I didn't touch it at all during practice or during the tournament until today. But I went in there this morning, missed one on the first cast and landed a keeper on the second cast. I had my limit in the boat by 9 o'clock."

He wasn't the only who knew it, either. Presumably thanks to the Internet and the real-time catches provided by Remote Knowledge at FLWOutdoors.com, Cochran fans knew that their man was catching some serious fish. Combine that with an already busy, hot weekend day on the lake, and people in boats started showing up in droves on Lake Hamilton to watch as their hometown hero prepared to win the richest tournament in competitive bass fishing. It provided a surreal, interactive twist to an already exciting day for Cochran.

"I had about five boats on me this morning, but by 8:30 there were probably 40 boats," he said. "By 10:30 there were probably 80 boats around me, but by then I knew that the good fishing was done, so I just kind of sat back and enjoyed it. When you're culling out ones that are almost 2-pounders, you know that you've got fish."

He had all he needed for his decisive victory early in the day. Cochran's 10-3 beat second-place Chad Grigsby by over 3 1/2 pounds. Despite seven limits coming to the scale, nobody else could muster more than 6 1/2 pounds Saturday.

"Today, I was completely focused. I never lost a fish, and I did everything that I wanted to do," said Cochran, who fished around line-busting docks for much of the day.

George Cochran hoists the 2005 FLW Championship winnerCochran - who won the FLW tournament at Kentucky Lake in 1996 - has also won two championship tournaments before, claiming the Bassmaster Classic title in 1987 and 1996. He said, with his $500,000 at the FLW Championship this week in front of his hometown fans, he'll fish one more Classic this year and then hang it up from the BASS tour. The 55-year-old former railroad brakeman still has his eyes set on making another run at another half-million dollars at next year's FLW Championship, however, saying that he will continue to compete on the FLW Tour next year.

"It just tickles me to death, at 55, to win such a big tournament, especially with all my friends and family here," said Cochran, whose FLW Outdoors career earnings jumped to a total of $698,400 Saturday. "That first victory (at the 1987 Classic) changed my whole life. It got me started fishing for a living, and now I've been doing this for 25 years. It can't get any better than this. Any victory is sweet, but to win a tournament like this is incredible. I'm getting close to the end of my career, and I've always dreamed of winning the FLW Championship. I feel like Forrest Gump; now I don't have to worry about money for a while. I'm the luckiest guy in the world."

Chad Grigsby of Colon, Mich., caught five bass that weighed 6 pounds, 7 ounces and finished in second place at Lake Hamilton.Grigsby second, not satisfied

The winner wasn't the only one who figured out the buzzbait bite on Hamilton this week. Grigsby also leaned heavily on the topwater bait to catch his fish most of the week. Saturday, his buzzbait ultimately landed provided him five bass that weighed 6 pounds, 7 ounces.

"I missed one that was about 3 pounds this morning, and I thought it was going to cost me, but it didn't since George won it by more than that," Grigsby said. "I fished all new water everyday. Today, I went way upriver and all I did was cover a bunch of water."

The pro from Colon, Mich., earned $50,000 for second place.

"I'm not that excited about second place," Grigsby said. "It's not that I'm disappointed at all - especially taking second with all the little scrawny ones that I caught today - but I'm just not satisfied. The first time I get excited about second place, I should quit."

John Murray of Phoenix weighed in five bass worth 5 pounds, 4 ounces and finished in third place.Murray drop-shots into third

John Murray also used a topwater bait early Saturday to catch a few schooling bass, but he eventually switched to a drop-shot and filled out his limit catching fish off of deep brush piles.

"I caught two early, and then it was about one every hour and a half," said Murray, who added that his drop-shot came armed with a Senko. "It was the toughest day I've ever had drop-shotting on any lake."

The pro from Phoenix weighed in five bass worth 5 pounds, 4 ounces and collected $40,000 for third place.

"I'm ecstatic," he said. "I went for broke and stayed deep. I was either going to come in first or last doing what I was doing, so I can't complain."

Dean Rojas of Grand Saline, Texas, tied Murray in total weight Saturday but finished in fourth place by virtue of the tiebreaker. He also caught a limit weighing 5 pounds, 4 ounces.Rojas fourth

Dean Rojas of Grand Saline, Texas, actually tied Murray in total weight Saturday but finished in fourth place by virtue of the tiebreaker. He also caught a limit weighing 5 pounds, 4 ounces and earned $35,000.

"I caught my first fish by 9:30 this morning, and I thought I was going to whack them," Rojas said. "Then the boat traffic came."

Rojas caught two of his better bass on a topwater frog that he designed, the same bait that provided him one of the heaviest limits on day three. But his frog couldn't provide enough fish on day four to help Rojas finally make the leap into the winner's circle.

"I just didn't get any big bites today," he said.

Gagliardi fifth, Jones sixth

Anthony Gagliardi of Prosperity, S.C., caught a limit weighing 5 pounds even and finished in the fifth slot. He earned $30,000.

