Yelas leads down homestretch

Jay Yelas of Tyler, Texas, posted the day’s top weight in the second round of bracket competition, catching a five-bass limit weighing 14 pounds, 3 ounces and besting FLW Tour rookie Thanh Le of Davie, Fla., in a tough bracket matchup.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Jay Yelas has already won a big one in the heart of bass-fishing country before, having won the Bassmaster Classic in Birmingham. But if the veteran pro out of Tyler, Texas, continues to fish the way he's been fishing all week, tomorrow he might win the biggest check of his career at the 2006 Wal-Mart FLW Tour Championship - again, right here in Birmingham. "It feels like deja vu all over again," Yelas said during Friday evening's weigh-in at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Center arena. "I won the Classic here in 2002 in this very arena. So I'm excited about the possibility of doing it all again." Yelas posted the day's top weight in the second round of bracket competition, catching a five-bass limit weighing 14 pounds, 3 ounces and besting FLW Tour rookie Thanh Le of Davie, Fla., in a tough bracket matchup. Le muscled in a limit weighing 11-1 himself, but ultimately fell prey to Yelas and his newfound soft-plastics technique. "I'm fishing a Berkley Power Bait worm on a Shaky Head, and it's like a finesse worm on steroids," said Yelas, adding that it's a 5-inch, green-pumpkin, shaky worm. "I've never fished the Power Bait in Alabama before, and they're just eating it up." Yelas is working his muscle-bound shaky worm mostly around docks in about 10 to 15 feet of water on the lower end of Logan Martin Lake, though he is targeting brush piles, as well. He had the bulk of his limit in the livewell early Friday morning and ended up culling up with a big one later in the day. "I had 12 1/2 pounds by 9 o'clock, and then I caught a lot of fish the rest of the day," he said. "I really haven't put the hammer down on my water all week long, but I went to one of my good docks this afternoon and caught a 3-pounder." While most of the finalists are fishing docks, Yelas said the key to fishing them successfully is their location. "The lower end of Logan Martin is where all the tournaments are won," he said. "They've had three Classics and one FLW Championship here, and they've all been won on the lower end." If anyone knows about the hot spots on the Coosa River, it's Yelas. The Classic he won here was held on the next lake downriver, Lay Lake, and that victory cleared him about $160,000. If Yelas - who was also the 2002 FLW Tour Land O'Lakes Angler of the Year - continues rolling for one more day here on Logan Martin Lake, he'll enter rare company as one of the few to have won both the Classic and the FLW Championship. Oh, and don't forget about that $500,000 top prize, which would be the accomplished pro's biggest haul ever. "Yeah, I had a great day," he said. "I've caught a little bit more each day, so that's what you're shooting for." Rookie Ehrler ousts Colson with 13-4 FLW Tour rookie Brent Ehrler of Redlands, Calif., dominated Ramie Colson Jr. of Cadiz, Ky., (7 pounds, 10 ounces) by catching the second-heaviest limit Friday, 13-4, and positioning himself for his first-ever crack at a half-million-dollar prize. Unlike Yelas, who said he's been saving fish until Saturday, Ehrler said he hasn't held anything back to this point. Still, he's managed to increase his weight total each day. "I haven't saved anything," said Ehrler, who is fishing a Shaky Head worm around shallow docks and also a small crankbait as a fish locator. "I'm only getting about eight bites a day, but the crazy thing is that I'm getting bigger weights everyday. They'll be on one (dock) pole one day, and then they'll just move to another pole another day." While an FLW Tour rookie, Ehrler is no stranger to championship fishing. He won the Stren Series Championship in 2004 and said he's relatively calm about Saturday's big-money final round. "In a sense, it's the same as any other tournament. I just have to catch them and not let that (money) cloud my judgment," he said. "We'll see what happens. If I break one off early or something, that could put the pressure on. But we'll see how that affects my performance." Shinichi Fukae won his first-round matchup over Alton Jones by a single ounce. In the second round, he double that amount by beating Luke Clausen by 2 ounces.Fukae downs Clausen in heavyweight bracket nail-biter In the groaner matchup of the day, Shinichi Fukae of Mineola, Texas, ousted 2004 Logan Martin FLW Tour champion Luke Clausen of Spokane, Wash., by a mere 2 ounces. They both caught limits; Fukae's weighed 12 pounds, 14 ounces and Clausen's tallied 12-12. Luke Clausen shows off his kicker fish Friday."Yeah, that's kind of devastating," said Clausen, who caught the heaviest limit Friday to miss the cut. "I'm happy to do as well as I did, but I was just facing some tough brackets." While the Birmingham crowd let out an sympathetic gasp as Clausen's weight was announced, Fukae maintained an impish grin, knowing that he'd just come through the toughest set of