Tied up on the river

ONALASKA, Wis. - After a steamy-hot final weigh-in with temperatures soaring over a hundred degrees in Onalaska, pro Dan Morehead of Paducah, Ky., emerged from the pressure-cooker of a tie competition and won the Stren Series Midwest Division event on the Mississippi River. The veteran from Paducah, Ky., notched the fifth pro-level tournament victory of his FLW Outdoors career, including his third Stren Series win, and took home $10,000 plus a new Ranger boat yet again. But he had to work for it. Not only did temperatures reach near-record highs on the river Saturday, Morehead had to endure the agony of dealing with a tie - yes, a tie - when all the fish had been counted and weighed. Morehead's winning two-day weight was 29 pounds, 10 ounces. Friday's leader, Stacey King, who weighed in last on Saturday, tallied up exactly the same amount. Morehead, however, won the tiebreaker, which is decided by heaviest opening-round weight. Morehead had 29 pounds, 15 ounces the first two days and King had 27-15. "Can you believe that?" Morehead said. "A win's a win's a win, you know?" The pro winner - who also helped his co-angler partner Saturday, Mark Myers, win his second Stren event in less than a year - changed his strategy in the final round to land his winning five-bass limits, which weighed in at 15 pounds Friday and 14-10 Saturday. Dan Morehead"I had been going down to Pool 9 and throwing a heavy Mann's frog, but that didn't really work out today," Morehead said. "Today, I was just flipping a 4-inch black-and-red-flake tube on Pool 8, and we just had a great day. I culled so many times today that my hands are so sore and raw that I'd actually like a couple of days off to rest." Morehead eschewed any notion of catching smallmouth bass, instead focusing exclusively on largemouths in shallow water. He had been mining the productive waters downriver in Pool 9 the first three days but found a new hot spot when he locked back up to Pool 8 Friday afternoon. "My (Friday) partner, (Bob Bott), caught like four nice fish there in seconds, and I'm like, `I'm starting here tomorrow,'" Morehead said. "It's just a place where fish are coming out of a backwater area. They're just postspawn, staging fish where there's a current with a lot of rock, wood and structure." At one point, fishing the tube, Morehead said he pulled four good fish off the same laydown. He estimated that he caught about 40 largemouth bass on the final day. Dan Morehead's winning two-day weight was 29 pounds, 10 ounces. He caught SaturdayAfter all was weighed and checks handed out, Morehead's pal and fellow pro finalist from Paducah, Terry Bolton, came up and started calling him "50-50" - a reference to Morehead's track record in tournament ties. Unbelievably, this was not Morehead's first tie at the top to end a Stren tournament. In 2004, he lost a tiebreaker to Scott Rook in Central Division competition at Louisiana's Red River and finished second - an agonizing outcome considering the circumstances. "When I lost that tiebreaker at the Red River, I went back to my boat and saw that I had three shad laying in my livewell," he explained, noting how they would have easily put him over the top if his fish hadn't spit them up. "I've never gotten over it, either, but this certainly helps ease the pain." King just happy to be here King, who led Morehead by 7 ounces Friday, obviously caught 7 ounces fewer than Morehead Saturday - a limit worth 14-3 - and finished second, collecting $10,000. "I fished hard and enjoyed every minute of it. I was just fortunate to come in here and make a top 10 at a place I've never fished before," the veteran out of Reeds Spring, Mo., said. "Second's not too bad; I'm not unhappy with that at all." Aided by his kids, Troy Eakins of Nixa, Mo., weighs in 13 pounds, 9 ounces, and tallies a final weight of 27-14 to finish third for the pros. Eakins third Troy Eakins of Nixa, Mo., caught 13 pounds, 9 ounces, tallied a final weight of 27-14 and finished third for the pros. He earned $9,000. "I caught them on a black Eakins jig," he said. "Most of my fish came out of laydowns." Robert Heilman, a pro from Dakota, Minn., caught a 13-pound, 4-ounce limit Saturday. He finished in fourth place with a final weight of 27-1.Local Heilman breaks down, still takes fourth Robert Heilman, a local pro from across the river at Dakota, Minn., endured a boat breakdown and subsequently short day of fishing but still managed to catch a 13-pound, 4-ounce limit Saturday. He finished in fourth place with a final weight of 27-1 and collected $8,000. "We got about a three-hour late start," Heilman said. "We borrowed a boat for the second half of the day." Pro Chris Cox closed out this week's tournament on the river in fifth place. He caught a limit weighing 12 pounds, 3 ounces Saturday and totaled 25-14 for the finals.Cox fifth Pro Chris Cox, who finished third here last year, posted more good numbers and closed out this week's tournament on the river in fifth place. He caught a limit weighing 12 pounds, 3 ounces Saturday, totaled 25-14 for the finals and collected $7,500. "What I did mostly was fish the deeper sloughs and offshore wood with a blue Strike King tube," he said. Rest of the best Rounding out the top 10 Pro Division finishers at the Mississippi River: 6th: John Bomkamp of Muscoda, Wis., 25-13, $6,500 7th: Douglas Stanton of Winona, Minn., 25-4, $5,500 8th: William Davis of Russellville, Ala., 24-12, $5,000 9th: Jim Jones of Big Bend, Wis., 24-9, $4,500 10th: Rick Byrnes of Tamaroa, Ill., 24-9, $4,000 Each of the pro finalists caught limits both days of the opening round. Coming up The next Stren Series event is a Northeast Division contest at Lake Erie near Cleveland July 19-22. The next Midwest Division event is scheduled for the Mississippi River near Fort Madison, Iowa, Aug. 9-12.

