Gene’s pool

REDDING, Calif. - With all the hype about how close this Stren Series Western Division opener was thanks to the plethora of five-bass limits at Shasta Lake, Gene Gray left no doubt about who won this tournament. The pro from Atascadero, Calif., popped another 13 1/2-pound bag in Saturday's finals and left everybody else behind by more than 2 1/2 pounds. After leading Wednesday with a limit weighing 13 pounds, 11 ounces - which was bolstered by a hefty 5-15 kicker spotted bass - Gray hovered around the 10-pound range the next two days to make the cut. On Saturday, he managed to hook into another big spot, a 5-10 kicker, limited out at 13-8 and blew his fellow Shasta finalists out of the water with a winning four-day weight of 47-3. "That fish came at about 2 o'clock," Gray said. "I knew it was a giant fish, but I didn't know it was that big." As predicted, this limitfest was decided by the rare kicker fish that came across the scale. It just so happened that Gray caught two of them this week, but by no means were they accidents. His fishing strategy was about as simple as it comes. While some competitors fruitlessly spent time trying to catch bigger fish on a swimbait presentation that just wasn't happening, all Gray did was dangle a Yamamoto Senko, wacky-style, throughout the week. The slower-than-slow approach worked to a tee under the wintertime conditions, especially as temperatures dropped toward the end of the week. Gene Gray"It's the greatest bait that's ever been made," said Gray, who caught his winners Saturday on a 4-inch green-pumpkin-and-purple Senko with an 1/8-ounce weight. "You can weight it, go weightless - anything you want to do with it, you can. I just have a lot more confidence in it when I do it wacky-style." Two things may have helped Gray hook into those big kickers. One, he scented his baits, which he believes helped him with his hookups immensely. Two, he fished up the Pit River arm of Shasta Lake. There, not only did he find schools of slightly larger fish, he felt right at home dropping his wacky-rigged Senko to suspended spotted bass in the deep, clear water. "Where I live (in Atascadero), we have Nacimiento Reservoir, and it's just like this place. They're very similar in shape and the way they fish. It has big rock walls, and that's what I target here," Gray said. "This lake just makes sense to me. I just go out, try my thing, and it works." For his victory in the Stren Western Division opener at Shasta Lake, pro Gene Gray earned $25,000 cash.Unlike many anglers who reported catching 40, 60 or even a hundred fish a day, Gray said he only averaged about 15 or 20 keepers a day. And that was by design. "I think the places I was fishing, there weren't as many fish, but I really believe those areas had a little bigger fish," he said. "Today the wind died down a little bit; it was calm all over the Pit arm. That really, really helped me because I was fishing with such light weights." Gray's familiarity with this lake has earned him trips to the Saturday rodeo before at Shasta. He finished eighth at last April's Western Division stop here, and last weekend he finished sixth in a WON Bass tournament here. But finally - at his home lake away from home - he has captured his first big win, not to mention a $25,000 victory check. "Can you believe it? I still can't believe it," he said. "I've been doing this for 15 years, and this is the highlight of my career right now. I'm just in awe." Pro Cody Meyer of Grass Valley, Calif., earned his second Western Division top-10 finish with a 44-pound, 8-ounce four-day total, good for second place. He caught a 10-pound limit Saturday.Meyer second with 44-8 Cody Meyer, a young pro out of Grass Valley, Calif., earned his second Western Division top-10 finish and $8,301 with a 44-pound, 8-ounce four-day total, good for second place. His limit weighed 10 pounds even Saturday, and he said it was all he could do after pushing his luck early in the week. "I burned out all my fish the first day, so I pretty much just ran around looking for stuff the last couple of days," he said. "But I had a great weekend. It was an awesome time." Meyer said he caught his fish mainly on a ¼-ounce darthead with 6-inch Roboworms and Smallie Beavers. Pro Michael Tuck of Antelope, Calif., caught a 9-pound, 1-ounce limit Saturday and took a third-place finish with a 44-6 four-day total.Tuck slips to third After a rousing start to the week, Friday's pro leader Michael Tuck of Antelope, Calif., could only muster a 9-pound, 1-ounce limit Saturday and fell to a third-place finish with a 44-6 four-day total. He earned $7,471 plus a $5,000 Ranger bonus. "I started out every morning throwing a Voodoo swim jig, and that's how I found most of my fish. Then later in the day I switched to a ¼-ounce Limit Lures darthead and a Prism Craw Roboworm," he said. "I had a lot of fun and caught a lot of fish this week, but next time I'm going to win this thing, man. I'm tired of finishing second and third." Pro Mike Menne of Redding finished fourth with a four-day total of 42 pounds, 3 ounces. He caught a limit weighing 9-4 Saturday.Local Menne fourth Mike Menne of Redding, Calif., led the local pro contingent by finishing fourth and collecting $6,641 with a four-day total of 42 pounds, 3 ounces. He caught a limit weighing 9-4 Saturday. "It was considerably colder today, but I just fished hard and hit a lot of spots," said Menne, who said he threw a ¼-ounce darthead and caught all of his fish on a tube. "I was fishing between 10 and 40 feet, and I just went through a lot of fish." Phil Strader of Glide, Ore., rounded out the top five pro finishers with a four-day weight of 42 pounds even. He caught a limit weighing 9 pounds, 5 ounces Saturday.Strader climbs to fifth Phil Strader of Glide, Ore., rounded out the top five pro finishers with a four-day weight of 42 pounds even. He caught a limit weighing 9 pounds, 5 ounces Saturday and earned $5,810 for fifth place. "I was doing something a little different in that I was fishing shallow this week," said Strader, who also weighed in one smallmouth. "I was just throwing a 3/8-ounce football-head Spider jig at the bank." Rest of the best A great crowd braved chilly temps Saturday afternoon to watch the tightly contested final weigh-in in Redding.Rounding out the top 10 Pro Division finishers at Shasta Lake: 6th: Gary Howell of Stockton, Calif., 41-15, $4,980 7th: Robert Lee of Angels Camp, Calif., 41-14, $4,566 8th: Bill McLaughlin of Redding, Calif., 41-12, $4,150 9th: Jim Davis of San Jose, Calif., 41-11, $3,735 10th: Gary Dobyns of Yuba City, Calif., $3,321 All of the top 10 pro finishers caught limits all four days of the tournament. Coming up The next Stren Series event is a Southeast Division contest at Lake Seminole near Bainbridge, Ga., Jan. 31-Feb. 3. The next Western Division tournament is the second event of the season. It will be held at Lake Mead near Las Vegas, Feb. 21-24.

