From Junk to riches

FORT MADISON, Iowa - Post-front conditions on day four of the Stren Series Midwest Division event on the Mississippi River left the door cracked open for a spectacular come-from-behind victory. Mother Nature's curveball was David Junk's gain as the local pro seized the opportunity and sacked up 14-3 to win his first pro-level bass tournament. On a day when weights were down considerably, the Quincy, Ill., resident registered the heaviest limit of the day and squeezed by the nine remaining pros in nail-biting fashion. Along with two Wal-Mart BFL wins, Junk now possesses three victories in his angling career. But he said this one was by far the sweetest. "I knew I had enough to make it interesting," said Junk. "I knew I had a shot if somebody stumbled. What an awesome place to do it, being only an hour from home." Pro David Junk displays his homemade spinnerbait that propelled him to victory.Only half of the top-10 pros registered five-bass limits Saturday. Several accomplished anglers stumbled, in particular the frog fishermen. They were still getting the bites, but the change in weather made the fish extremely picky. Several pros reported bass blowing up their baits, but not eating them entirely. That can make for a frustrating day when this much money is at stake. Junk never had to worry about the frog bite. He caught his bass throughout the week junk fishing, no pun intended. "I figured that would be a fitting style of fishing since it is my last name and all." He fished deep, shallow and everywhere in between, throwing nearly everything in his tackle box. His key baits were a white and chartreuse Fat Free Shad crankbait, a homemade spinnerbait and a black and blue Crawpappy. At one point, his co-angler counted 16 rods on the deck of his boat. David Junk displays his trophy for winning the Stren Series Midwest Division event on the Mississippi River.In preparation for this event, Junk fished a few local tournaments on the river. That added knowledge and experience made a big difference in his success. While he was fishing in Pool 19 near the city of Montrose, Iowa, he caught most of his keepers in one little area off a laydown and a piece of driftwood. The biggest fish of his stringer weighed roughly 5 pounds and was a true testament to perseverance. The kicker bit the Crawpappy with about 20 minutes left in the day and anchored his two-day total of 10 bass weighing 26 pounds, 4 ounces. "It was awesome and I can't wait to do it again," Junk added. "I set my goal for at least 15 pounds everyday." At 6:30 Saturday morning, Junk departed Captain Kirk's Marina as boat No. 6. The seemingly implausible task ahead of him was never a deterrent. "I knew I had a strong enough pattern to hold fish through the entirety of the event but I just had to go fishing and catch them, that was my biggest worry." For eliminating 143 Stren Series pros, Junk earned a check worth $8,600, and a fully rigged 519VX Ranger Comanche bass boat. Mr. Consistency takes second Pro Bill Walker earned $8,600 for his second place finish on the Mississippi River.Pro Bill Walker, who caught at least 13 pounds in each of the prior three days, had his 13-pound streak end on day four. Walker still caught the second-heaviest limit of the day, and finished only 6 ounces behind the winner. His limit Saturday weighed 12 pounds, 6 ounces and gave him a final-round total of 25 pounds, 14 ounces. His second-place finish earned him a check for $8,600. "I had the fish on to do it," said Walker. "I missed one, a solid 4-pounder that I couldn't get out of the pads." Throughout the week, the Mulkeytown, Ill., pro flipped a 5-inch, green-pumpkin Tiki Stick to catch his fish. Rose slips to third The smallmouth wouldnMark Rose of Marion, Ark., caught 10 pounds, 15 ounces, tallied a final weight of 24-12 and finished third for the pros earning a $8,100 check. Rose was the only angler locking into Pool 20. Each day he ran 20 miles south to an area that had a good mix of both smallmouth and largemouth bass. Plus, he had the spot completely to himself all four days of the tournament. "I didn't have the smallmouth bite today," Rose said. "My partner got the 4-pound smallmouth early this morning. Like I said yesterday, I'm not disappointed at all. Post-front conditions can be really tough and the sun really hurt me." Up until Saturday, Rose was enjoying a near flawless tournament. He was fishing rock piles on the edge of the current and had the perfect setup to work his 1/4-ounce spinnerbait. Rose also used a little green-pumpkin worm to finesse the smallmouths. "You knew right where the fish were positioned." Morgenthaler needed one more Chad Morgenthaler finished the tournament in fourth place on the pro side with a final-round total of 23-6.Chad Morgenthaler, a pro from Coulterville, Ill., brought 10-10 to the scale Saturday even though he only had four keepers. Had he boated one more, he could have taken the title away from Junk. As it is, Morgenthaler finished in fourth place with a final weight of 23-6 and collected $7,400. "I had the fifth one stuck five times," he said. "They'd jump over the bait, knock it around but they wouldn't eat it. I had to have all five of the key bites." Morgenthaler used a black and white Reactions Innovations Shark to catch his bass. Davis fifth William Davis could only manage four bass Saturday that weighed 8 pounds, 8 ounces. Davis finished the tournament in fifth place in the Pro Division.Day-three leader William Davis experienced the same problems as Morgenthaler. Despite receiving numerous topwater blowups, Davis only caught four bass on day four that weighed 8 pounds, 8 ounces. His final-round total registered at 22 pounds, 14 ounces, but he claimed the tiebreaker over sixth-place pro Nathan Huss. According to the FLW rulebook, ties on days three and day four are resolved by day-two standings. "I had the fifth fish stuck and I had about five more bites," the Russellville, Ala., pro explained. "Usually if they miss it, I can come back with a different bait and make them bite." Pro leader William Davis displays his key bait from this week on the Mississippi River.Davis' topwater bait of choice was the Zoom Horny Toad. The two other baits in his arsenal were a spinnerbait and a 12-inch worm. His consolation prize is not only a $6,900 check but also a likely berth in the $1 million Stren Series Championship in his backyard on Wheeler Lake. Heading into the final qualifying event on the Detroit River, Davis will have a two-point lead over pro Jim Jones in the Midwest Division Angler of the Year race. Rest of the best Rounding out the top 10 pro finalists in the Stren Series Midwest Division event on the Mississippi River: 6th: Nathan Huss of Elkhart Lake, Wis., 22-14, $5,900 7th: Wesley Strader of Spring City, Tenn., 20-0, $4,900 8th: Gary Colassessano of Indianapolis, Ind., 18-15, $4,400 9th: Jason Leuenberger of La Crosse, Wis., 17-9, $3,900 10th: Bobby McMullin of Pevely, Mo., 15-14, $3,400 Up next The next Stren Series event is a Northeast Division contest on the Potomac River in La Plata, Md., Aug. 16-19. The next Midwest Division event is scheduled for the Detroit River near Trenton, Mich., Sept. 6-9.