"I feel really fortunate to be here," he said. "I lost focus yesterday and didn't catch my first fish until 11 o'clock. I think that really threw me off my game."

Alton Jones of Waco, Texas, caught five bass weighing 4 pounds, 14 ounces and collected $24,000 for sixth place.

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 12 finishers at the 2005 FLW Championship at Lake Hamilton:

7th: J.T. Kenney of Frostburg, Md., five bass, 4-13, $23,000
8th: Wesley Strader of Spring City, Tenn., four bass, 4-12, $22,000
9th: Robert Karbas Jr. of Wake Forest, N.C., three bass, 4-3, $21,000
10th: Takahiro Omori of Emory, Texas, four bass, 3-2, $20,000
11th: Larry Nixon of Bee Branch, Ark., three bass, 3-2, $19,000
12th: Chip Harrison of Bremen, Ind., two bass, 2-1, $18,000

Catch all the action

Coverage of the Forrest L. Wood Championship will be broadcast on Fox Sports Net on the "FLW Outdoors" television program. Part 1 of the championship will air Sunday, Aug. 7, at 11 a.m. Eastern time, and Part 2 will air the following Sunday, Aug. 14, also at 11 a.m. Eastern.

Tags: jeff-schroeder  headline-story  2005-07-13-flw-championship-boat-outdoor-show 

/news/2016-07-29-two-for-one

Two for One

The sibling partnership has done that with staggering ability. The two have a practice system in place that, while simple, has generated success north to south. That system, and the teamwork that makes it possible, is about to get its greatest test this week at Wheeler Lake. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-28-early-reports-from-wheeler

Early Reports from Wheeler

Starting this Sunday, the 50 Forrest Wood Cup competitors will hit Wheeler Lake bright and early for the first of three days of official practice. It’ll be the first time the anglers have been allowed on the Tennessee River reservoir since the pre-practice cut off date of July 17. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-27-celebs-seminars-on-deck-for-the-cup

Celebs, Seminars on Deck for the Cup

The 2016 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart in Huntsville, Ala., on Aug. 4-7 will be crawling with some of the best bass anglers in the industry – both active pros and bassin’ legends. Fans in attendance will have the opportunity to personally wish their favorite anglers good luck before takeoff, snag a picture and an autograph from an industry superstar, or sit in on a seminar. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-27-bass-and-bbq-festival-set-for-forrest-wood-cup-expo

Bass and BBQ Festival set for Forrest Wood Cup Expo

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – FLW is adding some Alabama flavor to the 2016 Forrest Wood Cup with its Bass & BBQ Festival as part of the FLW Expo outside the Von Braun Center in Huntsville, Alabama, August 6 and 7. The BBQ Festival, presented by WQRV 100.3 The River, will feature four award-winning BBQ teams offering delicious fare to visitors at the Forrest Wood Cup. A portion of all... READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-27-bk-s-year-as-the-champ

BK’s Year as the Champ

Brad Knight plans on getting a good night’s sleep before this year’s Forrest Wood Cup on Wheeler Lake begins on Aug. 4. Sounds pretty straightforward, but there have been times during the past 12 months when dozing off wasn’t so easy for the defending Cup champion. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-25-top-10-patterns-from-the-1000-islands

Top 10 Patterns from the 1000 Islands

High wind and fluctuating water temperatures made things a little difficult for the anglers, but the top-10 pros adapted and utilized the whole playing field to exploit everything from deep smallmouth to shallow largemouth. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-25-mccartney-o-keefe-tie-for-win-at-flw-bass-fishing-league-great-lakes-division-event-on-mississippi-river-presented-by-navionics

McCartney, O’Keefe Tie For Win at FLW Bass Fishing League Great Lakes Division Event on Mississippi River Presented By Navionics

LA CROSSE, Wis. (July 25, 2016) – Mark McCartney of Davis Junction, Illinois, and Nick O’Keefe of La Crosse, Wisconsin, each weighed three bass totaling 11 pounds even, Saturday to win the third FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Great Lakes Division tournament of 2016 on the Mississippi... READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-25-mccartney-o-keefe-tie-on-the-mighty-miss

McCartney, O'Keefe tie on the Mighty Miss

Mark McCartney of Davis Junction, Illinois, and Nick O’Keefe of La Crosse, Wisconsin, each weighed three bass totaling 11 pounds even, Saturday to win the third FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Great Lakes Division tournament of 2016 on the Mississippi River presented by Navionics. For his win, McCartney earned $5,540 after bonuses, and O’Keefe took home $3,540. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-25-country-music-superstar-dustin-lynch-to-perform-free-concert-in-huntsville-presented-by-wdrm-102-1

Country Music Superstar Dustin Lynch to perform Free Concert In Huntsville presented by WDRM 102.1

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Country music superstar Dustin Lynch will perform a free concert on the Walmart weigh-in stage at the Propst Arena in the Von Braun Center in Huntsville on Sunday, August 7, starting at 4 p.m., prior to the final weigh-in of the world championship of professional bass fishing, the 2016 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart. The concert is presented by WDRM... READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-25-canterbury-s-next-challenge-