Tags: headline-story  jeff-schroeder 

/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

READ MORE »

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

Bryan Slows Down for Chickamauga Win

READ MORE »

/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

READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-20-lanter-wins-on-rend-lake

Lanter Wins on Rend Lake

READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-19-top-10-patterns-from-lake-murray

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Murray

As contestants in the FLW College Fishing National Championship on Lake Murray discovered last week, fishing the blueback herring spawn can be backbreaking work. All that stooping over to grab a different rig to cast at bass busting their favorite forage, and then quickly straightening, is hard on the old spinal column. Flexing up and down is what it took to contend in the championship, however, as bass couldn’t make up their minds whether they wanted their grub served on the surface or closer to the bottom. Typically, the collegians were fan-casting Carolina rigs, umbrella rigs, hard jerkbaits and even crankbaits to likely looking points and broad flats. Sometimes they caught fish with such random prospecting, but perhaps more bass were taken when anglers found themselves within casting distance of blowups and were quick enough to grab a soft jerkbait rig or topwater lure and virtually spoon-feed it to the fish. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-18-gamecocks-win-college-title

Gamecocks Win College Title

READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-18-gamecocks-win-national-title

Gamecocks Win National Title

As any good Palmetto State bass fisherman will tell you, home lake advantage only works if you’re consistent in your catches from day to day. Anthony Gagliardi proved it here on Lake Murray last summer in the Forrest Wood Cup, and the University of South Carolina proved it again in the FLW College Fishing National Championship that concluded Saturday. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-18-hallman-prevails-on-grand

Hallman Prevails On Grand

READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-18-lake-murray-midday-update-day-3

Lake Murray Midday Update Day 3

READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-17-top-5-patterns-from-grand-lake-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from Grand Lake Day 2

READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-17-college-championship-race-tightens

