Swim or sink

REDDING, Calif. - Mark Meddock led a youth movement at Lake Shasta this week that showed off guile in the face of adversity, pitted bravado against experience and, above all, proved that swimbaits are the hottest bait out West. In Saturday's final round of Stren Series Western Division competition at Shasta, the 23-year-old pro from Woodland, Calif., caught the heaviest limit of the week - 22 pounds, 14 ounces - totaled 40-9 over the last two days and won $10,000 plus a new Ranger 519 VX for first place. "I feel great, man," said Meddock. "This is the biggest win of my career." Three factors played key roles in the young pro's victory: the weather, his strategy and his bait. All week long, Meddock was quietly crowing about how well the prespawn spotted bass in Lake Shasta were biting thanks to the unseemly weather. The clouds, wind and incessant rain only picked up steam as the week wore on, and - while creating dismal conditions for outdoor fun like fishing - that only turned on the bass bite even more. "This lake is just unreal right now. All of these big spotted bass are coming up and eating," he said. "I've probably caught 20 bass over 5 pounds during the last week, and that's unbelievable." Pro Mark Meddock won $50,000 in cash and prizes at Lake Shasta, including a Ranger 519VX powered by a Yamaha or Evinrude outboard, Minn Kota trolling motor, Lowrance electronics and EverStart batteries. What's especially unbelievable is that all of those 5-pound-plus bass were spots. Saturday, Meddock came in with a kicker spotted bass weighing about 6 1/2 pounds, which he caught early in the day. He filled out his limit with two more in the 4- to 5-pound range and another one that went over 5. He said, with those fish in the livewell by 8 a.m., he spent the day trying to cull out his smallest spotted bass, which was still a sizable 3 1/2 pounds. He didn't ultimately get to cull it out, but he didn't need to. "I was saving those fish all week," he said. "I didn't think anybody else would find them because they were suspended over about a hundred feet of water. I was fishing up in the Sacramento (River) Arm and at the mouth of Pit River. I was just hitting the tops of islands, and if they didn't eat within the first three of four casts, I'd just move on to the next stop." Meddock said he had about 10 locations where his big spots would bite and replenish themselves each day. He saved his best spot up the Sacramento Arm, however, for Saturday. "I caught my first fish on my first cast, that 6 1/2-pounder," he said. "I knew it was going good from there." Mark MeddockWhile those fish were, in fact, there for the taking for everyone, Meddock believes it was his bait that did the trick in getting them to bite. He said he caught all of his fish this week on an 8-inch Huddleston swimbait. He, along with runner-up Jeff Michels, came in with their swimbaits blazing the last two days to take over the final round from the worm anglers. "It's a custom color, and that's the reason it's getting bit," said Meddock, who was initially reluctant to reveal the bait's "rainbow trout" color. "A lot of people throw the Huddleston here and they don't get bit, but that color is key for me. I would just cast it out and slow-roll or twitch it. It runs about 10 to 20 feet deep." Michels lands second-heaviest limit, still falls to second You would think that, if you caught the second-heaviest limit of the entire week while leading on the final day of a tournament, it's a pretty good bet you'd win. Not so for Michels. The day-three pro leader from nearby Lakehead, Calif., caught 19 pounds, 10 ounces Saturday and finished second thanks to Meddock's massive, near-23-pound stringer. Michels, who led Meddock by under a pound coming into the day, finished with 38-1 and claimed $10,000 for second place. "I thought I had it, I really did," Michels said. "Mark and I were fishing right next to each other on that last stop. With almost a 1-pound lead on him, I didn't think he had anything over 21 pounds. But I'm extraordinarily impressed. On the fourth day, for him to find that quality of fish - he's a great fisherman." Michels used a similar sandbagging strategy as Meddock. He made the cut by catching fish on Senkos then turned to Mission Fish swimbaits Friday and Saturday, making milk runs up and down the Sacramento and McCloud river arms of the lake. "It's not a bad finish," Michels said. "I'm just happy to be here." Pro Dave Nollar of Redlands, Calif., finished third with 36-8.Veteran Nollar third While the young guns blazed away with their swimbaits into first and second place, veteran pro Dave Nollar of Redlands, Calif., finished third and won $8,900 by twitching 30-year-old stinger-rigged plastic worms on darthead jigs. "I'm going on a campaign to outlaw swimbaits," Nollar laughed, "because swimbaits aren't really fishing." Nollar caught 18 pounds, 7 ounces - which tied Michels day-three weight as third-heaviest of the week on the pro side - and finished with 36-8. "I've fished for a lot of years, but I've never had more fun than I had in the last two days. It was just awesome," he said. Pro Bill Townsend of Redding, Calif., caught this hefty kicker spotted bass Saturday, weighed in a limit worth 13 pounds, 13 ounces and finished fourth with a final weight of 26-6.Townsend fourth Bill Townsend of Redding landed a hefty kicker spotted bass Saturday, weighed in a limit worth 13 pounds, 13 ounces and finished fourth with a final weight of 26-6. He earned $7,900. "I started out on swimbaits. I was just throwing it out into deep water and reeling it in," he said. "Then I went to Yum Dingers in green-pumpkin with purple flake and Woolly Buggers in the same color as my backup pattern." Pro Jim Riley of Shasta Lake, Calif., climbed back into the fifth slot with a 13-pound, 1-ounce limit. He finished with 23-15.Riley climbs to fifth After a disappointing Friday, opening-round pro leader Jim Riley of Shasta Lake, Calif., climbed back into the fifth slot with a 13-pound, 1-ounce limit. He finished the finals with 23-15 and earned $7,400. "It was a pretty good day. I lost one good fish and another one on a swimbait," said Riley, who caught his non-swimbait fish on Yum Dingers rigged on dartheads. Rest of the best Rounding out the top 10 Pro Division finishers at Lake Shasta: 6th: Clayton Meyer of San Diego, 21-10, $6,400 7th: Gary Dobyns of Yuba City, Calif., 19-11, $5,400 8th: Gene Gray of Atascadero, Calif., 18-11, $4,900 9th: Paul Hodges of Glendale, Ariz., 18-11, $4,400 10th: Steve Tosh of Lake Havasu City, Ariz., 17-15, $3,900 All of the top 10 pro finishers caught limits both days of the final round. Standings update With first-, second- and 14th-place finishes after the first three events, Jimmy Reese of Witter Springs, Calif., has a pretty good lead in the Western Division pro standings with 583 points. William McAninch of Sylmar, Calif., is second with 561 points. Coming up The next Stren Series event is a Southeast Division contest at Santee Cooper lakes near Manning, S.C., April 19-22. The next Western Division tournament is the fourth and final event of the season. It will be held at the California Delta near Bethel Island, Calif., May 3-6.