Tags: headline-story  jeff-schroeder 

/news/2015-03-29-lefebre-lands-on-top

Lefebre Lands on Top

Nobody saw it coming. Nobody but Dave Lefebre, that is. The Erie, Pa., pro came into the final day on Lewis Smith Lake 8 pounds, 8 ounces off the lead set by Oklahoman Zack Birge. Lefebre was in seventh place. He was chasing a rookie pro who appeared to be on a rock-solid pattern. But at takeoff ceremonies before the final day began, Lefebre hinted that he had found something special. He was confident he could catch a huge bag of fish. He suspected that Birge might struggle. And he was right on all accounts. In front of a jam-packed crowd in Jasper, Ala., Lefebre won the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Evinrude with the second-best five-bass limit of the tournament – 19 pounds, 5 ounces – in shocking come-from-behind fashion when Birge brought in only four bass that weighed 5-2. Lefebre’s four-day total of 65-5 earned him the $125,000 payday. READ MORE »

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Lewis Smith Lake Day 4 Coverage

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/news/2015-03-28-birge-buzzes-ahead

Birge Buzzes Ahead

Today started off with a slightly miserable 31-degree air temperature, but it didn’t take long for the top 20 pros to really heat up on Lewis Smith Lake at the second stop of the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour presented by Evinrude. Reports poured in throughout the day of big bass – especially big largemouths – being caught off beds. It looked at first as if one of the “largemouth lookers” might piece together a big enough bag to snatch the lead away from Oklahoma rookie Zack Birge, who struggled early to make his shallow topwater pattern work. Unfortunately for the rest of the field, the young gun Birge has the coolness and patience of a veteran, and he stuck with his game plan of throwing a buzzbait and soft jerkbait rig until the sun had time to warm the shallows and spur the fish to become more active. Birge tallied 17 pounds, 11 ounces today, raising his three-day total to 54-8 and giving him a lead of 3-11 over Texas veteran Clark Wendlandt in second place. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-28-top-5-patterns-from-lewis-smith-day-3

Top 5 Patterns from Lewis Smith Day 3

After three days, it looks as if tournament leader Zack Birge has the quality largemouth bite in the bushes wired. But behind him on the leaderboard are nine pros doing everything from sight-fishing to catching schooling bass and everything in between. Even with all the patterns in play, few have fizzled. The sight-fishers have reported finding new bedders, the schoolers are still schooling and a couple of guys have even started tapping floating docks. READ MORE »

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Lewis Smith Lake Day 3 Coverage

Day 3 reports from the Walmart FLW Tour on Lewis Smith Lake READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-27-topwater-takes-birge-to-the-top

Topwater Takes Birge to the Top

On a day when chilly, windy post-front conditions challenged many Walmart FLW Tour anglers who were relying on sight-fishing for spawning bass, Zack Birge bucked the trend and pulled out a pair of topwaters to haul in 17 pounds, 14 ounces. Birge jumped from third place past day-one leader Drew Benton to take over the top spot on Lewis Smith Lake in the event, which is presented by Evinrude. Birge’s two-day total of 36-13 has him positioned 1 pound ahead of Benton. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-27-top-5-patterns-from-lewis-smith-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from Lewis Smith Day 2

While air and water temperatures plummeted on day two of the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lewis Smith Lake presented by Evinrude, the big surprise came in the stability of the fishing patterns amidst such change. Zack Birge found plenty of production on his primary pattern to send him to the top of the leaderboard, and those under him held true to their patterns as well to secure a ticket to day three’s top 20. Among the biggest surprises was the number of pros who were still able to pluck fish off beds. Most pros that were sight-fishing say the bass are committed to beds and that the cold snap will not run them off at this point in time. Despite the cold, some even found new fish on beds that were not there yesterday. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-27-lewis-smith-lake-day-2-coverage