College Championship Race Tightens

READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-17-hallman-out-front

Hallman Out Front

Spawning bite continues to produce for the anglers in the Rayovac FLW Series event on Grand Lake. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-17-lake-murray-midday-update-day-2

Lake Murray Midday Update Day 2

The air temperature reached a high of 53 degrees here yesterday, which tied a record for the coolest high temperature for that date. Apparently, the short-lived cold snap also had a chilling effect on the fishing at Lake Murray this morning, as several competitors in the FLW College Fishing National Championship presented by Lowrance Insight Genesis College Cup reported meager results. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-16-liberty-leads-college-championship

Liberty Leads College Championship

A 22-pound, 2-ounce stringer anchored by a 7-pound, 9-ounce largemouth boosted Liberty University’s Travis Rulle and Caleb Eppler into the opening-round lead of the FLW College Fishing National Championship presented by Lowrance Insight Genesis College Cup here on Lake Murray. Rulle and Eppler were the last anglers to weigh in on day one, and their five-fish limit gave them a lead of more than 3 pounds ahead of Eastern Kentucky University veterans Kyler Raymer and Ethan Snyder, who had 18-15. The surprise team of the tournament so far is Colorado Mesa University’s Josh Worth and Kennedy Kinkade, who brought in 18-10 despite never having fished east of the Mississippi River before. Worth and Kinkade are in third place, followed by Cade Laufenberg and Wyatt Stout of Winona State University, and Benn Curry and Tim Ward of Auburn University, both teams with 17-8. Lamar University’s Cameron Lafleur and Justin Royal in 10th place set the cut mark at 16-8. The entire field will fish again tomorrow, and only the top 10 based on two-day cumulative weight will fish in Saturday’s final round. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-16-castledine-stands-tall-on-grand

Castledine Stands Tall On Grand

Day one of the Rayovac FLW Series presented by Power-Pole on Grand Lake produced stunning weights. With “thousands” of bass on the beds, the pros brought in a total of exactly 2,240 pounds and it took 16 pounds to make the top 60. Rising above the crowd was Nacogdoches, Texas, pro Todd Castledine, renowned for his prowess in Texas, the sight-fishing master cracked 23 pounds, 13 ounces and leads second-place pro Jonathan Henry by 1 pound, 6 ounces. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-16-top-5-patterns-from-grand-lake-day-1

Top 5 Patterns from Grand Lake Day 1

The first day of the Rayovac FLW Series Central Division tournament was all about the sight-bite – from day-one leader Todd Castledine on down. The event, presented by Power-Pole and hosted by the Grand Lake Association, undoubtedly featured other patterns, but every angler who did well relied in large part on bedding bass. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-16-lake-murray-midday-update-day-1

Lake Murray Midday Update Day 1

With precipitation ranging from an incessant mist to torrential downpours sweeping the area throughout the morning, the odds favored a slow start to the FLW College Fishing National Championship being presented by the Lowrance Insight Genesis College Cup here on Lake Murray. As it turns out, however, the bass apparently liked the extra water and reacted accordingly. A number of the teams that found prime spawning areas for blueback herring in practice earlier this week returned on day one and were rewarded with limit catches of largemouths and spots by midmorning. Among them was the local favorite, the University of South Carolina, which reportedly had culled up to about 13 pounds by 11 a.m. Likewise, the Oregon State University was sitting on about 15 pounds and had culled five times. Tanner Masters and Wyatt Ryan of East Central University (of Oklahoma) caught their limit fishing seawalls and riprapped banks during the sporadic herring spawns that fired up as soon as boats reached their first fishing destinations. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-11-hanselman-wins-back-to-back

Hanselman Wins Back-to-Back

Once you get Ray Hanselman going, just get out of his way. The Del Rio, Texas, pro is riding an incredible high right now after sewing up his second consecutive Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division win. Hanselman won the opener on Lake Amistad in February, then backed it up this week with a win on Sam Rayburn Reservoir in an event presented by Mercury. For his final-day limit, Hanselman plowed deep into Rayburn’s flooded cover to track down a five-bass limit worth 16 pounds, 10 ounces, raising his three-day total to 60-08 for a win by more than 7 pounds. For his efforts, Hanselman earned a cool $35,815 check and another trophy to add to his mantle. READ MORE »