brackets in the championship. "Yes, I'll do the same thing tomorrow," he said after weighing in the third-heaviest limit Friday. Fukae said that he's also catching his bass on a Shaky Head worm around shallow brush piles and docks, a tactic with which he feels very comfortable. He won the Wal-Mart Open at Beaver Lake earlier this year doing exactly the same thing. Morgan beats Yamamoto, Scheide tops Harrison Andy Morgan of Dayton, Tenn., also won a tough matchup, against Gary Yamamoto of Mineola, Texas, by a weight of 11 pounds, 15 ounces to 10-2. Both pros caught limits Friday. "I was fishing docks this morning and caught a few small ones, but I ultimately caught 15 or so keepers," Morgan said. "I think if you can catch 14 or 16 pounds, you've really got a good shot at winning." Catching the day's fifth-heaviest stringer was Ray Scheide of Russellville, Ark. His 10 pounds, 15 ounces ousted Chip Harrison of Bremen, Ind., who caught 9-8. "I caught my largemouth in the back of the bay I was fishing," said Scheide, who was dragging a worm for his deep bite and found a surprise honey hole on his way back into weigh-in this afternoon. "If all goes well, I think I can catch 15 pounds tomorrow." Notables - George Cochran won the Arkansas wars by first defeating Larry Nixon in the opening round and then topping Rob Kilby in the second round. Cochran, who hails from Hot Springs, Ark., beat his friend Nixon, of Bee Branch, Ark., 21 pounds, 2 ounces to 17-10 Wednesday and Thursday. He beat Kilby, also of Hot Springs, 9-9 to 6-12 Friday. Cochran won last year's championship at Lake Hamilton and stands to become the first ever to repeat as FLW Tour champion if he can pull it off again Saturday. David Dudley weighs in 10-14 and beats Scott Martin by just 14 ounces.- Four prior FLW Tour Championship winners competed Friday: Cochran (2005), Clausen (2004), David Dudley (2003) and Dion Hibdon (2000). Cochran and Dudley - both prior winners of $500,000 tournament checks - advanced to the finals while Clausen and Hibdon both exited. Dudley defeated Scott Martin Friday in a tough bracket matchup, 10-14 to 10-0. - By beating Danny Correia 8-8 to 6-2, top seed Anthony Gagliardi is vying to become the first pro ever to win Angler of the Year and the FLW Tour Championship in the same season. Rest of the best - Clark Wendlandt defeated Toshinari Namiki, 10-5 to 4-6 - Brennan Bosley defeated Hibdon, 9-15 to 8-15 - Steve Kennedy defeated Dean Rojas, 8-9 to 4-14 - Kim Stricker defeated Tony Couch, 7-1 to 6-7 Next up: final showdown for all the marbles The entire FLW season is now boiled down to this: 12 pro anglers vying against each other for the $500,000 winner's check. All weights will be reset to zero for Saturday's final round as the field competes in a one-day shootout to determine the champion. Heaviest sack of bass wins. Saturday's takeoff is scheduled to take place at 7 a.m. Central time at Lakeside Park in Pell City, Ala. Links: Videos of championship action Brackets Schedule of events

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

Birge Buzzes Ahead

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Top 5 Patterns from Lewis Smith Day 3

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Lewis Smith Lake Day 3 Coverage

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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 »

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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 »

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Lewis Smith Lake Day 2 Coverage

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Benton Blasts 20-12 on Lewis Smith

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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 »

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Lewis Smith Lake Day 1 Coverage

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Arkansas Anglers Win College Open

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Kendrick King On Guntersville

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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 »

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Wood, Rock Key for Middleton's Victory

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Johnson Wins on Dale Hollow

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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 »

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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 »

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Day 1 Patterns from the College Open

The Northwest Missouri State University team of Andrew Nordbye and Adam Almontadi took the day-one lead in the FLW College Fishing Open on Kentucky Lake. While their pattern seems to be effectively refined – they were using only one lure and had no others out on the deck – Nordbye and Almontadi don’t have this one sewed up yet. The rest of the top five is just a few pounds behind the leaders. Here’s how they made it into contention going into the final day. READ MORE »

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