Lewis Smith Lake Day 2 Coverage

Day 2 reports from the Walmart FLW Tour on Lewis Smith Lake READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-26-benton-blasts-20-12-on-lewis-smith

Benton Blasts 20-12 on Lewis Smith

Panama City, Fla., pro Drew Benton jumped into the early lead at the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lewis Smith Lake presented by Evinrude with a five-bass limit weighing 20 pounds, 12 ounces. Benton caught a mix of largemouths and spotted bass, and revealed that both black bass species are spawning. He leads a tight top 20 that includes 18 pros that caught more than 15 pounds each. The first day was an absolute fish-fest. Of the 154 pros fishing this tournament, 138 weighed limits. Brad Roberts of Faubush, Ky., has a 2-ounce lead in the co-angler division with a 13-pound, 4-ounce limit. Tomorrow he’ll try to defend his lead on the final day of co-angler competition. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-26-top-5-patterns-from-lewis-smith-day-1

Top 5 Patterns from Lewis Smith Day 1

While Drew Benton was busy bugging bedding fish for his day-one tournament lead, several others behind him were scoring big with other fishing options on Lewis Smith Lake. Sight-fishing also played a role in the top limits produce by Tracy Adams, Scott Martin and Ish Monroe, but Clayton Batts and Zack Birge both brought in big bags with other patterns. Click here to read about Benton’s day-one performance at the second Walmart FLW Tour event of 2015, which is presented by Evinrude. Here’s how the rest of the top five got it done. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-26-lewis-smith-lake-day-1-coverage

Lewis Smith Lake Day 1 Coverage

Day 1 reports from the Walmart FLW Tour on Lewis Smith Lake READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-22-arkansas-anglers-win-college-open

Arkansas Anglers Win College Open

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/news/2015-03-21-kendrick-king-on-guntersville

Kendrick King On Guntersville

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/news/2015-03-21-epting-s-30-pounds-tops-on-santee-cooper

Epting's 30 Pounds Tops on Santee Cooper

SUMMERTON, S.C. – Chris Epting of Chapin, South Carolina, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 30 pounds, 2 ounces Saturday to win the second Walmart Bass Fishing League South Carolina Division tournament of 2015 on Santee Cooper. For his victory, Epting earned $3,679. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-21-wood-rock-key-for-middleton-s-victory

Wood, Rock Key for Middleton's Victory

HUDDLESTON, Va. – Dennis Middleton of Madison Heights, Virginia, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 19 pounds, 11 ounces Saturday to win the first Walmart Bass Fishing League Shenandoah Division tournament of 2015 on Smith Mountain Lake. For his victory, Middleton earned $7,199. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-21-johnson-wins-on-dale-hollow

Johnson Wins on Dale Hollow

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/news/2015-03-21-griffin-gets-win-on-ross-barnett

Griffin Gets Win on Ross Barnett

BRANDON, Miss. – Jason Griffin of Benton, Mississippi, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 23 pounds, 2 ounces Saturday to win the first Walmart Bass Fishing League Mississippi Division tournament of 2015 on Ross Barnett Reservoir. For his victory, Griffin earned $5,349. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-20-top-5-patterns-from-guntersville-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from Guntersville Day 2

The second day of the Rayovac FLW Series Southeast Division tournament on Lake Guntersville proved as remarkable as the first – or perhaps better, considering today’s parade of big fish included a 12-pound, 10-ounce behemoth caught by fourth-place pro Trevor Fitzgerald for the day’s Big Bass prize. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-20-hall-holds-steady-for-lead

Hall Holds Steady For Lead

Joe Hall of Lake City, Minn. wasn’t confident about his chances going onto the second day of competition of the Rayovac FLW Series Southeast Division event on Lake Guntersville. Nonetheless, he held steady with a 27-pound, 5-ounce catch that only barely fell short of the 28-1 he weighed on the first day. With a two-day total of 55 pounds, 6 ounces, Hall holds a 1-pound, 12-ounce lead over Cameron Gautney going into the final day of the Mercury presented tournament. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-20-missouri-anglers-lead-college-open

Missouri Anglers Lead College Open

Andrew Nordbye and Adam Almohtadi of Northwest Missouri State University of Maryville, Mo., took the lead in the opening round of the FLW College Fishing Open on Kentucky Lake with 25 pounds, 2 ounces. Heading into Saturday’s second and final round, the University of Kentucky’s Ryan Collins and Hunter Fulcher sit in second place with 22-14, while Ethan Flack and Konnor Kennedy of the University of Alabama are currently third with 22-9. Details to follow. READ MORE »