Canterbury’s Next Challenge

At the time of writing, Canterbury had been picked by every pundit and 50 percent of players overall, which is a decent bump over Morgan at 47 percent. The dollars attached obviously make a difference, but there’s no doubt that everyone expects great things. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-25-jay-kendrick-the-rookie-

Jay Kendrick – The “Rookie”

A rookie by designation if not by experience, Forrest Wood Cup contender Jay Kendrick finished 34th in the standings in his first year on the Walmart FLW Tour to clinch a spot in the championship. What makes it even more fortuitous for him is that because the Cup is taking place on Wheeler Lake, he’ll be able to stay at his own house for the event, which is just about 30 minutes from takeoff at Ditto Landing. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-25-fan-freebies-and-contests-at-the-cup

Fan Freebies and Contests at the Cup

One pro angler is going to win $300,000 at the Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart Aug. 4-7 on Wheeler Lake in Huntsville, Ala. That’s good for him. For fans, the chance to win is pretty good too. FLW and its partners and sponsors have lined up a sweet selection of giveaway prizes for the Cup and the accompanying FLW Expo, ranging from a tricked-out bass boat to a fishing trip with Jimmy Houston. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-24-1000-islands-top-10-baits

1000 Islands Top 10 Baits

The top pros from the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event presented by Mercury at 1000 Islands kept it pretty simple to catch both largemouths and smallmouths from this massive fishery that includes the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario. Drop-shots, spinnerbaits and jigs all saw action and got it done from the lake to the river. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-24-penn-state-taps-docks-at-chautauqua-

Penn State Taps Docks at Chautauqua

The Penn State University duo of Clayton Frey of York, Pennsylvania, and Derek Horner, of State College, Pennsylvania, won the FLW College Fishing Northern Conference event at Chautauqua Lake Saturday with five bass weighing 13 pounds, 3 ounces. The victory earned the club $2,000 and qualified the team for the 2017 FLW College Fishing National Championship. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-23-thompson-co-angler-champ-on-1000-islands

Thompson Co-angler Champ on 1000 Islands

The 1000 Islands is a great place to take a vacation, especially if you are from the south and want to escape the heat. That is exactly what co-angler Joe Thompson of Clayton, Ga., did and wound up capturing the top spot in the co-angler division bringing home a Ranger Z117 with a 90 hp motor. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-23-penn-state-university-wins-flw-college-fishing-northern-conference-event-on-chautauqua-lake

Penn State University wins FLW College Fishing Northern Conference Event on Chautauqua Lake

CHAUTAUQUA, N.Y. – The Penn State University duo of Clayton Frey of York, Pennsylvania, and Derek Horner, of State College, Pennsylvania, won the FLW College Fishing Northern Conference event at Chautauqua Lake Saturday with five bass weighing 13 pounds, 3 ounces. The victory earned the club $2,000 and qualified the team for the 2017 FLW College Fishing National... READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-23-michigan-s-dobson-leads-wire-to-wire-wins-costa-flw-series-event-at-1000-islands-presented-by-mercury

Michigan’s Dobson leads wire-to-wire, wins Costa FLW Series Event at 1000 Islands presented by Mercury

CLAYTON, N.Y. – Scott Dobson of Clarkston, Michigan, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 21 pounds, 12 ounces Saturday to win the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event at 1000 Islands presented by Mercury with a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 68 pounds, 8 ounces. For his win, Dobson earned $82,669, including a new Ranger Z518 with a 200-horsepower Evinrude or... READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-23-dobson-dominates-1000-islands

Dobson Dominates 1000 Islands

Scott Dobson didn’t expect it to come so quickly, but 30 minutes is all it took for him to find the winning pattern during his first day of practice for the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event presented by Mercury at 1000 Islands. That pattern would lead him to three consecutive limits of more than 20 pounds, including today’s final-round bag worth 21-12 – the day’s biggest limit, yet his smallest of the tournament. His three-day total weight of 68-8 earned him a check for more than $37,000 along with a Ranger Z518C with a 200-hp engine for being Ranger Cup qualified. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-22-1000-islands-top-5-patterns-day-2

1000 Islands Top 5 Patterns Day 2

Strong winds limited competition to only the St. Lawrence River on day two of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event presented by Mercury at 1000 Islands, but that was no problem for the majority of the top 10. Even though most of them fished Lake Ontario on day one, they were able to adjust and stay on the fish today. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-22-dobson-extends-lead-at-1000-islands

Dobson Extends Lead at 1000 Islands

A windy day two of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event on the 1000 Islands didn’t stop day-one leader Scott Dobson of Clarkston, Mich., from sacking up the biggest bag of the day. Dobson threw down an impressive 22-pound, 3-ounce limit to extend his lead to 5 pounds over Cal Climpson – a noted Lake Ontario maestro. Dobson’s two-day total stands at 46-12, and with lighter winds tomorrow some big bags are expected. READ MORE »