Got Bass

DECATUR, Ala. - Other competitors might think it's a little unfair, but when Sam Bass of Section, Ala., weighs in at FLW Outdoors events, he is allowed to come to the stage with six bass - a five-bass limit plus himself. Today, when Bass weighed in, he brought up five bass for 19 pounds, 4 ounces to take the day-one lead in the Stren Series Championship on Wheeler Lake. And if that's just way too much bass for you, there's more: Bass now maintains a 3-pound lead over second place. While Bass could be considered a local on Wheeler, he contends he does not fish the lake very often. "I live near Guntersville. Why would I come here?" he joked. Kidding aside, Bass did say that he caught his leading weight in a way similar to how he fishes on Guntersville. "The common denominator is grass," he said. "These fish relate to the vegetation on Wheeler in much the same way as they do on Guntersville." Bass fished the Decatur Flats area with topwaters to catch eight keepers. "I found these fish on Tuesday with topwaters," he said. "The water has come up since then, but they were not too far from where I found them. They simply moved up into some scattered vegetation on a nearby flat. I fished one little area and never moved the boat all day. "Even though the water has come up, the fish don't move far from the ditches and deeper edges that they call home. When they start sucking the bottom out of the lake at the dam, the fish want to be able to get right back into a comfort zone." Looking ahead to tomorrow, Bass is a little worried about his primary area. "They bit so good in there today because the water had finally cleared up a little bit," he added. "But the wind is supposed to blow tomorrow and that will mess the place up. Once the waves start rolling in there, it gets muddy and the bite turns off." Lane Second Also fishing in the shallow slop is Bobby Lane of Lakeland, Fla., who sacked Pro Bobby Lane of Lakeland, Fla., is in second place with 16-4.five bass weighing 16 pounds, 4 ounces for second today. "I should have had a real big bag today," Lane lamented. "I lost so many big ones; it makes me sick to think about it." Lane fished one ditch in the Decatur Flats area most of the day. "I started out flipping the matted stuff, like we do back home in Florida," he said. "I caught a few that way, but then I noticed they were pulling water, and as they pulled it, it was clearing up. So I made a bait change, and at about 1 o'clock, they started chewing - it was unreal. At one point my partner and I doubled up on two good fish. But the ones I lost are going to haunt me." Lefebre third Pro Dave Lefebre of Union City, Pa., is in third place with 15-10.Dave Lefebre of Union City, Pa., parked himself in third place with five bass weighing 15 pounds, 10 ounces. Lefebre had located a nice bunch of fish in practice along a ditch edge, but when he returned to it this morning, he did not get a bite on his first few key casts. "The fish had vanished, and I immediately knew something was wrong," Lefebre said. "Then I noticed how much the water came up overnight. It's been rising every day, and just from yesterday, it's probably come up another half a foot. I moved about 30 yards up onto a nearby flat, and I found the fish again. I really believe those fish from the ditch repositioned up there with the rising water." Shepard tied for fourth In the fourth-place position is Mark Shepard of Labelle, Fla., with a five-bass limit Pro Mark Shepard of Labelle, Fla., is tied for fourth with 14-5.weighing 14 pounds, 5 ounces. Like Lane, Shepard relied on his Florida flipping roots to point him in the direction of some grassy bass. "I'm catching some out of grass close to here (Decatur), but I'm also catching some off wood way upriver," Shepard said. "I caught about 12 keepers today, half down here and half up there. The problem is my two best spots are miles apart, and I spent a lot of time running today." Scott also tied for fourth Pro Ricky Scott of Van Buren, Ark., is tied for fourth with 14-5.Ricky Scott of Van Buren, Ark., is tied with Shepard for fourth place with five bass weighing 14 pounds, 5 ounces. Scott noted that three of his biggest fish came from one small 20-yard stretch. "I'm fishing close to here in Decatur, and I'm fishing pretty shallow," he said. "I could get out of the boat and walk to the bank and not get very wet if I had to. But I need the clouds and wind like we had today to fish the way I am. If it gets sunny and calm, I could be in trouble." Big bass David Cioppa of Hopkinton, Maine, weighed in a 7-pound largemouth to take the day-one big-bass award of $750. Szwankowski leads co-anglersThomas Szwankowski of Hope, Ark., leads the Co-Angler Division of the Stren Series Championship with 12-7. Thomas Szwankowski of Hope, Ark., boated five bass for 12 pounds, 7 ounces to take the day-one lead in the Co-angler Division of the Stren Series Championship. Szwankowski spent the day fishing with pro Justin Kerr of California. "I caught a few on a Carolina rig out deep, but my best fish came on a Horny Toad around a grass mat," Szwankowski said. "My goal tomorrow is to catch a limit. I feel like I need to catch a limit just to hold me in the top 10." Gift second Central Division Co-angler of the Year Bill Gift ended day one in the second position at the Stren Series Championship.Bill Gift of Alix, Ark., fished with Lane today to sack five keepers weighing 12 pounds, 1 ounce for second place. "It was just a great day of fishing," Gift said. "Like Bobby, I missed some key fish today, but I ended up with five good ones, so I can't complain." Gift reported catching his fish on a mixture of flipping and topwaters. Knight frogs for third Monte Knight of Quitman, Miss., fished with pro Jess Caraballo to catch four bass weighing 11 pounds, 2 ounces for third in the Co-angler Division. "I threw a topwater toad all day," Knight said. "I missed some good bites with it, but that's frog fishing for you - some are going to come off from time to time. It seemed the key was to keep cranking it steady over the grass without stopping it." Orr, Billmaier round out top five Sammy Orr of Maryville, Tenn., is in fourth place in the Co-angler Division with five bass for 10 pounds, 13 ounces. And Jason Billmaier of Las Vegas is in fifth place with five bass for 10 pounds, 12 ounces. Co-angler big bass The day-one big-bass award of $375 went to red-hot co-angler Bud Strader of Rockwood, Tenn., for his 5-pound, 5-ounce lunker. The cash just keeps piling up for Strader as he also won the last Wal-Mart FLW Series event at Lake of the Ozarks.

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/news/2015-04-28-top-10-patterns-from-beaver-lake

Top 10 Patterns from Beaver Lake

No matter what the conditions are at Beaver Lake, Matt Arey has an uncanny ability to dial up the right baits to match the appetite of the lake’s fickle bass. This year the Quaker State pro relied primarily on two baits for his win. The first was a 5-inch hand-poured swimbait teamed with a 7/0 Gamakatsu EWG Monster Worm Hook tied to 20-pound-test P-Line fluorocarbon. The second was a wacky-rigged Lunkerhunt Lunker Stick impaled on a Gamakatsu 1/0 split-shot/drop-shot hook. The power/finesse combination provided Arey with a search-and-destroy program. He would use the swimbait as a “search bait” to find fish and then follow up with the finesse of the wacky rig for bedders that would not commit to the swimbait. READ MORE »

/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 »

/news/2015-04-26-beaver-lake-day-4-coverage

Beaver Lake Day 4 Coverage

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

/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

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

/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 »

/news/2015-04-20-jig-bite-carries-holmes-on-wateree

Jig Bite Carries Holmes on Wateree

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/news/2015-04-20-bryan-slows-down-for-chickamauga-win

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 »