Still gunning

Anthony Gagliardi, surprising no one, busts the biggest sack of day one to step out in front of bracketmate Ishama Monroe by more than 13 pounds.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Competition was hot in both senses of the word on day one of the Wal-Mart FLW Tour Championship at Logan Martin Lake: Anglers fished all day under still, muggy conditions with temperatures soaring into the 90s, and when they came in - most of them with five-bass limits - the majority of pros found themselves locked up in the tightest of bracket battles. Some were separated by a pound or less, and some even tied. When all was said and done, it was the hottest pro on tour this year, Land O'Lakes Angler of the Year Anthony Gagliardi, who landed the day's heaviest catch. Gagliardi still not satisfied, opens up on Monroe Despite winning the 2006 AOY award and even after winning his second $100,000 FLW tournament check at Lake Murray this year, Gagliardi sent a message Wednesday that he's certainly not content to rest on his laurels. The pro from Prosperity, S.C., caught a limit weighing 15 pounds, 12 ounces and opened up the largest lead of the day over bracket opponent Ishama Monroe of Hughson, Calif., who caught just 2 pounds, 7 ounces. "Everybody's talking about what a great year I've had - and I have - but I've got to remind myself that it's not over yet," said Gagliardi, who is widely known as one of the tour's "young guns." "I had a lot of confidence coming into this week because I had some spots from two years ago where I know I can catch some pretty good fish." Two years ago, Gagliardi finished third at the FLW Tour Championship here at Logan Martin, and he capitalized on that experience to gain the upper hand Wednesday. While many predicted the shallow-water bite would prevail as it did for Luke Clausen that year, many of the top pros like Gagliardi instead focused their efforts on deeper quarry. "I have two spots that had a lot of fish on them," he said. "I'm fishing humps and points pretty much exactly as I did two years ago. The first spot, I never made a cast on it in practice, but on my second cast there today, I caught that big one. I had a limit pretty early, just fishing isolated, deep structure. I actually caught them better than I thought I would." Gagliardi said he caught the majority of his bass Wednesday on a drop-shot, but he caught his biggest bass - a kicker in the 5-pound range - on a deep-diving crankbait. While conditions were steamy-hot on the water, he said the recent lack of rainfall in the area has helped him. "The thing that seems to be playing into my hands is the water falling because it moves the fish down onto these humps," he said. "Fifteen-twelve, that is big weight on this lake, especially this time of year." As for Monroe - who qualified for the championship ranked last in 48th place and caught the lowest weight of the day against the heaviest weight - he actually fished the same area as Gagliardi Wednesday. "To add insult to injury, I watched Anthony catch three or four fish; it's just that I was fishing the other side of the hump," Monroe laughed. "When he netted that big one, I asked him how big it was. He said, `Five or 6 pounds,' and I just shook my head. That's why he's the angler of the year." Scheide makes a milk run for 15-1 Ray Scheide of Russellville, Ark., caught the second-heaviest limit of the day with 15 pounds, 1 ounce, opening more than a 6-pound lead over Wesley Strader of Spring City, Tenn., who caught a limit weighing 9-0. Ray Scheide proved he too is on some serious Logan Martin bass, bringing in 15-1 today to top Wesley Strader by more than 6 pounds."I really didn't catch too many off of just one spot," Scheide said. "I kind of had a milk run going with about eight different spots. I had what I weighed in by about 10:30 this morning, and I think I've got enough going where I can save my best spot enough so it will replenish for day three." Scheide said he fished both deep and shallow Wednesday, throwing Berkley Power worms shallow and action baits deep in the current. While not unusual in terms of covering lots of water, Scheide took an inverted approach to the shallow-deep pattern that many pros were using. While many anglers fished shallow in the cooler hours of the morning and then went deep as it heated up in the afternoon, Scheide did the opposite. "I'm not fishing shallow, which is actually about 4 feet of water, until the middle of the day," he said. "It just worked out that I was on my best spotted-bass places when they started drawing current in the afternoon, and I had an exceptional day." Alvin Shaw whacked them today to the tune of 13 pounds, 2 ounces to outpace Brennan Bosley by more than 5 pounds.Shaw tops Bosley with last-minute decision Alvin Shaw of State Road, N.C., also had both shallow and deep patterns ready for action this week, but he chose to stick to the deeper pattern Wednesday. It paid off; he caught the third-heaviest limit of the day with 13 pounds, 2 ounces, establishing more than a 5 1/2-pound lead over Brennan Bosley of Benton, Ark. "I'm catching them in a way that I don't normally catch them, which is offshore in about 13 to 15 feet of water," Shaw said. "I really hadn't made up my mind where I was going to fish until this morning because I'm trying to let the tournament come to me instead of forcing it. When I looked at the water level, I decided to go deep." Shaw caught his limit early, mainly on football jigs and Shaky Heads. "I'm basically looking for high places near deeper water where fish will come up to feed," he said. "There seems to be a key combination of current and baitfish that will attract the fish." Jay Yelas proves why heYelas misses target, still tops Hawkes Coming in with the fourth-heaviest limit was Jay Yelas of Tyler, Texas. His 13-pound, 1-ounce limit opened up a good lead over Mike Hawkes of Sabinal, Texas, who caught a limit weighing 8-11. "It was a great day of fishing. Even though my target weight was 15 pounds, I'm just thankful for a good day," said Yelas, who added that he caught his fish on Berkley Power Bait soft plastics in water anywhere from 3 to 20 feet deep. "It was steady all day, but I caught my 5-pound spotted bass around noon. I like my chances for tomorrow because I still have a lot of places that I didn't hit today." Andy Morgan caught 12-15 today to lead good friend Dan Morehead by nearly 6 pounds.Morgan overcomes faulty motor, leads Morehead Andy Morgan of Dayton, Tenn., caught the fifth-heaviest limit - 12 pounds, 15 ounces - and topped his buddy Dan Morehead of Paducah, Ky., by almost 8 pounds. Morehead caught five fish weighing 7 even. "The early bite has been good, but it really slowed down in the afternoon, which is good because I had a breaker go out on my trolling motor at about noon," Morgan said. "Without that trolling motor, we were hurting. You've really got to bob and weave to catch them here in the afternoon. It's just hard to do it with a paddle, you know?" Morgan said he caught his bass, primarily largemouths but also a few spots, in shallow water on worms, jigs and a Super Hog. Luke Clausen won the championship on Logan Martin in 2004 and currently leads his bracket by 1 pound, 11 ounces.Notable brackets A total of 44 out of 48 pros caught limits Wednesday, which led to scores of bracket matchups that ended the day within just a few pounds of each other. Four bracket matchups ended the day with competitors sitting within a single pound of each other: Jason Knapp (11 pounds, 2 ounces) vs. Danny Correia (10-5), Kim Stricker (10-15) vs. Jim Moynagh (10-7), Dean Rojas (8-12) vs. Terry Bolton (8-4), and Tim Klinger (8-0) vs. Steve Kennedy (7-6). One bracket matchup, Shinichi Fukae vs. Alton Jones, ended up in a tie, each with 11-10. In the clash of the titans, defending FLW Tour champion George Cochran (Lake Hamilton, 2005) leads Larry Nixon by 2 pounds. Cochran caught a limit weighing 9-4 while Nixon caught just three bass weighing 7-4. With all eyes upon him, the defending FLW Tour champion from Logan Martin Lake in 2004, Luke Clausen, didn't disappoint. He caught a limit weighing 12 pounds, 7 ounces and leads his bracket over Tom Monsoor, who caught a limit weighing 10-12. Clausen said he was "very happy with his day." First cut Thursday The second half of the opening round in bracket competition begins Thursday as all 48 pros take off from Lakeside Park in Pell City, Ala., at 7 a.m. Central time. Following tomorrow's fishing, the field will be cut in half. The 24 pros who win their respective head-to-head matchups, based on two-day weight, will advance to Friday's semifinal round. Links: Videos of today's action Brackets Schedule of events