Tags: headline-story  jeff-schroeder 

/news/2015-06-29-dobson-sticks-with-jerkbait-for-win

Dobson Sticks With Jerkbait for Win

Scott Dobson of Clarkston, Michigan, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 21 pounds, 6 ounces Saturday to win the first Walmart Bass Fishing League Michigan Division tournament of 2015 on Lake St. Clair. For his victory, Dobson earned $5,804. READ MORE »

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Johnston Targets Beds for Big Limit

Cory Johnston of Cavan, Ontario, Canada, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 25 pounds, 13 ounces Saturday to win the second Walmart Bass Fishing League Northeast Division tournament of 2015 on 1000 Islands. For his victory, Johnston earned $5,632. READ MORE »

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Football Jig Helps Bates Net Title

Matthew Bates of Greenville, Mississippi, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 20 pounds even Saturday to win the fourth Walmart Bass Fishing League Mississippi Division tournament of 2015 on Lake Ferguson. For his victory, Bates earned $3,963. READ MORE »

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Hipsher Hops Ledges for Victory

Craig Hipsher of Benton, Kentucky, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 22 pounds, 8 ounces Saturday to win the fourth Walmart Bass Fishing League LBL Division tournament of 2015 on Kentucky and Barkley lakes. For his victory, Hipsher earned $4,385. READ MORE »

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Lauer Wins on Ohio River

David Lauer of McConnelsville, Ohio, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 12 pounds, 5 ounces Saturday to win the second Walmart Bass Fishing League Buckeye Division tournament of 2015 on the Ohio River. For his victory, Lauer earned $6,289. READ MORE »

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Creature Bait Does it for Berhorst

Dennis Berhorst of Holts Summit, Missouri, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 16 pounds, 12 ounces Saturday to win the fourth Walmart Bass Fishing League Ozark Division tournament of 2015 on Lake Truman. For his victory, Berhorst earned $5,963. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-28-wendlandt-back-at-the-top

Wendlandt Back at the Top

It’s been 14 seasons since Clark Wendlandt last stood on a Walmart FLW Tour stage and hoisted a tournament championship trophy. Since that time, the Texas pro has experienced ups and downs, including an Angler of the Year title (his third) in 2009 and a major medical issue that sidelined him for most of the 2014 season. All that’s in the past now, however, and Wendlandt is right back where he belongs in the world of bass fishing – in first place after the final day on the Potomac River in the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-28-top-10-patterns-from-the-potomac-river

Top 10 Patterns from the Potomac River

Clark Wendlandt didn’t pull off any secret techniques to win the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on the Potomac River. He simply found an area with the right quality of bass to win and managed it perfectly despite facing a medley of Mother Nature’s toughest challenges. The rest of the top 10 stuck with the standard Potomac targets too, namely grass, docks and wood cover. The only underlying trend of the top 10 is that they found areas to themselves. Here’s how the rest of the top 10 got it done at the 2015 Tour finale. READ MORE »