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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 »

/news/2015-03-28-lewis-smith-lake-day-3-coverage

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

Consistency was the key for the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville here in the FLW College Fishing Kentucky Lake Open as Zachary Pickle and Drew Porto won the event with a two-day total of 43 pounds, 12 ounces. READ MORE »

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

Kendrick King On Guntersville

Kendrick, who is fishing the Rayovac FLW Series in hopes of qualifying for the FLW Tour, caught more than 25 pounds each day of the event and finihsid in fine fasion when it counted. Kendick was catching nearly all of his bass around big schools of bait with a Houdini pearl-colored Scottsboro Tackle swimbait from 15- to 25-feet of water. READ MORE »

/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

BYRDSTOWN, Tenn. – Robby Johnson of Byrdstown, Tennessee, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 22 pounds, 7 ounces Saturday to win the first Walmart Bass Fishing League Mountain Division tournament of 2015 on Dale Hollow Lake. For his victory, Johnson earned $5,689. READ MORE »

/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 »

/news/2015-03-20-day-1-patterns-from-the-college-open

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 »

/news/2015-03-20-gautney-under-pressure

Gautney Under Pressure

Day two of the Rayovac FLW Series Southeast Division event on Guntersville is just as misty and nasty as the first. Lucky for us, the first day of the Mercury-presented event featured huge catches throughout the field. READ MORE »