Hudgins wins Santee with 21-pound catch

MANNING, S.C. - Bryan Hudgins of Orange Park, Fla., put an exclamation point on his Santee Cooper sight-fishing prowess today by bringing the biggest five-fish limit of the day, 21 pounds, to win the Stren Series Southeast event by over 3 pounds with a two-day total of 40 pounds, 7 ounces. He took home $53,000 in cash and prizes for his first Stren Series win. "This helps make up for losing the BASS Tour event here several weeks ago," said Hudgins, who finished fourth in that event. "I had a 10-pounder come off that would have easilyA couple Bryan Hudgins' fish from his 21-pound string today. won that one for me, and I've been sick ever since. So this definitely eases the pain." Hudgins strictly sight-fished all week. "I stayed on the trolling motor the entire time and never quit moving and looking," he said. "The key for me was to never stay on a fish for more than 20 minutes. No matter how big it was, if it didn't want to play, I left it and went on to fish for one that would bite. It's too easy to get hung up on fish that won't bite here - you can waste a whole day that way." His key baits were Zoom tubes in pumpkin-seed and grasshopper colors weighted with a 1/4-ounce worm sinker and tied to 15- and 20-pound-test Berkley Trilene. Hudgins fished on both lakes during the week, but noted that most of his fish came out of the lower lake. "I fished all over the place," he said. "You can't even see the map on my GPS because it's so covered up with my tracks." Pro Ken Ellis of Bowman, S.C.,  finished second with a two-day total of 37 pounds, 1 ounce.Ellis comes up short Ken Ellis of Bowman, S.C., finished second with a two-day total of 37 pounds, 1 ounce worth $10,000. "It just wasn't meant to be this time," said Ellis, who was looking for his second Stren Series win. "I've finished second here before as well, and it's not as painful this time. The last time I finished second, I lost it by ounces, and it really stung. It makes it a little easier to swallow when the deficit is a bit larger." All week Ellis targeted spawning and postspawn fish on particular cypress trees, underwater stumps and brush. He has fished Santee Cooper for the better part of 30 years and has come to know certain trees and stumps that quickly replenish with new fish this time of year. Ellis fished both lakes during the week and reported catching most of his bass from the lower lake the first two days and then the upper lake the last two days. His three primary baits were a Zoom Trick Worm, weightless, fished on 6-pound-test Runner-up Ken Ellis' baits he used this week on Santee Cooper.line; a Senko fished on 8-pound-test line; and a 4-inch Zoom lizard with a tiny 1/16-ounce weight fished on 10-pound-test line. At times he wacky-rigged the Trick Worm with a small khale-style hook that featured a weed guard and a tiny weight on the shaft. "I mixed the plastics up each day, but I mostly used the Trick Worm on trees, the Senko on stumps and the little lizard in brush," he said. "Right now this lake is low, extremely clear and has been under a ton of fishing pressure, so the key for me was to downsize and lighten up my lures and line for more bites." Pro Roger Crafton of Boca Grande, Fla.,  finished third with a two-day total of 27 pounds, 2 ounces.Crafton moves to third Previous Santee Cooper winner Roger Crafton of Boca Grande, Fla., finished third with a two-day total of 27 pounds, 2 ounces and collected $8,800. On Saturday, Crafton continued his pattern of fishing green-pumpkin Zoom Horny Toads and June-bug Senkos on lily pads in the upper lake. "There seemed to be a few prespawn fish filtering into this area," he said. "But I think a majority of them were done spawning and moving back out to the main lake." Carter fourthPro Kip Carter of Oxford, Ga., finished fourth with a two-day total of 26 pounds,  2 ounces. Kip Carter of Oxford, Ga., finished fourth with a two-day total of 26 pounds, 2 ounces and collected $7,300. Carter strictly sight-fished all week in the upper lake, using a Zoom Critter Craw in both June-bug and green-pumpkin. Couch winds up fifth Tony Couch of Buckhead, Ga., finished fifth with a two-day total of 25 pounds, 10 ounces worth $7,300. Pro Tony Couch of Buckhead, Ga., finished fifth with a two-day total 25 pounds, 10 ounces.Couch alternated between two patterns on both lakes all week. One pattern centered on flipping cypress trees with a green-pumpkin Zoom Z-Nail on 20-pound-test line, and the other was split-shotting a green-pumpkin Trick Worm around shallow bank grass on 10-pound-test. "I was pegging a tiny 1/16-ounce weight about 12 inches up the line with the Trick Worm," he added. Rest of the best Rounding out the top 10 pros at the Stren Series Southeast Division event on Santee Cooper: 6th: James Dudley of Lynchburg, Va., two-day total of 25-8, $6,300 7th: Ron Klys of Gainesville, Fla., two-day total of 22-6, $5,300 8th: Joseph Kremer of Osteen, Fla., two-day total of 18-10, $4,800 9th: Koby Kreiger of Okeechobee, Fla., two-day total of 13-0, $4,300 10th: Chris Baumgardner of Gastonia, N.C., two-day total of 11-15, $3,800 Points winner With the Stren Series Southeast Division now complete, it's official: Timothy Little of Acworth, Ga., is the Southeast Division points winner with 760 points. Little enjoyed a phenomenal Stren Series season, which included an 11th-place finish at Okeechobee, a seventh at West Point, a fourth at Eufaula and a 22nd at Santee Cooper.

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Morgan Maintains His Lead

One of Andy Morgan’s fishing mottos is to make the best of what you have got “in front of you” to survive and fish another day. Beaver Lake doesn’t give much. So when an angler as resourceful as Morgan gets to a lake that doesn’t give out many resources, the two work well together. Instead of worrying about hitting it out of the park or putting immense pressure on himself to come up with a grand winning strategy, Morgan just scraps, scrapes and claws at the ground right in front of him, making the best of what he’s got. Morgan’s performance on day three of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Rayovac on Beaver Lake was a prime example of his “make the best of it” attitude. After burning up the spawning fish he had located in practice during the first two days of the tournament, he was forced to fish by the seat of his pants today – something he thoroughly enjoys. READ MORE »


Top 5 Patterns from Beaver Lake Day 3

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 »


Gordon and Gagner Crowned TBF Champs

Two more anglers qualified for the Forrest Wood Cup today by winning the 2015 The Bass Federation National Championship on Grand Lake in Grove, Okla. Shawn Gordon of Russellville, Ark., earned the TBF crown on the boater side by catching a three-day limit of 50 pounds, 2 ounces, capped by the largest limit caught today – 18 pounds, 10 ounces. Gordon earned $5,000 for his win, but more importantly, he’ll be competing against the best pros in the business in August at the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. Gordon also won the TBF “Living The Dream” package, which includes paid entry into the 2016 Walmart FLW Tour, a travel stipend, and use of a wrapped truck and Ranger bass boat. READ MORE »


Beaver Lake Day 3 Coverage

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


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 »


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 »


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 »


Beaver Lake Day 2 Coverage

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


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 »


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 »


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 »


Beaver Lake Day 1 Coverage

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


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 »


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 »


Jig Bite Carries Holmes on Wateree



Bryan Slows Down for Chickamauga Win



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 »


Salzman Cracks 31 Pounds on Guntersville



Lanter Wins on Rend Lake



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 »