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Potomac River Day 4 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on the Potomac River presented by Ranger Boats. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-27-wendlandt-receives-helping-hand

Wendlandt Receives Helping Hand

Not to discredit Clark Wendlandt’s skills as a bass fisherman, but if it wasn’t for an extreme act of kindness on the part of fellow competitor Shin Fukae, Wendlandt wouldn’t be where he is this evening – leading through three days of competition at the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on the Potomac River. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-27-top-5-patterns-from-potomac-river-day-3

Top 5 Patterns from Potomac River Day 3

Pouring rain, gusting winds, a remarkable act of kindness, an Angler of the Year title on the line – day three of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on the Potomac River certainly was not boring. To say the top 20 anglers were waterlogged after Saturday would be any understatement, but as nasty as the weather was, it wasn’t the biggest story of the day. Shinichi Fukae generously helped Clark Wendlandt retain his lead, while Scott Martin sealed the deal on his first AOY title. Meanwhile, a number of other anglers scrambled to adjust with what the weather and the Potomac are throwing at them. Here’s how the rest of the top five caught their fish today. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-27-potomac-river-day-3-coverage

Potomac River Day 3 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on the Potomac River presented by Ranger Boats. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-26-wendlandt-in-familiar-territory

Wendlandt in Familiar Territory

A lot of flip-flopping took place on the second day of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on the Potomac River. When the scale closed, it was three-time Tour Angler of the Year Clark Wendlandt who found himself on top with a two-day total of 32 pounds, 10 ounces. Wendlandt caught 17-13 today – the day’s second-heaviest limit – and leads Potomac local Bryan Schmitt by 1-12 going into the weekend. Wendlandt missed part of last season after suffering a heart attack but has rebounded with good success this season. He has won three times on Tour but hasn’t finished in first place since Beaver Lake in 2001. Details to come on the patterns of the top five. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-26-potomac-river-day-2-coverage

Potomac River Day 2 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Chickamauga presented by Ranger Boats. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-25-jersey-boy-leads-the-pack

Jersey Boy Leads the Pack

Talk about a traffic jam. And, no, we’re not talking about the streets around the Washington, D.C. area. We’re talking about the standings at the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on the Potomac River. Adrian “Jersey Boy” Avena leads the way with a 16-pound, 12-ounce limit, but a total of 41 pros weighed in at least 12 pounds. Many pros lamented the tough bite today, but the results say otherwise as 114 limits were brought to the scale on the pro side. Troy Morrow trails Avena by just 1-06, and 1 ounce behind Morrow is one of the most successful tidewater bass anglers of all time, Bryan Schmitt. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-25-top-5-patterns-from-potomac-river-day-1

Top 5 Patterns from Potomac River Day 1

It might seem impossible for 405 miles of water to fish small, but space was hard to come by on day one of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on the Potomac River. The creeks near takeoff at Smallwood State Park have seen as much traffic as a Washington, D.C. highway at rush hour. On the flip side, anglers who were able to develop patterns that got them away from the crowds, such as day-one leader Adrian Avena, have been able to reap the benefits of what has been a stingy fishery. Here’s how the rest of the pros in the top five caught their fish today. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-25-aoy-shake-up-martin-makes-his-move

AOY Shake-Up: Martin Makes His Move

Scott Martin has been talking about winning the Angler of the Year title since before the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour season started. It’s on his mind and for good reason: Angler of the Year is the only major FLW title he hasn’t won in what Martin has built into one of the most decorated professional fishing careers in FLW Tour history. Today, on the first day of competition at the Tour finale on the Potomac River, Martin has unofficially moved into the lead in the AOY race for the first time all season. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-25-potomac-river-day-1-coverage

Potomac River Day 1 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Chickamauga presented by Ranger Boats. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-20-richardson-wins-all-american

Richardson Wins All-American

Curtis Richardson has a way of surprising people – even himself. The Ontario angler had all but written himself off in the championship round of the Walmart Bass Fishing League All-American, thinking his limit of five bass wouldn’t hold up for long with the likes of Jeremy Lawyer and Bill Schroeder breathing down his neck. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-20-all-american-midday-update-day-3

All-American Midday Update Day 3

Big changes might be coming in the standings of the Walmart Bass Fishing League All-American on Kentucky Lake, as some of the top 10 leaders struggled this morning to catch limits. Canadian angler Curtis Richardson, who currently is leading, had only one 3-pound keeper by midmorning. And second-place boater Billy Schroeder, who had fished just below the Paris Landing Bridge for the first two days, finally bailed out from there after catching four keepers this morning. READ MORE »