How sweet it is

LAGRANGE, Ga. - Coming into the Stren Series Southeast Division event at West Point Lake, Terry Tucker's enthusiasm level for tournament bass fishing was beginning to wane. The veteran tournament angler from Gadsden, Ala., has been hard at it for two decades without a major-league win, and he was beginning to wonder if such a victory was even in his future. That all changed today when Tucker brought in a day-four catch of 10 pounds, 13 ounces to finally clench a Stren Series victory - and in dominating fashion to boot. As it turned out, Tucker's two-day total of 25 pounds, 12 ounces gave him more than 10 pounds to spare over second place. "I needed this, I really needed this," he said after the win. "Seriously, the last few months I'd been having some serious thoughts about hanging this fishing gig up for a while, mainly because it just wasn't fun anymore - it had lost its zip." Indeed, Tucker filled his tank full of zip today after putting a win on his resume and collecting $64,000 in cash and prizes, including a fully rigged Ranger boat. "I'm ready to go to Pickwick now (on the FLW Tour)," a smiling Tucker said. "This puts me back in the saddle, and I'm ready to ride again." All week Tucker fished a big area located in Yellow Jacket Creek. The area consisted of a large, shallow flat that had a small 1- to 3-foot ditch meandering through it. The edge of the ditch was sweetened with stumps, stickups and other scattered pieces of cover. "They are basically residential fish that live back there all year long," Tucker said.Terry Tucker's winning baits: a Davis flat-sided crankbait, a 1/2-ounce Bite-A-Bait spinnerbait and a homemade jig featuring a Prowler pro-chunk trailer. "When the water is low and cold like this, they are forced to relate to that ditch." Tucker relied on a Davis flat-sided crankbait, a 1/2-ounce Bite-A-Bait spinnerbait and a homemade jig featuring a Prowler Pro chunk trailer to fish the isolated objects along the ditch's edge. He fished the crankbait on 14-pound-test line with a 7-foot Kistler crankbait rod. The jig was tied to 20-pound-test line on a 7-foot, 6-inch Kistler extra-heavy-action flipping stick. Tucker alternated between the crankbait, jig and spinnerbait as he fished through the flat. Now that he has won on West Point Lake, the champion has suddenly grown fond of the lake. "I used to hate West Point - now I love this place," he added. Defoe runner-up Pro Ott Defoe of Dandridge, Tenn., finished second with a two-day total of 15 pounds, 1 ounce.Ott Defoe of Dandridge, Tenn., rallied into second place today with a five-bass limit weighing 9 pounds, 7 ounces for a two-day total of 15 pounds, 1 ounce worth $10,000. Defoe stumbled across a mother lode of bass in Yellow Jacket Creek on day two of the tournament when he caught 21 pounds on a Rat-L-Trap. "I caught those fish on Thursday in about a 300-yard stretch that featured three flat, shallow points," he said. "That's where I spent the rest of the tournament, but the fish seemed to have moved out a little deeper today and I had to go to a No. 7 Shad Rap to catch them." Hailstones third Patrick Hailstones of Cincinnati finished third with a two-day total 14 pounds, 10Pro Patrick Hailstones of Cincinnati, Ohio, finished third with a two-day total of 14 pounds, 10 ounces. ounces and collected $9,000. He fished most of the week in the middle portion of the lake throwing Shad Raps, Rat-L-Traps and square-billed crankbaits in 3 to 5 feet of water. Today he gambled on one place up the river that paid off, allowing him to weigh in one of only three limits posted in the Pro Division. "I feel really good about how I fished this week," Hailstones said. "I had a good area, I made good decisions, and I caught everything that bit me - no sob stories here. I made the best of what I had." Stowers fourth Pro Kevin Stowers of Gainesville, Ga., shows off his 7-pounder which helped him finish fourth with a two-day total of 12 pounds, 12 ounces.Kevin Stowers of Gainesville, Ga., rallied to fourth place today with a two-day total of 12 pounds, 12 ounces thanks in large part to a 7-pound kicker. Stowers was one of the few anglers that figured out a deep bite on West Point this week and made it work. "I had one place in about 30 feet of water that produced a lot of my fish," Stowers said. "It was too windy to stay on it today, but that's where my big one came from." Stowers reported catching his fish on a 1/4-ounce Swarming Hornet finesse jig. Stowers' finish was worth $8,000. Phillips fifth Artie Phillips of Monroe, N.C., finished fifth with a two-day total of 12 Pro Artie Phillips of Monroe, N.C., finished fifth with a two-day total of 12 pounds, 12 ounces.pounds, 12 ounces worth $7,500. Phillips caught most of his fish this week on a Lucky Craft Pointer jerkbait. "I was fishing red clay points with rocks," he said. "I had to have wind; no wind meant no fish. I was fishing the jerkabit extremely slow, almost like a worm. Rest of the best Rounding out the top 10 pros in the Stren Series Southeast event on West Point Lake: 6th: Charles Pearson of Auburn, Ala., with a two-day total of 11-9, $6,500 7th: Timothy Little of Acworth, Ga., with a two-day total of 11-2, $5,500 8th: Barry Isbell of Trussville, Ala., with a two-day total of 10-10, $5,000 9th: Greg Barwick of East Dublin, Ga., with a two-day total of 6-14, $4,500 10th: Jason Knapp of Uniontown, Pa., with a two-day total of 6-11, $4,000 Coming up The next Stren Southeast event takes place March 15-18 on Lake Eufaula in Eufaula, Ala., while the next event to take place in the Stren Series overall will be Feb. 22-25 when the Central Division visits Lake Amistad in Del Rio, Texas.

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Morgan Maintains His Lead

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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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Gordon and Gagner Crowned TBF Champs

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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

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Heckman Heads up TBF Championship Field

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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 »

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Top 5 Patterns from Beaver Lake Day 1

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Griffith Grabs TBF Lead

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TBF Championship Tips Off

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