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/news/2015-04-26-arey-does-it-again

Arey Does it Again

Quaker State pro Matt Arey of Shelby, N.C., wowed the crowed in Rogers, Ark., today with an incredible 17-pound, 3-ounce five-bass limit to come from behind and win the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Rayovac on Beaver Lake. This is Arey’s second consecutive Beaver Lake FLW Tour victory. Arey’s final-day surge was enough to surpass two-time reigning Angler of the Year Andy Morgan, who led yesterday but weighed in only 9-08 today and fell to third. Arey’s four-day total was 55-06, earning the pro $125,000. READ MORE »

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Beaver Lake Day 4 Coverage

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/news/2015-04-25-morgan-maintains-his-lead

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 »

/news/2015-04-25-gordon-and-gagner-crowned-tbf-champs

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 »

/news/2015-04-25-top-5-patterns-from-beaver-lake-day-3

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 »

/news/2015-04-25-beaver-lake-day-3-coverage

Beaver Lake Day 3 Coverage

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/news/2015-04-24-make-way-for-morgan

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 »

/news/2015-04-24-top-5-patterns-from-beaver-lake-day-2

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 »

/news/2015-04-24-heckman-heads-up-tbf-championship-field

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 »

/news/2015-04-24-beaver-lake-day-2-coverage

Beaver Lake Day 2 Coverage

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

/news/2015-04-23-wheeler-with-a-slim-lead

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 »

/news/2015-04-23-top-5-patterns-from-beaver-lake-day-1

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 »

/news/2015-04-23-griffith-grabs-tbf-lead-

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 »

/news/2015-04-23-beaver-lake-day-1-coverage

Beaver Lake Day 1 Coverage

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

/news/2015-04-23-tbf-championship-tips-off

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 »

/news/2015-04-20-top-10-baits-from-lake-murray

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 »

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Jig Bite Carries Holmes on Wateree

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Bryan Slows Down for Chickamauga Win

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/news/2015-04-20-morfis-dominates-with-34-pound-limit

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 »

/news/2015-04-20-salzman-cracks-31-pounds-on-guntersville

Salzman Cracks 31 Pounds on Guntersville

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